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This transnational collaborative research project brings together activists, artists, researchers, designers, urban planners and other creatives to exchange ideas and develop new methodologies for fashioning more equitable futures within plural polities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Cape Town. The project is framed around the concept of shared heritage, which we take to be site of negotiation around colonial histories, and where contested or difficult histories can be addressed to serve the present.

Urban in its focus, and transnational in its reach, the Transnational Workshop: Designing Convivial Futures, brings together international and local stakeholders and voices to foster an action research environment that facilitates co-creative methodologies. These action research focused strategies of doings and undoings will include two international workshops and the exchange of expertise, in which strategies will be developed for more resilient urban futures.

The Transnational Workshop addresses a set of questions, among which:

  • What role do the slavery and colonial pasts play in shaping postcolonial urban landscapes, their polities, social hierarchies and relations?
  • How might stories of the colonial past and its afterlives be told in more complex, plurivocal and multiperspectival ways?
  • What are the (hidden) potentialities of (colonial) archives, for example in museums or in the urban landscape, for fashioning more equitable practices of history writing, and for shaping more convivial futures?

The Transnational Workshop consists of dialogic workshops, symposia and walks that will be organized around a series of inter-related ensuring that attendees and guest speak together and exchange ideas, strategies and references.

Khalied Jacobs

Khalied Jacobs is an urbanist at heart with a deep interest in contemporary city-making and has shaped his career through interrogating the everyday experience in our cities and has used his experience in academia to influence his method of practice and shaped his design philosophies through experimentation. He holds a directorship at Jakupa Architects and Urban Designers. Jacobs is the Vice Chair of the Western Cape chapter of South African Property Owners Association and has served as a director at the Cape Town Partnership, the chairman of the Urban Design Institute of South Africa and was the Acting Secretary General for the South African Black Technical Allied Career’s Organization. His primary interest is in the humanist ideals of city making and has promoted notions of equity and justice through his work. He has developed expertise in participatory planning methods, particularly for those in volatile contexts and a proficiency in urban design as an iterative and dynamic exercise.

Mandisa Shandu

Mandisa Shandu is an attorney and the Executive Director of Ndifuna Ukwazi (“NU”). NU is a non-profit activist organisation and Law Centre that combines litigation, research and community organising in campaigns aimed at advancing urban land justice in Cape Town. The organisation’s primary mission is to address urban inequality and spatial injustice through expanding and protecting access to affordable housing. Prior to leading the organisation as its Executive Director, she led NU’s Law Centre which she founded in 2015. Her areas of practice support the organisation’s work of advancing urban land justice through strategic impact litigation cases on matters relating to constitutional, property, spatial planning and housing law, administrative justice, and access to basic services. She is a University of Cape Town graduate holding a B.Soc.Sci degree in political science, an LLB degree and has recently completed her LLM in Constitutional and Administrative Law. Shandu was announced as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans in 2016.


SEE is a year-long program of activities, events, urban design studio’s and conversations taking place both in Cape town, South Africa, and in The Netherlands addressing the future of living in a postcolonial city. SEE is initiated and developed by Zahira Asmal (The City) in collaboration with South African partners and the Dutch partners, Research Center for Material Culture, Het Nieuwe Instituut. It is made possible with the kind financial support of Dutch Culture and Creative Industries Fund.

Public programme

Parts of the Designing Convivial Futures programme consists of public events, among which Afterlives: Slavery & Contemporary Global Inequalities on 2 October in Het Tropenmuseum. The event takes modern slavery as a framework for thinking through diverse forms of dehumanising and precarious labour. Welcome to Johannesburg is a multi media presentation by Zahira Asmal, taking place at Thursday Night Live! in Het Nieuwe Instituut on 3 October.