[URBANTH-L]CFP: Megacities / Urban Subjects: Geographies of Knowledge and Spatial Forms in the Global South

Angela Jancius jancius3022 at comcast.net
Thu Aug 13 13:58:56 EDT 2009

Megacities / Urban Subjects: Geographies of Knowledge and Spatial Forms in 
the Global South

The Center for Back Diaspora (DePaul U.) and WISER - Wits Institute for 
Social and Economic Research (University of Witwatersrand, South Africa)
Deadline October 30, 2009

This year marks the 15th year of the publication of Robert Kaplan's 
influential essay "The Coming Anarchy" in the Atlantic Monthly (1994) which 
provided a terrifying portrait of megacities in Africa, Asia and Latin 
America where chaos has become the order of the day. Borrowing an image from 
Thomas Fraser Homer-Dixon, Kaplan positioned his Western readers as 
passengers in a comfortable limousine cruising the streets of the megacities 
of the South filled with the wretched poor and violent criminals resembling 
the Victorian cities of the 19th century. In his view, these allegedly 
dangerous classes pose a serious threat not only to those who are inside the 
limousine, but also to the millions of middle and upper classes in North 
America, Europe and pacific Rim. Kaplan warned his readers that ". a rundown 
and overcrowded planet of skinhead Cossacks and juju warriors, influenced by 
the worst refuse of western pop culture and ancient tribal hatreds" are 
going to destroy Western civilization. This dystopian vision of the "Coming 
Anarchy" is repeated by other writers who claimed that the dawn of a new 
post- cold war era was leading to "Clash of Civilizations" (Samuel 
Huntington, 1993) and the "End of History" (Francis Fukuyama 1992). In this 
arrestingly simplistic and nightmarish vision, the social, environmental and 
political crises facing the globe in the new millennium will gestate and 
mature in the megacities of the South (Mike Davis 2004).

In the contemporary context of global neoliberalism, the megacities of the 
South face new challenges characterized by stymied urban economic 
development, unprecedented urban poverty, crumbling infrastructure, massive 
rural to urban migration, environmental degradation and bitter social and 
ethnic strife of varying intensity and state violence directed to control 
massive social movements struggling for the "right to the city"(UN 2002). 
They also face a range of problems associated with externally imposed 
schemes of structural adjustment programs, privatization of state-owned 
industries, rising urban unemployment, and withdrawal of the state from 
already limited and circumscribed social welfare functions and provisions of 
basic infrastructure and services. Despite the proliferation of a 
considerable number of descriptive accounts and dystopian narratives of 
megacities of the South, they remain under theorized.

We are interested in papers that address the following topics and themes:

. Floating Lives and Urban livelihoods

The phenomenon of informal urbanization has been the single most pervasive 
element in the production of megacities of the South. Large scale migration 
fueled by rural poverty, economic insecurities, agrarian crisis, draught, 
war and political conflicts, and the physical violence of the state have 
swelled the ranks of already over burdened postcolonial cities. Unable to 
find shelter, work and livelihood, many of the new migrants join millions of 
squatter settlers and the urban poor in the informal settlements to fashion 
a social and material world beyond the logics of the postcolonial city. The 
imposition of neoliberal policies through the state has led to a 
proliferation of ingenious local responses of survival strategies among a 
wide section of the urban population. We invite papers that examine the 
floating lives of the urban poor and urban livelihoods in the informal 
settlements of megacities of the South which are connected to political 
upheavals, economic deregulations and migratory movements.

. Spaces of Consumption and Exclusion

In the last three decades, megacities in the South have witnessed major a 
transformation as a result of their further integration into the global 
economy through neoliberalism, resulting in a new form of urbanism 
characterized both by spatial fragmentation and disaggregation into separate 
"micro-worlds" where hyper-consumption, crime, segregation and social 
exclusion are recasting the urban cultural fabric and reordering everyday 
life. We invite papers which focus on the city as a site for the 
intersection of global networks, hyper-consumption practices and social 

. Urban Restructuring

In recent decades, megacities of the South have played a crucial role in the 
rescaling of the state and the decentralization of government apparatuses 
under the direction of the World Bank and IMF as part of the broader 
strategy to rejuvenate the productive capacity of the market and reduce the 
role of the state. New set of rules were imposed across a broad range of 
megacities to remove institutional constraints, legal barriers, state 
control apparatuses as a condition to make the market function efficiently 
through deregulation, privatization, decentralization and increase urban 
productivity and efficiency. We invite papers that examine the role of the 
state and its various agents in the spatial restructuring of megacities 
ostensibly and the recasting of the state-civic society relations.

. Contesting the City

The imposition of neoliberalism has given rise to a multitude of urban 
social movements in the megacities of the South, challenging the "rule of 
law" regarding private property by squatters, poor peoples' movements and 
others. We invite papers that explore the multitude of ways in which popular 
groups contest the city.

Abstracts should be 400-500 words in length. Authors should send their 
material with the abstract attached as a Word document. Please be sure to 
include the following: full name, university affiliation, and the title of 
your abstract.

Abstracts and quires should be sent to Fassil Demissie - fdemissi at depaul.edu

Deadlines: submission of abstracts, October 30, 2009. Authors of accepted 
proposals will be asked to submit articles in final form by April 30, 2010.

Papers will be published in Journal of Developing Societies, (March 2011) 

Guest Editors

Fassil Demissie, DePaul University Abebe Zegeye, University of 
Witwatersrand, South Africa

Fassil Demissie, Ph.D
Department of Public Policy
DePaul University
2352 N. Clifton Ave, Suite 150
Chicago, IL 60614
Email: fdemissi at depaul.edu 

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