Since the 1970s, the amalgam of objects and processes that today gather around the so-called “informal urbanisation” (and which have been given different names according to countries and times: “suburbios marginales”, “núcleos chabolistas”, “barrios de chabolas”, “bidonvilles” o “gadoue-villes”, “ranchos”, “villas”, “barriadas”, “favelas”, “squats”, “slums”, “barracas”, “peripheral urbanization”…) occupies a significant part of urban research in many countries of the so-called global South and in various critical perspectives (e.g. urban financialisation or urban policies, among others). In Europe, however, interest in research on “informal” urbanisation has experienced ups and downs. Specifically in Spain, the problem of shantytowns and the consolidation of a new generation of intervention policies in marginal suburbs were accompanied, between 1970 and 1990 approximately, by a boom in scientific production on the phenomenon of slums from different perspectives, whether geographical, sociological or urbanistic, including the translation of landmark works such as those of John F. C. Turner. Currently, the history of informal urbanisation is gaining momentum through work on the recognition of precarious housing or self-building, outside planning programmes, and new approaches to comparative international history and comparative urbanism have been developed, while urban sociology is witnessing an “informal turn” and Turner’s work is being revived.
With this call for papers for the monographic section of its 27th issue, the journal Ciudades aims to contribute to these international debates from a complementary perspective that has so far been little addressed. Specifically, the aim is to analyse, with a critical and interdisciplinary approach, urbanism production on informal urbanisation; in other words, to question the theoretical and practical perspectives that, from the discipline of urbanism, have been constructed on the phenomenon of so-called “informal” urban growth.
This call, therefore, is not addressed to the study of “informal urbanisation”, but to the understanding from different disciplinary perspectives (urban critique, history, sociology of knowledge or others) of how this “informal urbanisation” has been conceived by thinkers, technicians, planners, designers, managers, administrators… of urbanism.
In other words, the journal Ciudades wants, through this call, to provide a space to discuss questions related to the “formal” practices of urban intervention in neighbourhoods of informal origin: “neighbourhood improvement”, “urban rehabilitation”, “regeneration” or others, including actions and processes of patrimonialisation; but also the conceptual or theoretical constructions that have been developed within the discipline of urbanism around urbanisation called, depending on the period, suburban, marginal, informal or others.
This call is not limited to any specific geographical area, but it does consider a chronological framework that starts with the birth, towards the second half of the 19th century, of modern systems for regulating urban growth, which also determined the irregular or clandestine condition of the processes developed on the fringes. The topics of interest are open-ended, and a variety of approaches are welcome: evolutionary, comparative or other. Historical perspectives on urbanism focusing on informal urbanisation are also of interest.
The full text of the call (in Spanish) can be downloaded here.
Coordination of the monographic section:
María A. Castrillo Romón (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fatiha Belmessous (email@example.com)
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