Cities in development
The interdisciplinary debates series seeks to provide in-depth theoretical and applied knowledge of the development of cities in the Global South, and of the different dynamics that shape these urban sites today.
The social, cultural, economic and political trajectories of many cities in the Global South have often developed along completely different historical lines than those of cities in Europe and the West. Very often, cities in the South are depicted as problematic or even pathological entities compared to Northern cities, and are assumed to be solely marked by lack, decay, scarcity and marginalisation, by increasing poverty and de-industrialisation, by violence and breakdown, or by an increasing lack of space and an ever-growing demographic density. Although to some extent this might be true, using the words 'poverty', 'violence,' 'slum,' and so on, has also made invisible the everyday practices and experiences of urban dwellers, the concrete content of urban life as lived on a daily basis. These specific urban worlds often remain “shadow cities” (Neuwirth 2006), whose inhabitants are reduced to a sort of invisible “excess humanity” (Davis 2006), and whose capacity to negotiate conditions of scarcity, exclusion and/or poverty is ignored.
To investigate these issues, renowned architects, urban planners, anthropologists, geographers, artists, sociologists and engineers will share their alternative readings of these particular urban spaces, whether settlements in Mumbai, favelas in Rio, townships in Johannesburg, neighbourhoods in Berlin, secondary towns in Ethiopia, the streets of Dakar or the barracks of Freetown. Their presentations will acknowledge both the tensions and conflicts at work in such sites, as well as the opportunities that are generated thanks to- or in spite of- them. They will also pay attention to the specific ways in which civil society’s and city dwellers’ ‘agency’ is enabled or disabled in such urban environments.