Rebuilding Precarity: Dwellings & Demolitions in Jamestown Harbor, Accra, Ghana

Authors: Bianca Malkoc*, University of Oregon
Topics: Urban Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Africa
Keywords: precarity, vulnerability, eviction, Sub-Saharan Africa, housing, dwelling, urban geography, political ecology
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 6
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Over the past five years, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) has demolished regions of Jamestown harbor, an informal settlement in Ghana’s capital city of Accra, to make way for a new harbor backed by foreign investment. Hundreds of residents’ dwellings were destroyed, although many residents returned and built new dwellings. As urban populations increase, the eviction of vulnerable populations is a growing practice that leads to emergent forms of precarity (Lancione, 2019). In Ghana, expanding infrastructure development engenders the continual dispossession of poor urban communities (Gillespie, 2016). Drawing on two months of ethnographic fieldwork using semi-structured interviews and a participatory drawing method, this research finds that residents of Jamestown harbor construct smaller and more unstable dwellings in response to their vulnerability. This thesis highlights how precarity emerges from the demolitions in Jamestown harbor and is reproduced as residents react to past demolitions by anticipating future demolitions. Understanding eviction-related precarities is of critical importance as rates of eviction among vulnerable populations in Ghana and across the globe continue to rise.

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