Constructing Informality and Ordinary Places: A Place-Making Approach to Urban Informal Settlements

  • Melanie Lombard
Part of the EADI Global Development Series book series (EADI)


Since the 1960s, understandings of urban informal settlements have constantly evolved. Almost since this urban phenomenon was first observed — coinciding with patterns of industrialisation and urbanisation in 1950s Latin America — it has been accompanied by debates about the meaning and extent of urban informality, understood as closely linked to urban poverty. Although many advances have been made in terms of theoretical understandings of these places, and the policy responses that ensue, they are still subject to disproportionate levels of marginalisation, including effects ranging from discrimination to eviction and displacement. Some observers suggest that this is reflective of critical gaps in urban theory, deriving from the dominance of particular epistemologies and methodologies within urban studies, which have led to the prevalence of ‘apocalyptic and dystopian narratives of the slum’1 (Roy, 2011: 224). Such accounts reveal the limits of knowledge about urban informality, based as it is on certain privileged circuits of knowledge production which frame urban informal settlements in particular ways. This may lead to ‘sanctioned ignorance’ (Spivak, 1999 in Roy, 2011: 228), the unseeing of the productive spaces of informality that constitute significant swathes of today’s cities; or to stereotyping of particular places and people in terms of their ‘illegal’, ‘illegitimate’ status in the urban environment. Both processes contribute to the marginalisation of urban informal settlements.


Informal Settlement Urban Space Place Attachment Urban Poverty Place Meaning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  • Melanie Lombard

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