A thin line between ethics and aesthetics haunts these reflections on field research in an African city, approached through the positionality of a researcher from a European context. Based on some visual impressions encountered during the fieldwork, the researcher Francesca Ceola retraces the process of reorientation in a place geographically and culturally very far away from her habitat recognizing what she knows in what she sees. In doing so, she contests the abstraction of “going to do fieldwork” as separate from everyday scientific practices.
Navigating public space is globally complex and complicated . In nations of the Global South, where democracies are gradually becoming problematic , it is becoming obvious that these democracies are blurry with porous boundaries. Various mechanisms such as “no trespassing” signs, high fences and strategic CCTV cameras all testify to increasing contestations over what public space means and who has a right to access it. In Africa, the situation is progressively getting worse, as the recent oppression and killings of unarmed protesters in public spaces attest to. For example, the arrest and killings of unarmed protesters in the cities of Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria and Kampala, Uganda , should bring to the fore debates and questions on the reconfiguration and negotiation of public space. In this post, we seek to reflect on the ENDSARS protest in Nigeria and its implications for rights to public space in Nigeria.