By 2050, over sixty-six percent of the world’s population will be urbanized and ninety percent of that increase will be concentrated in cities of the global South. Despite these staggering figures, a great paradox of 21st century urbanism remains: while the lion’s share of urban growth is taking place in the developing world, the theories about how cities develop and function remain focused on cities in the developed world. Many of these “northern” theories rely on concepts (such as private property) that do not necessarily apply to urban growth in the “megacities” of the developing world. In fact, most urbanization in this context takes place under conditions of urban informality. Urban informality is a term that describes urbanization processes that are irregular, unofficial, not legalized and/or unrecognized by the state. Drawing from both urban studies canon and from his own research in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Hun Kim will be discussing some of the limitations and consequences of dominant “northern” theories about urban informality and will discuss the viability of alternative theories and approaches to urban policy currently being experimented upon in cities of the global South. 


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