Project abstracts 2020

Renewable Energy Use and Livelihoods in Informal Settlements in Accra

Tracy Sidney Commodore,

University of Ghana, Ghana

Undoubtedly, most livelihoods in cities in the Global South are highly dependent on natural resource utilization. Some of these natural resources are used for energy to provide power which is key to the realization of livelihoods. In Ghana for instance, biofuel energy resources such as wood fuel are used for food related livelihood activities. Unfortunately, the unsustainable utilization of these resources have consequential impact on biodiversity conservation and depletion of forest reserves, and thus can derail efforts aimed at achieving targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 15. It is within this context that there has been increasing need for newer forms of technologies to provide alternative to biofuel. In order to introduce new ways of providing energy within low-income communities, investing in newer forms of local technologies and improving their accessibility and utilization by low-income people is an important step forward in reducing over reliance on biofuels. Gaining empirical evidence on the potential adoption and adaptation to improved energy technologies for enhancing livelihoods in informal settlements in Ghana is crucial. This will help to ensure that we meet target 2 of the SDGs 15, which aims to promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests, and increase afforestation and reforestation especially in the Global South. Thus, the main objective of this paper is to examine the institutional and policy framework on conservation of natural resources and the potential use of locally improved energy technologies in informal settlements in Accra.

Impact of High-Density Urban Agglomerations & Slums on Pandemic Situation & Redevelopment Model for Pune City

Supriya Shinde,

Anantrao Pawar College of Engineering & Research, Pune, India

An outbreak of pandemic COVID-19 disease caused by novel corona virus SARS-CoV-2 has posed serious threat to human health and economy of the whole world. Pune is one of the most densely populated metro city in India, which has also came under the attack of this viral disease.

After observing the statistical data relating to Covid 19 cases in Pune city, we believe that high-density urban agglomerations i.e. densely populated areas & slums areas became hotspots of Covid 19 cases. Due to short supply or non-existent of basic needs such as water, toilets, drainage line, solid waste collection systems, adequate housing facilities along with space constraints and overcrowding in slums made physical distancing & self-quarantine impractical which has contributed in the rapid spread of infection.

This research work, predominantly focus on behavior of urban character like drinking water, toilets & road etc. facilities in Pune city & development of model for high density areas & slums using Geospatial Technology. Geospatial Technology includes Geographic Information System (GIS), Remote Sensing (RS) and Global Positioning System (GPS).

Satellite imagery and geospatial data are collected Using Remote Sensing. Satellite imagery serves as a source of information and data to support analysis and classification for geospatial assessment and modeling. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a mapping tool for analysis of geospatial data and to support environmental management for climate change, natural resources, land cover, etc. The location of high density urban agglomerations & slums in Pune city could be identify with the help of global positioning system (GPS).

All these technique used for database generation, analysis and thematic map preparation which gives in depth information of total high dense populated area, building footprints, structures related to garbage collection, Municipal/agglomeration boundary, population density, condition of roads, provision of livelihood spaces, slum locations, other physical parameters, etc. The model for redevelopment of slums as well as for highly density urban agglomerations will be developed & suggested to Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to deal with the sustainable urban planning & development to ensure the safety of habitat in any pandemic situation in Pune city.

Keywords: High-Density Urban Agglomerations, Urban Character, GIS, GPS

Annexure I


1) Bharat L Gadakh (2020). “Land Suitability Analysis for slum Redevelopment of Nashik city Maharashtra”, UGC Care Group I Listed Journal), Vol-10 Issue-7, Page No.10, Nashik.

2) Carsten Butsch, Shamita Kumar, Paul D. Wagner, Mareike Kroll, Lakshmi N. Kantakumar, Erach Bharucha, Karl Schneider and Frauke Kraas (2017). “Growing ‘Smart’? Urbanization Processes in the Pune Urban Agglomeration”, Sustainability-MDPI, Vol. 9, Page No. 2335, Germany.

3) C. Weber, A. Puissant (2003). “Urbanization pressure and modeling of urban growth: example of the Tunis Metropolitan Area” Remote Sensing of Environment, Elsevier Science, Vol.86, Page No. 341– 352, France.

4) Curtis N. Thomson & Perry Hardin (2000). “Remote sensing/GIS integration to identify potential low-income housing sites”, Elsevier Science, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 97–109, USA.

5) Divyani Kohli, Richard Sliuzas & Alfred Stein (2016). “Urban slum detection using texture and spatial metrics derived from satellite imagery”, Journal of Spatial Science, Vol. 61, No. 2, Page No.405–426, Netherlands.

6) Ivan Franch-Pardo, Brian M. Napoletano, Fernando Rosete-Verges, Lawal Billa (2020). “Spatial analysis and GIS in the study of COVID-19. A review”, Science of the Total Environment, Elsevier Science, Mexico.

7) J. Grunblatt, W. K. Ottichilo & R. K. Sinange (1992). “A GIS approach to desertification assessment and mapping”, Journal of Arid Environments Vol.23, Page No.81-102, U.S.A.

8) Myrtho Joseph, Fahui Wang, Lei Wang, (2014). “GIS-based assessment of urban environmental quality in Port-au-Prince, Haiti”, Habitat International, Elsevier Journal, Vol.No. 41, Page. No. 33- 40, United States.

9) N. Mundhe (2019). “Identifying And Mapping of Slums in Pune City Using Geospatial Techniques” mumbai the international archives of the photogrammetry, remote sensing and spatial information sciences, Volume XLII-5/W3, Page No.10–11, India.

10) Rohith P. Poyil & Anil Kumar Misra (2015). “Urban agglomeration impact analysis using Remote Sensing and GIS techniques in Malegaon City, India”, International Journal of Sustainable Built Environment, Elsevier Science, India.

11) Sulochana Shekhar, (2019). “Effective management of slums- Case study of Kalaburagi city, Karnataka, India”, Journal of Urban Management, Elsevier Journal, India.

12) Srinanda Sena, Jane Hobsonb, Pratima Joshia (2003), “The Pune Slum Census: creating a socio- economic and spatial information base on a GIS for integrated and inclusive city development”, Habitat International, Elsevier Science, Vol. 27, Page No.595–611, India.

