Report - Book launch: Classify, exclude and police: Urban lives in South Africa and Nigeria, by Prof. Laurent Fourchard

  • Dates:  14th and 16th of January 2020
  • Venues: Alliance Française of Lagos/ Mike Adenuga Centre and Drapers Hall, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan.

IFRA-Nigeria organised two events for the book launch of Prof. Laurent Fourchard, titted Classify, exclude and police: urban lives in South Africa and Nigeria. The events, in Lagos and in Ibadan, marked the launch of the forthcoming English version of the book in Wiley-Blackwell, originally published in French in 2018.

The first event was held on Tuesday 14th of January at the Alliance Française of Lagos/ Mike Adenuga Centre. the audience was composed of a small gathering of academics from UniLag and urban professionals (mainly representatives of NGOs). Madame la Consule de France à Lagos, Laurence de Montmayrant, attended the book launch.

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The second book launch was held on Thursday 16th of January at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. This time the book launch gathered a larger audience (about 40 people) including students and professors interested in urban studies from the University of Ibadan. The presentation was followed by concluding remarks from Professor Dele Layiwola and a Q&A session with the audience.

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About the author:

 Laurent Fourchard is currently Research Professor of history and political science at the Centre for International Relations at Sciences Po in Paris. His research is located at the intersection of African history and African politics and his interests focus on urban comparative research, violence and exclusion, citizenship and process of identification in Nigeria and South Africa. He has published in numerous peer reviewed journals (Africa, African affairs, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Journal of African History, Lagos Historical Review…).


About the book:

The cities of South Africa and Nigeria are reputed to be dangerous, teeming with slums, and dominated by the informal economy but we know little about how people are divided up, categorised and policed. In Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lagos and Ibadan, the four cities examined by the author, government based on classification and exclusion assigned rights and punishments and banned categories considered problematic (delinquents, young people, migrants, single women, street vendors). Non-state organisations surveilled low-income neighbourhoods during the day, policed them at night, and used violence against young people and foreigners.

Over time, a tangle of little arrangements has developed in the streets, in market places and motor parks, and in local government offices. Access to these places is constantly being challenged and brokered with individuals in positions of authority (civil servants, trade union leaders, godfathers, governors) by residents in need of a service, an authorization, support, a stall in a market, or a place at university .In this unpredictable urban reality - which has eluded all planning - individuals and social groups have changed areas of public action through exclusion, violence and negotiation.

In combining historical and ethnographic methods, Classify, Exclude, Police explores the effects and limits of public action, and questions the possibility of comparison between cities often perceived as incommensurable. Focusing on state formation, urbanization, and daily lives, Laurent Fourchard seeks to address debates in comparative urban studies, history, political science, and urban anthropology.

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