CUP at the ARUA Conference

Three members of the CUP team (Jane Battersby, Murray Leibbrandt and Harro von Blottnitz) attended the launch conference of  ARUA (African Research  University Alliance) in Accra, Ghana on 2-4 April 2017.


“ARUA, a partnership of research universities in Africa, was launched in early 2015 as a response to the growing challenges faced by African universities. The alliance will form a hub that supports centres of excellence in many other universities across the continent. The focus is on building indigenous research excellence to enable the continent to take control of its future and assert itself as a powerful global force.”


The conference focused on 13 strategic thematic areas identified by ARUA, including Food security, poverty and inequality, unemployment and skills development, mobility and migration, good governance, energy, and urbanization and habitable cities – all themes addressed within CUP.

CUP looks forward to seeking synergies with new partners across Africa to advance research, policy and the intersections between the two.


New CUP Paper – Duminy

James Duminy has recently published his paper “Ecologizing regions; securing food: governing scarcity, population and territory in British East and Southern Africa” in Territory, Politics, Governance.

It can be accessed here: (If you don’t have access to the journal and want a copy, please email

Abstract: “The focus is on the government of food systems in British East and Southern Africa in the mid-twentieth century, and the influence of ecological science on late colonial governmentality. The aim is to contribute to current debates emphasizing the need to uncover the political and historical specificities of territory, as well as to broaden the concept beyond its legal, political-economic and strategic features, and the bounded scale of the nation-state. It is argued that a focus on colonial problematizations of government, through the lens of food, contributes to these discussions in at least two ways: First, by producing substantive knowledge of a context under-examined in the literature on territory. Second, by contributing to the theorization of territory in broadening its ambit to include ecological knowledge and practices oriented towards the calculative political control of earth processes, and caring for various systemic relations between matter and life. Governing colonial food systems linked a range of economic and ecological problems and hence food provides a suitable lens to study the historical interrelations of biopolitical and geopolitical techniques.”

New affiliated working paper on informal food retail in Cape Town

CUP’s Jane Battersby has just published a new AFSUN working paper:

Battersby, J., Marshak, M. & Mngqibisi, N. (2017) Mapping the invisible: The informal food economy of Cape Town, South Africa, AFSUN Working Paper Series, No. 24, Cape Town, South Africa:


“This report argues that it is essential to understand the dynamics of the informal food retail sector because of its vital role in ensuring greater access to food by the urban poor. Existing policy frameworks to address food security and to govern the informal sector tend to neglect informal retail in the food system. As a result, the sector is poorly understood. The report therefore attempts to identify the characteristics of the sector that impact on its ability to address the food needs of the neighbourhoods in which the businesses are located. Although the research is focused on Cape Town, the findings are of broader relevance.”

Consumption and Identity in African Cities Symposium, Cape Town 9 March 2017

This event is being hosted by colleagues at UCT. It should be an excellent day grappling with issues of consumption.

“We are delighted to invite you to a one-day symposium hosted by the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town, on 9 March 2017. The event is supported by a British Academy/Newton Advanced Fellowship on Consumer Ethics in Post-Apartheid South Africa.

Call for papers

The geographies of consumption in Africa are largely unwritten. What is clear, however, is that throughout history, the ability to consume and to judge ‘good’ consumption has also been the ability to materialise identity and difference. In contemporary Africa, the rapid growth of the middle-classes, juxtaposed with deep inequalities in fast-expanding cities, is creating dynamic spaces where imaginaries and practices of consumption are in flux. Debates about sustainability, food (in)security, urban agriculture, animal rights, conspicuous consumption, and political greed and corruption are prominent, and often racialized. This symposium focuses on this context where conflicting ethical judgements about what constitutes ‘good consumption’ directly emerge from and shape identity and belonging. We welcome papers that seek to engage with any aspect of the relationship between consumption and identity in African cities and towns, and to contribute to a deeper understanding of the ways in which consumption is made meaningful in the everyday lives of urban Africans.

