This article attempts to bridge two literatures—the African history of urban life and the colonial history of urban planning—in order to better understand the politics of African mobility. In doing so, it situates colonial histories of urban planning and emerging African cultures of auto-mobility within a broader critique of colonial technology and infrastructure. This article argues that the realities of indirect rule—the autonomy of African urban residents and the weakness of colonial authority and infrastructure—raised new questions and problems for colonial officials who were tasked with turning ideology into policy and practice. In particular, mobility politics allow us to trace the way that “average” people negotiated colonial politics within and outside of the formal, elite structures of elected Town Councils, Legislative Assembles, or chieftaincy politics. Within the colonial bureaucracy and the Town Council, African elites negotiated their own prestige and status alongside the interests and demands of the city’s lower- and middle-class populations.


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pp. S49-S76
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