Resourceful cities
Berlin (Germany), 29-31 August 2013
Humboldt-University Berlin, Institute for Social Science, Dept. for Urban and Regional Sociology

World of Cities, ‘Planet of Slums’? Informal settlements and public policies

In 2003, UN-Habitat have sensed more than one billion squatters in the world which represent 31,6% of the world’s urban population living in informal settlements. In 2010, UN-Habitat observed that the number of slum dwellers continues to grow at around 10% every year despite the adoption of “ambitious” public policies all around the world and that around 227 million people have moved out of slum conditions in developing world (UN-Habitat, 2011). The slum problem seems to be a structural issue for every city in the South but also in the North. Even in Northern cities it is getting increasingly difficult to find an affordable house and the lack of housing solutions for the urban poor can be considered as the cause of the development of slums at the margin of our metropolises. When legality is too expensive, urban poor survive by developing alternative and informal strategies beyond the logic of property ownership and beyond public control of space. Slums become the shelter of urban citizens excluded from the market, and often abandoned by public actors.
In this session we propose to address two main issues which are usually missed by the literature on slums:

  1. The slum phenomena in a comparative way: we want to address also the issue of slums in the North and not only in the South. The literature on slums issue is extensive and addresses five main tracks: (1) eviction programs; (2) urban land regimes and security of tenures; (3) integrative/upgrading/normalization policies ; (4) consequences in terms of segregation, discrimination and access to services (school, health care); (5) the city seen as a “dual space” between formality and informality. However, this well-documented literature usually focuses on Southern Cities and does not look at the Northern cities, in particular European Cities.
  2. The public policies implemented towards slums (not only evictions). Slum dwellers are, at the same time, the victims of policies failures and the targets of some urban policies. If we consider slums as the result of the deficiencies of housing and urban policies, we also consider these unruly places as targets of different kind of public programs. In this session, we suggest to go beyond the hypothesis of “ungovernable cities” in order to explore both the governance framework built around slums and the implementation process.

This session aims at gathering papers which treat the issue of slums in the South but also in the North and which emphasize their governance/government at different level. We want to develop a multilevel urban governance analysis. Besides, we expect to receive papers from researchers with different backgrounds (political scientists, sociologists, anthropologists, geographers or economists) in order to have a multi-disciplinary approach to slums and public policies towards them.

Session Organizers

Giulia Agostini, Phd Student in Territorial and Urban Planning at the University of Rome, La Sapienza, Via Luca della Robbia 80, 00153 Rome, Italy, T: 0039-3299023162, E: giuliaagostini8@hotmail.com
Thomas Aguilera, Phd Student in Political Science and Urban Planning, Center for European Studies, and Lecturer in Urban Sociology and Political Science at Sciences Po Paris, France, 28 rue des Saints Pères, 75007 Paris, T: 0033 6 27 27 57 18, E: thomas.aguilera@sciences-po.org

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