GUH Lecture: Informal Urbanism, Creativity, and Ecology in Lagos, Nigeria

Lecture | October 9 | 12-1:30 p.m. | 170 Wurster Hall

 College of Environmental Design

Infrastructure Imaginaries: Informal Urbanism, Creativity, and Ecology in Lagos, Nigeria

Tuesday, October 9, 2018 from 12-1:30 p.m. in 170 Wurster Hall

Lagos is notorious for its ever-expanding population, massive infrastructural challenges, and controversial practices of state-sanctioned land capture. Neighborhoods branded as undesirable slums are razed — their inhabitants violently displaced and economies destroyed — as the region’s ecology is disrupted by the transformation of watery realms into habitable surfaces through landfilling. At the same time, the city is a dense hub of inspiring creativity, hustle, and entrepreneurship. Lagosians have devised ingenious ways of making things happen—often in the absence of functional formal systems, and in the face of outright state hostility.

Speakers Charisma Acey, CED Assistant Professor of City & Regional Planning, and Ivy Mills, Lecturer in History of Artwill, will discuss how we can utilize urban planning and visual culture studies to investigate how things happen in Lagos. We will pay particular attention to visual representation’s central role in struggles over land and competing visions of the Lagos of the future — visions that impact planning practices and people’s livelihoods in concrete ways.

About the Speakers

Charisma Acey is an assistant professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design. Her background includes work, research and travel to countries in West Africa, southern Africa and Central America. Her work focuses on local and regional environmental sustainability, with a focus on poverty reduction, urban governance and access to basic services. Her work relies on both quantitative and participatory, qualitative research approaches to understanding individual and household demand for improved infrastructure and environmental amenities. Current and past research projects, teaching and service learning courses have focused on addressing barriers to sustainable development such as human-environment interactions at multiple scales in urban areas around the world, poverty and participatory approaches to governance and development, the financing and sustainability of publicly provided services and utilities, local and regional food systems, environmental justice, and urbanization domestically and globally.

Ivy Mills is a lecturer in the Visual and Literary Cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora in the History of Art Department at UC Berkeley. She conducted Fulbright-funded research on Senegalese cultural production and taught university courses during a four-year residency in Dakar, Senegal; she then completed her PhD in UCB's African Diaspora Studies program in 2011. Her first book project, provisionally titled Iconographies of Exclusion: Gender, Animality, and the Limits of Community in Senegalese Visual Culture, argues that contemporary figurations of abjection and violability cohere through a referencing of the logics and symbols of older Wolof hierarchies of caste and slavery. In this tradition, the limits of humanness – and therefore of communal protection – are imagined through queer, socially dead figures like the hyena and donkey. Other research interests include comedic whiteface performance; the visualization of gendered piety and virtue in Wolof melodrama and contemporary Senegalese art; ecology and sacred architecture in urban visual culture; and popular cultural flows between Senegal and India. She co-curated the Bernice L. Brown Gallery exhibition Love across the Global South: Popular Cinema Cultures of India and Senegal, and has moderated conversations with artists and curators for the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco and the Berkeley Art Museum.

This talk is also the topic of the Graduate Interdisciplinary Research Studio for Spring 2019. Graduate students interested in this studio should attend this talk and stay an extra 30 minutes for a brief info session on the Lagos studio.

See the full Fall 2018 Global Urban Humanities Colloquium Schedule.