31 August - 04 September 2020, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Photo credit: Mark Lewis (Mark Lewis Photography)


Since 2009 the Southern Africa City Studies Conference (SACSC) series has provided an interdisciplinary forum for researchers examining urban issues in Southern Africa. One of the objectives of this conference series is to promote emerging scholars who are residents of Southern Africa working on cities in the region or elsewhere, as well as scholarship on cities in Southern Africa.

Given the current Covid-19 pandemic, and subsequent restrictions on travel and large gatherings, we are pleased to announce that the fifth conference will be hosted online from 31 August to 4 September 2020, and will feature an exciting series of presentations, panels and events.

As an interdisciplinary space, urban studies is animated by a rich series of debates and issues including:

  • the anthropocene
  • economic growth or decline
  • everyday life

  • metabolic flows
  • inequality 
  • informality 

  • the production of space 
  • social reproduction 
  • identity 

  • infrastructure 
  • political struggle 
  • symbolic representation

  • segregation 
  • dispossession
  • the role of technology

  • governance 
  • gentrification 
  • urban research methods 

  • migration 
  • land justice 
  • mobilities 

  • land occupation 
  • climate resilience 
  • food (in)security 

  • drug and substance abuse
  • environmental sustainability 
  • rural-urban linkages

  • public space contestation
  • safety, violence and conflict
  • race, gender & class

Recent interest in comparative urbanism and southern urbanism, as well as a context of increasing regional and global uncertainty, creates an important opportunity for scholars to engage these and other issues and debates from the vantage of urban experiences in our region. The conference also provides a good opportunity to reflect on the complex and profound impact of the current pandemic on cities in Southern Africa.   

We invite abstracts and proposals on any urban studies theme from (a) researchers who would like to present their work, (b) those who would like to organise themed sessions or panels, and (c) those who would like to organise any other virtual event (creative approaches are especially welcome). To submit abstracts and proposals (and for submission templates and instructions) please visit:

Successful candidates will be notified by 30th June 2020
Papers, outlines or presentations due 14th August 2020
For conference queries, please email:

The conference is hosted by the Centre for Urbanism and Built Environment Studies, the Gauteng City-Region Observatory, and the South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning, and in association with the other members of an evolving, informal urban studies network currently made up of the following university entities: the National Research Chair in Economic Development of the City of Johannesburg, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), the Wits City Institute, the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town, Department of Political Studies, University of the Western Cape, the Urban Futures Centre at the Durban University of Technology, the Centre for Development Support at the University of the Free State, the National Research Chair for Sustainable Human Settlements, Nelson Mandela University, the Department of Town and Regional Planning, University of Pretoria, the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Venda, and the Department of Social Anthropology, North West University.

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The SACSC 2020 will use Zoom as its virtual platform. Please view this guidelines document below for information on how to install and use Zoom, as well as for guidelines for session presenters, chairs and hosts.

View Zoom guide