I had the incredible privilege of photographing alongside my old Urban Studies grad-school pal Arianna King this past January. With her words and research, and my portrait and environmental images, we created collaborative work honoring the real human stories behind urban infrastructural change. We look forward to hanging this poster series on the walls of the market once our communities have recovered from Covid. You can read more about our work together here.
Here are Ari’s words contextualizing her research at the market:
The Kotokuraba Market, the central public market in the city of Cape Coast, Ghana, has recently undergone a drastic physical transformation from a traditional open-air market to a more Western-style shopping mall. Although, many scholars and urban technocrats argue that the modernization of Africa’s urban marketplaces represents a positive change, few consider the detrimental social impacts that affect the lives and livelihoods of community members. From lost wages, to on-going administrative battles for space within the new market, in the case of the Kotokuraba members of the market community consistently express their resentment for the politicians and planners that so casually excluded them from the critical planning and redevelopment processes.
Since June 2019, I have been living and researching in Cape Coast. Generous funding through my Fulbright Grant has allowed me the time to integrate into the Cape Coast community, build relationships with market vendors, interview municipal officials, and to begin to understand the local issues through the eyes of the many local stakeholders. What has emerged through this research is a consensus that during the redevelopment process the needs and opinions of market vendors were excluded and as such, many market vendors feel silenced and disenfranchised. Needless to say, there is much healing to be done to unlock the full potential of the new market and empower the many people who work within.
In a discussing the feelings and experiences of exclusion with vendors, I began to gather suggestions on how best to approach this lost sense of agency and ownership of the new market space. One of the ideas that emerged was to find a way to publicly highlight the way people are taking ownership of the market space to suit their needs, a process that no planner or engineer bothered to engage in.
Funding from the Taylor Changemaker Catalyst Award
*Please note vendors went by and were know by many different names. For this web display of the project, I highlighted their skill/wares