• GEM LAB

Inhabiting Ruin: Urban Forms and the Political Imagination in West Africa


Daniel Hoffman (University of Washington)

October 14, 2016 at 5pm

FB 630.15

Inhabiting Ruin: Urban Forms and the Political Imagination in West Africa

Monrovia, Liberia, like cities across the global south, is dominated by the ruins of modernist urban forms. The so-called “International Style” once marked the city as cosmopolitan and contemporary. Today, many Monrovians inhabit the remains of this infrastructure in unintended, improvised and transitory ways. Architects, urban designers, anthropologists, historians, geographers, photographers and filmmakers have all seen in these novel attempts to inhabit ruins a new popular politics of the city. Drawing on fieldwork with male ex-combatants in Monrovia, many of whom live as squatters in the city’s ruined infrastructure, “Inhabiting Ruins” is an effort to understand the limits of this emergent popular politics. With a particular emphasis on the camera as a research tool, the project is a multi-media effort to understand the lived experience of contemporary African urban space.