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Living together in the post-conflict city: radio and the re-Making of place in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire

Cante, Fabien (2018) Living together in the post-conflict city: radio and the re-Making of place in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.uoiwxaohlr96

Abstract

This thesis examines the role of proximity radio (radio de proximité) in the re-making of place in post-conflict Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. Proximity radio stations are areabased, non-commercial broadcasters introduced in the late 1990s as part of the liberalisation of the Ivoirian airwaves. Following recent politico-military conflict, stations have become key actors in national and local efforts to rebuild ways of living together. To understand the role that proximity radio stations play in post-conflict cohabitation, it is necessary to move beyond policy discourses of "reconciliation" and "social cohesion." These discourses are ubiquitous in Abidjan but they provide an abstracted and de-politicising account of togetherness. Instead, putting critical media and urban studies in dialogue, I ground my approach in the layered complexities of everyday mediation, as well as the contested politics of city life. Theoretically, the work of proximity radio stations can be understood in terms of what I call the mediated production of locality. This situates radio's significance in its ability to sustain habits of shared space from which encounters can spring and new commonalities can emerge. It also conceives of urban place as thoroughly political terrain, challenging top-down discourses that posit the local as a realm of social activity separate from (national) politics. The centrality of place, as a concept for inquiry, informs an ethnographic methodology attuned both to the multiple sites of media-related practices and to discourses linking (or de-linking) locality, media and politics in Abidjan. Asking what kind of place proximity radio stations make in the Ivoirian metropolis allows us to grasp local mediation in its full ambivalence - that is, considering both its challenges and its potential for new commonalities. My empirical analysis shows that, on the one hand, proximity radio stations carry discourses in which the local serves to contain and constrain urban dwellers' ability to question their situation. On the other hand, stations foster a sociability of encounter in which it is possible to discern the promise of a new form of local politics, rooted in the shared experiences of everyday urban life. In the end, I argue that proximity radio should allow inhabitants to make their own place in the city, rather than tell them what kind of meaning the local should take in their lives.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2017 Fabien Cante
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Supervisor: Couldry, Nick and Willems, Wendy
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3731

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