Africa’s Urban Revolution

Global Real Estate

The African Centre for Cities’ (ACC) new collection of essays Africa’s Urban Revolution (Zed Books) proposes a number of advances to both the policy and theory of Africa’s urbanisation experience in issues such as decentralisation, food security and armed conflict as the first part of this review learnt.

Two further chapters address an empirical problem that has always grated with economic geographers and which has very deep implications for all of the regulatory issues raised in the previous instalment. The massive urbanisation experienced in Western Europe, North America and East Asia as each of these regions underwent industrialisation in past centuries has cemented in place the theory that urbanisation is caused essentially by economic growth, that “growth begets urbanisation”. A major exception has been Sub-Saharan Africa, especially during the 1980s and 1990s, during which World Bank economists Marianne Fay and Charlotte Opal observed that “urbanisation continues even during periods of…

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The Flâneur, by Edmund White

Vulpes Libris

9781582342122This is an elegant little book, first published over ten years ago in a series from Bloomsbury called The Writer And The City “… an occasional series in which some of the finest writers of our time reveal the secrets of the city they know best.” As I love Paris, but never could aspire to put the considerable work in to become any sort of a flâneur myself, I was delighted when a friend passed this book on to me. I knew I would be in good hands.

It seems I’ve caught the zeitgeist – no sooner had I taken this book on holiday, but flânerie kept popping up – most recently in Laurie Taylor’s entertaining Radio 4 programme Thinking Allowed. Far from being a lightweight dilettante, the flâneur is someone who absorbs the experience of the city in a peculiarly intense way, and, if we are lucky, shares the…

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