Romain Dittgen is trained as a Human Geographer and has been exploring forms of societal change in various contexts in Sub-Saharan Africa, looking at migrant-entrepreneurs, urban transformations, as well as oil and mining activities. Holding a PhD from the University of Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne), he is an associate researcher at ACMS (African Centre for Migration & Society) at the University of the Witwatersrand, and a recent recipient of CODESRIA’s (Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa) 2018/19 Meaning-making Research Initiatives grant. While his research interests are framed around questions of governance, as well as the interplay between shifts in the built environment and ways of living, his main empirical attention has centred on Africa-China engagements, predominantly in urban settings.
At present, Romain contributes to the ERC-funded project ‘Making Africa Urban: The transcalar politics of large-scale urban development’, focusing specifically on sovereign Chinese development circuits and their influence in shaping the urban at scale in Accra (Ghana), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Lilongwe (Malawi). Previously, he was a member of the ESRC-funded research project on ‘Governing the future City: A comparative analysis of governance innovations in large scale urban developments in Shanghai, London, Johannesburg’, with a particular interest in the Corridors of Freedom Initiative in Johannesburg. Together with architect Dr. Gerald Chungu and photographer Mark Lewis, he is also working on the following book manuscript: ‘(Un)scripting geographies of change — Chinese influence and urban shifts in Southern Africa’.