The city about to dissolve. The SICAP neighbourhoods of Dakar: past, present, future.

October 2017 to September 2020
colonial housing
social housing
architecture & urban planning
built environment
Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (Senegal)
Research fields
Arts and Architecture

This project concerns the topic of colonial housing in Dakar (by the semi-public housing institution SICAP, until 1973 in French hands), its post-colonial afterlife and new perspectives for the future. At the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning at Ghent University, and more in particular the research group 'Theory and History of the non-European city and Architecture', we have built up significant expertise around this topic over the past five years, more in particular within the framework of my (unpublished, Dutch) PhD research and several master theses.

Firstly, with the objective to valorise and disseminate this valuable academic expertise, I started to develop a book project together with another expert in the field, namely Séverine Awenengo Dalberto (CNRS, Institut des mondes africains, Paris 1-Sorbonne). This co-edited book project is entitled 'The city about to dissolve. The SICAP neighbourhoods of Dakar: past, present, future.' This book project has been approved by the eminent publisher house BRILL (on the condition of a positive review). In the book we will co-author several chapters and visual essays, containing socio-spatial analyses of the SICAP housing projects from their inception until today. On top of that, we have invited several local scholars, affiliated to
the Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (UCAD), who will provide indispensable contributions to the book (all chapters are expected by the end of 2017). In order to bring this book project to a good end, we are now in search for funding. More in particular we need some budget for some additional interviews (which will be executed by someone residing in Dakar), developing the visual material in the book (such as innovative mappings and appealing graphs, as well as the lay-out of the visual essays which we don't want to outsource to BRILL), the translation of the French-authored chapters and the proofreading of the other chapters. In addition, some budget is needed for the promotion of the book.

Secondly, we aim at organising an international conference at Ghent University on the topic of colonial housing and its post-colonial afterlife, not only in Dakar, but by extension sub-Saharan Africa and this way open the debate on this topic more broadly. In the past, some conferences have been (partly) organised around this topic, but rarely from an interdisciplinary perspective. This conference aims at enabling such a cross-fertilization. To enable deep discussion, the conference will be relative small with around 40 participants and will take one or two days. The
keynote lectures will however be open for a broader audience. A call for papers will be launched and some important scholars in the field will be invited to give a keynote lecture. To organise this conference and invite some speakers, we apply for funding.
In addition, we will use this conference to promote our own work and this via a small exhibition, consisting of a number of exhibition panels on which we will show the visual material from the book (hopefully these panels will also be exhibited in Dakar afterwards), as well as launch the book. Also to this end, we look for some budget. Within the framework of this exhibition and conference, we will invite some of the local scholars from UCAD who have contributed to the book. Some of them will need some top-up funding to cover their travel and accommodation costs.

Thirdly, by developing the book project, conference and exhibition, we strive for sustaining and expanding academic collaboration with UCAD. As a member of the executive board of the Ghent Africa Platform (GAP), I know that until now UGent is not maintaining an intensive relation with UCAD, although UCAD is probably one of the most qualitative and reliable universities in sub-Saharan Africa. Hence, with this project we aspire to intensify, as well as perhaps even institutionalise, international collaboration with UCAD. This seems possible as I have a longstanding relation with the current rector of UCAD, Prof. Ibrahima Thioub (he will write the preface of the book), dating from before his appointment as rector, since he is a historian specialised in the urban history of Dakar.