Summer School: „Spaces for Future: Processes of Rural and Urban Transformation in Southern Africa” - Deadline: September 15th 2021

Kristina Fein's picture
Call for Papers
August 1, 2021 to September 15, 2021
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Humanities, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Rural History / Studies, Urban History / Studies

Call for Papers

Summer School:
„Spaces for Future: Processes of Rural and Urban Transformation in Southern Africa”

From 21st to 25th of February, 2022
at Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Windhoek, Namibia

Keywords: Rural-Urban Transformation, Climate Change, Migration, Early Career Researchers from

Societies in Southern Africa are in the process of a major transition from rural to urban-based societies (Bickford-Smith 2016; Pieterse/Parnell 2014). These developments increase the already existing challenges in the provision of urban infrastructure, transportation, social services and housing. The situation furthermore raises questions with regard to the development of social and spatial inequalities that follow in the wake of the expansion of urban centers (Pieterse/Parnell 2014; Obrist et al. 2013; Myers 2011). Moreover, land reforms to overcome the strains of apartheid and colonialism and to address its spatial structures of inequality remain one of the most pressing issues in Southern Africa. The land question in Southern Africa cannot be reduced to agrarian change or production (du Toit 2018) as it is politically re-formulated as a question of belonging, citizenship and indigeneity (Koot/Hitchcock/Gressier 2019). The unresolved land question in rural and urban spaces in Southern Africa significantly has an impact on societies' capacities for cohesion or severe social conflict (e.g. Melber 2019; Aliber/Cousins 2013; Sapignoli/Hitchcock 2013; Anseeuv/Alden 2010). The summer school Spaces for Future: Processes of Rural and Urban Transformation in Southern Africa will be held on 21st to 25th of February, 2022. Spaces for Future is a joint project by JustusLiebig-University Gießen, the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) and University of Vienna, funded by the VolkswagenStiftung. The summer school’s goal is to offer an interdisciplinary space for researchers coming from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences in order to discuss the future aspiration to transform rural-urban relations in Southern Africa with a particular focus on the impact of migration and climate change. While research mostly either focuses on rural or urban challenges, the summer school seeks to combine rural and urban studies for a new understanding by highlighting the connectivity, linkages, and circulation processes between urban and rural transformation and future aspiration from a
Southern perspective and how they have become ingrained in Southern African societies in history and over longer time periods. The summer school also seeks to include a perspective on the agents of transformation (social movements and civil society) and their social, cultural political mobility, as they are developing imaginations for the future and offering guidance on how to cope with emerging challenges. Besides addressing a relevant societal issue, the summer school's aim is to make a contribution to the further qualification of young researchers from Africa.

In sum, Spaces for Future will
a) provide a platform for early career researchers, especially if based at universities in Africa, who are interested in the field of rural-urban transformation. Not only will this format give early career researchers the opportunity to present and discuss their research with peers but further develop and enhance their research in method and content with the support of experienced senior researchers;
b) facilitate an interdisciplinary as well as international academic engagement and discussion;
c) generate knowledge through the novel approach of combining rural and urban perspectives in thinking about societal transformations;
d) be made accessible to a wider academic audience through the publication of a journal and/or a book publication;
e) generate exciting and edifying presentations and discussions, both as part of the keynote addresses, panel debates, workshops and research talks.

Successful applicants will be PhD researchers as well as recently graduated doctorates who have begun drafting a manuscript for publication. Spaces for Future invites early career researchers with an interest in discussions on the entanglements of political, economic and social dynamics with ecological changes to submit proposals pertaining to research on rural-urban transformation in Southern Africa.

Proposals should be situated in one of the following fields:
- Urbanity
- Rural Development
- Climate Change
- Migration
- Actors of Transformation
- Future

Application and Deadline:

Prospective participants are encouraged to contribute high-quality original papers to this conference. All submitted papers must be unpublished and not considered elsewhere for publication. The papers should be written in English and electronically submitted for peer-review in pdf format.

Proposals for papers should include the title, an abstract of maximum [500] words, and a short CV of the applicant. Please send proposals to by 15th of September, 2021. Notification of acceptance will be announced at the latest end of September.

Participants are expected to submit a written paper by 20th of December, 2021. 

Through a public lecture and public panels, the Summer School reaches out to a broader audience including politicians, artists, activists, civil society actors, and citizens, thus building bridges between academic and public debates.

Funding and Travel Arrangements:
The Summer School is funded with the generous support of the VolkswagenStiftung. Travel expenses, cost of accommodation among others associated with participation in the summer school will be covered.

For further information please email:

With warm regards,
Dr. Lameck Mwewa, Namibia University of Science and Technology
Dr. Antje Daniel & Prof. Dr. Kirsten Rüther, University of Vienna
Prof. Dr. Reimer Gronemeyer & Dr. Jonas Metzger, Justus-Liebig-University Gießen

Aliber, M./Cousins, B. (2013): Livelihoods after Land Reform in South Africa, in: Journal of Agrarian Change, 13 (1), pp. 140–165.

Anseeuv, W./Alden, C. (eds.) (2010): The Struggle over Land in Africa. Conflicts, Politics & Change.Cape Town: HSRC Press.

Bickford-Smith, V. (2016): The Emergence of the South African Metropolis. Cities and Identities in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Du Toit, Andries (2018): Without the blanket of the land: agrarian change and biopolitics in post–Apartheid South Africa, in: The Journal of Peasant Studies, 45 (2), pp. 1086-1107.

Koot, S./Hitchcock, R./Gressier, C. (2019): Belonging, Indigeneity, Land and Nature in Southern Africa under Neoliberal Capitalism: An Overview, in: Journal of Southern African Studies, 45(2), pp. 341-355.

Melber, H. (2019): Colonialism, Land, and Class: Namibia after the Second National Land Conference, in: Africa Spectrum, 54 (1), pp. 73–86.

Myers, G. (2011): African Cities. Alternative Visions of Urban Theory and Practice. New York: Zed Books.

Obrist, B./Arlt, V./Macamo, E. (eds.) (2013): Living the City in Africa. Basel: Schweizerische Afrikastudien.

Pieterse, E./Parnell, S. (2014): Africa's Urban Revolution. New York: Zed Books.

Sapignoli, M./Hitchcock, R. K. (2013): Development and dispossession: impacts of land reform in Botswana, in: Evers, S. J.T.M./Seagle, C./Krijtenburg, F. (eds.): Africa for Sale? Positioning the State, Land and Society in Foreign Large-Scale Land Acquisitions in Africa. Leiden & Boston: Brill, pp. 131-158.

Contact Info: 

Dr. Jonas Metzger (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen) & Kristina Fein (Student Assistant at the Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen)