This story draws on field research conducted in Africa by Phillip Garjay Innis in Monrovia (Liberia) and Oyewole Simon Oginni in the Lake Chad region; in Asia by Amit Kumar in Mumbai (India), Anna Brückner in Ahmadabad (India), Patan and Kathmandu Valley (Nepal), by Arif Budy Pratama in Magelang City (Indonesia), and by Arslan Waheed in Islamabad (Pakistan); and in Latin America by Arslan Waheed in Brasilia (Brazil) and by Maryoriet R. Salgado in Honduras.
Our ZEF in the City researchers:
Story 1: Phillip Garjay Innis is studying everyday risks and risk management strategies in unplanned coastal settlements in Monrovia, Liberia.
What the city represents for Phillip:
Urban planning in sub-Saharan Africa is largely guided by modernist urban ideals that seek to reshape the city along the lines of global cities like Dubai or Singapore. However, these 'African urban fantasies' contrast with the reality on the ground, as informal processes are the main drivers of urban growth. The ‘real’ city is therefore more of an unplanned marginal city where the majority of the urban population lives in abject poverty with minimal urban amenities.
In the pictures left and right: Houses in Clara Town which are constructed on storm drains. Sewers and storm drains are converted into landfills and buildings here. Thus, the flooding problems are exacerbated and we can see how land use and ‘everyday risks’ are interlinked. In this study, ´everyday risks´ refer to the risks that vulnerable groups are constantly exposed to at home, at work and in the community. These risks include pollution, crime and violence, lack of access to healthcare, food poisoning and heat waves, psychological stress, poor housing conditions, in addition to a constant fear of being evicted.
In this picture: Phillip (second from right) and Peace Island Community Youth leaders at an informal discussion in November 2019. Peace Island is an unplanned settlement that emerged in the mid-2000s after the end of Liberia's second civil war. Residents join various associations, ranging from religious to economic to recreational, to expand their sphere of action and social networks as part of their risk reduction strategies. It should be noted that leadership of Peace Island Community Youth is exclusively male. Many of the advocacy groups on Peace Island are dominated by men, whereas some economic associations, especially the informal savings clubs (or susu-clubs), are dominated by women.
More information about Philipp Garjay Innis and his research ‘Understanding everyday urban risks: Riskscapes and risk management in unplanned coastal settlements in Monrovia, Liberia’ on ZEF's website here. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. This research is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, DAAD).
Story 2: Anna Brueckner works on (blue) health and well-being in Ahmedabad and Ruhr Metropolis
What the city represents for Anna:
In contrast to contemporary urban research focusing mostly on the negative narratives of cities, my PhD study highlights that cities can actually be health-enabling places. Urban waters (‘urban blue spaces’) entail a health potential for city dwellers as those spaces can benefit people’s physical, mental and social well-being.
In this picture: One of the densely populated Kampungs categorized as a slum area in Magelang city. Kampung is Indonesian word to describe a neighborhood in the rural or sub-urban area. In another context, Kampung also refers to slums in the urban area with rural characteristics or which is inhabited by rural peoples who have migrated in search of better employment.
In this picture: An official collector collecting market levy electronically. The cashless payment is conducted by an Electronic Data Capture machine. It is also called ‘e-retribusi’ and it is one of the smart city projects to minimize fraud in the city´s income from traditional market levy.
More information about Arif Budy Pratama and his research on ‘The social interface of smart city development: an ethnographic study on understanding the dynamics of smart city projects in Magelang City, Indonesia’ on ZEF's website here. Contact: email@example.com. This research is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
Story 4: Maryoriet R. Salgado works on the “gendered” city in urban Honduras
What the city represents for Maryoriet:
Beyond a geographical location, the city constitutes a concrete social and spatial abstraction of economic, political, and social relations. It also constitutes a specific way of life that is both individually and collectively constructed. The city is made alive by the interactions of human and non-human actors, as well as how they intersect with one another. Based on Lefebvre’s right to this city, there is an understanding of experiencing the city according to diverse and individual social locations such as race, religion, age, and particularly through the gendered body.