Project abstracts 2019

Knowledge co-creation in implementing landscape approach in Kalomo, Zambia: A new landscape architecture?

PhD Student: Malaika Pauline Yanou

Tutor: Olivier Mbabia, University of Montreal

University of Amsterdam

 

Problem definition

Although integrated landscape approaches have recently gained attention in the scientific community as a framework for multi-stakeholder engagement, their conceptualization, terminology, and application are entirely under discussion. While there is an agreement that landscape approaches have potential for balancing competing demands and integrating policies for multiple land uses and multiples actors, the question of how to integrate different types of knowledge remains under-researched and completely disconnected from political discourses. Alternative forms of knowledge and enhancing knowledge co-production mechanisms and practices are some of the new challenges facing global environmental changes and sustainable development processes.

Research Question

How can knowledge co-creation in the implementation of landscape approaches be designed in a way that values traditional ecological knowledge and empowers marginalized actors in complex multi-functional landscapes?

Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework comprehends four strands of scholarly literature: 1) debate on ILA conceptualization, terminology, and application; 2) local knowledge and conservation practices, 3) challenges and potentials of knowledge co-production processes; 4) politics of knowledge, exploring knowledge and sustainable development relationship to show the (in)adequacy of the discourse on knowledge.

Methodology

The study will adopt a mixed methods design, incorporating both qualitative and quantitative methods.

Secondary data collection includes comprehensive policy documents review, government documents, and archives. Primary data collection will be gathered through participatory observation (attending meetings), and interviews with platform participants.

Data analysis includes Q-methodology for discourses analysis, and social network analysis to identify actors networking.

Expected Results

By analysing co-production knowledge process in ILA implementation, the study expects to: a) contribute to strategies for knowledge co-production design and implementation; b) obtain the active participation of the different stakeholders in negotiating trade-offs and synergies; c) analyze the effects of knowledge production in empowering marginalized groups and of knowledge-power relationship.

Under urban resilience and adaptation models: New or strengthened hegemonies hidden by sustainable discourses rules?

PhD student: Juliette Marin R.

Tutor. Prof. Enrique Aliste A.

 

Universidad de Chile, Santiago de Chile

 

 

 

Resilience, adaptation and transformation are strategies for global challenges such as climate change, water scarcity, disaster reduction, in fine global and local sustainability. These strategies are predominantly urban based. Developed under urban assumptions, rationalities and standards, their usefulness in representing territorial or space processes and problems should be questioned. Is the hegemony of the urban conception leading to formulate correct questions, and thus pertinent strategies for the current global and local challenges in the global south? Studies of telecoupled processes point out the limit of traditional territorial scales of analysis, by linking the dependencies of places. Similarly, resilience and sustainability of cities require to rethink urban boundaries and scales.

 

Second, rural places and people are conceived and imagined from urban perspectives. ‘Nature’ is for the urbanite both immensely attractive -thus its need for preservation- and terribly threatening. Urban dwellers are fascinated by this ‘natural world’, perceived as exotic, mysterious, untouched. This idealized version of a ‘natural landscape’ generates gaps between ideas and proposals in the name of sustainability and rural visions and practices, such as cycling cities, green infrastructure, walking cities, etc.

 

In addition  to this hegemony of cities over territories, one must also consider the dominance of cities of the Global North in thinking, designing, justifying and promoting certain sustainability strategies, and the neo-colonial divisions in the production of knowledge structure and in the articulation of ideas and theories. Under the resilience and sustainability discourses and models -normative and uncritical-, what kind of hegemonies are being built or reinforced? Coincidentally, world-leading sustainable cities are from the Global North, serving as inspirations, goals and examples of good practices. What are the premises under which resilience and sustainability models are built, how are they promoted and by whom, and how do they circulate and gain legitimacy? For e.g., 100 Resilient Cities, City Climate Leadership Awards, etc.