Does Collective Action lead to Improved Service Delivery and Enhanced Tax Collection for Local Governments: Case of Bengaluru, India

Sukanya Bhaumik,
Bangaluru Centre for Research in Urban Affairs, India

This paper contributes to our understanding whether collective action, active citizenry leading to measurable improved service delivery impacts people willingness to pay taxes. In the case of India property taxation is the most important tax collection instrument available to urban local governments. However, property taxation rates in cities are seldom revised, and the underlying valuation of properties is much lower that of their prevailing market value, thus making property taxes a revenue handle with very low buoyancy. While most of these are governance issues the main reason for this can be attributed to the prevailing low equilibrium trap of Indian cities. Poor service delivery in Indian cities, leads to citizen’s unwillingness to pay, leading to poor tax collection and thus perpetuating the local government’s inability to spend on services thus causing poor service delivery.
In the recent past there have been efforts to strengthen ward committees and citizen participation across the city of Bengaluru, although Metropolitan Planning Committees (MPCs) are not yet set up, but some wards have been more successful than others in strengthening urban governance. Also, several citizen-led initiatives have become very active in the past 2-3 years. This paper will look at the initiatives in selected wards of Bengaluru and that of selected citizen groups and assess the outcomes on service delivery and finally assess the impact on property tax collection.
In this paper we attempt to investigate whether strengthening the link between local collections and urban services can increase citizens’ willingness to pay for services, improve service delivery, and enhance local democracy.
The proposed methodology for this paper includes desk research (BBMP property tax collection data, ward committee details etc.), key informant interview (ward committee members, key position holders in citizen groups) and online focused group discussions (ward committee members, citizen groups).
This outcomes from this paper will be assessed in context of the on on-going PhD research where the scholar is assessing the revenue capacities in cities (objective 2) in order to determine the fiscal gaps in cities.

Space mobility in Lebanon. Possibilities of removing the obstacles to the use of public transport in Beirut

Rita Azaan,

Université de Toulouse2 Jean Jaurès, France

Nowadays, the rapid urbanization and the socio-economic development of cities generate more and more mobility needs, to ensure links between economic and social activities. Cities in Lebanon are experiencing significant traffic problems which hamper spatial mobility. The Lebanese Public bus network is a disorganized sector, which does not encourage users to use this type of transport, while the potential demand is there. In addition, the current modes of driving public transport are also contributing to increasing traffic congestion due to the lack of reserved lanes and irregular patterns of bus pick-up and drop-off of passengers. Moreover, the explosion of the 4th of august 2020 in Beirut has ripped the city to shreds and reopened old wounds for a fragile population already facing civil unrest, an ongoing socio-economic crisis. The people of Lebanon are more vulnerable than ever before, our aim of study is analyzing spatial mobility of Beirut, supply and demand in relation to the quality of public transport networks, the social factors and safety and security that affect this mode of travel. Taking a French example, elements of comparative perspective will allow us to consider which aspects of the interurban transport system could be transposed from France to the urban forms of the territories analyzed in Lebanon while adapting to the specific Lebanese context. Our aim is to improve the public transport service offered in order to try to increase the use of public transport to reduce traffic while taking into consideration aspects of security for people.

Conservation of wetlands in the context of disputes over access to urban land. The case of the Matanza-Riachuelo basin (Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Pablo Daniel Pereira,
Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

This project aims to address the conservation of urban wetlands in metropolitan basins with serious socio-environmental problems. Wetlands have become more important as indispensable elements of human settlement. However, their degradation due to productive activities and urban expansion (both closed urbanizations and informal settlements) has produced new environmental conflicts and led to a new focus of environmental policy. In particular, the creation and management of natural protected areas in cities and peri-urban regions reveals complex historical controversies between demands for conservation and demands for urban expansion. We have chosen to study these tensions in the middle stretch of Matanza-Riachuelo Basin (province of Buenos Aires), one of the most polluted in the world and the most polluted in Argentina. There, the territorial tensions arose in the wetlands regarding the urban expansion linked to the housing crisis. We want to reflect the contradictions and conflicts around environmental conservation in metropolitan spaces, by offering a comprehensive insight which considers both the socioeconomic, as well as the urban and environmental dimension. On one hand, the project seeks to describe the efforts of neighbourhood organizations to extend their strictly local action towards a more integrated view of the area as a whole, establishing connections between the challenges of environmental conservation and the management of other relevant issues, like flooding and pollution control. We approach our work from a community-based conservation perspective, with contributions from urban political ecology. At the same time, we focus in the institutional dimension of the conflict through an approach to the environmental policies of the provincial and municipal authorities. In 2015, the Matanza-Riachuelo Basin Authority (ACUMAR) began to promote the conservation of its wetland areas, developing ‘environmentally protected areas’ within the Matanza-Riachuelo territory. However, this intervention did not take place as part of any regional plan for controlling land use. From a perspective that argues for the social productiveness of the conflict referred to, it will be argued that the project’s case study offers support for a policy of environmental development of the basin.

Resilience global models versus territories from the Souths

Juliette Marin,
Universidad de Chile, Chile

Resilience of territories – cities, regions or other territorial scale – is defined through various conceptual frameworks and constitute since the 2000s a growing scientific and technical field. Although resilience’s literature, both favorable or critical, points out the difficulty of implementing such a vague or ambiguous concept, metrics, methodological frameworks and principles for designing and planning have emerged and been applied globally in the last decade, such as the City Resilience Index developed for the network 100 Resilient Cities. The article proposes a discussion on these global models of resilience, in particular hegemonic models of scientific and grey literature in order to contribute in understanding how these models are built, acting and possibly transforming territories. Since there is a global North-global South divide in the scientific production on resilience, at the very same time that resilience is widely promoted and acknowledged as a bottom-up concept, an emphasis is herein placed on the discussion regarding resilience of territories of the Souths, in particular Latin America. Four axes of analysis are proposed: (i) translations and adaptations of the notion in hegemonic networks; (ii) an analysis of the sociotechnical markers of hegemonic models of resilience; (iii) resilience as a neoliberal governmentality device; (iv) position of Latin America in the production and dispute of knowledge about resilience. Finally, these analytical insights are used in a case analysis based on Resilient Santiago project, carried out in Santiago (Chile) since 2015 within the framework of 100 Resilient Cities.
Keywords (5): Urban models, resilience, sustainability, global south, policy mobilities, governance.

