Social Mobility and Inclusion – Can architectural and urban interventions help improve it?

I’ve recently started following this blog called {FAVEL issues}. They publish fascinating critical pieces about informality and informal lives. Here is new piece about architectural and urban interventions to address informality. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything this post says, I did find it interesting. Janice Perlman’s 25 minute lecture at the end is a must see for anyone interested in informality.

{FAVEL issues}

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Poverty and exclusion are two of the major issues that politicians – but more importantly in the context of this blog, architects, planners, and urban designers (or students of such professions) often refer to when they present projects of “improvement” or of spatial articulation between informal settlements and the formal city. Often, their final objective is to generate positive inclusion social mobility – that is, the movement of individuals or groups up (or down) from their current socio-economic level. And so, the question is: can architecture or design truly improve social mobility?

Janice Perlman, one of the few researchers that has continuously investigated life in favelas for more than forty years, published her latest book “Favela: Four decades of Living in the Edge in Rio de Janeiro” in 2010.[i] Last week, I had the opportunity to attend her presentation at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC, and…

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Making cities slum free – A Dream

Another excellent piece from the Terra Urban blog about what it would take to make Indian cities actually “slum free”.

Terra Urban टेरा अर्बन

By Swathi Subramaniam, PRIA

A story of every city big or small…. Dreams are seen in urban cities. This dream brings people from all places to cities. Slums provide them an inexpensive shelter and are found in every city. They constitute close to half of the city’s population and this population is only to grow tremendously. While imagining a slum free city RAY guidelines opened new hopes at the policy level. But it cannot be achieved with only policy in mind. It needs lot of inclusive and interactive support of all stakeholders as well.

A city cannot become slum free unless the issues of the urban poor are connected with other issues of the city. Making India slum free is the biggest challenge which can only be achieved by ‘Breaking the rules’. Just like how a Primary Municipality school is considered a school of urban poor which lacks basic education quality…

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Inclusive Cities for Informal Workers

The post Inclusive Cities for Informal Workers challenges the inclusiveness of urban renewal schemes in the Global South as being exclusionary. I recently got hold of a new article by Ananya Roy called “Slum-free cities of the Asian century: Postcolonial government and the project of inclusive growth”.  Both that paper and this blog post, make a similar argument for the need to look at citymaking in the Asian Century as a “as a citationary structure which enables distinctive teleologies of development and projects of postcolonial power. More on this soon.
 

Eastern partners or chaotic neighbors? The contested geopolitics and geoeconomics of integrating Ukraine and Moldova

This brilliant analytic piece co-authored by UW student Austin Crane about the situation in Ukraine today, can be accessed at the Antipodefoundation.org website.

The authors write, ‘Hackneyed notions of Ukraine’s geographic position between worlds east and west continue to anchor media coverage, allowing for the present debacle to be repeatedly framed as a “civilizational choice” for Ukraine. Putin’s geostrategic vision entails transforming former-Soviet space from a “periphery of Europe and Asia” into an “independent centre of global development”. His recent State of the Nation address imagines a world made of “large geopolitical units” in which Ukraine and Russia share a common civilization. Like the EU’s civilizational spatial imaginary, Putin envisions a “project for the preservation of the identity of peoples, of historical Eurasian space in the new century and a new world”. Much like Brussels’ plans for the ENP, Moscow’s “absolute priority” is the “technical integration of the neighbours”.

The World’s Largest Community of Street Performers Is About to Be Torn Apart

I am unable to be in Delhi at this time. But while I am here, Kathputli colony and its people are fighting the authorities to save there settlement from demolition. Here is coverage about the recent developments from the Time magazine blog.

TIME

The roads that lead to it are unpaved, dirty and narrow. The houses are rudimentary and sparse. The meandering alleys, slippery and narrow, are almost a hazard to navigate with an overbearing smell of sewage and wood smoke.

And yet this is where the magic happens.

Located in the western part of India’s capital, New Delhi, this slum is known as the Kathputli (or puppeteers’) Colony — though it isn’t just puppeteers who live here. With its origins in a simple encampment for roving and mostly Rajasthani performers, this 50-year-old community today comprises some 3,500 families. They are magicians, snake charmers, acrobats, singers, dancers, actors, traditional healers and musicians as well as puppeteers, and make up what it probably the largest congregation of street performers in the world. Musical instruments — for sale or repair — line the alleys, and a simple chat can turn into a magic show. Days…

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No Country for unmarried women?

There was an article today on the BBC website title “No country for single women“. In the article, the author reflects on conversations with four single women in India, who are successful but unmarried. So much of what these women said resonates with my experiences and the experiences of my “single” women friends in India. I’ve always felt that while women from middle-class families are encouraged to get educated and have a career, but that does not mean that the societal pressure to get married in your early 20’s goes away. It only means that now you have more things that you are expected to do, besides being someone’s wife, daughter-in-law, and mother. And if you choose to wait, or choose to not make getting married your goal in life, then of course there must be something wrong with you. Maybe you are not into men? or maybe you have a psychological disorder? or maybe you are hard to get along with? Because God forbid you not want to get married when its “time” to get married. How can any “normal” woman not want a husband and children? In the article, the author writes:
“There were cases where people told my parents that educating their daughter and letting her become an independent person had been a grave mistake. Now their daughter has high expectations and getting her married has become so difficult! I can’t thank my parents enough for shouldering that burden. They are a great support but I keep wondering what to do to make it easier for them. I am much less worried about myself. I know that being with the wrong man would be far worse than being by myself.”

Also, these are not conversations you have with just your parents. No! everyone and anyone will ask you why you are not married from the rickshawallas to the drivers to the aunty at the bus stop. This is one of the reasons why I moved to the US. Cities such as Bombay, might afford single women a certain independence and lifestyle that they couldn’t have before and can’t have in other cities, but there is no escaping the fact that you chose not to be “normal”. Because at the end of the day that’s what it is! By not getting married and making an informed choice not to be married, you have challenged the age-old understanding of Indian women as just daughters, mothers and sisters. While we as a society can feel great pride in the fact that Indian women are increasingly becoming part of the formal workforce, and that more women are going into higher education than ever before. That’s where it stops. But the thing is, I and my friends who are not married, didn’t choose not to get married at 26 or 27 or 28, not because we wanted to challenge social norms. We chose to not be married because we wanted more from our lives. This doesn’t mean that women who are married have lesser lives, their life paths are just different from ours. Does it mean we will never marry…..not really. We are not giving up the choice to marry, we are just choosing to define our own life paths.