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Building and Contesting post-war Housing in Dakar

Luce Beeckmans (UGent)
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Abstract
After the Second World War, European welfare planning was transposed to the African colonies. With regard to housing this meant a true turning point in urban policy. For the first time the colonial state massively invested in the housing of the African urban dwellers. However, the segregationist underground and elite‐focus of the housing schemes at the same time reinforced fundamental inequities in the African city, thereby furthering colonial goals. The promotion of African emancipation was thus accompanied by a strong ‘social engineering’. Yet, Africans were no passive victims of development schemes. In this paper we will take a close look at the housing schemes of the Société Immobilière du Cap Vert (SICAP) in Dakar (Senegal) between 1951 and 1960 (independence). Notwithstanding the significant housing shortages in Dakar, archival records show that a substantial amount of the SICAP houses remained vacant after completion. Apart from too high rents, the main reason was that the SICAP-houses seemed to be designed with the average West-European middle-class family in mind. As a consequence, most houses proved too small and little adjusted to the extended African family, which is well reflected in the many alterations the SICAP houses underwent right from their completion until today. Moreover, the SICAP housing schemes, and in particular their segregationist and elitist underground, caused strong African opposition. Many Africans opposed to the more than 80.000 forced evictions, known in the colonial jargon as ‘déguerpissements’, that were caused by the implementation of the schemes. The result was a fierce battle over land between the government and the inhabitants of Dakar. In particular the Lebou-population demanded adequate compensation for its land in case of expropriation, even if they did not possess any official land title, with equal rewards for Africans and Europeans. Due various forms of active and passive protest of the inhabitants the implementation of the SICAP housing schemes regularly came to a standstill and the government often found itself in ‘a complete impasse’. The study of these different forms of agency and resistance in Dakar is important as it shows that, although colonial rule was strict and compelling, it was possible to escape from it to some degree.
Keywords
colonial Dakar, post-war housing, SICAP, urban governance

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Beeckmans, Luce. 2015. “Building and Contesting Post-war Housing in Dakar.” In Sixth European Conference on African Studies, Abstracts.
APA
Beeckmans, Luce. (2015). Building and Contesting post-war Housing in Dakar. Sixth European Conference on African Studies, Abstracts. Presented at the Sixth European Conference on African Studies (ECAS-6).
Vancouver
1.
Beeckmans L. Building and Contesting post-war Housing in Dakar. Sixth European Conference on African Studies, Abstracts. 2015.
MLA
Beeckmans, Luce. “Building and Contesting Post-war Housing in Dakar.” Sixth European Conference on African Studies, Abstracts. 2015. Print.
@inproceedings{6909417,
  abstract     = {After the Second World War, European welfare planning was transposed to the African colonies. With regard to housing this meant a true turning point in urban policy. For the first time the colonial state massively invested in the housing of the African urban dwellers. However, the segregationist underground and elite‐focus of the housing schemes at the same time reinforced fundamental inequities in the African city, thereby furthering colonial goals. The promotion of African emancipation was thus accompanied by a strong ‘social engineering’. Yet, Africans were no passive victims of development schemes. In this paper we will take a close look at the housing schemes of the Société Immobilière du Cap Vert (SICAP) in Dakar (Senegal) between 1951 and 1960 (independence). Notwithstanding the significant housing shortages in Dakar, archival records show that a substantial amount of the SICAP houses remained vacant after completion. Apart from too high rents, the main reason was that the SICAP-houses seemed to be designed with the average West-European middle-class family in mind. As a consequence, most houses proved too small and little adjusted to the extended African family, which is well reflected in the many alterations the SICAP houses underwent right from their completion until today. Moreover, the SICAP housing schemes, and in particular their segregationist and elitist underground, caused strong African opposition. Many Africans opposed to the more than 80.000 forced evictions, known in the colonial jargon as ‘déguerpissements’, that were caused by the implementation of the schemes. The result was a fierce battle over land between the government and the inhabitants of Dakar. In particular the Lebou-population demanded adequate compensation for its land in case of expropriation, even if they did not possess any official land title, with equal rewards for Africans and Europeans. Due various forms of active and passive protest of the inhabitants the implementation of the SICAP housing schemes regularly came to a standstill and the government often found itself in ‘a complete impasse’. The study of these different forms of agency and resistance in Dakar is important as it shows that, although colonial rule was strict and compelling, it was possible to escape from it to some degree.},
  author       = {Beeckmans, Luce},
  booktitle    = {Sixth European Conference on African Studies, Abstracts},
  keywords     = {colonial Dakar,post-war housing,SICAP,urban governance},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Paris, France},
  title        = {Building and Contesting post-war Housing in Dakar},
  url          = {http://www.ecas2015.fr/},
  year         = {2015},
}