Sunday, April 09, 2006

more murambatsvina?

Word in Harare is that the city government will start knocking down the informal kiosks and homes people have built since last year's demolition drive. Thousands of families are living in 'holding camps' around the city after the massive uprooting of 800,000 people during last year's 'operation drive out trash.' By the end of this month, thousands more may be rendered homeless or jobless. The UN's IRIN News reports.


Anonymous said...

the new mike davis book "planet of slums" seems to argue against some of your models of self-organizing squatter cities, of political agency consituted within slum-dwellers, etc. do you have any opinions on the book? have you read it?

rn said...

Anon: Haven't read the book yet (when I do I will post more), but I have read excerpts in New Left Review and Orion Magazine and have skimmed his chapter on squatter organizing.

From those tastes, I can say that I agree with Mike's critique of structural adjustment programs and neoliberalism -- which I think have both contributed to global inequality and misery. Yet, having lived in some of the world's shantytowns, I think he paints the picture bleaker than it is and chooses to ignore the efforts of the people. Though perhaps not revolutionary, the things that residents of Rocinha and Sultanbeyli and thousands of other communities around the world have accomplished are without question amazing and inspiring.

From what I saw in the book, Mike doesn't criticize self-organizing squatter cities. But he does slam John F.C. Turner, the granddaddy of the squatter self-help ideology, who, he claims, aligned himself with conservative forces. Yet the fact that the ideologist (who was a professional planner, not a squatter) has failings doesn't negate the achievements squatters have made and doesn't mean that their communities can't be a force for progressive change.

Have you read the book? What do you think?

Bryan Finoki said...

maybe we should start A Li'l Squatter City Reading Group at some point to keep the discussion going. i still need to buy it, and finish stuff i am knee into right now, and budget time for another reading group that might get off the ground -- don't worry I am not really half as pretentious as I sound (or maybe i am and just don't know it, yet) -- but, could be cool to read this one together and chit chat about it, no?

right here, on your site. "Robert Neuwirth on Planet of Slums." Oh, yeah. That should draw a few readers. Even get Mike on here to discuss it with us. I bet if we asked him, he'd make some time.

just a thought.

rn said...

Great idea, Bryan. I'm going to buy the book today. Let the reading group begin!

Anonymous said...

ooh, a little too early for me to start another book (i'm finishing up my MA soon) but later this spring. still, i'll be watching eagerly. btw, do you have an email address anywhere?

Bryan Finoki said...

Coool! Gimme a week to get the book, but then I'll dive in, too.