Becoming urban: critical explorations of the co-production of people and places

Publikation: Bog/antologi/afhandling/rapportPh.d.-afhandlingForskning

  • Ditte Brøgger
People and places around the world are in a process of becoming urban. In Nepal, this process is resulting in a rapid, diverse and dynamic urban transformation with substantial effects on people’s lives and the place they live in. Urbanisation as a global challenge has received increasing scholarly attention in the past decades. However, there is still a lack of urban theory inspired by and generated from the complexity of ordinary urban life in the global South. The aim of this PhD thesis is to contribute to filling this gap by exploring the continuous co-production of people and places in the process of becoming urban from a Southern perspective. In order to address the gap, I put forward a framework comprising four theoretical approaches: 1) a micro-geopolitical approach to explore political negotiation of urban processes on local and national level; 2) a migrant agency approach to explore the interplay between migrant agency and urban transformation; 3) a translocal approach to explore the (re)production of rural inequalities in the process of becoming urban; and 4) a rights-based approach to examine the link between property and the different and unequal right to become urban. The thesis draws on ethnographic case studies in three urban sites in Nepal, including Ilam, a typically old administrative centre, Birtamode, a new commercial centre, and Balaju, a peri-urban area of the capital, Kathmandu. The empirical, methodological and conceptual engagement with the urban reality in these places in Nepal lead me to propose two novel concepts for understanding the process of becoming urban, namely the migration-urbanization nexus and urban diaspora space. These conceptual advancements emphasise that the roles of migrant agency and translocal behaviour provides important insights into understanding urban transformation and the reproduction of rural hierarchies in Nepal’s emerging urban areas. Furthermore, the micro-geopolitical and the rights-based approach deepens our understanding of the process of becoming urban in Nepal on both a national and local level. Firstly, it provides a basis for analysing how the corrupted politics of reclassification of new urban areas on a national level controls how people and places administratively become urban. Secondly, it demonstrates how unequal rights to property on a local level create new citizenship classes and influence local negotiations of urban citizenship that ultimately define people’s right to become urban. Overall, this thesis demonstrates how a better understanding of the complexity and diversity of ordinary city life in different types of urban settlements in the global South is crucial for the conceptual advancement of urban theory. Furthermore, the focus on the processes that places and people go through to become urban presented in this research are essential for addressing the challenges following the continuous growth and transformation of urban areas around the world.
ForlagDepartment of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen
StatusUdgivet - 2019

ID: 222551150