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New insight into the lives of young people in cities in Africa

Christian Vium, associate professor of anthropology, receives a huge grant from the Danish Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF) to study the lives of young people in African cities.

Image from the project.
Image from the project.

How do young people live in Africa's big cities? A new research project will attempt to answer this question. The research project is called "Mobilities, Imaginaries & Articulations (MIA): Revisioning the African City from the Periphery" and has just received a grant of DKK six million from the Danish Council for Independent Research.

"More than 250 million young people live on the African continent, and this figure is expected to double by 2030. By 2050, Africa's cities are expected to be home to one and a half billion people, two-thirds of whom live in fast-growing peripheral areas. As part of the project, we will conduct three in-depth anthropological studies in Nouakchott, Cape Town and Nairobi, three of the fastest growing cities in the world. Through these studies, we will gain new insight into how young people navigate their daily lives, what dreams they have, and how they create their own spaces in cities," says associate professor in Anthropology Christian Vium.

The research project will involve several new initiatives - among other things, the project will make use of methods such as film, photography, sound recordings, virtual reality and mapping carried out in close collaboration with young people from the above-mentioned areas, who will therefore be directly involved in the research. The project will also hold a number of local workshops and exhibitions and create an open digital platform so that everyone can access the new knowledge.

Christian Vium explains the purpose of the project:

"The aim is to understand how young people move through the city and create their own lives and communities. This knowledge is important because young people are the largest and fastest growing population group in Africa. Through collaboration with local partners and participants, we hope to create new and relevant knowledge that can be used to improve urban planning and policies."

In order to analyse data within and across the three cities, the project introduces a new theoretical prism, 'peripheral synergy', which compares the concepts of 'mobilities', 'imaginaries' and 'articulations'. The expectation is that this will contribute new knowledge about how cities are best understood from the perspective of young people, which may have an impact on how people think about cities and their development in Africa in the future.


Christian Vium, Associate Professor 
School of Culture and Society - Department of Anthropology
Mobil: 2980 2639
Mail: cvium@cas.au.dk