African Cities and Violent Conflict: The Urban Dimension of Conflict and Post Conflict Dynamics in Central and Eastern Africa
This article forms the introduction of a special issue on the relation between dynamics of violent conflict and urbanisation in Central and Eastern Africa. The aim of this collection of articles is to contribute to a profound understanding of the role of 'the urban' in African conflict dynamics in order to seize their future potential as centres of stability, development, peace-building or post-conflict reconstruction. This introduction argues for the need to bridge both the 'urban gap' in African conflict studies as well as the 'political' gap in African urban studies. Building on empirical and analytical insights from multi-disciplinary research in different African conflict settings, the author presents urban centres in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, South Sudan and Kenya as crucial sites of socio-spatial and political transformations and productions. The main argument running through its analysis is that emerging urbanism in the larger Great-Lakes region and its Eastern neighbours present fascinating lenses to better understand the transformative power of protracted violent conflict. This will be demonstrated by elaborating on the conflict-induced production of urban landscapes, urban governance, and urban identities. Finally, this will lead us to crucial insights on how protracted regional dynamics of political violence, forced displacement, militarised governance and ethnic struggles strongly reinforce the conflictual nature of emerging urbanisation and urbanism.