It's My Right to Fix the City: Women, Class, and the Postcolonial, Politics of Neoliberal Urbanism in Ibadan, Nigeria
Ogunyankin, Grace Ooreofe Aduke Adeniyi
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This dissertation offers an alternative to the current trajectory for Africa’s urban future, informed by the discourse that African cities are failing and in need of catching up to northern global cities in order to develop. I use an African feminist postcolonial urbanism theoretical framing to suggest that understanding the lived reality and politics of urban space from the viewpoint of women living in Ibadan provides a more nuanced and multidimensional understanding of Ibadan that eschews a developmentalist and interventionist framework. Specifically, this dissertation investigates whether and how women’s lived experiences have been changed by, as well as have informed, neoliberal urban planning discourses and practices in Ibadan. I argue that women believe that neoliberal urban planning projects inaccurately capture their reality and exacerbate their socio-economic conditions largely due to their exclusion from urban governance and local decision-making processes. I contend that cultural religious discourses and political violence play critical roles in women’s political exclusion. I also assert that despite women’s exclusion from formal politics, women engage in informal politics to challenge the imposition of neoliberal urban planning. I posit that women have alternative visions for the city that are rooted in a populist politics that challenge both the “feminism is un-African” narrative and the literature that stipulates that poor women are not really attentive to gender issues as they care more about “bread and butter” issues. Qualitative interviews with eight government workers as well as with two local politicians provide insight into the government’s limited and gendered approaches to women’s issues that often tend to label feminist social transformation projects as “un-African”. In-depth semi-structured interviews with 48 women in Ibadan, showed Ibadan women to be positioned as knowledgeable urban subjects who challenge the gendered and development interventionist approaches to African cities and who make gendered rights claims to the city.