ACC International Urban Conference

ACC International Urban Conference – Events


African cities are now firmly on the agenda. In the past decade, an African urban turn has become evident across pan-African development agencies, governments and universities. Almost all African governments are committed to sustain an on-going national, continental and multilateral discourse on sustainable urbanism. A combination of factors help explain the shift, not least key international processes related to the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Climate Agreement and the New Urban Agenda adopted in October 2016. All of these chime, to some extent, with Agenda 2063, the African Union framework to modernise the pan-African agenda. At the same time, sustained and expanding scholarship has played a major role in bringing ‘the city’ to the forefront of mobilisation for greater social, environmental and economic justice and accountable governance.

On the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at the University of Cape Town, we will convene an international academic conference in Cape Town to take stock of cutting-edge urban research and to debate knowledge priorities in the aftermath of the new global development architecture. The meeting will deliberate on the utility of existing ideas in urban studies for the study of African cities. The conference will provide an opportunity to explore imperatives for fostering indigenous theoretical as well as comparative urban approaches to make sense of African urbanism in all of its specificity. Debates will be rooted in policy and theoretical imperatives in African urban studies that demand deep specialisation as well as stronger interdisciplinary orientation and methodological innovation. The conference will provide a unique opportunity for urban scholars from all corners of Africa and the world to gather to present current research and to explore new avenues for enquiry and collaboration. It will bring together cutting-edge urban research from across the Continent and make visible the vibrant state of our broad and heterogeneous field.

With 71 panels and 16 roundtables the three-day programme is packed with fantastic contributions from around the globe. A series of themes structure the various panels and roundtables:

  • Governance, Planning and Politics
  • Justice, Rights and Change in the City
  • Infrastructure, Resource Access and City Development
  • Feeding the City
  • Rethinking the African City
  • Urbanisation and Economies
  • Climate, Resilience and Sustainability
  • Knowing the City? Methodology and Trans-Disciplinarity
  • Everyday City Life: Identities, cultures and livelihoods
  • Imagining the Urban Past and Present: Architecture, Design and Art
  • Professional Practice, Networks, Publishing

Download the draft programme here.

We have also published a draft conference abstract book which provides more information on the papers and roundtables, which will be presented during the conference programme from 1 to 3 February 2018, at the University of Cape Town.

Download the draft conference abstract book here.


  • Participants are expected to cover their own costs to attend the conference and pay the modest registration fee. A small support fund will be established to enable emerging scholars to participate.​
  • Conference dates: 1-3 February 2018

Conference Partners

Cities Alliance, National Research Foundation, AW Mellon Foundation, Mistra Urban Futures, and University of Cape Town

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