From quiet to bold encroachment: contesting dispossession in Accra’s informal sector

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This article draws on Asef Bayat’s theory of “quiet encroachment” to analyse the political agency of street hawkers and squatters in Accra, Ghana. It demonstrates how squatters and street hawkers in Ghana’s capital city are engaged in everyday practices of quiet encroachment, whereby they occupy urban space as a means to reproduce themselves. It then explores how encroachers take collective action to defend their access to urban space from state-led dispossession. In a context of competitive partisan politics where the management of urban space has become highly politicized, hawkers and squatters organizations have been empowered to seek active engagement and dialogue with the authorities. Whereas Bayat argues that the informal proletariat in authoritarian contexts desire autonomy and invisibility from the institutions of the state, therefore, the particular characteristics of Ghana’s multiparty system have created the possibility for bold acts of encroachment on urban space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number0
Early online date1 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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