International Development Planning Review

Informal urbanism and complex adaptive assemblage

International Development Planning Review (2012), 34, (4), 349–368.

Abstract

Informal urbanism, from informal settlements to economies and street markets, is integral to cities of the global South - economically, socially, environmentally and aesthetically. This paper seeks to unfold and re-think this informal/formal conception using two interconnected theoretical frameworks. First is assemblage theory derived from the work of Deleuze and Guattari, in which a series of twofold concepts such as rhizomic/tree and smooth/striated resonate with the informal/formal construct. Second is theory on complex adaptive systems, in which dynamic and unpredictable patterns of self-organisation emerge with certain levels of resilience or vulnerability. These approaches are drawn together into the concept of a complex adaptive assemblage, illustrated with brief snapshots of urban informality drawn from Southeast Asian cities. The challenge is to develop multi-disciplinary, multi-scalar methodologies to explore the ways in which informality is linked to squatting, corruption and poverty on the one hand, and to growth, productivity and creativity on the other.

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DELEUZE, G. and GUATTARI, F. (1987), A Thousand Plateaus, London, Athlone. A Thousand Plateaus Google Scholar

DOVEY, K. (2010), Becoming Places, London, Routledge. Becoming Places Google Scholar

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HABERMAS, J. (1984), Theory of Communicative Action, Boston, Beacon Press. Theory of Communicative Action Google Scholar

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HUCHZERMEYER, M. and KARAM, A. (eds) (2006), Informal Settlements, Cape Town, UCT Press. Informal Settlements Google Scholar

JACOBS, J. (1961), The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Harmondsworth, Penguin. The Death and Life of Great American Cities Google Scholar

LATOUR, B. (2006), Reassembling the Social, Oxford, Oxford University Press. Reassembling the Social Google Scholar

LEFEBVRE, H. (1991), The Production of Space, Oxford, Blackwell. The Production of Space Google Scholar

LEVIN, S. (1999), Fragile Dominion, Cambridge, MA, Perseus. Fragile Dominion Google Scholar

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MARX C. (2009), 'Conceptualising the potential of informal land markets to reduce urban poverty', International Development Planning Review, 31, 335-53. 'Conceptualising the potential of informal land markets to reduce urban poverty' International Development Planning Review 31 335 53 Google Scholar

NEUWIRTH, R. (2006), Shadow Cities, New York, Routledge. Shadow Cities Google Scholar

PERLMAN, J. (1976), The Myth of Marginality, Berkeley, CA, University of California Press. The Myth of Marginality Google Scholar

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RIHANI, S. (2002), Complex Systems Theory and Development Practice: Understanding Non-linear Realities, London, Zed Books. Complex Systems Theory and Development Practice: Understanding Non-linear Realities Google Scholar

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ROY, A. (2009), 'Civic Governmentality', Antipode, 41, 159-79. 'Civic Governmentality' Antipode 41 159 79 Google Scholar

ROY, A. and ALSAYYAD, N. (eds) (2004), Urban Informality, New York, Lexington. Urban Informality Google Scholar

SHATKIN, G. (2004), ‘Planning To Forget’ Urban Studies, 41, 2469-84. 'Planning To Forget' Urban Studies 41 2469 84 Google Scholar

SOLIMAN, A. (2010), 'Rethinking urban informality and the planning process in Egypt', International Development Planning Review, 32, 119-43. 'Rethinking urban informality and the planning process in Egypt' International Development Planning Review 32 119 43 Google Scholar

SWANSON, D. and BHADWAL, S. (eds) (2009), Creating Adaptive Policies, New Delhi, Sage. Creating Adaptive Policies Google Scholar

TURNER, J. (1976), Housing by People, London, Marion Boyars. Housing by People Google Scholar

UN-HABITAT (2006), The State of the World's Cities, London, Earthscan. The State of the World's Cities Google Scholar

WALKER, B. and SALT, D. (2006), Resilience Thinking, Washington, DC, Island Press. Resilience Thinking Google Scholar

WISE, J. (2005), 'Assemblage', in C. Stivale (ed.), Gilles Deleuze: Key Concepts, Chesham, Acumen, 77-87. Gilles Deleuze: Key Concepts 77 87 Google Scholar

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Author details

Dovey, Kim