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Transnational Migrants, Land and New Investment Hubs in African Cities

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Intensified and competing claims over land are crucial to understanding current urban transformations in Africa. This paper aims to highlight the role of transnational migrants in urban land investments and claim making on urban land. While the relationship between urbanization in Africa and migration has long been a focus of research and policy, attention had mainly focused on the intertwinement between rising urbanization and the in flux of rural migrants, internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees struggling to survive and gain access to urban space and services. More recently, the African city has gained a more positive image as a consequence of Africa's economic boom and has come to be seen as a pillar of development, rather than a place of chaos and poverty. In this 'urban turn' in development thinking and concomitant technocratic and infrastructural policy approaches, the link between urbanization and migration has been largely overlooked. We argue, however, that transnational migrants in particular are an important category in claim-making processes over urban land and real estate and add to these in specific ways. Using case studies in Khartoum and Dakar, we investigate the ways in which transnational migrants contribute to speculation, rising land values and processes of socio-spatial inclusion and exclusion. Rather than making a comparative analysis, we use two concrete cases to gain an empirical understanding of the processes associated with these diaspora investments, including the question of whether these transnational migrants can be considered as contributing to urban 'land grabs' or not.
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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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