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Lecture 21

01:450:250 Lecture Notes - Lecture 21: Favela, Broken Windows Theory, Mechanical And Organic Solidarity

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Asher Ghertner

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Cities as publics
Jane JAcobs viewed the public life of cities in terms of a single, integrated unit
motivated by shared goals
Vendors have different goals and priorities and don’t maintain the public/private
divide that Jacobs celebrated
Bayat(2000), building on research in the Middle East, see cities in terms of
multiple, often competing publics - how does the public form when there are large
numbers of non-long term residents
Which model of the public do streets of NYC resemble? What might we learn
about NY from perspective of Cairo
Bringing a developing country/Global South perspective to urban informality
Asking how the US can be understood in terms of the global south
How broken windows harmed vendors
Conventional view of the “informal”: the passive poor
The urban poor are “marginal, dangerous classes” in informal slums and Cities of
the Global South
Passive does not mean they do nothing, but passive in the idea that they
can be pushed to pursue a certain political ideal or movement simply by a
central organized force
Marginality was treated as a psychological and cultural trait
Implies that the poor were at their own fault for their conditions which is
The Myth of Marginality - Janice E Perlman
Perlman writes about the favela residents in Rio de Janeiro
Informal poor are not marginal, they are marginalized
Not separate from society, but linked asymmetrically
Stigmatized from closed-class system, not culturally marginal
They do not choose to be marginal, but rather they are forced by a
system to be marginalized
The poor participate actively in political life (elections, squatter groups, church
associations, etc)
Also involved the cultural production as well
The quiet encroachment of the ordinary
“Quiet encroachment refers to the non-collective but prolonged direct action by
individuals and families to acquire the basic necessities of their lives (land for
shelter, urban collective consumption, informal jobs, business opportunities and
public space) in a quiet and unassuming illegal fashion”(Bayat 2000:536)
Encroachers pursue collective consumption(e.g. Housing, services), space in
city, autonomy
Think of the electricity grid
Alone one person cannot afford all the power a company gives,
but the collective whole can
A “passive network”
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