Cities with ‘Slums’: From informal settlement eradication to a right to the city in Africa


Marie Huchzermeyer
University of the Witwatersrand


The UN’s Millennium Development Target to improve the lives of 100 million ‘slum’ dwellers has been inappropriately communicated as a target to free cities of slums. Cities with ‘Slums’: From informal settlement eradication to a right to the city in Africa traces the proliferation of this misunderstanding across several African countries, and explains how current urban policy, with its heightened focus on urban competitiveness and associated urban policy norms, encourages this interpretation. The cases it presents cover a range of conflicts between poor urban residents and the local and national authorities that seek to curtail their ‘right to the city’. It offers disturbing insights into post-apartheid South Africa’s urban trajectory, with uneasy parallels in other African countries, both in the form of ‘slum’ eradication drives and in ambitious, but flawed, flagship pilot projects. The book aims to inspire a wider understanding of, sympathy for and solidarity with struggles against informal settlement eradication in South Africa and beyond, and argues that the right to the city, in its original conception, has direct relevance for urban contestations in Africa today.


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Cover images showing a built cityscape and bulldozing equipment.


21 June 2022


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