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Rural and Urban Trends Life and Work in the City: Urbanization, Citizenship, and Rights to the City. Guest Lecturer: Eli Elinoff, C. Phil . CIEE Khon Kaen Study Center Spring 2009. Outline. Why Cities? Small Group Activity Urbanization and Neoliberalism

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Rural and Urban TrendsLife and Work in the City:Urbanization, Citizenship, and Rights to the City.Guest Lecturer: Eli Elinoff, C. Phil. CIEE Khon Kaen Study CenterSpring 2009


  • Why Cities?

    • Small Group Activity

  • Urbanization and Neoliberalism

  • Case Studies in Participatory Development

    • Mumbai

    • Guatemala City

  • Rights and the City, Rights to the City

Session goals
Session Goals

  • (Re)introduce the city

  • Interrogate the relationship between urban and rural development issues

  • Examine urbanization and urban development in the 21st century

  • Begin considering the both the theoretical and actual questions posed by urbanization, development, and poverty.

  • Question the relationship between development and rights.

Sites of development development
Sites of development/Development

Shanghai 1890

Population ~1 Million

Shanghai today pop approximately 20 million including 3 million floating population
Shanghai TodayPop. Approximately 20 million including 3 Million “Floating” Population

S o paulo 1911
São Paulo 1911

Population Approximately 250,000

S o paulo today population 19 million
São Paulo TodayPopulation 19 Million

Spaces of concentrated wealth and power
Spaces of concentrated wealth and power…

Stock Exchange in Mumbai


New Delhi

Alongside rampant poverty and social exclusion
…alongside rampant poverty and social exclusion

Citizens riot for equal rights,




Loci of change
Loci of Change

  • Students overthrow the government

    Bangkok, 1973


3 years later the military returns and the student government is violently ousted

Bangkok 1976

And hybridity
…and Hybridity




A DJ Rocks the Party

Tokyo, Japan

Chicano Park--San Diego

Urban explosion a few numbers
Urban Explosion:A Few Numbers

  • In 1950 there were only two cities with populations over 20 million; there are now twenty.

  • 180,000 people move to cities each day.

  • 2050 2/3 of the world’s population will live in cities.

  • Currently 1/3 of the world’s urban population lives slums.

  • By 2030 over 2 Billion people will live in slums

    • Source: UN Habitat


UN Millennium Goal: To achieve significant improvements in the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

A slum by any other name
A Slum by Any Other Name… the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

The UN defines a slum on a household level as any home that lacks access to Oneof the following Five elements:

  • Access to improved water

  • Access to improved sanitation

  • Security of tenure

  • Durability of housing

  • Sufficient living area

How do we read these numbers
How do we read these numbers? the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

  • Environmental and Social Catastrophe?

    • Planet of Slums-Mike Davis

  • Developmental Crisis?

    • Challenge of Slums - UN Habitat Report/ Millennium Goals

  • “The Coming Anarchy”?

    • Robert Kaplan

  • Political Opportunity?

    • Harvey

Mike davis planet of slums
Mike Davis: the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.PlanetofSlums

  • Slums: “Settlements characterized by overcrowding, poor or informal housing, inadequate access to safe water, and insecurity of tenure.”

  • Wants to explore the costs of the rapid proliferation of urban slums during the neoliberal period.

Isi eoi urbanization and neoliberalism
ISI, EOI, Urbanization, and Neoliberalism the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

  • Import Substitution Industrialization and Export Oriented Industrialization

  • Underdevelopment isn’t just a phase, but historically created accumulation of $$ in the core

    • Produce Consumer Goods

    • Protection of Domestic Producers (In LA for domestic markets, in Asia for export)

    • State Built Infrastructure

    • Cheap loans from International lending Institutions (World Bank, IMF, ADB, Inter-American Development Bank, etc)

Problems with isi eoi
Problems with ISI/EOI the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

  • Greater Reliance on Core Countries through Debt.

