Development and Urbanization
Informal settlement is a category created by policies to designate some ‘not enough urban’ neighbourhoods. ‘The urban’ model needs them to disappear either through eviction or through upgradation and replaced by ‘enough urban’ neighbourhoods. Policies establish the rules to define which neighbourhoods are sufficiently ‘urban’ to be kept in town/cities and which are not. Historically, these policies set them apart because they are precarious and inadequate. Policies of planning are supposed to avoid these precariousness and inadequacy by organizing space. But creating these neighbourhoods as illegal category also creates, per se, marginalization and more precariousness (insecurity or tenure, poor infrastructure etc). To tackle the slum question, policies use again institutional and planning tools that have been conceived under ‘the urban’ vision (laws, regulations, policies, programs, plans). But some local actors are also calling for and/or developing urban neighbourhoods in another way, to be called ‘other urban’ way. Based on qualitative field study on informal settlements’ policies in Yangon, the former capital of Myanmar, and in Bardhamman, a small city of Eastern India, this paper will explore the ‘other urban’ by questioning how informal settlements are categorized, defined and developed outside ‘the urban’ model. It will look into the ways how local administrations adapt and implement national policies designed for big cities, and adjust and modify their categories to fit to their local conditions. This leads to rethinking the definition and categorization of slums and informal settlements, and to inform the theoretical debate on the ‘other urban’.