Since its first appearance at the end of the ‘90s, the term ‘Global South’ has replaced the previous categories of ‘Third world’ and ‘developing countries’, becoming increasingly used in social sciences and humanities. Yet, its meaning is far from being univocal or clear.
Global South is associated, on one hand, with some of the ills of globalization and, on the other hand, with an unspecified South of the world, largely equivalent, but not identical with the ‘Third World’ (Eriksen, 2015) corresponding to those parts of the world experiencing the most difficult challenges posed by globalization (Lopez, 2007). The Global South is opposed to an equally hard to distinguish ‘Global North’.
Though, the world appears much more complex and mixed than what depicted by such a straight distinction. Many poorer countries have been witnessing development processes, while inequality is growing in richer countries, together with a crisis running over almost all spheres of urban life, regardless the geographic context. All this questions the divide between the urban in the Global South and the urban in the Global North, two notions implying a methodological nationalism that tends to overshadow the coexistence of a ‘North’ and a ‘South’ in many cities where formality and informality coexist, together with high levels of underemployment and unemployment, and precarious habitat conditions.
Still, although the South is everywhere, not all the ‘souths’ are the same. They consistently vary from one urban area to another, not always coherently with the national context they fall within, thus making the territory of the city and the metropolitan region the fundamental scale for analysis.
The 18th N-AERUS conference yearns to gather scholars, practitioners and experts of cities with the most variegated provenances, interested in ascertaining the endurance of the Global South notion in the contemporary world.
By sharing experiences of urban planning and development policies, the conference intends to focus on the following matters, articulated in 3 sessions:
Understanding the features of the North in the urban South, and of the South in the urban North. The session intends to capitalize on the knowledge of the urban South and of the urban North accumulated in the last decades beyond the buzzwords and the easy dichotomies (such as the very classical one between ‘formality/ informality’) in the attempt to identify the still uncovered issues, perspectives and methods to consider when we deal with global contemporary urbanism.
Planning: for what and for whom. The session is aimed to discuss the plurality of problems, claims and needs urban planning has to tackle today, starting from the criticalities, but also the potentialities of the many different ‘souths’ and ‘norths’ in the contemporary city. In continuity with the previous panel, focussed on the epistemological approaches to pursue in order to expand our comprehension of urbanity today, this panel tries to make a step further to collect experiences able to highlight the actual issues and subjects that planning must address today.
Planning: how? Policies, projects, community based interventions: The session purposes to share approaches, methods and practices – be they good, bad or just practices – for connecting resources, coordinating efforts and, thus, creating progressive capacities to overcome the problems of present cities and to project them in the future.