Book Review: Street Archives and City Life: Popular Intellectuals in Postcolonial Tanzania.

Frank Edward


Over the last three decades, a diverse array of historical studies on Dar es Salaam City in Tanzania, from both national and international researchers and writers, has grown considerably. Most of the published studies have focused on the social histories of the city’s denizens, urban governance, spatial distribution, cultural histories and environmental issues. Outstanding works in this group include James R. Brennan’s Taifa: Making Nation and Race in Urban Tanzania (2012); Bernard Calas’ (editor) From Dar es Salaam to Bongoland: Urban Mutations in Tanzania (2007); and Laura Sykes and Uma Waide’s Dar es Salaam: A Dozen Drives around the City (1997).
These books have employed approaches ranging from those employed by ethnographers, geographers, sociologists to those used by conventional historians. Arguably, popular works of fiction which are plenty in postcolonial Dar es Salaam have found no abode in such great publications. Put differently, the previous urban historians have hardly employed literary works as sources in writing and interpreting urban histories. The
outcome of neglecting such sources has been underrepresentation of the intellectual history of the city.

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