Informal settlements and urban poverty as cultural commodity

Ozkan_468wDerya Özkan at Eurozine:

Informal urban settlements, otherwise known as slums or shanties, appeared at various moments during the twentieth century as the spatial manifestation of urban poverty. Their histories differ from one socio-geographic region to the other: the gecekondu districts in Turkey developed under different circumstances to the favelas in Brazil, and so on. However, what unites these settlements is that they make visible uneven capitalist development on an urban scale. Urban researchers have studied these districts extensively, focusing on a variety of issues. Urban planners, for example, made an effort to develop ideas about how to normalize irregular urban settlements, while sociologists have studied the structural and economic causes for the emergence of such districts. Anthropologists have focused both on questions of gender in shanties as well as on their potential for resistance in everyday life. Until twenty years ago, informal settlements were studied mainly as an urban sociological phenomenon under rubrics such as “urban poverty” or “rapid urbanization”. Recently, however, they have begun to appear in very different contexts, for example in architectural/urban planning projects and debates, contemporary art and popular culture.

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