Before delving into the specifics of topics covered in our program such as emergency shelter or slum upgrading, it’s important to look at the big picture. How does the practice of architecture and urbanism tie into the broader context of development? Who are the actors at work and what are the underlying conditions of poverty, disaster and conflict in which we will intervene as urban practitioners?
Understanding these broader issues is critical to developing effective urban strategies. That is why our first workshop of the year is an introduction to Development Theory and Practice, a three-day workshop led by development expert and architect/urban designer Mbongeni Ngulube. In it, Mbongeni traces the trajectory of development and anaylzes its successes and failures.
So, we asked Mbongeni, also a fomer student of our program and currently a researcher KU Leuven, to recommend three essential readings on development. “These are great books that speak critically about development and show where power is located in development projects,” he says.
Here they are:
1. Encountering Development by Arturo Escobar
A provocative analysis of development discourse and practice in general and alternative visions for a postdevelopment era. You can find a pdf version of the first three chapters at the link above.
2. The Antipolitics Machine by James Ferguson
A critique of the concept of “development” in general, viewed through the lens of failed attempts and what he calls the “development discourse fantasy”. You can find an annoted excerpt at the link.
3. The Will to Improve by Tania Murray Li
An account of development in action, detailing how the “will to improve” has a long and troubled history, enduring continuities from the colonial period to the present. You can find a pdf of the introduction at the link.
If you liked this, make sure to check out our list of free online Landmark Books About Cities.