Idris publishes book chapter about Eritrean city of Asmara

The chapter is part of the book "The African Metropolis: Struggles over Urban Space, Citizenship, and Rights to the City."  

Assistant Professor Mussa Idris from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology recently published a peer-reviewed book chapter titled, “Analytical views on the cultural and spatialized narratives of Asmara.” This city is the capital of Eritrea in East Africa and it is a city that UNESCO declared World Heritage Center in July 2017.

The chapter by Idris is part of the book, “The African Metropolis: Struggles over Urban Space, Citizenship, and Rights to the City” edited by scholars Toyin Falola and Bisola Falola and published by Routledge.

The chapter provides analytical views on past and present official and spatialized narratives of Asmara. These narratives stem from its foundation as a “united” settlement and its Italian, British and Ethiopian occupations to its current state as the heart of Eritrea.

This chapter argues that after Eritrea’s independence in 1991, narratives of preservation and “development” focused on the agenda of the elite rulers, the financial resources of transnational Eritrean migrants, and the attraction of tourism rather than the establishment and defense of the indigenous human and cultural rights to the city. This means that an alternative official “development” narrative of Asmara that considers the interests of all its citizens is needed and should consider the cultural story and the socio-cultural characteristics of the city. This entails putting in place a set of administrative and social procedures regarding the organization of city spaces, community activities, cherished values and rules of living that would (re)shape Asmara in terms of its spatial and urban social relations.

Idris has previously published research about diaspora communities from East Africa in the journal African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal, and he has constantly presented in venues such as the annual conferences of the American Anthropological Association and the Society of Applied Anthropology .