Land and property development in Hong Kong

Prof. Wing Shing Tang

Hong Kong Baptist University

 

 

In the literature on southern theories, it is common to have ignored land development as an essential element of understanding. This project attempts to contribute to the project by understanding landed and property development in Hong Kong.

 

Hong Kong studies can make a modest contribution to the advancement of nuanced southern theories. This can be attributable to its distinguishable development history. The history of Hong Kong has rendered many southern theories irrelevant, as the tradition and, its polar opposite, the modern have be mutually embedded since it was colonised by the British in 1841.  Land in the New Territories has been mutually embedded with its counterparts elsewhere in the colony  since 1891, when this large tract of land was lent to the British by the Chinese. As a result, the traditional Chinese customary land occupancy system has persisted, and again thanks to the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984, until today. Simultaneously, Hong Kong as an independent city has ended with the return of sovereignty to China in 1997, becoming part of the Chinese spatial administrative hierarchy with the birth of the ‘one country, two system’. These complexities have rendered any account of Hong Kong by southern theories irrelevant.

 

As a preliminary attempt to construct a more nuanced southern theory, this case study focuses on the land development of a district that exhibits the mutual embeddedness of the modern and the tradition. Ngau Chi Wan, a rural village of more than 200 years old, is located next to Choi Hung, the first public housing estate built in the early 1960s, in Kowloon Peninsular. It is such complexity of mutual embeddedness between town and country that calls for a careful scrutiny. To begin with, an archival search of the development of this village over time is to be achieved. It starts with comprehending the land development system and the way the village has developed. A survey will be carried out to document the population composition, and their land and house ownership patterns. The technique of walking around the village is employed to enumerate an inventory of concrete spatial elements such as building, ancestor halls, other ceremonial and festival structures, and infrastructures. This will be supported by, if possible, a few aero-photos to map the historical geography of the village. Villagers will be interviewed to cover their everyday spatial practices and their imagination about the village. In totality, the information collected would allow us to identify the town-country relation within the land development system and its changes over time. Some generalised statements can be made by situating the case study materials in the general discussion of Hong Kong as a whole.

 

All the information collected will be collated in a such a way to make a modest contribution to debating southern theories.

Fiscal Gaps in Indian Cities: The cases of Bengaluru and Mumbai

PhD Student: Sukanya Bhaumik

Tutor: Prof. Kala S. Sridhar

Bangaluru (India) Centre for Research in Urban Affairs
Institute for Social and Economic Change

 

 

Indian municipal bodies are amongst the weakest in the world in terms of access to resources, revenue-raising ability and financial autonomy. The ratio of municipal revenues to gross domestic product (GDP) at factor cost in India was estimated at 1.03 per cent for 2014-15, compared to South Africa (6.0 per cent) and Brazil (7.4 per cent). Not only is the country’s municipal sector small compared to international benchmarks, but municipal bodies in India have been subject to significant erosion in their fiscal autonomy over time.  In 2014-15 the municipal tax-GDP ratio stood at 0.33 per cent as against the combined ratio (central plus state) tax-GDP ratio of 17 per cent.

The precarious state of municipal finance in India is a matter of concern, because as cities drive growth and productive employment, they also generate public finances for socio-economic development In 2015, urban areas with 31 per cent of the population contributed to 62 to 63 per cent of India’s GDP. This contribution will rise to about 75 per cent by 2021. However, cities will not be able to perform their fundamental role as engines of economic growth and structural transformation unless their municipal finances are strengthened.

Indian municipal bodies are in many ways stuck in a state of low output due to high expenditure needs and low revenue capacities. The high expenditure needs in cities is due to increased functional responsibilities, huge demand and high cost of service provisioning. Low tax base, poor collection efficiency, low fiscal autonomy etc. are the reasons for the low revenue-raising capacities. The gap between the two (expenditure needs and revenue capacity) is defined as fiscal gap, which is the key reason for the poor quality of services across municipal bodies in India.

