Town Planning Review

Decolonising cities of the global South in the classroom and beyond

Town Planning Review (2020), 91, (5), 535–552.

Abstract

In the post-colonial context, the global South has become the approved nomenclature for the non-European, non-Western parts of the world. The term promises a departure from post-colonial development geographies and from the material and discursive legacies of colonialism by ostensibly blurring the bifurcations between developed and developing, rich and poor, centre and periphery. In concept, the post-colonial literature mitigates the disparity between cities of the North and South by highlighting the achievements of elsewhere. But what happens when we try to teach this approach in the classroom? How do we locate the South without relying on concepts of otherness? And how do we communicate the importance of the South without re-creating the regional hierarchies that have dominated for far too long? This article outlines the academic arguments before turning to the opportunities and constraints associated with delivering an undergraduate module that teaches post-colonial concepts without relying on colonial constructs.

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References

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BRENNER, N. and SCHMID, C. (2013), ‘The “urban age” in question’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38, 731-55. Google Scholar

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DATTA, A. (2015), ‘New urban utopias of postcolonial India: “entrepreneurial urbanization” in Dholera smart city, Gujarat’, Dialogues in Human Geography, 5, 3-22. Google Scholar

DE BOECK, F. (2011), ‘Inhabiting ocular ground: Kinshasa’s future in the light of Congo’s spectral urban politics’, Cultural Anthropology, 26, 263-86. Google Scholar

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DEBOURGH, G. A. (2008), ‘Use of classroom “clickers” to promote acquisition of advanced reasoning skills’, Nurse Education in Practice, 8, 76-87. Google Scholar

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LEITNER, H. and SHEPPARD, E. (2016), ‘Provincializing critical urban theory: extending the ecosystem of possibilities’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 40, 228-35. Google Scholar

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McFARLANE, C. (2011a), ‘Assemblage and critical urbanism’, City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action, 15, 204-24. Google Scholar

McFARLANE, C. (2011b), Learning the City: Knowledge and Translocal Assemblage, Malden, MA, Wiley-Blackwell. Google Scholar

McFARLANE, C. and SÖDERSTRÖM, O. (2017), ‘On alternative smart cities: from a technology-intensive to a knowledge-intensive smart urbanism’, City, 21, 312-28. Google Scholar

MIRAFTAB, F. and KUDVA, N. (eds) (2015), Cities of the Global South Reader, London, Routledge. Google Scholar

MULLER, M. (2018), ‘In search of the global East: thinking between North and South’, Geopolitics, 1-22. Google Scholar

MYERS, G. (2011), African Cities, London, Zed Books. Google Scholar

MYERS, G. (2014), ‘From expected to unexpected comparisons: changing the flows of ideas about cities in a postcolonial urban world’, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 35, 104-18. Google Scholar

NOXOLO, P. (2017), ‘Introduction: decolonising geographical knowledge in a colonised and re-colonising postcolonial world’, Area, 49, 317-19. Google Scholar

NUTTALL, S. (2009), Entanglement: Literary and Cultural Reflections on Post-apartheid, Johannesburg, Wits University Press. Google Scholar

OLDFIELD, S. (2014), ‘Negotiating society and identity in urban spaces of the South’, in Parnell and Oldfield (eds), 339-40. Google Scholar

PARNELL, S. and OLDFIELD, S. (eds) (2014), The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South, London, Routledge. Google Scholar

PARNELL, S. and PIETERSE, E. (eds) (2014), Africa’s Urban Revolution, Johannesburg, Zed Books Ltd. Google Scholar

PARNELL, S. and ROBINSON, J. (2012), ‘(Re)theorizing cities from the global South: looking beyond neoliberalism’, Urban Geography, 33, 593-617. Google Scholar

PATEL, Z., GREYLING, S., PARNELL, S. and PIRIE, G. (2015), ‘Co-producing urban knowledge: experimenting with alternatives to “best practice” for Cape Town, South Africa’, International Development Planning Review, 37, 187-203. Google Scholar

PORTER, L. and YIFTACHEL, O. (2019), ‘Urbanizing settler-colonial studies: introduction to the special issue’, Settler Colonial Studies, 9, 177-86. Google Scholar

POWER, M., MOHAN, G. and MERCER, C. (2006), ‘Postcolonial geographies of development: introduction’, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 27, 231-34. Google Scholar

PRATTON, J. and HALES, L. W. (2015), ‘The effects of active participation on student learning’, Journal of Educational Research, 79, 210-15. Google Scholar

ROBINSON, J. (2006), Ordinary Cities: Between Modernity and Development, London, Routledge. Google Scholar

ROBINSON, J. and ROY, A. (2016), ‘Debate on global urbanisms and the nature of urban theory’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 40, 181-86. Google Scholar

ROY, A. (2005), ‘Urban informality: toward an epistemology of planning’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 71, 147-58. Google Scholar

ROY, A. (2009a), ‘The 21st-century metropolis: new geographies of theory’, Regional Studies, 43, 819-30. Google Scholar

ROY, A. (2009b), ‘Why India cannot plan its cities: informality, insurgence and the idiom of urbanization’, Planning Theory, 8, 76-87. Google Scholar

ROY, A. (2011), ‘Postcolonial urbanism: speed, hysteria, mass dreams’, in Roy and Ong (eds), 307-35. Google Scholar

ROY, A. (2014), ‘Worlding the South: toward a post-colonial urban theory’, in Parnell and Oldfield (eds), 9-20. Google Scholar

ROY, A. and ONG, A. (eds) (2011), Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global, Malden, MA, Wiley-Blackwell. Google Scholar

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SAID, E. W. (1978), Orientalism, New York, Random House. Google Scholar

SCHINDLER, S. (2017), ‘Towards a paradigm of Southern urbanism’, City, 21, 47-64. Google Scholar

SCOTT, A. and STORPER, M. (2015), ‘The nature of cities: the scope and limits of urban theory’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 39, 1-15. Google Scholar

SHEPPARD, E. (2014), ‘Globalizing capitalism and southern urbanization’, in Parnell and Oldfield (eds), 143-54. Google Scholar

SHEPPARD, E., LEITNER, H. and MARINGANTI, A. (2013), ‘Provincializing global urbanism: a manifesto’, Urban Geography, 34, 893-900. Google Scholar

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SIDAWAY, J. D. and HALL, T. (2018), ‘Geography textbooks, pedagogy and disciplinary traditions’, Area, 50, 34-42. Google Scholar

SIDAWAY, J., WOON, C. Y. and JACOBS, J. M. (2014), ‘Planetary postcolonialism’, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 35, 4-21. Google Scholar

SIMM, D. and MARVELL, A. (2017), ‘Creating global students: opportunities, challenges and experiences of internationalizing the geography curriculum in higher education’, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 41, 467-74. Google Scholar

SIMONE, A. (2010), City Life from Jakarta to Dakar, London, Routledge. Google Scholar

SPIVAK, G. C. (1988), ‘Can the subaltern speak?’, in C. Nelson and L. Grossberg (eds), Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, Chicago, University of Illinois Press, 271-316. Google Scholar

TUCK, E. and YANG, K. W. (2012), ‘Decolonization is not a metaphor’, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1, 1-40. Google Scholar

VAINER, C. (2014), ‘Disseminating “best practice”? The coloniality of urban knowledge and city models’, in Parnell and Oldfield (eds), 48-56. Google Scholar

WA THIONG’O, N. (1981), Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature, Nairobi, East Africa Educational Publishers. Google Scholar

WOOD, A. (2015), ‘The politics of policy circulation: unpacking the relationship between South African and South American cities in the adoption of bus rapid transit’, Antipode, 47, 1062-79. Google Scholar

WOOD, A. (2020), ‘Utilizing technology-enhanced learning in geography: testing student response systems in large lectures’, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 44, 160-70. Google Scholar

YEOH, B. S. A. (2001), ‘Postcolonial cities’, Progress in Human Geography, 25, 456-68. Google Scholar

ABU-LUGHOD, J. (1975), ‘The legitimacy of comparisons in comparative urban studies: a theoretical position and an application to North African cities’, Urban Affairs Quarterly, 11, 13-35. Google Scholar

BRENNER, N. and SCHMID, C. (2013), ‘The “urban age” in question’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38, 731-55. Google Scholar

CALDEIRA, T. P. (2017), ‘Peripheral urbanization: autoconstruction, transversal logics, and politics in cities of the global south’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 35, 3-20. Google Scholar

CAPRIOTTI, F. and COWLEY, R. (2017), ‘Interrogating urban experiments’, Urban Geography, 38, 1441-50. Google Scholar

CHILDE, G. (1950), ‘The urban revolution’, Town Planning Review, 21, 3-17. Google Scholar

COMAROFF, J. and COMAROFF, J. L. (2012), ‘Theory from the South: or, how Euro-America is evolving toward Africa’, Anthropological Forum: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Comparative Sociology, 22, 113-31. Google Scholar

CONNELL, R. (2007), Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in Social Science, Cambridge, Polity Press. Google Scholar

CONNELL, R. (2018), ‘Decolonizing sociology’, Contemporary Sociology, 47, 399-407. Google Scholar

CONNELL, R. (2019), The Good University: What Universities Actually Do and Why It’s Time for Radical Change, London, Zed Books. Google Scholar

CRAGGS, R. and NEATE, H. (2019), ‘What happens if we start from Nigeria? Diversifying histories of geography’, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 1-18. Google Scholar

DATTA, A. (2015), ‘New urban utopias of postcolonial India: “entrepreneurial urbanization” in Dholera smart city, Gujarat’, Dialogues in Human Geography, 5, 3-22. Google Scholar

DE BOECK, F. (2011), ‘Inhabiting ocular ground: Kinshasa’s future in the light of Congo’s spectral urban politics’, Cultural Anthropology, 26, 263-86. Google Scholar

DE BOECK, F. (2012), ‘Spectral Kinshasa: building the city through an architecture of words’, in Edensor and Jayne (eds), 311-28. Google Scholar

DEBOURGH, G. A. (2008), ‘Use of classroom “clickers” to promote acquisition of advanced reasoning skills’, Nurse Education in Practice, 8, 76-87. Google Scholar

DESAI, V. (2017), ‘Black and minority ethnic (BME) student and staff in contemporary British geography’, Area, 49, 320-23. Google Scholar

EDENSOR, T. and JAYNE, M. (eds) (2012), Urban Theory Beyond the West: A World of Cities, London, Routledge. Google Scholar

ESSON, J. (2018), ‘“The why and the white”: racism and curriculum reform in British geography’, Area, https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12475, 1-8. Google Scholar

FANON, F. (1961), The Wretched of the Earth, London, Penguin Press. Google Scholar

GHERTNER, D. A. (2015), ‘Why gentrification theory fails in “much of the world”’, City, 19, 552-63. Google Scholar

GOLDMAN, M. (2011), ‘Speculative urbanism and the making of the next world city: speculative urbanism in Bangalore’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 35, 555-81. Google Scholar

GRAMSCI, A. (2005), The Southern Question, Toronto, Guernica. Google Scholar

HABIB, A. (2019), Rebels and Rage: Reflecting on #FeesMustFall, London, Jonathan Ball. Google Scholar

HOME, R. K. (2014), ‘Shaping cities of the global South: legal histories of planning and colonialism’, in Parnell and Oldfield (eds), 75-85. Google Scholar

HUCHZERMEYER, M. (2014), ‘Troubling continuities: use and utility of the term “slum”’, in Parnell and Oldfield (eds), 86-97. Google Scholar

JAZEEL, T. (2017), ‘Mainstreaming geography’s decolonial imperative’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 42, 334-37. Google Scholar

