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EAUH Conference 2018


Session SS23 - Cities in Colonial Africa and Europe (19th-20th C.): A History of Separateness and Entanglement

Coordinators: Geert Castryck (, Johan Lagae (

Read Session abstractWhat can a spatial analysis of African and European cities tell us about colonialism? The colonial ambivalence between separateness and entanglement got a spatial expression in cities. We focus on urban spaces and spatial practices in order to scrutinize African-European entanglement and separation.
As Cooper & Stoler, amongst others, have demonstrated, colonialism is not only premised on asymmetries and distinction, but is also characterized by intertwinement in all domains of daily life. This ambivalence between separateness and entanglement, which is one of the core characteristics and inherent contradictions of colonialism, got a material and spatial expression in colonial urbanism. Moreover, the ‘tensions of empire’ were not restricted to places in colonies, but also shaped spatial relations with other cities, across borders, as well as with and within metropolitan cities.
In recent years, historians have critically engaged with such aspects as the imprint of colonial ideas on spatial constellations and settlement patterns in African cities, the imperial outlook of metropolitan cities, or the role of these cities for anti-colonial activity or post-colonial opposition movements. These strands in urban history have demonstrated the importance of approaches that thwart national, imperial and continental frameworks.
This panel adopts a focus on urban spaces and spatial practices in Africa and Europe in order to scrutinize African-European entanglement and separation. We are particularly interested in papers which address one of the following questions: (1) how do colonial cities and neighbourhoods within them relate to each other across colonial/national, imperial and continental borders; (2) how did different imperial, colonial, national or ethnic identities and experiences ‘find a place’ within African and metropolitan cities; (3) how have imperial, metropolitan, colonial or global cities around the world been used effectively in African politics – both during and after the colonial period?
Keywords: colonial urbanism; transimperial entanglements; Africa; Europe

Friday 31st August 2018
  Room 04 16.00-17.30



Infrastructures of Connection and Separation in Kigoma, Tanzania: Colonial Heritage as Sites for Cooperation and Contestation between Africa and Europe
Geert Castryck

Separations and Entanglements in Cape Town during the First World War: Exploring Identities in South Africa’s oldest colonial city
Sarah-Jane Walton

Towards Understanding Forms of Entanglement Amid Separation: Ideas and Examples from South African Cities in the 19th and 20th Centuries
Vivian Bickford-Smith

“Good grief, is Antwerp city centre where the jungle begins now?” Urban traces and Congolese memories of exclusion in the port cities of Antwerp and Matadi (Congo), 1920-1960
Johan Lagae, Jacob Sabakinu Kivilu

Imperial places in urban contexts: architecture as carrier of an imperial culture in Europe, 1850-1950
Miel Groten