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Department of Spatial Planning

New essay on "ordinary neighbourhoods"

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An outside perspective of Casablanca’s Er-Rhamna shantytown © Raffael Beier
Shantytown Er-Rhamna in Casablanca, Morocco (2017)

Essay Artikel

Ordinary neighbourhoods



Emphasising implicit assumptions behind our ways of seeing ‘slums’, this essay calls for a radical understanding of ‘ordinary neighbourhoods’. Borrowing from Robinson’s ‘ordinary cities’ concept, it conceptualises ‘ordinariness’ as a way of  rejecting the ‘absolute otherness’ of slums, stressing heterogeneity within and  between neighbourhoods as well as the significance of comparative empirical     research. Beyond the need for alternative, less stigmatised terms, the article urges for a new territorial ethics, a radical deconstruction and de-mystification of the ‘slum’. Such conceptualisation should make aware of the term ‘slum’ as a    non-physical, spatially detached social construct that discredits marginalised people and diverts attention away from precarious living conditions and possible ways of improving them.

The full essay in the Planning Theory journal is available here.