The gendered postconflict city: Possibilities for more livable urban transformations in Gulu, northern Uganda

Article Authors: John C. Harris, Daniel Komakech, David Monk & Maria del Guadalupe Davidson


Scholars acknowledge that postconflict urbanism is undertheorized and underdeveloped for practical governance or sustainable urban management, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, which has unfortunately experienced significant conflict in the post-independence period. We argue that postconflict redevelopment theory and practice under appreciates liminal spaces and the precarious existence of postconflict people, especially postconflict women. We examine the extant literature on Gulu, Uganda, to develop theory and urban management concepts around the notion of the gendered postconflict city as a unique urban identity and re-center the analysis on the everyday experiences, agency, and city building practices of women. We posit three realities for understanding the gendered postconflict city: (1) the postconflict gendered city is a liminal space beyond the notions of contingency and fluidity often assigned to African cities, (2) it is a place of deep and abiding trauma, and (3) it is a place of invisibility and precarity for women who self-organize to reduce precarity. We make a series of recommendations for postconflict urban management based on these realities that include recognizing liminality in postconflict planning and setting aside the impulse to prioritize the global competitiveness of postconflict cities above all else. These have important implications for NGO and national development practices.

Bibliographical metadata

Journal Journal of Urban Affairs
DOI 10.1080/07352166.2022.2081577
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