Negotiated Settlements: Urban Aesthetics and the Production of Citizenship in Luanda, Angola


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships




This project asks how urban aesthetic experiences shape political practices and beliefs, by investigating the now decade-long post-conflict reconstruction of Angola's capital, Luanda. Since the end of Angola's civil war (1975-2002), Luanda has become the object of considerable state and private investment in infrastructure and housing. However, rather than producing stability, these investments have been accompanied by growing numbers of protests and a sense of increased marginalisation amongst the urban poor. I argue that these developments are tied to the reconstruction program's inability to take account of the political histories of urban aesthetics and materiality, in particular the role of housing and infrastructure in the production of imaginations of belonging. Drawing on longterm ethnographic and historical research, including life histories, archival work, semi-structured interviews, and visual media sources, my research investigates how changes in Luanda's built environment, and the aesthetic experience thereof, have shaped imaginations and practices of citizenship.