Urban Margins: Envisioning the Contemporary Global South

An issue of: Social Text

Urban Margins
Journal Issue Pages: 144 Volume 26, Number 2 Number: 95 Published: 2008 An issue of Social Text
Special Issue Editor(s): Martina Rieker, Kamran Asdar Ali
Urban studies of the global South have paid particular attention to megacities, such as Mumbai or Johannesburg, while more peripheral urban landscapes—including small and medium-sized towns as well as the margins of megacities themselves—remain overlooked. Emerging from the work of the Shehr Comparative Urban Landscapes Network, an academic initiative that seeks to further a social-historical and critical understanding of contemporary cities and urban practices, this special issue of Social Text takes up the question of marginality in contemporary urban cartographies in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa.

“Urban Margins” explores the complex processes through which citizens produce and negotiate these marginalized landscapes and in turn are informed by them. Focusing on Douala in Cameroon and Dakar in Senegal, one essay discusses how the state’s failure to provide for its citizens has led many to turn to informal networks and affiliations—whether kin-based, local, translocal, gendered, religious, or secular—for survival. Rendering the urban landscape of these cities in terms of these networks and the ways that they shape a citizen’s interaction with the city, the essay considers the political possibilities for African cities where diverse multilingual and ethnic populations face the challenges, pitfalls, and compromises of coexistence. Examining how female migrant workers negotiate various spaces within the urban landscape of the free trade zone outside of Colombo, Sri Lanka, another essay details how the city represents a site of personal autonomy and political possibilities for both women and men. One contributor addresses the city of Ramallah in the embattled West Bank—the de facto Palestinian capital and the only cosmopolitan space within the occupied territories—to consider how the Palestinian urban middle class remains haunted by the “unmodern” within its own history and present. Another surveys changes in the cultural significance of roads, forts, and town walls in Bahla, Oman, in the aftermath of the country’s 1970 coup d’etat.

Contributors. Kamran Asdar Ali, Allen Feldman, Sandya Hewamanne, Mandana E. Limbert, Rosalind Morris, Martina Rieker, AbdouMaliq Simone, Lisa Taraki


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Table of Contents Back to Top


1. Contributors


2. Introduction: Urban Margins-Kamran Asdar Ali and Martin Rieker


3. Emergency Democracy and the "Governing Composite"-AbdouMaliq Simone

4. "City of Whores": Nationalism, Development, and Global Garment Workers in Sri Lanka-Sandya Hewamanne

5. Urban Modernity on the Periphery: A New Middle Class Reinvents the Palestine City-Lisa Taraki

6. In the Ruins of Bahla: Reconstructed Forts and Crumbling Walls in an Omani Town-Mandana E. Limbert

7. "Mardi Gras Geishas (Batters)," New Orleans-Nic Sammond

8. The Gnat and the Sovereign-Allen Feldman

9. With Ice in Their Ears-Allen Feldman

10. Witchcraft-Rosalind Morris

Additional InformationBack to Top
ISBN Paperback: 978-0-8223-6697-3