The urban heritage sites; Dynamics of locality, emergence of collectives, and identity politics

Hafsa Idrees,
University of Passau, Germany

Rapid development and urbanization turn a city into a modern battlefield of cultural heritage protection leaving it to choose between conservation and destruction/redevelopment. As a result, several “collectives” emerge and evolve in and around the urban heritage site based on various interests. Locality is an important aspect of identity politics and therefore urban heritage discourse as many global issues are localized and many local modifications result from global integration. This paper is an attempt to explore how different collectives evolve and organize in George Town (Malaysia) and Yangon (Myanmar) and to what extent their common association with the territory plays a role in the management of the heritage. The analysis is mainly based on the secondary data and related literature.

Feeding the cities and beyond: contemporary agrarian questions and rural-urban counteraction. An overview of the Italian case

Francesca Uleri,
University of Bolzano, Italy

Today, more than ever, the agrarian ground, is appearing not crystallized or isolated but highly interconnected with the “growing cities” which ask for an increasing quantity and variety of agro(food and non-food) commodities. Taking into consideration the rising demand for agro-commodities, this proposal aims to highlight how the adaptation of the agro-production complexes to the global economies of scale has reshaped their internal organization, here mostly intended in terms of agricultural labor organization. Accordingly, it offers an overview of a contemporary agrarian question affecting thousands of rural laborers working in the Italian agro-industial sector, la questione dei braccianti, the question of the hand fields and of their illegal labor-recruitment and exploitation as a way to reduce production costs and face a global squeeze in agriculture. Drawing on this, the paper defines a trajectory of counteraction based on a rural-urban alliance. The counteraction is intended here not as a set of mobilizations that take to the street but as mobilizations that move firstly at the institutional level and then at the market level through a mediated social re-definition/re-construction of the market-circuits.

Collective action in the informal housing production. Recent land invasions in Buenos Aires peripherical areas

Francesca Ferlicca,

IUAV-Venice Institute of Architecture, Italy

Popular urbanization and irregular urbanization are considered equal in Latin America since the legal standards imposed on the formal production of residential space are extremely difficult to reach by lowincome sectors. Some studies have analysed the relations between informal settlements dwellers and state institutions. However, their dichotomous perspective classifies collective action as a result of autonomy or institutionalization, neglecting the more general effects of this interaction.

Since July 2020, about 30 attempts of land takings have been registered in Argentina in the Gran Buenos Aires and La Plata, concentrated mainly in the peri-urban edges of the metropolitan area. These land invasions – known in the local context as tomas de tierras – are configured as housing responses to the measures of isolation of the Covid-19 pandemic of the popular sectors that were excluded from the possibility of continuing to pay rent and that deal with situations of extreme labour and economic precariousness.

In this paper, I propose to analyse the collective action of an organized group in the recent process of occupation of a peri-urban land in Guernica, a locality in the municipality of Presidente Peron in the South of Buenos Aires metropolitan area, and their informal production of a residential neighbourhood -known in the anglophone literature as land invasions.

Moreover, I propose to build a more nuanced theoretical category that can replace the anglophone land invasion, deepening in the specificity of the Latin American urban context. Moreover, I propose to reconstruct the genesis and the process of land invasion and to analyse the interaction between the actors involved, among them the “land invaders”, the police, the local, provincial and national government, the land owners, universities, and grassroot organizations involved.

The role of collective space in the construction of social cohesion. Case study: Greater Santiago

Emilio Berríos,

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile

Cohesion and social capital are fundamental for a healthy society, representing the principle of fraternity that allows empathizing with others and moving towards greater equity and social justice, which in turn promotes greater equality and freedom pursuing the common welfare. Aligned with this, the role played by open collective spaces on the community and public sphere is crucial for urban sustainability in all its dimensions, but especially socially.

The relationship between the built environment and urban social cohesion, also referred as sense of community, has been investigated mainly at the neighborhood (micro) scale, with little development at larger scales such as the macro-neighborhood (meso) and the city (macro). Micro-scale analyzes can account for cohesion phenomena that could nevertheless be counterproductive to the whole urban system or city, eventually promoting greater social fragmentation. Hence, the importance of addressing the phenomenon in a holistic and multi-scale way.

Specifically, this research focuses in open collective spaces as a privileged place for public interaction and the development of a community, not limiting the public definition to the legal distinction of property, but rather to the encounter with others, outside family members, and often unknown people who nevertheless are part of the same society, thus promoting the construction not only of bonding ties, but also of bridging and linking different social groups of the same system.

Thus, the central objective of this research is to understand to what extent the spatial and territorial attributes of open collective spaces affect the construction of capital and urban social cohesion between different socioeconomic groups, in a highly segregated metropolis such as Greater Santiago. Regarding the territorial factors, the interest is to deepen on the distribution and accessibility of theses spaces and the mobility conditions of the inhabitants to access them, as well as their historical and symbolic aspects. While, from the spatial perspective, the interest is to analyze location and configurational factors on the urban grid; permeability and transparency of their edges; their relationship with the street network and movement patterns; and visual integration and fields.

In terms of preliminary advances on the subject, the analysis of “Structural barriers to walkability and accessibility at neighborhood scale” has been analyzed on three housing estates. The effect of the physical and social barriers have been identified and their effect on the walkable neighborhood area has been measured. The results show a considerable reduction in the area of the walkable neighborhood with significant differences between the integration of the pedestrian and vehicular network; considerable reduction in the coverage of goods and services, among which are green areas; and possible relationships of bigger walkable areas with longer distances of walking and the prevalence of walking in the modal share. These study address very relevant aspects to be analyzed deeper and in detail in further thesis work. The spatial and territorial factors mentioned above will be addressed, especially in relation to walking as a way that, in itself, favors social interaction and therefore cohesion, at least on a neighborhood scale, as documented in the specialized literature.

Revisiting Blackness in the European South: A transnational view on Lisbon

Elena Taviani,

Gran Sasso Science Institute, Aquila, Italy

Race and the city are of increasing concern for European scholars and policymakers. Only a few years ago “race” would not be an acceptable analytical term and even today there are political and academic contexts that seem not compatible with this notion. However, race emerges in our cities as a powerful social construct and shapes the everyday urban experience of an increasing number of people. Blackness rises as a political variable often interlaced with the process in which race operates, that of racialization. Across Europe, Black people are overwhelmingly located in urban areas, including mainly capital cities, but how the urban structures form and perform within the process of Black people racialization is still to be explored. Indeed, looking at the urban dimension of race and Blackness may be harder than expected in a context, like the European one, in which race seems to be “absent”, or at least “un-measurable” and “un-placeable”. The principal objective of this study is to provide an overview of the interconnections between a critical understanding of race and Blackness and their working within the urban space to – briefly and albeit partially – introduce this literature to a European Urban Studies audience in order to address one of the more significant gaps in our discipline. Moreover, situating the debate in a metropolitan city of the European South and choosing Lisbon as a case study brings along with it a number of preliminary issues that need to be addressed. Thus, moving from a theoretical perspective to a more analytical one, I first mention the key concepts emerged in the international debate about race and the city dominated by the US conceptualization, the second section is dedicated to understanding how the European debate developed and its specificity in the European South, while the rest of the study explores the urban dimension of race and Blackness in Lisbon. Through a (fluid) comparative approach that aims to highlight the influences and exchanges between main cities in Europe, the ways in which urban race-based processes are addressed by public policies and the main official approaches adopted in Europe will be mentioned in order to locate Lisbon in its wider panorama. Indeed, the third section is devoted to a transnational view on Lisbon about three main aspects: problems of measurability of race (I), urban policies and planning strategies involving race (II), and urban representations of race and Blackness (III). Eventually, a few conclusive remarks acknowledge limitations and opportunities of “a reading of race and Blackness” within urban contexts of the European South in order to draw implications and hints for future researches.

The Spatial Syntax of Urban Inequality: Daily Mobility and Mobility Capital in Urban

Daniela Villouta Gutiérrez

Universidad de Concepción, Chile

The new mobility paradigm (Sheller & Urry, 2006; Urry, 2007) has revealed the variability and complexity of people’s mobility. It has also questioned how mobility takes place and how its various factors can affect the socially differentiated use of the territory. This change of paradigm has highlighted the transformation processes that some cities are undergoing in terms of urban restructuring and the implications that it could have on urban inequality, as a social practice conditioned both by external and internal variables that are incorporated in the form of habitus1. This growing interest has been widely addressed in Europe and North America, with few studies in Latin America. Specifically, in Chile, mobility has been studied mainly through an engineering and quantitative perspective, excluding the social and spatial practice dimensions (Landon, 2016).

From here, the question arises: Which and how is the relationship between the spatial configuration of the built environment and the daily mobility used and practiced by subjects in the consolidation of urban inequality? It is argued that the spatial configuration of the territory affects the potential for people’s mobility (mobility capital) which in turn is related to complex social processes capable of consolidating urban inequality in our cities. In this sense, the social and relational nature of daily mobility (socially accustomed and practiced), evidences the way in which urban inequality is structured, distributed and persists in cities undergoing urban restructuring.

Based on the above, the thesis aims to understand the relationship of mutual influence between the spatial configuration of the built environment and the way in which everyday mobility is habituated and practiced, and its relation to the consolidation of urban inequality.

To this end, it proposes, on the one hand, to identify and characterize the mobility capital of subjects and households based on access, competence and appropriation of mobility, which in turn will be affected by the spatial configuration of the case study. On the other hand, it will articulate and analyze the daily mobility of the subjects, based on the way it is used and practiced and its relationship with the mobility capital they have and the spatial configuration in the units of analysis. In this way, it is hoped to improve the understanding of the configuration of urban inequality based on its structure, distribution and persistence in the Metropolitan Area of Concepción, Chile, and to reflect critically on the way in which public policies for Metropolitan Areas are planned and evaluated in a neoliberal context.

A mixed type of research is proposed. On the one hand, it considers a quantitative approach to identify the units of study through a georeferenced analysis of urban growth patterns, related regulations and mobility conditions between the years 1990 and 2020. In order to describe and characterize the units of the study area, a quantitative analysis of the mobility capital and the configuration of the network will be carried out, based on the “mobility indicator” of Kaufmann, et al. (2004) and Moret (2012), through structured surveys. The configuration of the urban fabric will be addressed through the theoretical and methodological tools provided by Space Syntax (Hillier et al., 2000; Hillier, 1996). A qualitative approach is also considered to

1 Set of generative schemes from which subjects perceive the world and act in it (Bourdieu, 1980).

analyze the mobility practices in the units of study, the way in which mobility is habituated and practiced, for which the trajectories of the inhabitants and their different meanings and perceptions will be observed.

The preliminary results address the debate on the mutual influence between the spatial configuration of the built environment and urban mobility and their relationship in the consolidation of urban inequality. It is argued from the prism of the “new paradigm of mobility” that the theory of mobility capital or motility allows to overcome the historical dichotomy between space and mobility. In this way, it becomes clear that mobility as a social practice also constitutes dimensions of urban inequality and dispute in space. To this end, Hillier’s theorizations of spatial syntax are put into tension with proposals of the capital of mobility by Kaufmann et al. (2004). It is concluded that, in order to understand the dimensions of urban inequality, mobility must be understood beyond the functional nature of displacement, but also, from its social and relational nature in the built environment.


Bourdieu, P. (1980). Le sens pratique, Minuit, Paris. (trad. esp. en ed. Taurus, 1992)

Hillier, B.; Greene, M.; Desyllas, J. (2000). Self-generated Neighbourhoods: the role of urban form in the consolidation of informal settlements. Urban Desing International.

Hillier, B. (1996). Space is the Machine: a configurational theory of architecture, CUP, Cambridge.

Kaufmann, V.; Bergman, M. and Joye, D. (2004). Motility: Mobility as Capital. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 28(4), 745-56.

Moret J. (2018) Mobility: A Practice or a Capital? In: European Somalis’ Post-Migration Movements. IMISCOE Research Series. Springer, Cham.

Landon, P. (2016). Zona Sur: barrios, infraestructura y movilidad cotidiana Estrategias de apropiación y capital de movilidad familiar en barrios fragmentados. El caso de la Autopista Acceso Sur de Santiago de Chile. Tesis para optar al grado de Doctora en Arquitectura y Estudios Urbanos. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Santiago.

Sheller, M. & J. Urry. (2006). The New Mobilities Paradigm. Envieronment and Planning. Volume 38, p. 207- 226

Urry, J. (2007) Mobilities. Cambridge: Polity Press, London

The eyes and ears of resistance: mobile ICT-afforded and crowdsourced reconnaissance in Hong Kong’s Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement

Ha Chi Yeung,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Reconnaissance normally refers to the military operations to gather information about the enemy and the terrain. Updated and extensive information on police deployment and action as well as its surrounding urban environment is crucial to the protest’s stay-or-leave decision-making. A systematic and crowdsourced reconnaissance is rarely found in the social movements around the world, excepting Hong Kong’s recent protest movement. Based on the case of crowdsourced reconnaissance practices in Hong Kong’s Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement, this article aims to examine the affordance of mobile information and communications technology (ICT) in protest participation and communication, enabling a largely leaderless and anonymous setting. This article will explore how the use of online technologies mobilizes immaterial resources, resonating with offline protest actions in almost real-time. And this article will further investigate how the anonymous nature of the movement tends to develop specific mechanisms to coordinate and verify their efforts online.

The Hong Kong Summer’: A Spatial Story Approach

Wing Shing Tang,

Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

This paper argues that it is only insightful to understand the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Movement and its aftermaths in Hong Kong, coined as ‘The Hong Kong Summer’, spanning 2019 and 2020, by situating it in its historical geography, which is in constant interaction with the world. It proposes that this can be achieved conceptually and methodologically by a spatial story approach. In particular, it deciphers ‘The Hong Kong Summer’ by tracing historical-geographically the developments of, on the one hand, the Chinese state in interaction with the world and, on the other, Hong Kong as a city evolving in the globalising world. ‘One country, two systems’ was formulated at a time when China had tried to recover from the brink of total collapse after the Cultural Revolution, on the one hand, and on the other, an insurgent response to anti-Chinese communism from Hong Kong. It has been continuously moulded by the party-isation (or the common coinage of democratic centralism) of the Chinese economy and society in the last three or so decades, when, especially after the financial tsunami in 2008, China had surged as an economic power in the world. In corollary, the Chinese state has started to promote nationalism among its citizens. This continuous party-isation, as formulated in the concept of tianxia (‘all under Heaven’), has relentlessly re-defined centre-local relations, including the frameworks and ingredients of ‘one country, two systems’. People in Hong Kong have been delayed to elect their Chief Executive under universal suffrage. The latest re-alignment, as stipulated in the decision of tenth session of Standing Committee in the twelfth National People’s Congress on 31st August 2014, met with fierce opposition from the people of Hong Kong, who were somewhat and somehow informed by the convoluted concept of the right to city, demanding the right to decide one’s future. All concomitant actions, and reactions too, had accumulated, historical-geographically, into the Umbrella Movement and, subsequently, the Anti-Extradition Law and the State Security Law movements that had shocked the world. In sum, this paper argues that it is difficult to decipher these movements except with a spatial story approach that emphasises the mutual embeddedness between two polar forces.

Collective Actions in the Cities of the World: A Radical Perspective

Wing Shing Tang,
Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

This year, the School calls for a new “collective action” in cities nowadays, and it is the objective of this paper to elaborate this theme from a radical perspective for a number of reasons. First, according to Mancur Olson’s The Logic of Collective Action, rational, self-interested individuals will not act to achieve their common or group interests unless there is coercion or the number of individuals in a group is quite small. This understanding is extremely limited, as it has emphasised solely on rational actions, while it could never challenge the structural forces that have produced the prevailing inequalities and injustice so widespread around us. There is then an urgent need to supplement this discussion with concepts like activisms and social movements. Second, even if we have done so, there is usually a bias towards Anglophone concepts and theories. It is common in the literature to dub every activism or social movement around the world as the jasmine revolution in Tunisia or the lotus in Egypt: according to this view, it is all about democratisation of late-coming countries, to be modelled on their more advanced counterparts. This bias has revealed vividly the underlying power relations in knowledge production. In the first School of the Souths, we came to the conclusion that this biased understanding was unacceptable. The North-South dualism is, however, unnecessary; it merely prohibits us from understanding ourselves better. We instead need to develop concepts based on the concrete structural forces of the concerned countries while not forgetting about those of the more advanced counterparts. The two are in constant interaction with each other. To further elaborate this complexity leads us to the third point: a spatial perspective. The construction of relationship, which is so central to activisms and social movements, hinges on spatial strategies and tactics to mobilise and gain power. Land, terrains, places, networks, territories and regions are made and re-made as part of the process of social and political struggles. During these processes, narratives and imaginaries are also invoked, or even invented, to facilitate the spatial deployment. The exact strategy and tactic, among a repertoire of them, deployed by a particular activism or social movment for a particular issue is dependent on the historical and spatial moments. For instance, the struggles of favelados in cities in Brazil are very different from the movements behind tongfang (sub-divided flats) in Hong Kong. It is then important for us not to employ one analytical methodology or concept to decipher all these spatial strategies and tactics. A tempo-spatial analysis is always the basic approach to success. Finally, as a summary, this paper would suggest one spatial approach of activisms and social movements that tries to meet the above requirements.

Informal Settlements: an old challenge requiring new answers

Margarita Greene, Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile

Chile has a long trajectory of social housing policies. At the beginning of the 20th century, acknowledging governmental responsibility for housing, the country initiated the first institutions and public programmes to deal with increasing housing problems. Although the contributions –and errors– of Chile’s social housing policy history are many, the ways it has approached informality, self-construction and incrementality are of special interest, and these issues have gained notoriety once again.

Like most of the accelerated urbanization process in Latin American, Chile’s main cities grew largely through informal settlements built in the periphery by the poor. At different periods in time the government first ignored them, then eradicated them (by what has been described as ‘slum-razing’ strategies), and later radicated them through upgrading neighbourhood programmes. At the turn of the new century the country was envisioning the end of informal settlements, and the greatest challenge in the housing sector was to improve the poorly equipped social housing neighbourhoods. However, in the last years the situation changed, and new informal settlements began to increase again in different parts of the country. This has been accelerated greatly with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The paper describes these new informal settlements, their location, type of inhabitants, and suggests ways of approaching them. At present, only one thing is clear: although they seem to represent a same old problem, they need new and differentiated strategies to deal with them, customised to their particularities.

Justice and environmental change in Buenos Aires. A case study of the environmental remediation of the Matanza-Riachuelo basin

Gabriela Merlinsky

Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Matanza-Riachuelo Basin, home to one-third of Buenos Aires’s inhabitants, is a territory characterized for its deregulated industries, lack of sanitation and scarce water supply. Gradually deteriorated throughout the past decades, it has become a symbol of the kinship between urban marginality and environmental vulnerability.

In 2008, Argentina’s Supreme Court ruled against the government in a case filed by citizens who denounced the perilous condition of the Basin, and ordered it to carry out an environmental cleanup in order to repair the damage and improve the quality of life of the population. However, several of the policies undertaken have paved the way for territorial conflicts, especially one that aims to open up a road all along the polluted riverbank, where many of the city’s overpopulated slums are located.

The political-ecological examination of the urbanization process in Matanza-Riachuelo river basin reveals the contradictory nature of the process of socio-environmental change and shows the central role of the real estate market which, by concentrating its investment in affluent areas increases the vulnerability of territories with high environmental degradation

The article has a twofold objective: 1) to identify the different positions of actors involved in resource management in the CMR, pointing to the main metropolitan environmental governance problems; 2)

to examine the consequences of the implementation of this policy over the population’s expectations and life conditions. By analyzing the role played by social organizations and state agencies, we will discuss the implications of environmental recovery on the metropolitan policy.

Through an interdisciplinary approach that integrates the fields of law, geography, sociology and environmental sciences, the presentation develops a context analysis and case study from statistical secondary sources, analysis of judicial sentences, interviews to key informants and observation reports of judicial public hearings.

“Collective action” in the cities of the world. A view from the Souths

Paolo Perulli,

University of Piemonte Orientale and FEEM, Italy

In the world cities of today, a new “collective action” is taking place. From Hong Kong to Santiago de Chile, conflict is the key word; powers are challenged; reforms are demanded. In India, conflicts over the ethnic and religious minorities’ rights are ongoing. In Africa, conflicts over ethnicity, religion, land, resource allocation, governance, poverty and migration are widespread.

To grasp the collective action of cities in the Souths of the world, the old rational choice theory based on olsonian assumptions should be recognized as wrong. A new theory based on the needs and capabilities to express collective protest is wanted. It depends on both structural and contingent factors. It involves the critique of basic concepts like development, progress and democracy.

A new normative framework for the cities of the world could be the outcome of the conflictual processes outlined here. A new lexicon would be created around terms like: economic, social, ethnic and environmental justice, autonomy, capabilities, rights. The search for ‘universal’ principles of Justice or the necessarily ‘pluralistic’ logics and ‘relativistic’ ethics of identity are part of the dilemmas.

Is Justice universal? Are the same parameters to be adopted in the North and the Souths of the world?

Sustainable development is the key. It is based on parameters-like the United Nations SDGs-which fail to address the existing difference between the North and the Souths, the dominant and the excluded, and the need for a new synthesis. The global interest to “save the Planet” cannot avoid the enormously different, conflicting points of view of developed and developing communities. Together they stand, together they fall.

Cooperation or competition? China in Africa

Paola Pasquali,

École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris, France

This presentation explores the theme of collective action in the Souths of the world from a macro level state perspective, by looking at the relationship between China and its relations with the 54 states inhabiting the African continent. China is now the world’s second largest economy and since 2019, the world’s largest official creditor (overtaking the IMF and World Bank). Prompted by the growing financing, trade, and investment flows between China and African countries, Africa-China relations have attracted increasing attention and have been hotly debated. On the one hand, this relationship is officially framed as a mutually beneficial instance of South-South cooperation among equals. This position is often accompanied by a consideration of how Chinese financing enables the realisation of critically needed infrastructure across African countries. On the other, the disproportionate size and economic power of the Chinese state in comparison to individual African countries, has led some to describe this relationship as unequal and even neo-colonial relationship.

This paper begins by emphasising how China and African countries cannot be perceived as one single actor with one agenda: there are many different actors (e.g., government officials, ministries, state-owned enterprises, private companies, etc.) who have different and at times conflicting goals. It will be further noted that the way Africa-China relations are analysed in the literature often problematically downplays and at times completely obfuscates the agency of African actors. The paper will then review the main statistics that characterise such relationship. As these numbers reveal, in spite of current narratives, China’s presence on the continent is not that of an investor but rather that of a finance and service provider. I will argue that such financing – which at times intersects with notions of development aid – has an important “Keynesian multiplier” effect on China’s own economy. It will be further observed that such financial commitments are key in consolidating Sino-African friendships which are fundamental in supporting China’s expanding global footprint, especially at the level of international global governance. While Chinese economic cooperation and capital have strengthened African governments bargaining power with Western donors, I will remark that many problems exist with regards to the issue of tied financial assistance as well as, in a number African countries, the issue of the rentability of projects and debt repayment.

The paper concludes that China’s attempts to reshape international economic governance commensurate to its economic weight principally depend on winning the support of the largest majority of countries of the global South. In this respect, African countries’ support for China within international organisations is critical, especially at a time when international relations appear to be increasingly polarised (countries of the global North vs China). As a result, although taken individually African countries are in an unquestionably weaker position vis à vis China, their diplomatic weight should be highly valued and fully leveraged on. Ideally this could be best achieved by adopting a unitary, pan-African position on African governments’ most pressing issues vis à vis the Chinese presence in Africa.

After Covid, the cities

Marco Cremaschi,

Urban School, SciencesPo, Paris, France

The COVID-19 crisis has had a significant impact on the lives and prospects of millions of people around the world. Comments appear to be evenly split between fear of the apocalypse and calls for denial. Many found the ideal culprit in the city; repentant archistars praised the countryside. However, common sense observations lead to risky generalizations and hasty conclusions.

Contrarywise, a recent survey concludes that only some changes will be permanent, while cities are the answer, not the problem. A survey at the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei looks at the impacts on 20 cities around the world over the coming years. Some 25 experts have drawn up more than 200 proposals mapping the impacts and priorities of 20 cities around the world.

Diverging from press comments, the experts predict that the city will remain attractive, even though the crisis has severely affected the vulnerable population, especially in the slums of the South of the world. Each city continues to face varied impacts, however, shaped by the structural problems (inequality, war, disease, climatic events, etc.) pending from the past. Panel members are cautious about either radical changes or significant innovations. For instance, the crisis will not trigger a steady transition from consumerism to frugality; a massive abandonment of cities is unlikely, as well an increase of deregulation.

The spatial impacts of the pandemic present significant “local” variability. Production chains will become shorter, tourism will rediscover nearby places, and local governance will become crucial. The integration of digital and urban flows accelerated its pace. New ways of working explode the demand for IT and crash the need for office space. Mobility flows and routes change, some will decrease, affecting cities’ budgets and programs. AI systems will restructure technological networks and infrastructures. Public spaces will be remotely controlled and less used.

Private and public spaces and infrastructures integrating digital technology arise a challenge to the local collective action. The COVID crisis highlighted the limits of forecasting of States. Cities are already concerned but not yet equipped. A shift has been started by local actions, some informal some promoted renewing the struggle between states and cities. Cities taking advantage of this shift will become more powerful and potentially more efficient. They can become fairer or not, depending on where we will ‘land’ in politics. In all case, the local institutions of welfare and governance need to be redesigned.

The urban-rural dichotomy in contemporary urbanization processes: emerging conflicts and collective action

Luca Garavaglia,

University of Eastern Piedmont, Italy

In XXI century, the rural-urban discourse in Europe took new pathways, regarding both issues and their scale: the advent of the information society, the new attention to sustainability and environmental protection and, more recently, the changes determined by the Covid-19 pandemic introduced new arguments to the debate, while the extension of urbanization processes at regional scale and the development of urban networks at global level enlarged the arena of conflict, bringing the urban question to new spatial dimensions. The paper discusses these transformations presenting examples from urbanization processes taking place in northern Italy, where complex city-region dynamics are unfolding, generating strong interdependencies between metropolitan areas, medium-sized cities, industrial, agricultural and peripheric areas: as a consequence, new conflicts arose on the urban-rural fringe and in marginal areas, regarding the spatial distribution and the accessibility of public services, quality of life, sustainability, economic competitivity. At the local level, networks of public and private actors have been able to produce new forms of collective action in order to respond to emerging problems, but issues organized at trans-territorial scale are much more difficult to challenge, due to the difficulties in the coordination of different public administration and to the lack of preexistent experiences of cooperation between actors.

Cities in the Souths of the world are experiencing the same challenges regarding urban growth and sustainability, and some of them are producing strong and original responses in terms of collective action. Yet, those contexts cannot be interpreted with concepts and tools developed to study the urban-rural dichotomy in western cities, because of the differences in their social, economic and historical conditions. A more complex paradigm is needed, in order to better understand how the new global geographies of capitalism and power impact on local contexts all over the world, and how communities and local stakeholders can play a role in the governance of processes which are transversal to all traditional administrative boundaries.

Urbanization, Covid-19 and Collective Action Among the Urban Poor in India

Kala Seetharam Sridhar,

Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore, India

Covid-19 has put the spotlight on our cities which are characterized by high population density, and have become hotspots for this reason. In Indian states, there is a positive correlation of 0.43 between urbanization and Covid prevalence. Given the effects of density on spreading of the pandemic, unsurprisingly, there is a positive correlation of 0.48 between the percentage of slum households and Covid prevalence in Indian states, and a negative correlation of -0.21 between parks (open spaces) in cities and Covid per lakh population. There is also a positive correlation of 0.36 between urban primacy and Covid prevalence for Indian states.

With the pandemic, Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) have become independent units of governance at the city level in India. Hence with respect to the urban poor, in an attempt to understand their collective action, we examine the determinants of membership in RWAs, their income and likelihood of voting in municipal elections, based on reported evidence from two south Indian cities—Bengaluru and Chennai.

Here are our research questions:

  1. What are the socio-economic determinants of Covid-19 at the all India level? We have strong reasons to suspect that urbanization rate, income, density, gender, workforce participation and literacy rate impact the incidence of Covid-19.

  2. What are the determinants of collective action by the urban poor, i.e., of membership in RWAs and neighbourhood associations, and likelihood of voting in municipal elections?

We find based on regressions at the district level, taking data from all Indian districts, that urbanization leads to increased Covid prevalence; higher population leads to higher prevalence of the virus. Higher workforce participation also is a cause of higher Covid prevalence, as this implies higher economic activity. We find richer districts are more likely to be aware of the debilitating effects of the virus, hence characterized by lower prevalence of the same, consistent with our expectations, although the magnitude of their effect is small.

With respect to collective action among the urban poor, based on evidence reported in Sridhar and Reddy (2014a) for Bengaluru and Sridhar and Reddy (2014b) for Chennai, demographic characteristics such as age and gender have ambiguous effects on the urban poor’s membership in associations, but salary status, higher income and migrant status lead to membership in neighborhood associations in both the cities. Further, the older, relatively higher income, poor women and members in neighborhood associations voted in municipal elections; migrants did not vote, as they are statutorily prohibited from voting currently. The most interesting finding is that beneficiaries of government programs did not vote in municipal elections, in both the cities.

