Development and Urbanization
The ‘urban’ is a spatial category created by policies to identify settlements where occupations are outside farm activities. The norms that identify a settlement as urban vary across place and depend on the respective policies of different countries, which are based on local context. While these definitions open up discussions on how urban is seen as a category, there still remains the universal model of urban, which we call ‘the urban’, conceptualized as a modern and efficient place, especially with regards to finance, infrastructure and services. Moreover, ‘the urban’ is seen as a space of capital accumulation and innovation, as a place of social and cultural modernity and also as a growth engine in the neo-liberal regime. This model has been strongly critiqued especially by post-colonial urban theorists, and the reality of urban situations in developing countries raises questions about its continuing dominance. The continuing entanglement of ‘the urban’ with modernity renders some spaces in the global south ‘not enough urban’ or ‘not yet urban’, and other spaces as the ‘alternative urban’ or the ‘other urban’. This ‘other urban’, which does not fit with ‘the urban’ is particularly located in the informal settlements across the metropolises and in the small towns, accommodating the majority of the urban population of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Informal settlement is a category created by policies to designate some ‘not enough urban’ settlements, which often face demolition and evictions, upgradation through infrastructure development, or redevelopment and replacement by ‘enough urban’ neighbourhoods. Similarly small towns, such as mufassils (sub-town) in India, do not show up often in the policy priorities of the national governments because they consider them as ‘not enough urban’ or ‘the other urban’. The constant comparison of ‘other urban’ and ‘not enough urban’ to ‘the urban’ marginalises them and places them at the periphery of urban systems in their respective countries.
By questioning the universal model of ‘the urban’, the panel opens up the opportunities to explore how the ‘other urban’ might be conceived. The papers under this panel will question theoretical debates as well as will analyse the empirical underpinnings behind the ‘other urban’, through the cases of small towns and informal settlements in India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. The papers will analyse the cases of ‘other urban’ through the lens of migration, local/ world class articulations, local administrations and local capital accumulation in rethinking urban theories of global south.