Between collectivization and enclosure: the dynamics of collective organization in rapidly growing cities
Many cities in the Global South have been expanding rapidly, creating pressures on land, fueling conflicts over resources, and disrupting engrained power relations. The growing numbers of urbanites need access to basic provisions like clean water, sewerage, roads, public space, and electricity but governments are strapped for funds and often refuse to attend to the needs of deprived residents in informal settlements. This project studies what happens under these conditions. How do residents of rapidly expanding cities succeed or fail to access amenities when they cannot fulfill their needs through the state or the market?
As edifices of collective action, amenities – from plots of bare land used as football pitches to elaborate educational systems – bind people together but also pull them apart: in setting up amenities, collectivities organize and define themselves while erecting barriers to outsiders. The project develops a sociological and geographical approach to examine how people connect or disconnect in the process of setting up and governing different kinds of amenities, including clean water, public spaces, and roads. Theoretically, it draws on figurational sociology (as developed by Norbert Elias and Bram de Swaan) and the urban studies literature.
The project is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Reserach (NWO) through a VIDI grant and runs from 2018 until 2023.
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