Submission guidelines

Please send abstracts of not more than 250 words, attached as a Microsoft Word document, to Dr Shari by Friday 13 January 2017. All abstracts will be reviewed by the Fellowship team, and notifications of acceptance will be sent by 3 February 2017.

A small number of travel bursaries will be available to help support scholars travelling from outside Cape Town. If you wish to be considered for one of these bursaries please include a covering letter stating this, in the same file as your abstract. Preference will be given to postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers.”


Developing innovative research in urban food security through new methods and a new generation of researchers

CUP’s Gareth Haysom recently published this blog piece on the Urban Transformations website:

Urban Transformations is the collaborative website of a collection of ESRC-supported urban projects.

New Book:”Rapid Urbanisation, Urban Food Deserts and Food Security in Africa”

CUP’s Jonathan Crush and Jane Battersby have just published a new co-edited volume through Springer, “Rapid Urbanisation, Urban Food Deserts and Food Security in Africa”.


“This book investigates food security and the implications of hyper-urbanisation and rapid growth of urban populations in Africa. By means of a series of case studies involving African cities of various sizes, it argues that, while the concept of food security holds value, it needs to be reconfigured to fit the everyday realities and distinctive trajectory of urbanisation in the region. The book goes on to discuss the urban context, where food insecurity is more a problem of access and changing consumption patterns than of insufficient food production. In closing, it approaches food insecurity in Africa as an increasingly urban problem that requires different responses from those applied to rural populations.”

You can get the e-book or hardcover through the Springer site, here:


Book Contract for CUP


27855048202_ce8fefcd22_kWe are delighted to announce that we have been offered a book contract with Routledge to produce “Urban Food Systems Governance and Poverty in African cities”.
Co-edited by Jane Battersby and Vanessa Watson, the book plans to do the following:

“As Africa urbanizes and the locus of poverty shifts to urban centres, there is an imperative to address poverty in African cities. This is particularly the case in smaller cities, which are often the most rapidly urbanizing, but the least capacitated to cope with this growth. The global development agenda is increasingly focusing on urban issues, most notably the urban goal of the new Sustainable Development Goals and its New Urban Agenda. Despite the centrality of food to the health and well being of urban residents, and the role of the food system in the local economy, there has been relatively little research on urban food security or urban food systems in the African context. There has also been little attention paid to the governance of the urban food system to the ends of alleviating urban poverty, and to the role of urban planning in achieving this. This book seeks to address this gap through a focus on linkages between poverty, urban food systems and local governance in three smaller cities in Africa. It makes a wider contribution to debates on urban studies and urban governance in Africa through analysis of the causes and consequences of the paucity of urban-scale data for decision makers, and by presenting potential methodological innovations to address this paucity.”

2nd Food: Systems, Security and Inclusivity Seminar 13 Sept 2016

The 2nd in the Food: Systems, Security and Inclusivity seminars will be held at UCT on 13 Sept 2016.

The systematic review of the literature that focuses on both the ‘informal economy’ and ‘food security’ in South Africa will be presented by Candice Kelly and Etai Evenv-Zahav. Abstract below:

Despite the importance of the informal food economy in fulfilling the daily and weekly food needs of a large proportion of South Africa’s low-income population, it appears little research exists on the exact nature of the relationship between the informal food economy and food security. This paper performed the first qualitative systematic review of research from South Africa that addresses both these aspects. The methods used in the review are described in detail, to increase the readers’ ability to assess the reliability of subsequent findings and analysis. Findings confirmed the low level of research focus on the informal food economy (and food security), in particular the stages of the value chain beyond the farm gate and before the consumer. Food safety research is common, although applied narrowly and with mixed findings. The conceptualisation of nutrition research is encouragingly wide, encompassing both over- and under-nutrition, but does not seem to consider the broader urban informal context in which consumers are embedded. Lastly, the research approaches used are predominately quantitative, and the voices of those who survive within the informal food economy are largely absent.


For more info see here: