Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

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Session Overview
1-SP088: Building Social Justice and Solidarity through the Politics of Urban Social Transformation
Monday, 05/July/2021:
3:30pm - 4:45pm

Session Chair: Dr. Marianne Millstein, Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway
Session Chair: Berit Aasen, NIBR, OsloMet, Norway
Session Chair: Dr. Tom Goodfellow, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
Session Chair: Dr. Catherine Sutherland, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa, South Africa

Session Abstract

This panel explores the politics of urban social transformation in the global South, meaning transformation that aims at reducing inequalities and strengthening solidarity for a socially just city. Cities are now firmly on the global development agenda, but realizing the ambitious goals embedded in the urban SDG and ‘New Urban Agenda’ is a difficult task. To tackle the range of urban challenges we face requires better understanding the politics and power structures that enable and constrain forms of activism and agency. This panel therefore explores the potential for urban citizenship, networks and activism to generate urban solidarity and social justice.

EADI Working Group: Urban Governance

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Rethink The City: Is It Possible To Get A Better Coexistence Through Public Housing Plans? Montevideo Replanned.

Lucía Abbadie, Bozzo Laura, Ana Laura Silveira, Susana Torán, Fernando Roa, Marianyeles Bosch, Myrna Campoleoni, Horacio Alvarez

IC-FADU, Universidad de la República, Uruguay

The aim of this abstract is to show a preliminar work focused on an urban central area of Montevideo, Uruguay, where four public housing policy plans are being developed, and as a result replanning and restructuring neighborhood and urban dynamics.
The Ministry of Housing Territorial Planning and Environment (Ministerio de Vivienda, Ordenamiento Territorial y Medio Ambiente, MVOTMA), through the National Housing Directorate (Dirección Nacional de Vivienda, DINAVI) is the responsible for the housing public system in Uruguay, and it has the goal to cover the demands of low income and mid-income population. This system is implemented by the National Housing Agency (Agencia Nacional de Vivienda, ANV), the Honorary Commission for the Eradication of Unhealthy Rural Housing (MEVIR) and the Uruguay Mortgage Bank (Banco, Hipotecario del Uruguay, BHU). Each of these national institutions is focused on different population sectors, looking forward to attending socio-spatial integration and strengthening the participation of different sectors in different ways.
From an integral perspective, the Social Housing Evaluation Team, a twenty five year-old group of the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urbanism (FADU), Universidad de la República (Udelar), evaluates social housing plans, focusing on social, economic and material aspects of selected cases. In a project that is being developed nowadays, financed by the Sectorial Commission of Scientific Research, Udelar (Comisión Sectorial de Investigación Científica, CSIC), the group is studying cases of five different plans, located in Montevideo and nearby areas: the National Relocation Plan (PNR), National Plan for Socio-Housing Integration Juntos (Plan Juntos), Cooperatives of Union Housing Plan (PVS), Social Interest Housing Law (Ley VIS) and MEVIR.
The studied area in the project is integrated by Villa Española, Unión and Malvín Norte, three neighborhoods historically composed by low income population inhabitants, working class, and informal settlements. These territories, rural areas in the early twentieth century, were annexed to the main city with its growth transformation. In the 1920 there was a process of real estate construction by private developers and since 1950 public housing programmes were developed. The economical crisis, and the lack of public plannification in the 1980 and 1990 brought an important amount of informal occupied ground. In the early 2000 some plans started to be implemented, and since 2008 a plannified policy in social spatial integration started to be carried out.
Four types of housing production, focused on different sectors of population, can be found at this area. The PNR is a plan which works with informal settlements inhabitants of contaminated or flooded areas. It develops strategies to relocate people in formal houses, built by the government through construction bids. Plan Juntos is a plan which develops strategic actions looking for socio-spatial integration and strengthening participation of extreme poverty social sectors, encouraging people to participate in the building process. PVS is a kind of cooperative housing production, where people participate through the design, managing and building process. Its particularity among other cooperatives is that they are privately owned and not of collective property. Ley VIS is a plan for middle class inhabitants, which provides tax exemptions to the investors and building companies, for the construction of new housing, recycling, expansion and renovation in certain areas of the city.
It is inevitable for us to ask how such dissimilar programs coexist in the same territory, which are found in the extremes of the target population of public programmes of housing: on the one hand, the most vulnerable who have experienced relocation processes and on the other, populations with good purchasing power, which acquired their homes within the real estate market. That is the focus of this presentation.