KENNA, T. (2017), ‘Teaching and learning global urban geography: an international learning-centred approach’, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 41, 39-55. Google Scholar

KHOKHAR, T. and SERAJUDDIN, U. (2015), ‘Should we continue to use the term “developing world”?’, The Data Blog, https://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/should-we-continue-use-term-developing-world (accessed 16 June 2020). Google Scholar

KNIGHT, J. (2018), ‘Decolonizing and transforming the geography undergraduate curriculum in South Africa’, South African Geographical Journal, 100, 271-90. Google Scholar

LAWHON, M. and LE ROUX, L. (2019), ‘Southern urbanism or a world of cities? Modes of enacting more global urban geographical textbooks, teaching and research’, Urban Geography, 40, 1251-69. Google Scholar

LEITNER, H. and SHEPPARD, E. (2016), ‘Provincializing critical urban theory: extending the ecosystem of possibilities’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 40, 228-35. Google Scholar

LITTLE, C. (2016), ‘Mentimeter smartphone student response system: a class above clickers’, Compass: Journal of Learning and Teaching, 9, https://journals.gre.ac.uk/index.php/compass/article/view/328 (accessed 16 June 2020). Google Scholar

MABIN, A. (2014), ‘Grounding southern city theory in time and place’, in Parnell and Oldfield (eds), 21-36. Google Scholar

McFARLANE, C. (2011a), ‘Assemblage and critical urbanism’, City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action, 15, 204-24. Google Scholar

McFARLANE, C. (2011b), Learning the City: Knowledge and Translocal Assemblage, Malden, MA, Wiley-Blackwell. Google Scholar

McFARLANE, C. and SÖDERSTRÖM, O. (2017), ‘On alternative smart cities: from a technology-intensive to a knowledge-intensive smart urbanism’, City, 21, 312-28. Google Scholar

MIRAFTAB, F. and KUDVA, N. (eds) (2015), Cities of the Global South Reader, London, Routledge. Google Scholar

MULLER, M. (2018), ‘In search of the global East: thinking between North and South’, Geopolitics, 1-22. Google Scholar

MYERS, G. (2011), African Cities, London, Zed Books. Google Scholar

MYERS, G. (2014), ‘From expected to unexpected comparisons: changing the flows of ideas about cities in a postcolonial urban world’, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 35, 104-18. Google Scholar

NOXOLO, P. (2017), ‘Introduction: decolonising geographical knowledge in a colonised and re-colonising postcolonial world’, Area, 49, 317-19. Google Scholar

NUTTALL, S. (2009), Entanglement: Literary and Cultural Reflections on Post-apartheid, Johannesburg, Wits University Press. Google Scholar

OLDFIELD, S. (2014), ‘Negotiating society and identity in urban spaces of the South’, in Parnell and Oldfield (eds), 339-40. Google Scholar

PARNELL, S. and OLDFIELD, S. (eds) (2014), The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South, London, Routledge. Google Scholar

PARNELL, S. and PIETERSE, E. (eds) (2014), Africa’s Urban Revolution, Johannesburg, Zed Books Ltd. Google Scholar

PARNELL, S. and ROBINSON, J. (2012), ‘(Re)theorizing cities from the global South: looking beyond neoliberalism’, Urban Geography, 33, 593-617. Google Scholar

PATEL, Z., GREYLING, S., PARNELL, S. and PIRIE, G. (2015), ‘Co-producing urban knowledge: experimenting with alternatives to “best practice” for Cape Town, South Africa’, International Development Planning Review, 37, 187-203. Google Scholar

PORTER, L. and YIFTACHEL, O. (2019), ‘Urbanizing settler-colonial studies: introduction to the special issue’, Settler Colonial Studies, 9, 177-86. Google Scholar

POWER, M., MOHAN, G. and MERCER, C. (2006), ‘Postcolonial geographies of development: introduction’, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 27, 231-34. Google Scholar

PRATTON, J. and HALES, L. W. (2015), ‘The effects of active participation on student learning’, Journal of Educational Research, 79, 210-15. Google Scholar