There are several endogenous and exogenous factors that are the causes of the fiscal gaps in Indian cities, this paper will examine each of these factors. The expenditure need of cities depends on the services that are provided by the local government and the costs associated to provide these services. This research attempts to assess the expenditure needs of the two Indian cities of Bangalore and Mumbai as both these cities have distinct functional responsibilities and economic specializations. The expenditure needs will be assessed using two approaches: Unit Cost Method and Regression model approach.

Revenue capacities of municipal bodies are defined by what the body is capable of raising as opposed to what it is actually raising. It is determined by ‘income from own source revenue (OSR)’, most importantly it includes the potential income from all untapped sources. This paper assesses the revenue capacity of the municipal bodies of Bangalore and Mumbai, theBBMP (Bruhut Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) and MCGM (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai) from property taxes (ward-wise), advertisement tax and other charges (for multiple services). The thesis will assess the current income, collection efficiency for each of these sources and make simulations of BBMP and MCGM’s income potential.

Finally, the thesis will document best practices and make policy recommendations for BBMP and MCGM to narrow the existing fiscal gaps.

Post-welfare state vulnerable communities and self-produced services in public housing units: the case of Lotto Zero in Ponticelli (Naples)

PhD student: Marilena Prisco

Tutor: Prof. Laura Lieto

 

Università degli studi di Napoli “Federico II”

 

The research project focuses on self-produced services as a frame to investigate how publicness is created in one of the 1980s’ post-earthquake public housing complexes of the periphery of Naples (Italy). It is part of the international research network Public Space in European Social Housing (PUSH – “Hera” Joint Research Program financed by the EU) that aims at analysing the concept of public space in a socio-material perspective in selected cases located in Norway, Denmark, Switzerland and Italy. Differences between north European and south European countries are central in the PUSH project and the Italian case of Ponticelli (Naples) represents an emblematic case of both “South Europe” and “South Italy”.

 

The Lotto Zero is characterised by a high rate of unemployment and crime, of multi problematic families and of school dropout. Building on academic international studies on multiscale processes in phenomena of social marginalisation, this study aims to investigate inequalities of service provisioning in a marginalised residential context. It focuses particularly on the evolution of identity among young people (gender identity and social identity) and the emerging of new forms of vulnerabilities. It has to be considered that the European Union recently reaffirmed its interest in both a better understanding of the evolution of vulnerabilities (linked to new types of families, the increase of child poverty and the increase of social exclusion) and in the provision of services to prevent social vulnerability (preventive welfare instead of reparatory welfare).

 

This study starts from two hypotheses. First that vulnerability and identity are interlinked and, as a consequence, that identity formation and evolution could prove useful in defining emerging forms of vulnerability. Second that the retreat of the public welfare state resulted in service provision involving citizens that participate in informal practices creating what we could call “self-provided services”. According to the collected data, those services neither entirely exclude traditional public actors (institutions and NGOs) nor are they completely illegal. They develop in a “grey zone” where institutional actions and informal activities interplay and create specific forms of publicness.

 

The public archival data will be integrated next year with fieldwork through participant observation and interviews. Furthermore the project encompasses activities with local institutional actors, NGOs and target groups with the aim to develop descriptions of self-provisioning in services using experimental digital tools. Cooperative digital representation and storytelling will be tested as tools for analysing different types of services, for increasing awareness about coping with processes of marginalisation and for supporting empowerment of vulnerable groups.

“Touristification” of Heritage areas in Latin America The historic centre of Cuenca as a case study

PhD Student: Natasha Cabrera Jara

Tutor: Prof. Margarita Greene

 

Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile

 

 

The insertion of tourism in urban heritage areas in recent decades has led to the implementation of public policies designed to make these spaces more attractive to tourists. Examples are regeneration projects of public spaces, rehabilitation/restoration of buildings, public space management strategies, and urban marketing campaigns to promote tourist attractions. This process, known as “touristification” of urban heritage (Navarrete, 2017, p. 64), has generated material and immaterial urban reconfigurations, which have affected not only popular practices and uses, but also the residents and users.

