International Development Planning Review

On the governing of ‘gray’ trading spaces in Accra: multiple powers and ambiguous ‘worlding’ practices

International Development Planning Review (2022), 44, (1), 81–104.

Abstract

Recent studies on ‘urban informality’ stress the role of the state in the production and governing of ‘gray spaces’. This paper contributes to this body of research by emphasising the multiple actors involved in the governance of informal land uses and their ambiguous positions on how these spaces should best be understood and approached. Based on an in-depth case study of ‘gray’ trading spaces in central Accra, I show that individual landowners in the vicinity of trading spots play a crucial role in the governing of roadside trading, together with state actors and traders. Furthermore, traders and state actors are both engaged in ambiguous ‘worlding practices’ that, on the one hand, envision Accra as becoming a city where street trade is eradicated, while, on the other hand, street trade is considered to be an opportunity for urban (economic) development. These varied perspectives imply that neither traders nor state bodies are uniform actors and that these groups are not necessarily positioned against each other.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

References

Acheampong, R. A. (2019) Spatial Planning in Ghana, Cham, Springer International Publishing. Google Scholar

Adaawen, S. H. and Jorgensen, S. H. (2012) ‘Eking out a living: the livelihood implications of urban space regulation on street hawking in Accra, Ghana’, African Review of Economics and Finance, 3(2), 49-95. Google Scholar

Asiedu, A. B. and Agyei-Mensah, S. (2008) ‘Traders on the run: activities of street vendors in the Accra Metropolitan Area, Ghana’, Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift-Norwegian Journal of Geography, 62(3), 191-202. Google Scholar

Bayat, A. (2000) ‘From “dangerous classes” to “quiet rebels”: politics of the urban subaltern in the global South’, International Sociology, 15(3), 533-557. Google Scholar

Bénit-Gbaffou, C. (2018) ‘Unpacking state practices in city-making, in conversations with Ananya Roy’, The Journal of Development Studies, 54(12), 2139-2148. Google Scholar

Benjamin, S. (2008) ‘Occupancy urbanism: radicalizing politics and economy beyond policy and programs’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 32(3), 719-729. Google Scholar

Brown, A. (ed.) (2006) Contested Space: Street Trading, Public Space and Livelihoods in Developing Countries, Rugby, ITDG Publishing. Google Scholar

Crentsil, A. O. and Owusu, G. (2018) Accra’s decongestion policy: another face of urban clearance or bulldozing approach?’, International Development Policy, 10, 213-228. Google Scholar

Culture Trip (2017) https://theculturetrip.com/africa/ghana/articles/a-millennials-guide-to-osu-accra/ (accessed 2 June 2017). Google Scholar

Dean, M. (2010) Governmentality: Power and Rule in Modern Society, Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage. Google Scholar

Du Plessis, J. (2005) ‘The growing problem of forced evictions and the crucial importance of community-based, locally appropriate alternatives’, Environment and Urbanization, 17(1), 123-134. Google Scholar

Fält, L. (2016) ‘From shacks to skyscrapers: multiple spatial rationalities and urban transformation in Accra, Ghana’, Urban Forum, 27(4), 465-486. Google Scholar

Fält, L. (2019) ‘New cities and the emergence of “privatized urbanism” in Ghana’, Built Environment, 44(4), 438-460. Google Scholar

Foucault, M. (2001) Fearless Speech, Los Angeles, CA, Semiotext(e). Google Scholar

Foucault, M. (2007) ‘The meshes of power’, in J. W. Crampton and S. Elden (eds), Space, Knowledge and Power. Foucault and Geography, Ashgate, Aldershot. Google Scholar

Ghertner, D. A. (2011) ‘Rule by aesthetics: world-class city making in Delhi’, in A. Ong and A. Roy (eds), Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global, Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester. Google Scholar

Gillespie, T. (2017) ‘From quiet to bold encroachment: contesting dispossession in Accra’s informal sector’, Urban Geography, 38(7), 974-992. Google Scholar

