Multiple Positionality: A Challenge for West African Urbanists

  • Dolores Koenig


Koenig focuses on urban specialists in three West African cities: Dakar, Bamako and Ouagadougou. Urbanists are members of a bureaucratic class and citizen-residents of the cities they plan, run and criticize. Koenig draws on interviews with urbanists in the three cities and participant observation in Bamako to show that urban specialists follow at least three different logics: the logic of planners; the logic of economic and political realism; and the logic of urban citizenship. As planners, they attempt to put their own imprint on the city based on their technocratic understanding of city systems. As realists, they position themselves as members of developing countries with limited resources and subject to corrupt practices. As residents, they act like their non-urbanist co-citizens, sometimes in ways counter to what they believe as rational planners. Koenig concludes that this multiple positionality reflects the contradictions and the political-economic stresses of rapid urban growth.



This research was funded by an American University fellowship. As usual, I am responsible for all interpretations presented here.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dolores Koenig
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyThe American UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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