Speculating on Slums

Vandana Desai revisits earlier work on the theory of rent, situating it in the current period of economic crisis and in relation to informal housing in the global South. More than ever, land is treated as a pure financial asset. Finance capital now exerts a profound influence over the production of space and exposes the built environment to the kinds of speculative binges that we have witnessed over the last decade. This is now as much a feature of living conditions in the poorest settlements of the global South as it is in the financial heartlands of the global North. We question key assumptions behind development interventions by arguing that infrastructural upgrading may decrease the security of tenure of residents of informal housing and call for a more nuanced approach that recognises the (post)colonial histories of urbanisation structuring access to land and housing.

Image courtesy of the interviewee

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