Undulations of urban life: experiences and temporalities of growing up on the streets of Accra, Ghana

Professor Lorraine van Blerk, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Dundee, Scotland, will present the Department of Environmental & Geographical Science seminar, with a talk entitled, "Undulations of urban life:  experiences and temporalities of growing up on the streets of Accra, Ghana". 

Youth poverty continues to be a significant issue in many African cities, yet the process by which young people on the streets overcome the effects of poverty to create their own livelihoods is less well known. This paper employs a participatory longitudinal approach to understanding young people’s undulating experiences as they navigate their way through surviving urban informality, creating their own livelihoods in a highly unequal and competitive city environment. Drawing on temporal, social and spatial dimensions of the street, the undulations of their experiences are exposed as they respond to minor set-backs and successes juxtaposed with large –scale failure and resilience. Using this data as an exemplar, I explore how the precarity of young people’s lives in informal settlements in the African cities has much to offer Social Geographers. By examining the detail of daily life in such contexts not only can we understand young people’s urban experiences better but we can consider what this means for a more nuanced understanding of social urban life more generally. 

Lorraine van Blerk is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Dundee, Scotland and is visiting the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences. Lorraine is currently working on a number of research projects with young people across Africa exploring different aspects of youth livelihoods. Her seminar will draw from Growing up on the Streets - a longitudinal participatory research project which explores life on the streets for young people in Ghana, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo

Date: 
Thursday, July 28, 2016 - 13:00
Venue: 

Studio 5, Environmental & Geographical Sciences Building, Upper Campus, UCT

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