Mobilities and Mobilizations of the Urban Poor :: New symposium in IJURR

In a new symposium in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (IJURR), Rivke Jaffe, Chrstien Klaufus and Freek Colombijn argue for including the mobilities of the urban poor. 

In reading through this symposium, which I have not yet, I would like to pose the question of how much information we can gain here on how it is possible to build platforms of engagement within and beyond the urban poor to influence the state and other actors. 

In the work at the African Centre for Cities, for instance by Edgar Pieterse, and other urbanist scholars like AbdouMaliq Simone and Garth Myers, this question plays a great role. In the words of Pieterse, in his book 'City Futures' from 2008 these platforms should be linked to creating a 'radical incrementalism' and a 'recursive empowerment' to create institutional changes favoring the urban poor. For Simone, in his latest book "City Life from Jakarta to Dakar' from 2011, he speaks of a 'politics of anticipation', whereby the urban poor have increased sensibilities and abilities to navigate the complexity of the growing cities of the global south (and increasingly the neoliberalized cities of the global north) to eke out a livelihood. Simone is less clear on how to create platforms of engagement, but his text is riveted with 'mobilities' and helps us to think differently about the urbanism that the urban poor is part of, and co-creators of. 

Have a good read. 

Mobilities and Mobilizations of the Urban Poor


This introduction sets out the aims of the symposium on mobilities and mobilizations of the urban poor. Exploring the physical, social and imagined movements of the poor into, within and out of cities, and addressing how these movements connect to the dynamics of urban social mobilization, it argues for an incorporation of the 'mobility turn' in studies of the urban poor. The introduction proposes a number of relevant themes within this approach, starting with increased attention to the interconnections between physical and imaginative movements. This is followed by a discussion of representations of mobility and mobile representations: the ways in which physical movement, place and urban poverty are represented, and the increased transnational mobility of these representations. Next, a focus on differential mobilities is used to analyze how mobility differences within or between social groups are (re)produced in local power constellations. In addition, the relation between mobilities and public–private divides is examined, especially in terms of physical and imaginative place‐making. A final emphasis is on academic mobilities, with the authors arguing for reflexive attention to the position of those who research the urban poor and the specific practices of mobility associated with this research.


Les objectifs du symposium sur les mobilités et mobilisations des populations urbaines pauvres sont exposés dans ce texte introductif. S'intéressant aux déplacements physiques, sociaux et imaginés des pauvres, vers et à l'intérieur des villes, il examine comment ces flux s'inscrivent dans les dynamiques de la mobilisation sociale urbaine et témoigne de l'intégration du 'virage de la mobilité' dans les études de ces populations. Cette introduction propose plusieurs thèmes relevant de cette démarche, à commencer par un souci particulier des interconnexions entre les mouvements physiques et virtuels. Puis sont étudiées les représentations de la mobilité et les représentations mobiles, c'est‐à‐dire la façon dont un déplacement physique, un lieu et la pauvreté urbaine sont représentés, ainsi que la mobilité transnationale accrue de ces représentations. Tout un volet analyse comment les différences de mobilité dans ou entre les groupes sociaux sont (re)produites dans les constellations de pouvoir locales. De plus, le lien entre les mobilités et les frontières public‐privé est examiné, notamment sous l'angle de la fabrication physique ou virtuelle de lieux. Pour finir, l'accent est mis sur la mobilité des chercheurs, les auteures défendant un intérêt critique pour le positionnement de ceux qui étudient la population urbaine pauvre et les pratiques de mobilité spécifiques associées à ces recherches.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1111/j.1468-2427.2012.01119.x About DOI


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