Applying these results to the Covid-19 context, we conclude that the salaried and those with higher income among the urban poor are more amenable to collective action during the pandemic. On a somewhat different plane, migrants are not eligible to vote in local elections, but they may be prone to collective action. These results somewhat confirm the story from the observed collective action during the pandemic in Bengaluru.

Environmental justice and the origin of Chilean Revolt

Enrique Aliste,

Universidad De Chile, Chile

Chile, as a great part of Latin American (LA) countries, is an economy strongly dependent on commodities. Copper, forest production, fisheries, lithium, agribusiness, between others, is the base of the GDP and at the same time, the origin of a several conflicts between communities and companies.

In the last 30 years, the emergence of a new conception of the environmental rights and demands about quality of life, human rights, development, justice, etc., in an extreme neoliberal context, in addition with a scenario of risk disaster vulnerability (earthquakes, volcano eruptions, drought and climate change, tsunamis, land flows, pollution, water scarcity, etc.) has been an important reason for the social reaction and organization.

The collective action in different social context has facilitate the October 2019 Chilean Revolt. Certainly the cause of environmental justice is not the center of the revolt, but in an exploration about organized groups and collective action, is maybe one of the most important demands with future perspectives: the water property rights, the access of commons, the question about the extractivism dependence, the vulnerability on climate change, between others.

In this context, several questions its emerging from the analysis of collective action organized in Chile, and one plausible question is why the environmental collective action is not strongly based on the popular social movements? Does it’s mean a certain relation or perception with an elitization of the environmental discourses and actions?

In this paper, we discussing about how green discourses and practices coming from the global north has influenced the public perceptions about the environmental problems and actions, exploring the socio-environmental conflicts, projects and actions in Chile, for thinking and debating about the collective actions and the role of the environmental justice in the global south.

Marrakech: des réactions et des issues au contexte pandémique

Abdelaâli Benchekroun,

Marrakesh, Morocco

Les villes et surtout les campagnes marocaines, ont connu à travers les décennies antérieures, un déficit d’Etat et des services de base. Ainsi, l’Enseignement lamentable, l’analphabétisme, la santé où les démuni(e)s risquent de rencontrer la mort en cas de maladie.

Marrakech étant une ville touristique et d’artisanat, avec très peu d’industrie. La Région Marrakech-Safi étant agricole, il est vrai, mais souffre de stress hydrique qui menace les populations rurales.

Dans ce contexte, la pandémie a donné un coup d’arrêt au tourisme de Marrakech, une fois les frontières fermées. Les 300 000 personnes qui en vivent, se sont retrouvées chômeurs. L’Etat marocain a réagi au départ de façon innovante, énergique et solidaire, mais les conditions objectives ont dégagé une évolution très difficile.

Avec le déconfinement les villes pouvaient se réorganiser autrement. En réalité, le confinement s’est passé dans les pires conditions, notamment avec la fête du mouton et la promiscuité des souks ovins. Le Gouvernement n’a pas annulé la fête religieuse, comme il avait fermé les mosquées.

Vu les inégalités sociales amplifiées avec l’arrêt du tourisme, plusieurs dizaines de milliers vendent leurs affaires personnelles pour survivre et descendent dans la rue. L’Etat ne peut pas continuer à soutenir ces nouveaux chômeurs, d’autant que le Fonds de solidarité-Corona s’épuise.

La pandémie se répand dans une situation sanitaire déplorable. Les hôpitaux de Marrakech ne peuvent plus accueillir les nouveaux cas positifs, impuissants devant la demande grandissante. L’expansion du virus est telle que le nombre à dépister est bien plus grand que la capacité journalière estimée fin août à 20000. Le personnel médical exténué, manque de moyens. Le système de santé dénudé au grand jour. Le secteur privé évite d’accueillir les cas positifs, différemment de la première étape où il était impliqué. L’Etat ne fait rien, et plusieurs appellent à nationaliser ses cliniques.

La rentrée scolaire s’annonce inextricable. Apprentissage à distance ou présentiel? Le Ministère décide le virtuel, laissant le choix aux familles d’opter pour le présentiel. Or 70-80% des enfants n’ont ni tablettes ni connexion. La distanciation étant difficile vu l’encombrement des classes.

En somme, le « moins d’Etat » qui a sévi pendant longtemps (PAS-FMI des années 80), a été fatal pour l’école et la santé publiques. La pandémie a brutalement rappelé l’impératif de réhabiliter un Etat capable de reconstruise le Secteur Public, la protection sociale, réviser les orientations de l’économie et reformuler les vrais besoins.

L’évolution pandémique impose de cohabiter avec le virus. Des comportements légers des gens pourraient justifier pour les décideurs de re-confiner. Ce qui serait plus fatal pour la ville et le pays.

Nonobstant le cours des évènements cependant, l’Etat devrait mobiliser le maximum, pour garantir la sécurité, l’autosuffisance alimentaire, médicaments, équipements médicaux, finance, monnaie et énergie. Et ce, en par le lancement d’un Fonds Corona II. Le Roi avait lui même donné l’exemple par une contribution personnelle consistante. Nos richards devant être contraints à se « solidariser ».

Marrakech étant ainsi sinistrée, les autorités, centrales et régionales, élus et opérateurs divers, doivent converger pour restructurer santé et écoles publiques, les services divers, le transport et la gestion innovante des espaces publics. L’objectif premier : stopper l’expansion et la prise en charge des vagues de contaminé(e)s, par une autre stratégie de communication ciblant les précaires et le rural.

Le tourisme serait orienté et adapté pour la clientèle intérieure, et l’artisanat relancé par la substitution aux importations de produits ciblés, ainsi que le « consommer marocain » qui deviendrait la devise dorénavant.

La digitalisation occupera une place dans la reconversion au télétravail et la transparence-gouvernance. A Marrakech et au Maroc, celle-ci compte pour beaucoup dans les problèmes socio-économiques et la paupérisation rampante.

Ce contexte requiert plus que jamais la bonne gouvernance pour bâtir l’équité sociale, le développement alternatif, éradiquer l’alphabétisation, améliorer la place de la femme et des jeunes dans la société, assainir l’administration, la justice et instaurer la redevabilité. On n’a pas d’autre choix que de changer le modèle de société, ou risquer le pire.