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Ujamaa Urbanists: Street Archives and City Life in Socialist Tanzania
November 23, 2015 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Resident Fellow (2015-2016)
Between the late 1960s and the early 1980s, after the initial euphoria of African national independence and before the era of market liberalization, hundreds of thousands of young East Africans left their rural homes and became the first generation in their families to make lives in the city. This demographic shift occurred in the absence of economic growth and far exceeded the interventions and visions of urban planners and policymakers. What kind of city did these urban sojourners envision and create? How did they reconcile the promises of decolonization and political liberation with the realities of inequality, scarcity and urban infrastructural collapse? Based on research in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this talk explores Africa’s urban revolution as encountered by popular artists and intellectuals including investigative journalists and newspaper gossip columnists, songwriters and musicians, Christian women’s advice writers, nurses and social workers, and Swahili underground pulp fiction publishers. It examines how migrants in the city theorized the postcolonial predicament based on their urban experiences, using the urban landscape they encountered as the raw material with which they pose broader questions about African liberation, gender roles, adulthood, community, and social justice.
Emily Callaci is an Assistant Professor of modern African history at UW-Madison. Her research and teaching interests include global cities, African popular cultures, comparative socialisms and the global history of reproductive politics. Her work has appeared in the Journal of African History and Urban History. Building on her work on urban cultural and sexual politics in Africa in the 1960s and 1970s, she has recently begun preliminary research for a second project on the transnational history of the family planning movement in Africa. She is spending her semester at the IRH working on a book that explores popular forms of urbanism in Tanzania during its socialist era, from 1967 through 1985.