Borrowed Skylines: Tracing the origins of Tanzania's new master-planned cities through urban policy mobilities

Authors: Joanna Ondrusek-Roy*, McGill University
Topics: Urban Geography, Africa, Political Geography
Keywords: Tanzania, new master-planned cities, urban policy mobilities, political geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Marshall South, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As urban populations continue to outgrow existing infrastructure, African governments are opting to build new master-planned cities from scratch, in the hopes of ‘fast-tracking’ their economies and making a place for themselves in a hierarchy of ‘global cities’. These new city visions of tall gleaming skyscrapers and luxurious villas, draped in eco-utopian rhetoric stand in stark contrast to local realities of urban poverty. In Tanzania alone, at least eight new city projects have been planned since 2010 on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Dodoma and on the island of Zanzibar. While many of these cities have been planned for several years, little has been physically built. Therefore, my research is situated in the gap between planning and implementation, where most of these cities are little more than visions. Drawing on the urban policy mobilities literature, this paper seeks to explain how urban visions of the ‘global city’ are internationally circulated, locally re-assembled, and ultimately transform Tanzania’s urban landscape. Focusing on the role of private planning firms, local government and urban study tours as agents of policy circulation, I map out the geographically diverse sources of urban policy influence, and argue that regime transitions and local customs play an important role in policy mutation. Through interviews with planners, developers, and government officials my research offers a critical look at the receiving end of the urban policy mobilities framework.

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