According to the United Nations, more than one billion people now live in the slums of the cities of the South. In this brilliant and ambitious book, Mike Davis explores the future of a radically unequal and explosively unstable urban world. From the sprawling barricadas of Lima to the garbage hills of Manila, urbanization has been disconnected ...
According to the United Nations, more than one billion people now live in the slums of the cities of the South. In this brilliant and ambitious book, Mike Davis explores the future of a radically unequal and explosively unstable urban world. From the sprawling barricadas of Lima to the garbage hills of Manila, urbanization has been disconnected from industrialization, and even from economic growth. Davis portrays a vast humanity warehoused in shantytowns and exiled from the formal world economy. He argues that the rise of this informal urban proletariat is a wholly unforeseen development, and asks whether the great slums, as a terrified Victorian middle class once imagined, are volcanoes waiting to erupt.
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Davis gives us here a global catalogue of contemporary urban poverty as it affects upwards of 3 billion of the world's peoples. In an increasingly urbanising world, the mass migrations to the megacities of Africa, Asia and Latin America have overwhelmed the abilities of their nations' to provide either sufficient formal employment or necessary infrastructures of housing, public health (sanitation, clean water) and environmentally secure residential areas. Such a decoupling of urbanisation from its traditional base of industrialisation is producing a world surplus population 'warehoused' in slum areas of the cities of the South. Here they face immense problems in their struggles for daily survival. Economic activity increasingly takes the form of an improvisation, outside the formal sector to secure a subsistence niche. Housing is precariously achieved in unsafe locations - from swamplands to rubbish dumps - where fire, toxic waste and landslides are ever present threats. Tenure here is equally uncertain, slum dwellers having to settle for illegal subdivisions of existing titled lands or 'infill' developments in already cramped spaces. Public health cedes to overcrowding, polluted water, and few sanitation measures. The picture is undoubtedly bleak - and Davis leaves us in no doubt that the post-colonial state can not provide any significant solution to the range of problems facing the modern slum dweller. As for other political solutions, he is deferring any discussion of the political potential of the slum millions to a subsequent investigation.
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