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Inside-Out Houses: Urban Belonging and Imagined Futures in Dakar, Senegal

  • Caroline Melly (a1)

In every neighborhood of Dakar, Senegal, large houses in various stages of construction stand as witnesses to and evidence of transnational movements of labor and capital. These ambitious building projects, funded by Senegalese migrants living and working abroad, have utterly transformed the city landscape, and their pervasiveness leads many Dakarois to assume that everyone must be migrating. Intended as eventual family homes, investment properties, or a combination of the two, the innovative layouts and architectural flourishes of these not-yet houses echo lives lived elsewhere while drawing on local aesthetics and approaches to spatial design. Though some houses seem to near completion within just a year or two, most structures linger for several years or even a decade, slowly eroding as families and hired contractors wait for money transfers from abroad. Some constructions boast newly laid bricks or fresh paint, while others are obscured by overgrown vegetation and debris.

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Janet Carsten and Stephen Hugh-Jones . 1995. Introduction. In J. Carsten and S. Hugh-Jones , eds., About the House: Lévi-Strauss and Beyond. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Abdou Maliq Simone . 2004b. For the City Yet to Come: Changing African Life in Four Cities. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

Paul Stoller . 2002. Money Has No Smell: The Africanization of New York City. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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