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Megacities: The Politics of Urban Exclusion and Violence in the Global South Paperback – January 19, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


'Trends in the social and political landscapes of today's cities will underpin significant aspects of our global future now that the world's population is mainly urban and are therefore ever more pressing arenas for social science research. This book provides a compelling, and at times devastating, appraisal of contemporary evidence about the social, political and economic exclusion of the poor urban majority in the global south. Of particular significance is the book's focus on the ways in which violence has become an increasing element in the exclusion of the urban poor from the potential benefits of an urban existence in certain megacities. Particularly in large Latin American cities, the everyday experience of the residents in low-income settlements is so affected by violence - from drug-related gangs, from private armed militias and from deeply corrupt and inadequate police forces - that it has become the worst of the many problems they face. When Janice Perlman - who, in the 1970s, championed the idea that the concept of urban marginality was a myth - argues that violence in Rio de Janeiro has made marginalization a reality, we should take note and listen. Megacities also provides insightful analysis of developments in our understanding of urban politics in the global south, and the various explicit and covert ways the urban poor - with varying degrees of success - seek to improve their livelihoods in globalizing urban centres. There are crucial questions involved such as who has a right to the city, are there separate categories of citizens and pseudo-citizens, and can cities fulfil their potential as sites where democracy might be facilitated, rather than areas where people's options are closed down by the fear and violence that deepening inequality inevitably brings?' - Dr Deborah Potts, Geography Department, King's College London. 'This edited volume is a useful academic insertion into discussions in the development community about poverty alleviation and good governance in the so-called megacities of the Global South. A fine roster of scholars articulates the ways in which poverty is intertwined with inequality, social and political exclusion as well as crime and increasing violence in cities in Latin America, the Middle East, and Southern Africa. Their work is quite valuable for its analysis of the contradictions embedded in the ways in which a rhetorical advance of participatory, democratic governance aimed at poverty reduction runs smack into the real wall of repression, insecurity, and injustice.' - Garth Myers, University of Kansas

About the Author

Kees Koonings is associate professor of development studies on the Faculty of Social Sciences at Utrecht University and professor of Brazilian studies at the University of Amsterdam. 

Dirk Kruijt is professor emeritus of development studies on the Faculty of Social Sciences at Utrecht University.

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