Calendar of Events

Fall 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Josefine Ørum Fokdal (Institute for Architecture and International Urbanism, Berlin University of Technology)
From Local Action to Global Networks:
Changing Power Relations in Housing Processes in the Global South
4:00 pm Arts Center Lecture Hall
(eastern edge of the Arts complex near Mitchell Hall)
Co-sponsored with the School of Architecture and Urban Planning (SARUP)

Current urbanization trends in Asia and Africa challenge classical planning approaches. Local governments are failing in providing adequate housing for the majority of urban poor, leading to an increase in informal systems and strategies. This is where the "new urban players" tend to move in. Often labeled as grassroots movement, an increasing number of Community Based Organizations initiate and get involved in housing processes on a local scale while building networks on a global scale. These alliances do not follow the classical concept of institutions; rather they are composite organizations. The duration of their alliance can be more or less permanent and often lack coherence. Characteristic of these networks is their tendency to network building, which transcends the national scale and involves multiscale strategies in addressing the housing process. This lecture seeks to discuss these multilevel housing processes in terms of participatory governance and the related integration of civil society.

The main argument is that the transformed housing process does not only influence policy and actors on various levels but brings about a new system of transformed power positions and assertiveness of the urban poor vis-à-vis outside actors. Cases are associations supported by the Community Organizations Development Institute (CODI) in Thailand and federations affiliated to the Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI). The focus is on various levels of their relationship-building between the Philippines, Thailand, and South Africa. This contribution does not intend to provide answers whether these networks are democratic, accountable or transparent in terms of a normative understanding of good governance or social capital. Instead, it seeks to discuss the tendencies identified and the role such new urban players play in the local policy making processes. The knowledge presented is based on a research project titled "Housing for the Urban Poor: From Local Action to Global Networks," funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Josefine Ørum Fokdal is and architect and senior researcher at the Habitat Unit at the Berlin Institute of Technology, with a special focus on urbanization processes, governance, and mega-cities in Asia.

From Habitat Unit website Kariakoo Market Hall, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. From Habitat Unit website

The Habitat Unit is a globally networked research and teaching center developing new approaches, expertise, and application-oriented tools relevant for global urbanisation and urban change processes. The Habitat Unit is committed to an inclusive and rights-based approach to urban policy and urban management, as well as development-oriented and actor-driven planning. Based at the School of Architecture at the Berlin University of Technology, the Habitat Unit promotes an extended understanding of urban and architectural design, which integrates spatial, material, and cultural sensitivities with new models of participation, co-production, and urban governance. The Habitat Unit collaborates closely with leading universities worldwide, advises national and global development agencies, and represents the Berlin University of Technology as official partner in the Habitat Partner Universities Initiative established by the United Nations Center for Human Settlements (UN HABITAT).

Habitat Unit website



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