Oil, Housing, and Invisiblized Working Women: Petro-urbanism and Architecture in Luanda
Presenter: Henrik Ernstson
Based on a paper by Wangui Kimari and Henrik Ernstson
SEED Seminar Series
Thursday 4 May 2023, 12:15-13:00
Floor 3, Teknikringen 10B, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm
Abstract. Central to the media portrayals of Kilamba are handshakes between men. This massive housing project of 20,000 apartments, situated 30 kilometers outside Luanda, the capital city of Angola, is one of several concrete products that have emerged from the selling of Angolan oil to China in exchange for housing and infrastructure over the last two decades. Within local discourses of progress, Kilamba’s emergence from within “petro-urbanism,” and its size and modern aesthetics are emphasized, while little attention has been directed towards understanding the actual contributions of its workers, particularly the women who spend a significant part of their day cleaning Kilamba’s apartments. In this paper, we combine a feminist social reproduction framework with infrastructure studies to trace the labor of Kilamba’s female domestic workers, in order to demonstrate how their everyday practices uphold the status and materiality of this centrality, even as their work is invisibilized. In doing so, we understand their commentaries about this space, often refracted through descriptions of their homes, as critiques of the infrastructural priorities of the “New Angola.” In the presentation, I will develop a broader argument on how to understand large-scale investments from focus group interviews and on-the-ground observations. I have attached my paper with Wangui Kimari and for further introduction to Luanda and Angola, you can watch our research-based film BLOCOS URBANISM that is part of a wider research effort (see the film at http://www.situatedecologies.net/films/ , scroll down).
Reference to paper:
- Kimari, Wangui, and Henrik Ernstson. 2022. ‘The Invisible Labor of the “New Angola”: Kilamba’s Domestic Workers’. Urban Geography, December, 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/02723638.2022.2145818.
Further reading and watching from the research group:
- Cardoso, Ricardo, Jia-Ching Chen, and Henrik Ernstson. 2023. ‘Blocos Urbanism: Capitalism and Modularity in the Making of Contemporary Luanda’. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research Accepted for publication. Waiting for proofs.
- Ergon, Jens, and Henrik Ernstson, dirs. 2023. Blocos Urbanism: From Oil to Infrastructure in Luanda. Video. Documentary. The Situated Ecologies Platform. https://vimeo.com/572983609.
The talk is organised KTH SEED and their Dr. Xi-Lillian Pang and The Situated Ecologies Platform.