  • Foreign Exchange Crisis

  • Military Dictatorships

  • PL480 and Deteriorated Capacity to Grow Cheap Grain

  • HUGE increase in poverty and cultural Disruptions


  • Leads to Neoliberal reform packages

What is structural adjustment
What is structural adjustment? the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

  • A package of economic reforms based on liberal/neoliberal economic theories:

  • Drastic reduction of state involvement in national economy –

  • Elimination of state owned enterprises

  • Greater access to foreign capital

  • Reduced public spending, especially on social programs

  • Elimination of subsidies and protection for local industries

  • Wage restraints to keep labor competitive, increased levels of labor flexibility

  • Increased interest rates and taxes

  • Devaluation of currency

  • Immediate debt repayment with new foreign exchange

Neoliberalism and slums
Neoliberalism and Slums the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

  • Neoliberal Reforms Attempted to Undo “Urban Bias”

  • SAPs devastated rural landholders by eliminating subsidies-Life and Debt

  • “The main cause of of increase in poverty and inequality during the 1980s and 1990s was the retreat of the state.”--UN Slums Report from Davis 2004: 10

Results the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

  • More Slums!

  • “Informal Sector” grows

  • Illegality becomes a common framework for everyday life (e.g. Lagos).

  • Decline in Real Wages

  • “Stagflation”--Particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Collapse of Construction, Sanitation, Public Transportation

  • Middle Class Decline

  • Increase in Crime/Gangs and “talk of crime”

Other effects
Other Effects the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

  • Prolitarianization of Women-the “Maquila Effect”

  • Migration: rural to urban and transnational

  • “Instead of being a focus for growth and prosperity, the cities have become a dumping ground for a surplus population working in unskilled, unprotected and low-wage informal services industries and trade.” UN Slums in (Davis 2004: 23)

The lived experience of the slum and the periphery
The lived experience of the slum and the periphery the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

  • Autoconstruction

  • Alternative Power Arrangements e.g. Patron/Client, New Social Movements

  • No urban services--water, sewage, paved roads, bus lines, electricity

  • Illegal ownership

    • Some people illegally takeover land--Squatting

    • Some buy deeds from land swindlers that may be forged or fraudulent

  • Extremely insecure.

    • Subject to violent evictions

    • No policing

    • Geographically insecure


Autoconstruction, the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

São Paulo

Periphery in Cochabamba,


Other peripheries
Other Peripheries? the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

Canals in Jakarta

Railroad Slums in Bangkok

Landfill in Tijuana ==>

Slum work
Slum Work the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

West Bank Scavengers- Israel/Palestine

Recycling Water Bottles-


Techno Trash-India

What else
What else? the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

Laundry workers

Maquilas/Factory Work

Commercial Sex Industry


Relax the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.



And live
…and LIVE. the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

Dharavi, India

Appadurai s example mumbai slum squatters alliance
Appadurai’s example: Mumbai Slum/Squatters Alliance the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

  • An alliance of local groups that developed complex relationships with government bureaucrats with a combination of a politics of accommodation, pragmatism, and patience

Culture and development
Culture and Development the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

  • Why does Culture matter?

    • Cultures are not just heritage and tradition

    • Culture as systems of meaning

  • “In fact, cultures do not ignore the future. But they smuggle it in indirectly, when they speak of norms, beliefs, and values.”

  • Taylor’s “Politics of Recognition”

  • Sen’s “Development as Freedom, Dignity, and moral well being”

The capacity to aspire
“The Capacity to Aspire” the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

  • A cultural capacity that allows people to envision a future and articulate it in a way that alter the “terms of recognition.”

    • Culturally Formed/Social

    • Aspirations-socially generated visions of “the good life.”

    • Enacted through specific arenas-metaphors, performances, and narratives.

    • Capacity is not evenly distributed in society

The micro practices of empowerment
The micro-practices of empowerment the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

  • They have particular beliefs and strategies:

    1. mobilizing the knowledge of the poor into methods driven by the poor and for the poor is a long term process,

    • slow and risk laden, so bias against “projectization” and development-driven timelines

      2. Savings as a spiritual virtue and form of discipline leading to political fortitude, commitment to collective good, and self-sufficiency

    • Micro-credit as a tool

3 precedent setting
3. precedent setting: the lives of 100 Million slum dwellers by 2020.

