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Mellon Forum // Race Empire Environment // The Politics of Dwelling

Gregory Valdespino, Princeton-Mellon / PIIRS Fellow, with Jacob Dlamini, History

Wed, 9/14 · 12:00 pm1:15 pm EDT · Betts Auditorium and Zoom

Princeton Mellon Initiative

Government legitimacy and domestic well-being are closely linked. In France and Senegal, West Africans’ capacity to feel at home was critical to an emergent politics of dwelling, as domestic spaces were at the heart of intense political debates from 1900 to 1980. The politics of dwelling emerged from discussions centered on architecture, including barracks for Senegalese soldiers in the Mediterranean in 1915 and concrete walls of new suburbs in postwar Dakar. Through the politics of dwelling, the “right to a home” became central to French and Senegalese politics in the 20th century, as West Africans came to expect or demand support from often violent colonial and postcolonial institutions. Yet it also demonstrates the limits and obstacles that arose for those trying to turn that right into a reality.

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