Informal settlements feature increasingly in twenty-first-century urban development. Participatory planning is frequently adopted as a way to manage this informality, however, itrisks reproducing the very exclusions and divisions it is attempting to deconstruct. Recognising how power dynamics unfold in these participatory processes is critical for better understanding the political life of marginalised groups, such as informal settlers: the conflicts experienced in participatory planning are indicative of a broader struggle for equality and political rights for marginalised groups.
The authors examined how informal settlers shape and are shaped by participatory planning processes through two case studies: the Kirtipur housing project in Kathmandu, Nepal, and the Baan Mankong housing project in Khon Kaen, Thailand. To do this, they asked two key questions:
In answering these questions, the authors used theoretical lenses of political capability, post-foundational politics, and knowledge infrastructures.
The authors found that participatory planning can serve to mobilise marginalised groups and empower them, but marginalised groups gain more political capability through these participatory processes when the state and its institutions are distanced from them.
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