Conceptual Vectors of African Urbanism: “Engaged Theory-Making” and “Platforms of Engagement

Henrik Ernstson, Mary Lawhon, James Duminy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


With increasing urbanization in the global South, and Africa in particular, scholars have called attention to the limited explanatory capacity of existing theory. Ananya Roy suggests developing conceptual vectors based on regional histories and contexts. Two such vectors with relevance beyond Africa are identified and developed in this paper. The developmentalist focus of African urban work provides insights into challenges of linking academic theory with progressive changes in practice, what is called here ‘engaged theory-making’; and conditions of informality enable ‘platforms of engagement’ – particular modes of organizing towards radical incremental change. The strengths of African research are highlighted, critical questions are raised and further work is encouraged.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1563-1577
JournalRegional Studies
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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