The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Thinking Across Boundaries

Thinking Across Boundaries - Planning Dilemmas in the Urban Global South is a short film series that has emerged out of an ongoing research project of the same name. The three films are now available to view on these pages, and were released in the build up to our DPU60 Anniversary Conference. Part 1 can be viewed above and parts 2 and 3 can bee accessed using the menu on the left.

Introduction to Thinking Across Boundaries

The notion of the ‘urban global south’ has emerged as an important conceptual term in contemporary planning debates on urbanisation, development and globalisation. As a concept, it is both cause and consequence of unequal global and local power relations, manifested in urban politics that are acknowledged to be multiple, temporal, place-specific, and often in tension. Undoubtedly, it is a concept that demands constant reflection.

If we agree with Ananya Roy that planning is both the ‘face of power and order’ and ‘social struggle’ in urbanisation processes, what possibilities does the notion of the ‘urban global south’ open for thinking and acting upon cities?

In Thinking Across Boundaries, the DPU is critically reflecting on a dominant theme in both its own practice and within current development planning and practice. Calling upon a range of key contributors to this debate, we aim to reproblematise the notion of planning in/for the ‘urban global South’. Through a panel discussion held at the Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference and a series of videos, this project explores the following interlinked set of questions:

Part 1: Why call it the urban global south?

What is the ‘urban global south’? What processes make cities and citizens in certain parts of the world ‘different’? What does such difference entail and how should it be treated theoretically and practically? 

Watch the video on Vimeo | Watch the video on YouTube

Part 2: What kind of planning practices does it call for?

What do current debates on the urban global south imply for planning and praxis? Do they simply indicate need for contextualised approaches or call for a reconceptualisation of planning? Do they need to be delinked or relinked from Western planning theory? Do they point to new opportunities for action? Why, with what consequences and for whom?

Watch the video on Vimeo | Watch the video on YouTube

Part 3: What kind of theory is required?

What kind of theory is required for the urban global south?

Do we require a new urban theory or the reworking of existing conceptualisations? Are those key theoretical perspectives concerned with reproblematising the urban condition, reframing the trajectories of urbanisation and development outside advanced capitalist economies? If so, are they rendering mainstream theorisations of the urban obsolete?

Watch the video on Vimeo | Watch the video on YouTube

The research, interviews, content and edition of the videos have been developed by Adriana Allen, Caren Levy, Barbara Lipietz, Colin Marx and Camila Cociña.