Urbanisation from Below II

Type: Virtual Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 31
Organizers: Mara Nogueira, Debangana Bose
Chairs: Debangana Bose


Urbanisation is a process currently mainly located in the so-called Global South (United Nations DESA 2018), where cities are being transformed by mega-projects and aesthetic governing strategies of world-class city making under variegated forms of neoliberalisation (Ghertner, 2015; Rolnik, 2019). Although those marginalised by excluding forms of urbanism often contest their exclusion (Swyngedouw, 2014), they are also key agents in the implementation of such projects. In this context, scholars have called attention to the need to look beyond binary understandings of political practice to account for the complex and promiscuous strategies performed by marginalised citizens (Gago, 2017; Simone 2019).

As opposed to spectacular forms of urbanisation driven uniquely by external agents such as the state, the judiciary and the real estate agents, much of the urban space production operates through ordinary and everyday practices of placemaking. Those practices often blur the lines between contestation and compliance, as shown by Gago (2018: 2) who describes “the political constitution of popular economies as terrains of struggle where ‘neoliberal reason’ (a supposed norm of pure mercantile calculus) is appropriated, ruined, transformed and relaunched by those who are supposed to be its victims”. In a similar way, Simone (2019: 19) calls for a rejection of such binaries of victimhood and “never-ending resourcefulness of a subaltern imagination”, arguing instead for an examination of ordinary processes of urbanisation in the Global South as ‘rhythms of endurance’ of the ‘urban’ operating through an ‘ensemble work’. His account is illustrated by Caldeira’s (2017) work on ‘autoconstruction’ - a primary mode of urban space production in cities of the Global South - which reveals the complex state-resident relations, uncertainties, transversal logics, and temporalities involved in processes of making cities from below. Although performed by marginalised citizens, such practices of what she calls ‘peripheral urbanisation’ often combine different political strategies and cannot be seemed as entirely progressive, frequently leading to discursive practices of us & them that recreate top-down exclusionary strategies from below.

This session combines such ideas to reflect on processes of “urbanisation from below”, characterised by the situated everyday practices of urban space production performed by marginalised citizens that defy and/or reproduce dominant logics of mainstream urbanism. Moreover, looking beyond the North/South divide, it presents contributions from scholars working across different sites and contexts that offer insights to the following questions.

• What kinds of innovative theoretical and epistemological approaches can we adopt to dehomogenize the practices and experiences of placemaking among the marginalized to effectively capture the complexities of urbanisation from below?
• How can we rethink the notion of the “periphery” as a historical and theoretical concept rather than a spatial category emanating from the idea of ‘peripheral urbanisation’?
• How can we move beyond the North/South divide and move towards a relational approach in which we account for the (re)production of the periphery in variegated geographies? How important is it do so and what are the limits of such a relational approach?
• Once we recognise the “promiscuous” strategies of marginalised citizens in the process of “urbanisation from below”, how can we move forward in our struggles for socio-spatial justice?


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Lucrecia Bertelli*, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), What kind of Global City? Circulating policies for ‘slum’ upgrading in the making of world-class Buenos Aires 15 9:35 AM
Presenter Johanna Betz*, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Understanding state-led gentrification ‘from below’: Lived experiences of large-scale urban renewal in Germany’s Global City Frankfurt am Main 15 9:50 AM
Presenter Vidya Sagar Pancholi*, , Informality and world-class city making: evidences from below 15 10:05 AM
Presenter Sarah Turner*, McGill University, Contested rights to mobility: informal three-wheeler delivery vehicles and precarious livelihoods in Hanoi, Vietnam. 15 10:20 AM
Presenter Mara Nogueira*, Birkbeck, University of London, The “forms of living” in the popular economy of Belo Horizonte, Brazil 15 10:35 AM

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