Policy and everyday perspectives on informality and spatial confinement...

Excited to announce the RC21 session I'm organizing with Silvia at the 18th ISA World Congress this July. The session looks at informal everyday and policy dynamics in and around multiple forms of material and symbolic confinement in cities such as Moscow, Cape Town, Nahr-El Bared Camp, Denver and Mexico City. It aims to analytically bridge informality and confinement, as they are often simultaneous and mutually eliciting phenomena, particularly in parts of the city where the state and private stakeholders prioritize their interests rather than citizens' needs. 

Giovanni Picker Giovanni Picker Picker Giovanni GiovanniPicker

At the turn of the twenty-first century, informality and confinement are perhaps the most striking features of the everyday lives of the urban poor across the globe. On the one hand, scholars such as Asef Bayat and AbdouMaliq Simone have argued that, under conditions of global neoliberalism, informality has become “a way of life” for the urban poor especially but not only in the Global South. On the other hand, however, the state infrastructural power over dispossessed populations has not disappeared and state and international bureaucracies increasingly relied on devices of spatial confinement to manage dispossessed people within or at the outskirts of cities in both the Global North and the Global South. This session aims to explore the interplay between informality and confinement at both the macrolevel of neoliberal processes, modern bureaucracies, and forms of control and the microlevel of everyday emotions, moralities, and practices.   

The 2014ISAWC Poster featuring
probably not the most socially unequal scene

We seek papers that will help us bring informality and confinement within the same analytic framework thus allowing a better understanding of how these two features of life at the urban margins – in their spatial logics and effects – interact with one another in the policy arena as well as on the ground. Specifically, we seek papers that study dwelling and employment practices among urban populations who experience spatial confinement, as well as papers that explore the ways through which state and international bureaucracies manage – allow, contain, or suppress – these practices. Our goal is to generate scholarly debates on the interactions between informality and confinement in everyday life and in the policy arena: How and to what extent informal practices belong to ruling agencies and to the experience of people inhabiting spaces of confinement such as refugee camps, camps or villages for Roma/Travellers, centers for undocumented migrants, squatter settlements, and ghettos? Under what conditions and through which ways do state and other ruling agencies accept, reward, suppress, and punish informal practices from below?



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