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Chandan Deuskar

Tue, Feb 27    1:15pm

Urban Planning in a World of Informal Politics

In this talk, Chandan Deuskar will discuss his book Urban Planning in a World of Informal Politics. In many rapidly urbanizing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, local politics and urban planning interact in complex and unexpected ways. Politicians often have incentives to ignore formal urban plans and sideline planners, and instead provide urban land and services through informal channels in order to cultivate political constituencies (a form of what political scientists refer to as “clientelism”). This provides the urban poor with some access to urban space that they would not otherwise have, but it can also result in inequitable and environmentally damaging patterns of urban growth in some of the largest and most rapidly urbanizing countries in the world. Technocratic planning solutions often advocated by governments and international development organizations are not enough. To overcome these challenges, urban planners must understand and adapt to the complex politics of urban informality. The book examines these dynamics and explores some practical ways in which urban planners can try to be more effective in this political context. It draws on literature from multiple disciplines (urban planning, political science, sociology, anthropology, and others), statistical analysis of global data on urbanization, and an in-depth case study of urban Ghana.

Chandan Deuskar is an urban planning researcher and international development practitioner whose work focuses on urbanization in the Global South. His book, Urban Planning in a World of Informal Politics (Penn Press, 2022), examines the impact of informal local politics on urban planning and on spatial patterns of urban growth in developing democracies. Deuskar completed a PhD in City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania in 2020, and also holds a Master’s degree in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.A. in Architecture from Columbia University. Deuskar has worked professionally for several years at the World Bank, where his work currently focuses on cities and climate change in the Global South. He was raised in Mumbai, India, and currently lives in Washington, DC