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Fragmentary Urbanism: Abstraction, Everyday Life and Informality

Colin McFarlane   

Durham University

This paper examines the relationship between informality, density, and everyday life, and asks how abstractions can be generated that help us to understand urbanism more generally. In particular, through a conceptualisation of 'fragmentary urbanism' and by drawing on examples from Mumbai and elsewhere, it asks: how might we make sense of how urban life is made and unmade in contexts of intensive heterogeneity? Urbanism is a density of interactions that enable or disable, enhance, alienate, exploit or inspire different forms of urban life, and informal settlements dramatize the relationship between density, heterogeneity, and marginality. How might examination of the conceptual abstractions of the intensive heterogeneities of life in informal settlements help us to understand not just informal settlements better, but prompt useful directions as they resonate with urbanisms elsewhere?

October 29, 2014