Eko Atlantic City in Lagos, Nigeria, is a human-constructed peninsula built from sand dredged off the continental shelf, imagined as a ten-square kilometer, semiautonomous, mixed-use district. While most scholarly analyses emphasize the project’s neoliberal development fantasies, Mendelsohn’s essay treats Eko Atlantic City as an entry point into Lagos’s situation of precarious coastal urbanism within the deep time of its socionatural evolution. The essay develops an explicitly geosocial reading drawing on an interdisciplinary approach to urban and environmental media studies, centering Lagos’s sedimentary conditions within narratives of its past, present, and future. Eko Atlantic is only one example of a pervasive culture of dredging and sand filling in Lagos, even as the city experiences intensifying floods in the newly reclaimed landforms. A geosocial reading demonstrates that the circulations that often characterize this postcolonial megacity should be thought alongside another set of circulations and flows: that of the ground itself.
Making the Urban Coast: A Geosocial Reading of Land, Sand, and Water in Lagos, Nigeria
Ben Mendelsohn is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow with the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania. His research examines the global urban coast through a combination of scholarship and short documentary videos. He was a 2017–18 Global Dissertation Fellow at NYU Shanghai and a 2014 Social Science Research Council Dissertation Proposal Development Fellow in Oceanic Studies.
Ben Mendelsohn; Making the Urban Coast: A Geosocial Reading of Land, Sand, and Water in Lagos, Nigeria. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 December 2018; 38 (3): 455–472. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201x-7208801
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