Land Management in Tourism Contexts; Land Registry As A Tool For The Promotion of Spatial Justice in Cape Verde

Ivete Helena Ramos Delgado Silves Ferreira

National Institute for Territorial Management, Cape Verde

Cape Verde, a small island country with a small market and raw materials (scarcity of mineral resources) has been focusing on tourism as its main economic activity. Meanwhile, tourism centres (Praia, Mindelo, Espargos, Sal Rei), observe significant proportions of local communities living in informal neighbourhoods (it is estimated that 2/3 of the population on the island of Boa Vista (tourist island) lives in an informal neighbourhood), without minimum living conditions. In recent decades, the increase in land value caused by tourism, particularly on the islands of Sal and Boa Vista, has made the land and housing inaccessible to the low-income population, who daily arrive from the other islands of the country and the west coast of Africa, to work in hotel developments. The Soil Law (Decree-Legislative no. 2/2007) has not been able to guarantee that all social fringes have equal access to land for the construction of decent housing.

The lack of clear procedures and criteria for the allocation of land for housing or other purposes has systematically violated the principles of impartiality, time precedence and guarantees of social justice.

For example, the non-application of savings (the legal figure that best allows low-income people to have access to land) in the country's largest urban centre, Praia, is a major problem for the housing sector, given the great population pressure that the capital has suffered from the interior of the island of Santiago, the other islands and the neighbouring countries of West Africa.

The pilot experience of the implementation of the cadastre in the four tourist islands, allowed to identify a set of situations of illegalities and expropriations made by the State of Cape Verde without prior payment of fair compensation to the owners (especially in the Integrated Tourism Development Areas of the island of Boa Vista.

Thus, it is necessary to design public policies for the regularization of properties and support programs for citizens with less property, in order to, within the scope of the cadastre, proceed to the regularization of their properties, since the high charges inherent in both the transfer of property and in cases of conflict resolution over real estate, may make it impossible for them to exercise their rights in this regard.

In Cape Verde, it is in the lower-middle class that the largest number of properties in an irregular or illegal situation is found, whose owners should be encouraged, as the case may be, to perform the necessary notarial and registration acts that lead to the registration of the property and, as such, ensure the publicity, security and certainty of the right to property. They will certainly not be encouraged to massively adhere to the process of execution of the land registry.

Thus, this abstract aims to discuss the model of land management in the tourist islands of Cape Verde and how the land registry can be a tool to support the materialization of a land policy, which promotes greater social justice in its access.

Claiming Space: Transforming fisherfolk’s’ livelihoods in Mumbai, India

Synne Movik1, Hans Nicolai Adam2

1Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Norway; 2Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Norway

The coastal megacity of Mumbai is a vibrant urban hub, characterised by growing inequalities between the well-to-do and the marginalised. The Kolis, a community of fisherfolk that are the original inhabitants of the city, with a history stretching back some 400 years, still ply their traditional trade. However, this peasant mode of subsistence is regarded by city planners and bureaucrats as an incongruous element of the modern urban fabric (Parthasarathy 2011). Koli livelihoods are increasingly being marginalised, coming under pressure from urbanisation in the form of land-hungry developers, major infrastructure projects, tourism, and other commercial interests. Deep-seated structural changes are needed to turn the tide of injustices generated by these dynamics. In this paper, we explore the transformative potential of fishing communities’ pushback against these forces, through studying i) how communities are drawing on environmental legislation and activist environmental lawyers to seek compensation and justice for the damage inflicted by large-scale infrastructure projects encroaching on communal land and coastal commons where the Kolis have customary use rights, and ii) how collaborative work with a local NGO, Bombay61, is laying the groundwork for co-producing new knowledges and skills to create and engage in alternative livelihoods. In exploring these processes, we draw on the notion of transformation as praxis – a concept conceived of by Shilpi Srivastava at the Institute of Development Studies in an unpublished research proposal – where praxis presupposes change in social arrangements or their reconstruction through the agency of individuals. Transformation as praxis is a reflexive process involving both a critique of the existing social structures and the search for alternatives and it implies focusing on the agency of marginalised individuals and communities as a point of departure for exploring potential transformative change (see also Myeong-Gu & Creed 2002). To study these processes, we trace, through document studies, focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews, the process of fishing communities’ mobilisation in the face of past and present large-scale infrastructure projects. This mobilisation involved petitioning the National Green Tribunal, an independent body that advises on cases of environmental conflict, and we explore to what extent these processes have shaped communities’ and individuals’ sense of agency and empowerment. The second avenue of exploration centres on the collaborative project between a local fishing village and an urban NGO, Bombay61, w who are engaged in co-producing knowledge for new skills for alternative livelihoods. Drawing on Gramscian ideas about social-spatial relations (see e.g. Ekers et al. 2012) we explore to what extent these processes of claiming space – both physical, political and discursive – have the potential to facilitate transformative change in a context of contested urbanism.


