Urban creativity in Africa

Location: Lagos and online
Language: English
Photograph of a group of people standing at the Lagoon Front at the Unviersity of Lagos

This event will be held both online and at The MAD House, Lagoon Front, at the University of Lagos. It will include lunch and will be followed by a reception hosted by the African Hub for Sustainable Creative Economies. It has been organised by Dr Lauren England, and was supported by the USF Seminar Series Awards.

This half day hybrid event seeks to contribute to understanding of creative economy development in Africa, specifically the urban dimensions of creativity and the urbanization of the creative economy. The workshop aims to approach this in a way that considers the specificities of African cities, building on emerging research (Sitas, 2020; Rosenburg and Brent, 2020; Comunian et al., 2021) and recent efforts to ‘re-describe’ concepts and phenomena such as the creative city (Mbaye and Pratt, 2020) and understand how such paradigms are ‘being grounded, renegotiated and put into practice’ (Nkula-Wenz, 2019, p.581) in African cities.

The workshop will focus on dynamics and geographies of creativity within and beyond African cities, and the policy and infrastructure required for sustainable creative economy development. Discussions will address urban transformation and job creation (Snowball and Collins, 2017) and specifically the role, rationale, opportunities and challenges of informality and ‘hustling’ in the creative economy (Joffe et al., 2022; Langevang et al., 2022; Snowball and Mapuma, 2021). The workshop will also consider relationships within and beyond the core urban spaces where much infrastructural and economic development policy is focused, including peri-urban and suburban spaces (Booyens and Rogerson, 2019) and connections with rural areas (i.e. for input sourcing, production and trade). Such spaces have often been neglected in creative economy development and wider urban studies but are sites where ‘incredibly imaginary and imaginative facets of the city emerge, creative, propulsive, innovative, and strongly linked with a wider world’ (Meyers, 2011, p.23). Discussions will also cover the benefits, limitation and appropriateness of extant urban theory application (typically based on global North contexts) and consider ‘globally mobile urban policies, their modes of circulation, adoption and transformation in different socio-political and spatial contexts’ (Nkula-Wenz, 2019, p.581). Here we will consider the role of metrics/indexes (i.e. creative city/ vibrancy measures), ‘redescriptions’ of creative cities in the African context (Mbaye and Pratt, 2020), opportunities for a reversal of knowledge flows and the value of learning from the global South in the development of critical perspectives (England et al. 2021), new urban theories (Meyers, 2011) and creative economy development strategies.

Papers/short presentations (10-15mins) are invited on the topics listed below and more:

Dynamics of urban creativity

  • Urban transformation and job creation in creative economies
  • (In)formal dynamics of creativity and creative work
  • Partnerships and collaboration
  • Creative transformations and cultures of creativity
  • Innovations and adaptations in response to urban opportunities and challenges
  • Technological opportunities and challenges

Creativity within and beyond the city

  • Geographies of urban creativity
  • Where creativity and creative work takes place in the city
  • Relationship between the (inner) city, suburban and peri-urban spaces and rural areas
  • Rethinking the primacy of urban spaces in creative economy development
  • National, Regional and Global connections informing creativity
  • Spillovers and wider industry connections

Policy and infrastructure for creative economy development

  • Issues and opportunities in policy transfer
  • Colonial legacies of creative economy structures and policies
  • Metrics and measurement
  • ‘Creativity’ as branding for African cities
  • Interactions (or lack thereof) between local, subnational and national policies
  • Connections between social, economic and cultural policy
  • Urban infrastructure and creative economy development in Africa
  • Education and training for creative economies in Africa
  • Finance models for creative economies in Africa

Workshop Participation

Participants are invited to submit an abstract of 600-800 words highlighting background literature, methodology/data, findings and contribution.

Abstracts should be submitted via email to Dr Lauren England (lauren.2.england@kcl.ac.uk) by 11th September 2023.

Selected participants will then be invited to pre-record and share a 10-15min video of their presentation in advance of the event (by 1st November 2023) for other attendees to watch and discuss at the event. There will be opportunities for presenters to have their work promoted on the African Hub for Sustainable Creative Economies platform.

If you have questions about the workshop, please contact Dr Lauren England.

"I can’t emphasise enough how supportive the USF Fellowship has been. It has empowered me to engage with a diverse range of partners, collaborators and agencies in a fast-moving field of practice and policy-making. It has allowed me to extend beyond known geographic and disciplinary borders to explore and connect disparate fields and practices, across policy and academia."

Dr Sarah Barns, Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Urban Studies Foundation is a registered Scottish charity. Registration number SC039937.

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