The Global Development Institute will host a mini-conference to understand the opportunities and constraints on scaling up participation in towns and cities of the global South with a range of academics and practitioners. The purpose is to develop and share experiences of participation that is taking place, analyse outcomes from efforts to date, and develop an understanding about how to shift participatory development from a niche to the mainstream.
We welcome participation from scholars including PhD candidates who are researching similar themes.
This conference has some limited space for additional papers and we welcome contributions concerned with the key themes around scaling up participation and amplifying the voices marginalised citizens
Deadline for abstract submission: 31 January 2019
Conference registration: 03 December – 28 February 2019
Conference: 12th & 13th June 2019
The need for action: There is global recognition of the serious consequences of rising inequality. While this new recognition is to be welcomed, we have to also recognise long-standing problems that are receiving relatively little attention. Both inequalities and long-term disadvantage are particularly acute in towns and cities of the global South where between 30-70 per cent of the population live in informal settlements. This situation requires a multi-faceted response that includes new political priorities, new capital investments (particularly for regularisation and infrastructure) and new approaches by state officials.
Participation and politics: Organised citizens have long been active in the urban context. While some residents’ associations have been critiqued for engaging in clientelistic practices to advance their interests, urban social movements have taken direct action and developed multi-stakeholder alliances to change political relations and gain the investments they need. In many cases, these movements have reached beyond the neighbourhood level to secure improved access to basic services. Improved participation in both development programmes and government decision–making remains a priority for such movements. These efforts have developed a plurality of participatory practices, each building on critical engagement with past experiences and on present development governmentalities and technologies. As movements increase the scale and depth of influence, they provoke new responses (positive and negative) from the state. How can the benefits of such participation be secured? This conference will enable academics and civil society activists to share experiences and learning.
- What is the challenge to participation represented by market-based development, and how can citizen participation be relevant if state engagement with informal settlements is focused on incorporating residents into the modern economy as consumers. How can citizens co-produce basic services with the state if the primary objective of the state is to maximise revenue?
- Governments create opportunities for participation especially in housing and/or upgrading programmes. While much of their discourse suggests these opportunities are substantive, citizens’ experience these opportunities as superficial and demeaning. They often reduce citizen engagement by trivialising this potential. How can movements recapture the initiative and negotiate more substantive openings?
- The devolution of powers to local government appears to create greater opportunities for participation. The localisation of governance processes appears to strengthen relations between the local state and citizens. However many devolution processes do not appear to have resulted in significant new efforts at participatory development. What can be learned from recent efforts at devolution and citizen engagement?
- While participation is relevant to many disciplines, planning has a particularly close association with this practice. There have been efforts to shift away from master planning to collaborative practice, but these have had limited success. What can we learn from these efforts and what does this experience mean for professional and citizen planning?
The primary emphasis of discussions will be on the global South. However, we will use this opportunity to strengthen the shift in thinking away from international development towards global development through an engagement with University of Manchester activities to strengthen participatory democracy in Manchester.
If you are interested in taking part in the panels, please send us an abstract. We are planning a publication (probably a special journal issue) after the event.
This conference is generously supported by The University of Manchester’s Hallsworth Conference Fund and the Leverhulme Trust.
It is held under the auspices of the Global Development Institute.
Professor Vanessa Watson
Role: Professor of city planning in the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics
Organisation: University of Cape Town
Biography: Her research over the last thirty years has focussed on urban planning in the global South and the effects of inappropriate planning practices and theories especially in Africa. Her work seeks to unsettle the geo-politics of knowledge production in planning by providing alternative theoretical perspectives from the global South. She was the lead consultant for UN Habitat’s 2009 Global Report on Planning Sustainable Cities and is on their global reports Advisory Board. She was chair and co-chair of the Global Planning Education Association Network (2007-2011). She is a founder of the Association of African Planning Schools and is a founder and on the executive of the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town.
Associate Professor Victoria Beard
Role: Associate Professor
Organisation: Cornell University
Biography: Beard has worked as a planning practitioner for organizations such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, AusAID, and RAND during the past 15 years. Her research explores the intersection of collective action, social movements, transnational processes, and planning. Beard has two ongoing research projects.
Professor Gianpaolo Baiocchi
Organisation: New York University
Biography: Baiocchi is a sociologist and an ethnographer interested in questions of politics and culture, critical social theory, and cities. He has written about and continues to research instances of actually existing civic life and participatory democracy.
Dr Rajesh Tandon
Organisation: Society for Participatory Research in Asia
Biography: A leader and practitioner of participatory research and development. He is one of the founding fathers of Participatory Research. His work in this field has given new meaning to relationships between the researcher and researched subjects
Muungano wa Wanavijiji
Biography: Muungano wa Wanavijiji is a social movement of 'slum' residents and urban poor people in Kenya. We believe that slum upgrading is possible, but only where communities themselves are at the centre of their development.
Zimbabwe Homeless People's Federation
Slum Dwellers International (Kenya)
Dialogue on Shelter (Zimbabwe)