We hypothesize that the material and immaterial reconfiguration derived from “touristification” has negative effects, such as gentrification, dispossession and displacement (Janoschka, 2016), which have been underestimated (despite their magnitude), while its positive effects have been overestimated and widely spread. The minimization of the negative effects has helped to validate the tourism-related process implemented, making it difficult to monitor its development considering aspects that are not evident at first sight, especially when these have negative connotations. To address this hypothesis, we study the “touristification” process of the historic centre of Cuenca, Ecuador, since it was appointed Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 1999.

Cuenca appears as an emblematic case due to its success as a tourist destination in the last decade. For example, it was ranked as one of the best two cities for foreign retirees, it made the list of 50 best historical cities in the world of National Geographic magazine (Zibell, 2012), and obtained the Oscar for Tourism, as best destination in South America for short stays, between 2017 and 2019 (World Travel Awards, 2019). This was partly due to an effective advertising campaign, under the logic of competitiveness and marketing, but mainly due to the implementation of a series of urban regeneration projects in the heritage area and its environment, with the clear objective of making it more attractive to tourists. However, these have sometimes influenced its morphology, and promoted displacement and dispossession processes.

The methodology of our research study considers four stages:

1) Analysis of policies, plans and programs promoted by governmental agencies for the protection of Cuenca’s urban heritage and for the implementation of tourism there;

2) Analysis of projects considering: (a) characterization, (b) material reconfiguration, (c) immaterial reconfiguration, and (d) identification of their effects;

3) Analysis of the positive and negative effects of the material and immaterial reconfigurations;

4) Discussion and validation of results.

Humanitarian space: a dynamic “capture” network of global migratory flows and a constituent part of the contemporary city

PhD student: Student Sofia Moriconi

Tutor: Prof. Laura Lieto

Università defli studi di Napoli “Federico II”

 

My research focuses on humanitarian space, understood both as a dynamic “capture” network of global migratory flows and as a constituent part of the contemporary city, far from bounded notions like that of “Other Spaces”, confined into traditional humanitarian emergency spaces, but constantly interacting with several kinds of places and practices.

The idea of ​​humanitarian space is confronted with the seminal work of Giorgio Agamben. In Homo Sacer, he addressed “the Camp” (instead of the City) as the biopolitical paradigm of the West.

This type of space (born in the colonial period at the end of the nineteenth century) is described as an empty “bubble” in the globalized, smooth and continuous space of the contemporary world. Interpreted by some as a sort of Anti-City, like an Enclave, “the Camp” hosts entire populations for periods of time that, in many cases, last lives. Especially in the past, it had the ability to annihilate man’s political potential, his being a “citizen”, sometimes caused also by the presence and work of NGOs.

My research starts from the assumption that the humanitarian space is now beyond the definition of “camp-space”: this kind of space is now scattered and deeply entangled with other forms of spatiality.

My investigation aims to study the combination of bodies, objects and spaces collaborating and circulating through the humanitarian network, with a specific focus on migrant people.

The goal of my work is to understand the material conditions, the national and supra-national forms of regulation, the legal and political agreements, the actors and stakeholders that, in complex and different ways, actually “produce” the network of humanitarian space as a City-Camp.

The final objective of my research is to outline a series of guidelines and alternative strategies for planning and managing the humanitarian space network, particularly including the urban area of ​​Naples, and then replicable to a wider territorial dimension.

Urban Heritage in Georgetown, Penang and Yangon: A Comparative Study

PhD student: Hafsa Idrees

Tutor: Prof. H. Ruediger Korff

University of Passau

 

A basic dilemma of city planning is that planners can make plans but that the development of the city depends on the practices of the citizen. Here we find a basic discrepancy between usually technocratic planning ideas and communicative practices of those living in the city. (Korff 2018)

City planning is strongly influenced by national decisions as well as world models (Meyer, Rowan), maintained by international organisations. In the sixties and seventies, the dominant model used to be modernization and thus, the creation of modern cities. The old city centres were either already in decline or fell into decline through sub-urbanization. In addition, their structures resembled the past and tradition, exactly what had to be transformed! Heritage was identified with religious etc. buildings.

