Nov. 12, From Local Action to Global Networks: Changing power relations in housing processes in the Global South

4- 5:15 p.m.
The Arts Center Lecture Hall,
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee,
2400 East Kenwood Blvd., Milwaukee, WI 53211

A spurt in urbanization in Asia and Africa and the failure of local governments to provide adequate housing to a large number of the urban poor have led to an increase in informal systems and settlements. New urban players have moved in to tend to the growing needs of the disenfranchised. Often labeled as grassroots movements, these new Community Based Organizations initiate and get involved in housing processes at a local level. They also operate at a global scale where they build alliances that do not follow the classical concept of institutions; rather they coalesce with other groups to form loose, composite transnational networks and they craft multi-scale strategies to address the housing crisis. Fokdal will argue that new housing processes do not only influence policy and actors at various levels but also bring about a new system of transformed power positions and assertiveness of the urban poor vis-à-vis outside actors. Using examples such as the Community Organizations Development Institute (CODI) in Thailand, federations affiliated to the Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), or similar networks across Philippines, Thailand and South Africa this lecture will discuss the emerging tendencies and the role new urban players play in local policy making processes.

Josefine Ørum Fokdal is a senior researcher at the institute for Architecture and International Urbanism at the Berlin University of Technology. Her research and writings span the research fields of spatial theory, housing, and urban patterns of mega-cities. Her first book, Power and Space (Berlin: LIT-Verlag) explores spatial theory and place making in the context of social housing in Denmark. Subsequent publications include coedited volumes on urban villages in China’s Pearl River Delta, improvement of informal housing in Greater Cairo, reflections on urban design in Shanghai and Berlin, Urban Informality Discourse, and grassroots organizations. Her current research focuses on spatial perception in Asia, especially in contemporary cities in China. Her teaching repertoire includes both design studios as well as reading seminars on methods and tools, housing, urban design theory, mega cities, and spatial concepts in the context of China.

This lecture is cosponsored by the Center for International Education, the Center for 21st Century Studies, the Design Research Institute, Peck School of the Arts, the School of Architecture and Urban Planning and Urban Studies Programs at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the German Research Foundation.

For more information about this speaker’s visit, contact Associate Professor Arijit Sen at