Theses Master's

"Addis Ababa Bete (Home)": Contesting Socio-spatial Exclusion and/in Suburban Futures

Ephrem, Maya

Addis Ababa is undergoing rapid urban transformation—and at the expense of local communities who are victim to displacement. Since the early 2000s, Ethiopia has pursued a pro-modernist agenda to reimagine the city, while still grappling with structural legacies of exclusion, like social stratification and ethnic tension. Given institutional weaknesses, as evidenced by the lack of urban housing and related services, arrangements between the government and private entities have not only dominated the development process but have dictated spatial and infrastructural outcomes. This research will explore the development of Ayat, a peri-urban neighborhood, formally incorporated into Addis Ababa in 1989, a year after Ethiopia transitioned to ethnic federalism. As the product of a “governance arrangement” with a real estate company, Ayat serves as a compelling crucible of ethnopolitics in the built environment. Meant to serve as an extension of the capital, Ayat’s suburban development is at odds with Addis’ character of 𝘶𝘳𝘣𝘢𝘯 𝘮𝘪𝘹𝘪𝘵𝘺—as its residents are largely diaspora or part of Ethiopia’s emerging middle to high-income class. This thesis will challenge the governance arrangement that enabled its development and the threat it poses to the city writ-large, namely as emboldening practices of de-facto socio-spatial exclusion. In Ayat, the confluence of the 𝘥𝘦𝘴𝘪𝘳𝘦𝘥 city and the spatial constraints of urban growth, as argued in this work, detail a primacy on realizing a modernist urban fantasy typically found in the West and is by default, an incompatible future for Addis Ababa’s residents.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Wu, Weiping
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 11, 2020