Perhaps as a consequence of post-colonial discourses and globalization, identity policies became relevant as well as the idea to maintain cultural identity and heritage. This led, however, to a dilemma: What is the cultural heritage of a colonial city? On the one hand, the old buildings of the colonial administration as well as the colonial banks, offices, department stores and hotels refer to a past in which the local culture was subjugated to colonialism. On the other hand, most of the cities were centres of in-migration and minorities, and thereby featured styles not in line with the disseminated nationalism.

While planning the modern city, new centres were established. For the planners, the old parts of the city posed several problems like insufficient infrastructure with their often narrow streets, overcrowded houses etc. In short, the architecture fell short of modern demands and functions. These old centres turned into marginal areas in terms of space as well as economic activities and cultures.

Since the last decade, a new world model has emerged in part as a result of the world heritage projects of UNESCO. Instead of tearing down the old city, heritage should be maintained, so that the history of the city becomes visible. Several old parts have now become world heritage sites like the old quarters of Georgetown.

For the study we selected two cities: Georgetown on Penang island in Malaysia, and Yangon in Myanmar. Both have been under British colonial rule and urban planning. One important feature used to be that the cities were mainly inhabited by migrant communities with their own administration that led to the rise of the so-called “plural society”. In both cities we have a large south Asian community.

In the old quarters of Georgetown the vernacular architecture is characterized by Chinese and Indian styles. Yangon was the centre of British colonial rule in Burma. The policy to not develop Yangon during the military rule (1962 to 2011) led to a form of “conservation”.

Governing Latin American Cities housing informality and environmental sustainability

PhD student: Francesca Ferlicca

Tutor: Prof. Alejandro Sehtman

 

National University of General San Martín – Argentina

 

 

Only five of the world’s fifty largest metropolitan cities are located in Latin America: Ciudad de México, Säo Paulo, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Lima. The subcontinent’s metropolization process has been overcome by Africa’s and Asia’s. But even when Latin American metropolitan cities aren’t the most populated or the fastest growing, they remain a key space in the region’s social, political and economic trends: the most important effects of inequality, democracy and neoliberalism are to be found in the big cities where most of Latin America’s population lives.

 

Latin American governments have coped with the challenges posed by this combination of inequality, democracy and neoliberalism in ways that have been deeply studied by literature at the national level. But the ways in which this mix has been dealt with at the urban level has received much less attention. The objective of our research is to highlight the politics and policies of urban governance in Latin America’s biggest cities. This general objective will be carried out through the analysis of two relevant urban governance issues: informal housing and sustainability management.

Informal housing has been an extensive mode of urban growth in Latin America for decades. It represents an antithetical alternative to traditional planning as it implies a production of urbanization independent of formal frameworks and assistance that do not comply with official rules and regulations and emerge as a different path of city construction. The social and environmental effects of this new kind of urban growth are challenging both for governments and specialists. While different approaches tried to describe, theorize and formulate the causes of the emergence of this type of urbanization, literature has not paid enough attention to the political dimension of informality, especially on how local governments deal with informality, and how it affects urban policy making, urban management and political choices and how local urban planning systems contribute to the emergence of informal settlements.

 

On the other hand, sustainability management has only recently entered the urban governance agenda. It represents a new approach that crosses the classic policy division between economic development, social issues and urban planning. Latin American cities are still trying to find their own paths to sustainability between multilateral formulas (like the Millenium Development Goals), contradictions with national commodity export and industrial development models, and the interplay of both institutional and non-institutional local actors. Urban level compromises seem to be the most successful and are sometimes the only way of introducing sustainability in the policy agenda of this region.

