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New Cities and the Emergence of 'Privatized Urbanism' in Ghana

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New cities are increasingly presented as a solution to contemporary challenges of rapidly urbanizing African cities. A growing body of research has, however, questioned the appropriateness of these megaprojects on the basis of their governance structures, underlying planning principles and target groups. Yet little is known about the local constellations of government that enable and/or hinder these megaprojects to materialize. Drawing on the notion of governmentality, this paper seeks to deepen our knowledge about how particular new cities in Africa are governed and the rationalities behind them. Through an in-depth case study of Appolonia City ? a new private satellite city under construction outside Accra, Ghana ? the paper demonstrates how this example of privatized urbanism has reached its recent stage of implementation through a speci fic constellation of government that includes state actors at all levels, traditional authorities and private developers. The engagement of these actors is based upon multiple rationalities, including an advanced liberal rationality that emphasizes the superiority of private-led urban development; spatial rationalities that seek to form 'world-class' environments and subjects through a strong emphasis on urban formality and ordered aesthetics; prospects of economic pro fit-making; and assumptions on how the 'mixed city' model can provide sustainable and inclusive urban milieus. These rationalities partly conflict and Appolonia risks becoming yet another elitist urban megaproject despite its stated aim of creating a sustainable and inclusive urban environment. There is thus an urgent need to (re-)politicize the urban question in Africa in order to enable future city developments that benefit the many and not the few.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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