Urban Governance and the Politics of Planning in the Developing World

Course starts from the premise that urban politics and governance arrangements can both enable and constrain effective planning action. Using a focus on cities in the developing world, the course examines an array of governance structures (centralized versus decentralized institutions; local versus national states; participatory budgeting, etc.) and political arrangements (democracy versus authoritarianism; neoliberal versus populist versus leftist party politics; social movements) and urban conditions (poverty, inequality, class or ethnic conflict, infrastructural scarcities, etc.) that are relatively common to cities of the global south. In addition to assessing the impacts of political structures and conditions on planning, urban policy formation, and project implementation, the course asks which governance arrangements and/or political contexts are more or less likely to produce equitable, inclusive, and sustainable urban environments. To address Class meetings are structured around discussion of case studies and theories that give us the basis for documenting the ways that politics affect urban policy and the built environment of the city more generally. Special attention is paid to transportation, housing, informal vending, mega-project development, and to cities with violence or intractable ethnic or religious division, with examples drawn from Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia.