Learning Planning from the South

Ideas from the new urban frontiers

Authored by: Vanessa Watson

The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South

Print publication date:  March  2014
Online publication date:  March  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415818650
eBook ISBN: 9780203387832
Adobe ISBN: 9781136678202


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The field of urban planning has been characterized, with minor exceptions, by the development of theories, models and ‘solutions’ in regions of the global north, addressing the urban problems in these territories, and published through largely English language articles and books also based in these parts of the world. These regions themselves express great diversity (in urban form and governance, and planning responses) and there is a strong, but less dominant, intellectual tradition of planning publication in a range of European languages. Until recently, these theories, models and solutions have found their way to other parts of the world, essentially the global south, through earlier transfer mechanisms of colonial domination and more recent mechanisms such as international development agencies, travelling consultants and academics and property development companies. Based as they are on assumptions that the rest of the world is (or should aim to be) not very different from societies, economies and institutions in the global north, these travelling ideas have had generally disastrous effects on places where they have been promoted and implemented. In the poor, weakly governed, rapidly growing, largely informal and often culturally different cities of the global south (while recognizing the great diversity within these regions) such planning ideas appear to have promoted social exclusion and spatial inequalities, have been insensitive to sustainability issues, and have proved a useful tool for local elites and politicians to acquire and manipulate urban land and its poorer occupants.

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