Urbanisation, Development and Poverty
Full course description
Since 2008, according to the United Nations Populations Fund, more than half of the world population lives in urban areas. Of particular concern is the fact that over a billion people now live in informal settlements or slums, where poverty and precarity are highly concentrated. Nevertheless, people continue to migrate to cities, and primarily to informal settlements. Despite their vulnerability to disaster, disease, violence and cultural tensions, they also appear to be focal points of vitality, opportunity and new initiatives. In many ways the city can be conceptualized as a contested site, a compact ‘laboratory’ where many of the tensions and opportunities related to globalization and development are acted out.
Through readings in this course we delve into the human aspects of these loci that embody contrasts and contradictions, and we analyze social, economic and political processes in cities of the Global South. We discuss connections and tensions between urban communities and economic development, the creation of vulnerable populations through urbanization and the precariousness of labor, the structural failures of slum ecologies and how they affect people, but also how citizens nevertheless find uncountable modes of making the city their home. We examine the articulation of neoliberalism in urban space, the consequences of international debt and structural adjustment projects in ‘megacities’, and we look at how cities are hubs for moving people (most often women) to other places to make a living in the service industries - domestic labor, sex work, cleaning jobs. Furthermore, we examine the opportunities these cities represent: as spaces of creativity, new mélanges of identities, new cultural forms and novel cultural, economic, social and political prospects. In short, we aspire to infuse you with knowledge both of how urban development and poverty are structurally reproduced in highly political ways, and of how cityness also always depends on how people manage to flexibly and inventively arrange their lives on a daily basis.
After completion of this course students have acquired knowledge about impacts of urbanisation on development and poverty in an increasingly globalized world. In particular, they will learn about:
- Multifaceted impacts of global urbanisation, including economic, ecological and social challenges and opportunities of increasingly populated cities
- Impoverished conditions of many city dwellers of the Global South, as experienced through access to infrastructures, mobilities, public space, and diversity
- Development impacts and potentials created by interconnectedness between ‘global cities.’
SSC2046 Globalization and Inequality or SCI1016 Sustainable Development
- Simone, A. M. (2010). City life from Jakarta to Dakar: Movements at the crossroads. New York: Routledge.
- Relevant academic articles, reports, book chapters and websites.