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Monthly Archives: October 2016

Post-polis: The (in)egalitarian dynamics of emerging urban orders (project description)




Bjørn Bertelsen

What does the notion of the urban mean when the city is replaced by megapolises lacking physical centres and clear-cut boundaries? What egalitarian and inegalitarian possibilities and dynamics do such globally emergent urban configurations hold? Many of the new structures, and in particular in what is commonly referred to as the global South, experience the disintegration of a centrally governed city with a polis that was often colonially imposed. Simultaneously and in both the global North and South many urban areas experience an increased use of automated and digital systems of governance that emerge in tandem with urban zones that reflect corporate forms of experimentation, privatization and, thus, fragmentation.

This project aims to compare mainly two large-scale urban contexts in what is commonly labelled the global South and North, namely, Maputo and San Francisco. Such juxtaposition addresses the questions raised by critically investigating ongoing and future urban configurations in terms of how these constrain, structure or open up egalitarian possibilities. This will include analysing the socio-political impact of various forms of technology (such as implementation of the Internet of Things, infrastructural arrangements and digital surveillance and tracking possibilities), novel forms of ordering urban space (such as privatized cities, gated communities, security arrangements), emergent forms of politics (such as autonomous or occupied areas, urban citizen-run zones or riots) and questions relating to the urban comprising depositories of wealth.

Picture 1: Bairro Polana Caniço, Maputo, January 2016.
Eradication of housings of the poor as part of rapid gentrification. New gated community condominiums about to be constructed in the background. Photo: Bjørn Enge Bertelsen.


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Violent Becomings in Mozambique

Rolf Scott How does the state of Mozambique configure it self in relationship to the people defined within its borders? Read more …

Refugees and Human Rights, a Project Description!

Marina Gold

My research project has been looking at the refugee crisis from two distinct perspectives:

1) the relationship between human rights discourse (as an egalitarian ideal) and the refugee crisis

2) the managing structures of refugees

Initial fieldwork has been carried out in Switzerland, given the high numbers of international NGOs that articulate human rights discourse, and the increasing numbers of refugees arriving from Italy and Austria. Switzerland has received 479 asylum applications per 100,000 inhabitants, which is above the European average of 260 applications per 100,000 inhabitants. Furthermore, 24.6% of Switzerland’s population is composed of foreigners. The other particularity of Switzerland is its highly democratic system of government, where people are involved in direct decisions affecting the country’s national and international policies. This was the case with one of the last referendums which voted to establish a quota on European citizens working in Switzerland, which has placed enormous stress on the Swiss government’s negotiations with the EU.



Dr Marina Gold

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Fracking and the Price of Democracy

Anna Szolucha

How much will fracking cost the people of Britain? The promises of jobs and economic wealth seem increasingly illusory in the face of the real costs already paid by local councils and residents.

All developments involve change and all bring benefits as well as costs which are not evenly distributed. The prospect of financial gain for the companies exploring for shale gas, the promise of new jobs and local prosperity come at a price.

The imbalance in benefits and burdens that are involved in all shale gas developments has already been experienced by local residents in Lancashire even though fracking has not really started yet. They report few benefits but a whole range of adverse health and social impacts such as increased stress, community conflict and an atmosphere of distrust and surveillance that are an effect of the prospect of fracking in the area.


However, the costs of fracking for the local communities are not merely figurative but also quite literally – monetary. The costs that local councils and communities have to incur in order to be able to participate effectively in the planning process raise questions about the price they have to pay just to have a say about fracking; the price they have to pay for democracy.

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