  • claiming certain ways of doing things in spaces the poor control, and then “show and tell”

    • This provides a linguistic device – a way of talking about things – that turns survival strategies into legitimate foundations for policy innovations by the state

    • And gets people on their side by getting them to use their language

    • Allows the poor to demonstrate that their preexisting strategies are viable foundations that do not necessarily need to be changed, but built upon

4 organizational strategies to accompany the discursive ones
4. organizational strategies to accompany the discursive ones:

  • Housing exhibitions

    • Where structural bias of existing knowledge is challenged through presentation of poor people’s creativity in building housing out of flimsy material

    • Fostering people’s visions of the future, of space, of good life

      • REMEMBER: Many of these people have constructed their homes themselves.

  • Toilet festivals: “The politics of shit”

    • Turning the humiliation into the carnavalesque and technical innovation

    • From abject to subjects/protagonists

    • Impressive, right?

Sustainable Peripheries in Guatemala City ones:By Edward Murphy, University of Michigan Department of Anthropology (2005)

  • Examines a peripheral neighborhood he calls El Mezquital.

  • Originally founded through land invasion in 1986 by residents forced to move out of inner-Guatemala City

    • “Land Invasion” affects the moral landscape squatters inhabit

Rights to the city
Rights to the City? ones:

  • In order for squatters to gain access to urban services many communities organize.

  • Demand recognition and redistribution.

    • Housing and Urban Services as Rights

  • Murphy shows that El Meziquital was highly organized and extremely effective.

    • Gaining international attention

    • UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders

    • The Arrival of the “Anti-Politics Machine”

The results
The Results ones:

  • Housing is legalized and the community gets services!!!

    • This should not be qualified or understated--This is a success.

  • Insertion into the Development Apparatus

    • Depoliticization as technical questions emerge: lot sizes, occupancy history, “proper resident behavior,” leadership is chosen by authorities, squatters are framed by the media as “irresponsible,” “unable to care for themselves,” and “in need of help”

  • Many residents are forced to move to other, even more insecure parts of the periphery.

Sustainable peripheries
Sustainable Peripheries ones:

  • Murphy ultimately argues that these political sites are turned into “sustainable peripheries”--”Borderland spaces that, having fulfilled the ‘minimum’ requirements of urban modernity, remain in subordinate social, economic, and political positions. The act of squatting thus becomes regulated and incorporated into the dynamics of “Guatemala’s” constricted transnational democracy, legitimizing inequality.”

Rights and the city
Rights and the City ones:

  • Harvey argues that urbanization is the result of a “surplus product.”

  • The “push/pull” of the surplus draws resources and people towards the urban center at a “compound rate.”

  • Cities are central to the survival of capitalism

  • Urbanization becomes a central “site of political/class struggle”

Rights to the city1
Rights to the City ones:

  • From Marxist Geographer Henri Lefebver (1968):

    “Rights to the city should modify, concretize, and make more practical the rights of the citizen as an urban dweller and user of multiple services. It would affirm, on the one hand, the right of users to make known their ideas on the space and time of their activities in the urban area; it would also cover the right to use the center, a privileged place, instead of being dispersed and stuck into ghettos (for workers immigrants, the marginal and even the ‘privileged).”

Rights to the city at home
Rights to the City at Home ones:

Should people be ticketed for

Sleeping outside?

Mcgonigal canyon
McGonigal Canyon ones:

  • The San Diego’s largest migrant camp located in Carmel Valley faced eviction last year.

Check out:

Recent headlines
Recent Headlines ones:

  • 4 Charred Bodies in Calif. Migrant Camp--October 26th 2007 AP Service

  • “11 of 18 in burn unit undocumented”

    • October 31st 2007 San Diego Union Tribune

Final questions for discussion rumination
Final Questions for Discussion/Rumination ones:

  • What are the social conditions that produced the peculiar spatial arrangements in Khon Kaen?

  • What rights do people have to the city in Khon Kaen? Which rights are denied? To whom?

  • In what ways does the transformation of Isaan as a whole demonstrate the interconnections between rural and urban processes?

  • How do current efforts to remake Khon Kaen’s poor neighborhoods perpetuate or upset the social inequality at the root of their very existence?

Bonus challenge

  • Does the ESCR Covenant provide a language to begin articulating Human Rights claims through the use of the “rights to the city” concept?

  • Are there connections between these two versions of rights that might help to make ESCR claims more potent vehicles for social change?