ROBINSON, J. (2006), Ordinary Cities: Between Modernity and Development, London, Routledge. Google Scholar

ROBINSON, J. and ROY, A. (2016), ‘Debate on global urbanisms and the nature of urban theory’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 40, 181-86. Google Scholar

ROY, A. (2005), ‘Urban informality: toward an epistemology of planning’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 71, 147-58. Google Scholar

ROY, A. (2009a), ‘The 21st-century metropolis: new geographies of theory’, Regional Studies, 43, 819-30. Google Scholar

ROY, A. (2009b), ‘Why India cannot plan its cities: informality, insurgence and the idiom of urbanization’, Planning Theory, 8, 76-87. Google Scholar

ROY, A. (2011), ‘Postcolonial urbanism: speed, hysteria, mass dreams’, in Roy and Ong (eds), 307-35. Google Scholar

ROY, A. (2014), ‘Worlding the South: toward a post-colonial urban theory’, in Parnell and Oldfield (eds), 9-20. Google Scholar

ROY, A. and ONG, A. (eds) (2011), Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global, Malden, MA, Wiley-Blackwell. Google Scholar

RUDOLPH, J. (2018), ‘A brief review of Mentimeter: a student response system’, Journal of Applied Learning & Teaching, 1, 35-37. Google Scholar

SAID, E. W. (1978), Orientalism, New York, Random House. Google Scholar

SCHINDLER, S. (2017), ‘Towards a paradigm of Southern urbanism’, City, 21, 47-64. Google Scholar

SCOTT, A. and STORPER, M. (2015), ‘The nature of cities: the scope and limits of urban theory’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 39, 1-15. Google Scholar

SHEPPARD, E. (2014), ‘Globalizing capitalism and southern urbanization’, in Parnell and Oldfield (eds), 143-54. Google Scholar

SHEPPARD, E., LEITNER, H. and MARINGANTI, A. (2013), ‘Provincializing global urbanism: a manifesto’, Urban Geography, 34, 893-900. Google Scholar

SHMOOP (2020), ‘Postcolonial theory introduction’, https://www.shmoop.com/study-guides/literary-schools-of-theory/postcolonial-theory (accessed 16 June 2020). Google Scholar

SIDAWAY, J. D. and HALL, T. (2018), ‘Geography textbooks, pedagogy and disciplinary traditions’, Area, 50, 34-42. Google Scholar

SIDAWAY, J., WOON, C. Y. and JACOBS, J. M. (2014), ‘Planetary postcolonialism’, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 35, 4-21. Google Scholar

SIMM, D. and MARVELL, A. (2017), ‘Creating global students: opportunities, challenges and experiences of internationalizing the geography curriculum in higher education’, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 41, 467-74. Google Scholar

SIMONE, A. (2010), City Life from Jakarta to Dakar, London, Routledge. Google Scholar

SPIVAK, G. C. (1988), ‘Can the subaltern speak?’, in C. Nelson and L. Grossberg (eds), Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, Chicago, University of Illinois Press, 271-316. Google Scholar

TUCK, E. and YANG, K. W. (2012), ‘Decolonization is not a metaphor’, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1, 1-40. Google Scholar

VAINER, C. (2014), ‘Disseminating “best practice”? The coloniality of urban knowledge and city models’, in Parnell and Oldfield (eds), 48-56. Google Scholar

WA THIONG’O, N. (1981), Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature, Nairobi, East Africa Educational Publishers. Google Scholar

WOOD, A. (2015), ‘The politics of policy circulation: unpacking the relationship between South African and South American cities in the adoption of bus rapid transit’, Antipode, 47, 1062-79. Google Scholar

WOOD, A. (2020), ‘Utilizing technology-enhanced learning in geography: testing student response systems in large lectures’, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 44, 160-70. Google Scholar

YEOH, B. S. A. (2001), ‘Postcolonial cities’, Progress in Human Geography, 25, 456-68. Google Scholar

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Author details

Wood, Astrid