Ekers, M. Hart, G., Kipfer, S., Loftus, A. (eds) (2012) Gramsci: Space, Nature, Politics John Wiley & Sons.

Mehta et al (forthcoming 2020) TAPESTRY: Transformation as Praxis: Exploring Socially Just and Transdisciplinary Pathways to Sustainability in Marginal Environments

Transformations to Sustainability: Critical Social Science Perspectives. A special issue of Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability

Myeong-Gu S, & Creed WED (2002). Institutional Contradictions, Praxis, and Institutional Change: A Dialectical Perspective. The Academy of Management Review, 27(2), 222-247.

Parthasarathy, D. (2011). Hunters, gatherers and foragers in a metropolis: Commonising the private and public in Mumbai. Economic and Political Weekly, 54-63.

A Gendered Analysis Of Housing Policies In South African Metropolitan Cities

Sithembiso Lindelihle Myeni, Andrew Emmanuel Okem, Sinethemba Nomalungelo Zungu

University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

The post-Apartheid South African society is characterised by proactive actions by the government to not only address the country’s housing backlog but to also transform the raced-based patterns of human settlement inherited from the previous apartheid regime. Nowhere are these efforts more evident than in the country’s metropolitan cities which are the hub of economic activities and are, therefore, characterised by a large population. The country’s metropolitan cities are also characterised by expansive housing backlogs and a growing phenomenon of unsustainable human settlements. Underpinned by Nancy Fraser’s theory of social justice and using the gender analytical framework, we examine the housing policies of South Africa’s metropolitan cities to unpack the mainstreaming (or the lack thereof) of gender issues into these policies. Our analysis reveals that these policies are largely mute on gender. We further note that the intersectionality between the largely gender-blind housing policies and the current and past injustices against women further undermines women’s agencies and the country’s aspiration towards attaining the sustainable development goal of gender equality.

Informality, Social Justice and Democratic Transitions: Lessons from Cape Town, South Africa

Graeme William Young

University of Glasgow, United Kingdom

Recent work on the political economy of urban informality has stressed the central role that institutional arrangements play in shaping the agency of the urban poor and the ability of marginalized groups to make claims on the state in the pursuit of social justice. Democratic political systems with competitive elections are frequently held to facilitate the agency of individuals and groups in the informal economy by ensuring that politicians are responsive to popular opinion and providing an incentive to accommodate marginal livelihood strategies when other forms of socioeconomic support are absent or inadequate. Cape Town, South Africa, is in many ways a model for these theories: following its post-apartheid democratization process, governments at the local, provincial and national level officially recognize the value of informality and have adopted policies to support it. Yet those who engage in informal economic activity still face broad socioeconomic exclusion. This paper identifies three reasons why this is the case. First, despite the presence of extensive electoral competition between the African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) at both the local and provincial level, many civil society organizations have been co-opted by government bodies or political party structures, and, as a result, do not adequately represent the interests of their members. Second, the governance of informality is dominated by competing logics and therefore a high degree of ambivalence, at times punishing those who participate in the informal economy for their apparent failure to adhere to taxation and regulatory requirements while at others providing support in the form of facilitating access to capital and skills development. Both approaches fail to address either the root causes of informality or the primary challenges that accompany informal livelihoods by treating entrepreneurialism as a substitute for anti-poverty and employment initiatives. International development frameworks, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda (NUA), facilitate this ambivalence by failing to adequately incorporate informal economic activity, while the unsuccessful supportive efforts that can be observed in Cape Town are in line with the best practice approaches identified by the World Bank. Third, the city’s extreme economic inequality, the legacy of the systemic forms of exclusion and dispossession that existed during apartheid, reflects and entrenches unequal forms of political influence. While the democratic transition that ended apartheid guaranteed universal political and civil rights, its failure to address economic and social rights has left individuals and groups in the informal economy seeking more inclusive forms of social justice limited grounds on which to make their claims on the state. Until these three issues are addressed, the prospects for social justice in Cape Town’s informal economy will be limited. Taken together, Cape Town's failures offer important lessons about the relationship between inclusion and urban governance for cities across the Global South.

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