Transformation of Dar es Salaam

Physical Transformation of Dar es Salaam and Emerging Discourses of Urban Development and Environments

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Transformation of Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam. Copyright Emily Brownell

This project seeks to explore the dynamic environmental changes and geographical expansion of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, during the 1970s and early 1980s. At the height of centralized state power in Tanzania, the nation's development model (Ujamaa) was decidedly rural and agrarian. Cities were frequently depicted by the state in newspapers and speeches as havens for the unemployed and therefore parasitic to the prosperity of the nation. Nonetheless, the population of Dar es Salaam continued to increase dramatically due to rural–urban migration. This tension between state desires and citizen action is my point of departure for looking at both the physical transformation of Dar es Salaam and emerging discourses of urban development and environments. While the Tanzanian state during this period left behind a deep legacy of national planning and paternalism, it also encouraged an ethos of "self-help" within a vacuum of urban authority. The result is a vast unplanned and informal expansion of the city that was nevertheless ceaselessly discussed both in newspapers and in academic studies. My book will examine some of these most salient discussions, over food, land, waste, and transportation, from the perspectives of citizens, the state, and international donors.