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Pirate Towns: Reworking Social and Symbolic Infrastructures in Johannesburg and Douala

AbdouMaliq Simone
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AbdouMaliq Simone: International Affairs Program, The New School New York, 66 West l2th Street, New York, NY 10011, USA. Fax: 1 212 924 1292, SimoneA@newschool.edu

Urban Studies, 2006, vol. 43, issue 2, 357-370

Abstract: Through examinations of inner-city street economies in Johannesburg and mechanisms of emigration and political resistance in the Bapenda Omnisport and Mouchouchou quarters of Douala, the paper attempts to explore how notions of piracy might usefully elucidate the everyday practices of African urban residents attempting to operate more resourcefully in underresourced cities. Rather than being rooted in clearly defined familial, territorial and institutional relationships, residents increasingly seek out and manage a wide diversity of engagements within the city without long-term or clearly defined commitments. The key to realising movement within and among cities is to multiply the uses that can be made of resources of all kinds and this means the ability to put together different combinations of people with different skills, perspectives, linkages, identities and aspirations. Such complex and not easily identifiable forms of social organisation constitute a kind of perceptual system, a way of seeing that leads individuals and groups to put objects and experiences to many, otherwise unanticipated uses.

Date: 2006
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