Poverty and equality : use of ai tools

PhD student: Mr. Yogesh Deshmukh

Tutor: Prof. Ashok Saraf

 

University of Pune, India

 

Traditionally, the South and especially the Poor have been pushed into subsistence level existence and denied equality in due share for access to global social and natural resources. In the post digital era, we can see potential for changing this practice through the digital empowerment of the poor with assured equality in access to network, information, knowledge, data, software tools and, most important, with the supportive power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in tackling problems beyond their capacity.

Magarpatta city, which was developed as a completely autonomous cybercity within the limits of Pune city in India  by farmers’ families empowered by education in civil engineering and management, is a living example of what such empowerment can do. ( www.magarpattacity.com) (Created by Management expert Mr. Satish Magar and Engineering expert Mr. Umesh Magar of the Magar family clan, the land owners of farmland near Pune.)

With the total management of such an urban conglomerate through Digital means, farmers can do away with the typical middlemen, such as investors, managers or government representatives, and build their own cities to initiate migration reversal from the North to the South. As owners of such cities, the traditional poor South actually plays host to the future of the North.

The next step in further empowerment is to put high end maintenance capabilities in the hands of the new urban creators of distributed cities in order to combine civil engineering with AI to allow the use of ecofriendly materials for structures, predictive analyses of buildings, bridges, and other structures.

The proposed research project explores the application of AI through civil engineering and aims at preparing the future practice of construction and maintenance empowered by the Internet of Things and AI tools. Computers and AI could thus be key enablers for issues related to Poverty and Equality especially in the North and South context.

Attractive Cities and the Provision of Housing: the Case of Barcelona and Hong-Kong

PhD Student: Riccardo Demurtas

Tutor: Prof. Montserrat Pareja-Eastaway

 

 

Universidad de Barcelona

 

 

Local governments struggle to transform cities into attractive hubs for capital, talent and international events. Urban competitiveness has been on the agenda for decades, but the means used to achieve it have changed: from a resource-based location or infrastructure availability, cities now explore other mechanisms to become more attractive to intangible assets such as human capital or financial investment. Different recommendations have been suggested from the academia, paying attention to different aspects that should be taken into account. Among others, path dependency or the meaning of place are considered essential to develop well-grounded cities, even more than tolerance or technology.

 

Besides success, a key aspect to take into account in any endeavour focusing on urban attractiveness is conflict. In particular, the growing tension in the use of the city’s space and the needs of those attracted by the city’s success versus the needs of those who try to cope with their daily life in an attractive city.

 

Housing understood as a radical human right becomes a critical aspect in many cities but especially in those under the pressure of different demands. The understanding of housing as a commodity but also as a basic need has historically created multiple elements of tension in ‘popular’ housing markets.

 

The declining welfare-oriented role of the state in the provision of social housing in attractive cities has contributed to the creation of degraded living conditions and of housing emergencies such as homelessness. In turn, this generates a spiral of mutual reinforcement between housing and income inequalities within urban areas.

 

Our research uses the cities of Barcelona and Hong Kong as case studies. Both cities are living in a politically tense environment and have recently been stage of street protests, with citizens expressing their discontent with the local housing market. This paper aims to explore three different dimensions of housing in the two cities and the answer provided by local governments to counteract the market equilibrium. The three dimensions are chosen on the basis of three different conflicts that emerge in these cities: first, the access to housing for vulnerable households in need of public housing provision; second, the effect of the generalisation of temporary subletting agreements (i.e. AirBnB) in core areas of the city; and finally, the gentrifying process initiated after urban regeneration programmes.

 

Methodologically, we will consider a mix of qualitative and quantitative techniques. On the one hand, we will explore by means of available statistics, memorandums and policy documents, the housing market situation (stagnating or overheated market, vacancies, unsatisfied demand, etc) in both cities together with the design of policies to cope with housing problems. On the other, we will interview key actors in the field in the two cities.

