Chris Blattman

Misadventures in urban planning

South Sudan is planning to literally re-build its city centers from scratch…into the shape of some of the safari animals the rest of the world comes to these parts to chase around in open-roofed vehicles.

The multi-decade project is estimated to cost over $10 billion (the government’s annual budget this year was less than $2 billion).

These new urban centers will be owned initially by the private companies who finance the construction, under a public-private partnership model currently all the rage here in the wider region.

That his Alan Boswell blogging. His Business Week story here.

Here is the purported plan for Juba, using the well known rhinoceros solution to gridlock:

The shaded area in the rhino’s nether region is “rural socialized housing”. Ouch.

Same goes for Wau where, poetically, the head (government and military) are supported by an elongated neck (the commercial sector and “international community”):

The tail is a sewage treatment plant, which attaches at the bus depot. Seriously.

See here for the larger pics.

5 Responses

  1. To the extent there is truth in symbolism here, it’s that, in any city, there are places which are most desired and places less desired. The rich and powerful live in the most desirable places — duh. And if anyone had to choose where, in the representation of an animal, they would want to live, it’s easy to assume which parts would be most highly-sought. Head? Yes. Gulch? Not so much.

    Elliott, it’s cool that you’re trying to write like Pynchon, but he has (had?) ideas. You don’t. The main thing you’re trying to communicate is how educated and sophisticated you are. Dismount from your high horse and spend some time with the so-called Damned of the Earth; you’ll get a whole new perspective about who did the damning.

    Consider it this way, though: in the body, there is no elite, and no preterite. No organ is passed-over. Each is vital and necessary. The lesson therefore might be, why are we assuming that it’s such a terrible thing to be the genitals of a giraffe? Don’t you consider your own genitals (or anus) to be important? Don’t you respect each and every part of your body as a vital contributor to the whole? As in the same way we ought to respect each part of the planet, life and non-life, and every member of society.

  2. there are no words to describe the symbolism of this catastrophe. but we must try (?): what does it mean to live in a city that has become a performative charade for the part of the world that has money to visit it? what does it mean to turn yourself into a zoo? what does it mean to be owned by a corporation? it is, in a word, dehumanization. or perhaps what is ultimately upsetting about this is that it has the audacity to speak the truth of the Symbolic Order: the transgression is that it makes explicit that the only way marginalized countries gain visibility in the world is through these kind of minstrel-ish travesties…

    It is important to remember that Fanon’s title should really have been translated into English as “The Damned of the Earth” rather than “The Wretched of the Earth” – there is agency involved in damning…

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