Remaking cities

Workshop 7-9 March

Increasing population pressure in the cities of the Global South is leading to escalating conflicts over space, resources and belonging. In many cases formal urban planning under the aegis of urban planners and state officials clashes with the visions and practical solutions that are worked out by populations living in, for example, slums.

The conference and symposium which together constitute Urbanity Week to be held in Uppsala 7th – 9th March, will bring international researchers together to discuss these major challenges facing the worlds growing urban areas. Among the participants is the renowned American anthropologist James Holston (Berkeley University, California) who, in the context of the strategies of the poor to attain their ‘right to the city’, minted the evocative term ‘insurgent cities’.      

– ”Insurgent cities” is about the strategies and tactics employed by subaltern groups to claim more deeply anchored rights to the city, especially when confronting problems pertaining to land rights, state regulation and state violence, says researcher Andrew Byerley at the Nordic Africa Institute.

Three key areas will be covered during Urbanity Week: Urban visioning, New claims on land and space, Informality and citizenship.
–”Urban visioning ” refers to strategies employed by urban managers to guide urban development towards a preconceived idea or model of the good city. In the past state institutions have been dominant in this respect, but today public-private partnerships have become increasingly common, especially in profiling and marketing cities as attractive for capital, tourism and ‘desirable’ inhabitants. This is a situation which is often seen as a threat to the alternative urban visions of marginal groups, says Andrew Byerley.

– ”New claims on land and space” is an umbrella term which encompasses both new forms of pressure on urban land (re-development, gentrification, gated communities, land speculation and land grabbing) and   new constellations of organised claims from ‘below’.

– Informality and citizenship looks into the manner in which, for example, disadvantaged urban groups who rely on informal practices for survival are often managed through stereotyping, victimization and criminalization. At the same time, elite groups may seek to protect other informal activities in which they have some vested interests. These complexities are manifested in ever shifting contours of who is seen as having the right to inhabit the city.

Urbanity Week is organised by the Nordic Africa Institute, DevNet (the Development Research Network on Nature, Poverty and Power), the Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology at Uppsala University, and the Department of Human Geography at Stockholm University.

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