Southern theory and cities of the South

Monday, 3 June, 2013 - 15:00

Presented by : 
Alan
Mabin

In  researching  and  writing  change  in  three  cities  on  three  continents,  I  have confronted the question: what to make of ‘southern theory’ (Connell 2007) in relation to cities in the south as well as the north of the world?  This paper presents debate on questions such as: what is ‘theory from the south’ or ‘urban theory beyond the west’ (to cite the titles of works from Comaroff and Comaroff 2011 and Edensor and Jayne 2012)? Mindful of the possible dismissal of such theorizing as merely an ‘obsessive anxiety about latest fashions in Northern theory’ (eg Mbembe 2011), the intervention explores what there may be to gain, for consideration of the world of cities, from new realities and new ideas emerging ‘in the south’.  Cautions can be sounded around the problem of  models  –  from  Chicago  to  LA,  and  then  on  to  Miami,  Atlanta  and  cases  in  the elsewheres of global urbanisms. The notion of ‘the south’ or ‘cities of the south’ evokes in general a postcolonial turn in  many  social  disciplines,  and  its  possible  intersection  with  critiques  of  political economy. One key proposition in current argument is that ‘cities of the south’ present a space of experimentation that prefigures the near future of the west (or north).  The risk of wholesale adoption of such perspectives may be ‘a larger set of claims that tend to obscure even while claiming to clarify’ (Aravamudan 2012).   The intervention asks, how those actively applying their minds to city futures in more collective  senses  may  confront  the  question:  what  alternative  urban  policies  and practices might flow from a ‘southern perspectives’?  

Paper: 

PDF icon Mabin2013.pdf

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