While large metropolises in Africa are often considered ideal destinations by emigrants - hubs of social activity, markets, cross-cultural exchange, and opportunity, these demographically large often cosmopolitan centers are also viewed by some as places to avoid - havens for vice, poverty, conflict, and chaos. Conversely, rural areas in Africa are often seen as the antidote to the problems created by the rise of metropolises, while those on the other end of the spectrum oft see the countryside and its inhabitants as the obstacle preventing development. Yet, historically across Africa, peoples in urban and rural locations have actively maintained important connections to each other spiritually, economically, socially, and politically. While a rural place is typically construed as the antithesis of a metropolis, in fact rural spaces can be the very heart of cultural identities, religious rites, and social networks, which those in urban areas are drawn back to, if only periodically. This panel addresses the development of identities, privilege, and world views in particular African rural and urban spaces. Of particular interest here are the networks people developed, the identities they forged, and the types of permanent and temporary settlements they established in different historical contexts. The range of topics, regions, and time periods included here presents a complex view of Africa from pre-colonial to post-colonial communities and through identities crafted at the centers, margins, and far peripheries of the metropolis.
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