The concept of sustainability has been invoked to advocate a wide variety of environmental and economic development projects. Most recently, calls for the ‘sustainable development’ of urban centers in the global South have sought to address environmental and social problems associated with informal housing settlements. This presentation examines debates –among a variety of public and private actors- over how to counteract the proliferation of informal housing settlements and manage natural resources in Senegal’s rapidly urbanizing Dakar Region. In doing so, I draw from ethnographic research and textual analysis to examine conflicts that have developed over how sustainable development should be practiced in urban Dakar. Through an examination of several conflicts that have developed from recent efforts to plan and construct ‘eco-cities’, I argue that actors are struggling over a/how to best preserve urban farmland and floodplains and b/the extent to which middle-class and elite housing estates should be integrated into urban development strategies. In addressing the outcomes of these struggles over sustainable urban development, I contend that these conflicts are reconfiguring Dakar’s urban landscape and increasing urban poverty and inequality.
Nicole List is a Graduate Student in the Department of Geography at University of California, Berkeley. Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of urban political ecology, international development, real estate, and global finance. Her deep engagement with these fields is represented in her dissertation, which examines how the rise of middle-class and elite housing estates in peri/urban Dakar (Senegal) is dramatically reconfiguring the cartography of political relations -between central/local government officials, traditional elites, farmer associations, women's groups, and I/NGOs- and transforming landscapes of social differentiation. Moreover, Ms. List has extensive teaching experience -including instructor positions and teaching assistantships- at UC Berkeley in courses on global political ecology, urban poverty, international development, food and the environment, and classical political economy.