Renewable Energy and Gendered Livelihoods in Low-income Communities in Accra, Ghana

PhD student: Tracy Sidney Commodore

Tutor: Prof. George Owusu

University of Ghana

 

The urban environment is likely to affect livelihoods at every point in time. Hence, adequate access to resources is central for achieving sustainable development in cities. Energy resource, a topical issue globally, is crucial in developing sustainable livelihoods as well as improving the environment. It plays a critical role in poverty reduction due to the patterns involved in energy generation, distribution and utilization. This directly affects opportunities for income generation for both men and women, environmental protection as well as national development. In addition, cities and economies in Africa in general are exposed to high levels of resource depletion and climate change effects. Therefore, it is imperative for African cities to focus on appropriate infrastructure choices which are “better informed on the material reality of slums and how they contribute to the metabolism of the city” (Smit et al., 2017). Since energy is an essential engine for growth in cities, it is worth collecting empirical evidence on emerging issues related to renewable energy and livelihood strategies of men and women in low income communities in Accra, a rapidly growing city with an increasing incidence of informal settlements. The main objective of this study is to assess the gender dimensions on the use of renewable energy resources among residents in low-income communities. The sub-objectives are as follows:

  1. To examine the institutional and policy framework on renewable energy in Ghanaian cities.
  2. To explore the gendered perceptions on usage of renewable energy resources among residents in low-income communities.
  3. To examine livelihoods of men and women which are dependent on renewable energy resources.
  4. To evaluate the gender dynamics in accessing renewable energy resources and their coping strategies.

 

This study will be premised on the livelihood, vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity concepts. A mixed-methods research strategy will be used to address the research questions.

The emergence of hybrid electrical configurations in a complex Lebanese energy landscape

PhD student: Alix Chaplain

Tutor. Prof. Marco Cremaschi

Sciences Po – Paris

 

Since the Civil war, people in Lebanon are suffering from disruption and interruption of the electricity supply with chronic massive power cuts (between 3 and 12 hours a day). The restructuring of the electricity sector, centralized with the near monopoly of Électricité du Liban, has been unsuccessful for more than 20 years. Given the state’s failure to provide electricity, a wide range of technologies are blooming throughout the Lebanese territory and are challenging the way electric systems are regulated and managed.

 

Since the 90s diesel-based electric generators provide a backup to the shortages of the public grid. Firstly, generators were individual backup systems, but in the face of persisting shortages of supply, they gradually became mini grids at the neighbourhood or the municipal scale. Anchored in the practices for more than 30 years, generator systems are totally integrated in the daily life of Lebanese citizens (Abi Ghanem 2017), and informal electricity providers are filling a gap. Despite their illegality, they are considered as a “perpetuated extra-legal system” (Gabillet, 2010), regulated by local institutions but recently also by a national one. On the other hand, driven by the need to secure electricity supply and cut down costs, households, large companies or even municipalities are developing local renewable production systems. It’s a way to emancipate themselves from the State but also from the diesel minigrid. Initially, the various fossil or renewable supply devices coexisted side-by-side, but an articulation between them led to the creation of a singular socio-technical object: the hybrid PV-diesel system. Hybrid configurations are technologically more complex and are developed at a wider scale for collective uses.

 

In this context of diversification and complexification, the main grid is no longer the dominant paradigm, but it is articulated to varying degrees with other configurations whether formal or informal, renewable or fossil, centralized or decentralized. To seize this long-lasting process of technical and political complexification of the energy landscape, we use the concept of electric hybrid and electric hybridisation. The goal is not to stress heterogeneity of infrastructural configurations, but to capture the changing dynamics that are occurring. Through the lens of public policies, we analyze the role of public institutions and energy governance in the solidification of these artefacts. Also, from a geographical perspective, the goal is to understand to what extent electrification configurations are shaped by and shaping the social and urban contexts (socio-economic conditions, urban spaces and local resources, social practices and political powers).

chaplain_alix_project_abstract