Cfp: Historical and scalar dimensions of contemporary mobility practices in urban Africa

Njogu Morgan's picture
March 17, 2022
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Geography, Social History / Studies, Urban Design and Planning, Urban History / Studies

The research network, African Urban Mobilities: Past, Present and Future (AUM) invites applications for participation in a 2-day, in-person workshop into historical and scalar dimensions of contemporary mobility in urban Africa.  The workshop will be held in November 2022.
Launched in November 2020, the AUM is a novel research network that aims to encourage the production of historically informed and comparative scholarship to support transitions towards sustainable urban mobilities on the African continent. We seek applications from early career scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds in the social sciences with a particular interest in long-term developments and in the under researched topics, for example, cycling and walking. Interested candidates should submit proposals for panels within the themes described below.

Themes for session proposals
A rich body of African urban studies exists that examines mobility practices on the continent, but long-term perspectives are rare (Pirie 2009). Contemporary investigations overlook how present phenomena might owe something to the past. For one, it takes time to build up these mobility systems in their constituent elements such as technologies, user practices, policies, regulations, infrastructures, and industries (Geels and Kemp 2007). Consequently, “the systems we have today do not reflect current ideals, but rather those of the past” (Emanuel, Schipper, and Oldenziel 2020, 3). Going ‘back there’ therefore has many advantages like understanding how present mobility systems came into being. Geographically, such long-term studies into mobility dynamics are mainly conducted outside of the African continent. Currently, we do not know enough about mobility histories on the African continent.

Against this background, we invite scholars to submit proposals for sessions examining contemporary urban mobility questions in Africa from an historical and intra-African perspective.  Our goal is to shed historical insights into the production of present systems. This is valuable for theory building into the making of mobility systems and it also offers potential clues for change. And, in the wake of shared histories such as colonialism, we seek to tease out the role of spatial context in the various journeys that urban mobility phenomenon has taken on the continent.  
Within the broad ambit of tracing the past in the present, panels may focus on any themes such as gender and mobility, road safety paradigms, appropriation of technology, transport governance models, transport planning approaches, and mobility experiences and practices. We especially invite session proposals examining the under-researched mobility practices of walking and cycling in African cities. Research projects into the past, present, and future of commuting by bicycle in urban African contexts will be considered for publication in a collection by The Foundation for the History of Technology for the project Cycling Cities: The African Experience

Scope and participation
Diverse themes will be discussed in plenary sessions: all participants will participate in the sessions in order to build a shared intellectual and organisational perspective. Accepted panellists will also be considered members of the AUM network. In this capacity, they will be invited to join discussions on how to further grow the AUM.  The workshop will host about 35 participants with even geographical distribution of research agenda that covers all major regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Successful applicants will have their travel, accommodation, and meals provided.  The workshop will be held either in Johannesburg, South Africa or Kano, Nigeria.

To apply
Submit ideas for sessions outlining topic, content of discussions and session participants (500-800 words). Applicants are welcome to propose exchanges of findings from completed research projects or proposals to initiate new projects. A list of potential contributors would be preferred but is not required. If not already identified by session organizers, presenters for panels will be invited through an open call. For any inquiries and to submit panel proposals email workshop organisers:
    • Dr Njogu Morgan, History Workshop, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa -,
    • Dr Yusuf Madugu, History Department, Bayero University, Nigeria - and
    • Prof Ruth Oldenziel, Technology, Innovation & Society, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands -

Important dates
    • Deadline for submissions of panel proposals – 17 March 2022  
    • Decision on accepted panels – 4 April 2022
    • Deadline for submission of all panel details (papers, information on contributors) – 30 September 2022
    • Workshop – November 2022 (exact dates to be determined)

Emanuel, Martin, Frank Schipper, and Ruth Oldenziel, eds. 2020. A U-Turn to the Future: Sustainable Urban Mobility since 1850. 1st edition. New York: Berghahn Books.
Geels, Frank W., and René Kemp. 2007. “Dynamics in Socio-Technical Systems: Typology of Change Processes and Contrasting Case Studies.” Technology in Society 29 (4): 441–55.
Pirie, Gordon. 2009. “Africa Mobility History: Recent Texts on Past Passages.” In Mobility in History. The State of the Art in the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility, edited by Gijs Mom, Gordon Pirie, and Laurent Tissot, 129–35. Neuchâtel: Editions Alphil.


Contact Info: 

Dr Njogu Morgan

Contact Email: