Urban Circulation and the Everyday Politics of African Urban Youth: The Case of Douala, Cameroon


Institutions across many cities in Africa lack sufficient authority to instil any overarching matrix of definitions and spatial framework capable of holding residents in stable articulations with infrastructure, territory and urban resources of all kinds. The resultant dispersion of ways of operating in cities does not necessarily mean that regularities are impossible to attain. Rather, an increasingly generalized practice of converting bodies, infrastructure and urban objects into mutltiplex and unstable uses can give rise to particular forms of sociality which in turn cultivate a certain flexibility in how highly volatile urban situations are appropriated and lived. By examining various modalities of circulation — through disparate spatial and symbolic economies — engaged in by youth in various situations and quarters in Douala, Cameroon, this article attempts to explore the elaboration of specific urban political practices. These practices are aimed at countering marginalization and reappropriating the city as a platform for more diverse engagements with a larger world.