GoG (Government of Ghana) (2012) ‘National Urban Policy Framework’, Accra, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. Google Scholar

GoG (Government of Ghana) (2015) ‘Ghana National Spatial Development Framework (2015-2035). Space, Efficiency and Growth. Volume I: Conditions and Main Issues’, (Final Report), http://www.luspa.gov.gh/files/NSDF%20Final%20Report%20-%20Vol%20I%20Final%20Edition_TAC.pdf (accessed 2 June 2017). Google Scholar

Haid, C. G. and Hilbrandt, H. (2019) ‘Urban informality and the state: geographical translations and conceptual alliances’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 43(3), 551-562. Google Scholar

Korah, P. I. (2020) ‘Exploring the emergence and governance of new cities in Accra, Ghana’, Cities, 99, 102369. Google Scholar

Lemke, T. (2002) ‘Foucault, governmentality, and critique’, Rethinking Marxism, 14(3), 49-64. Google Scholar

Lindell, I. (2019) ‘Introduction: re-spatialising urban informality: reconsidering the spatial politics of street work in the global South’, International Development Planning Review, 41(1), 3-21. Google Scholar

Lindell, I., Ampaire, C. and Byerley, A. (2019) ‘Governing urban informality: re-working spaces and subjects in Kampala, Uganda’, International Development Planning Review, 41(1), 63-84. Google Scholar

Massey, D. (2011) ‘A counterhegemonic relationality of place’, in E. McCann and K. Ward (eds), Mobile Urbanism: Cities and Policymaking in the Global Age, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1-14. Google Scholar

McCann, E., Roy, A. and Ward, K. (2013) ‘Assembling/worlding cities’, Urban Geography, 34(5), 581-589. Google Scholar

Murray Li, T. (2007) ‘Governmentality’, Anthropologica, 49, 275-294. Google Scholar

Nogueira, M. (2019) ‘Displacing informality: rights and legitimacy in Belo Horizonte, Brazil’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 43(3), 517-534. Google Scholar

Ong, A. H. (2011) ‘Introduction: worlding cities, or the art of being global’, in A. Roy and A. H. Ong (eds), Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global, Wiley, Chichester, 1-26. Google Scholar

Quayson, A. (2014) Oxford Street, Accra: City Life and the Itineraries of Transformation, Durham, MA, Duke University Press. Google Scholar

Roever, S. and Skinner, C. (2016) ‘Street vendors and cities’, Environment and Urbanization, 28(2), 359-374. Google Scholar

Rose, N. and Miller, P. (1992) ‘Political power beyond the state: problematics of government’, British Journal of Sociology, 43(2), 173-205. Google Scholar

Roy, A. (2009) ‘Why India cannot plan its cities: informality, insurgence and the idiom of urbanization’, Planning Theory, 8(1), 76-87. Google Scholar

Roy, A. (2011) ‘Slumdog cities: rethinking subaltern urbanism’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 35(2), 223-238. Google Scholar

Roy, A. and AlSayyad, N. (eds) (2004) Urban Informality: Transnational Perspectives from the Middle East, Latin America, and South Asia, Lanham, MD, Lexington Books. Google Scholar

Schindler, S. (2017) ‘Beyond a state-centric approach to urban informality: interactions between Delhi’s middle class and the informal service sector’, Current Sociology, 65(2), 248-259. Google Scholar

Spire, A. and Choplin, A. (2018) ‘Street vendors facing urban beautification in Accra (Ghana): eviction, relocation and formalization’, Articulo, Journal of Urban Research, 17-18. Google Scholar

Steel, W. F., Ujoranyi, T. D. and Owusu, G. (2014) ‘Why evictions do not deter street traders: case study in Accra, Ghana’, Ghana Social Science Journal, 11(2), 52-76. Google Scholar

Yiftachel, O. (2009) ‘Critical theory and “gray space”: mobilization of the colonized’, City, 13(2-3), 246-263. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Fält, Lena