Urban Democracy: Informality, Precarity and Modes of Survival
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 to Thursday, 11 December 2014
Columbia Global Centre, Studio-X Mumbai
The Mumbai workshop looked into the similar challenges posed by informal processes and actors. It was concerned with the social consequences of the accelerated urbanization of ‘Asia’ in the twenty-first century, a process without historical precedent, and which has produced a number of crises in its wake from environmental stress, to issues of food security, and severe housing shortage. The second workshop thus addressed issues of urban access and exclusion from the opposite end, as it were, and focused on informal housing settlements, largely labeled “slums,” as a specific site from which to explore the lived effects of topdown policy and speculative ideologies on the urban poor, or otherwise vulnerable.
The objective in Mumbai was to critically re-examine theories and policies relating to the subaltern city, i.e. the practices of survival, persistence and illegitimized existence found in the so-called “slums” and “ghettos” of colonial and late capitalist modernity, in order to find new ways of addressing these phenomena. While there has been a long tradition of scholarship on slums, the second workshop aimed to go beyond the existing dichotomous theories to seek new ways to frame the problem, while examining creative interventions at the level of housing policy and practice across Asian cities.
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