Introduction: Planning theories from 'southern turn' to 'deeply rooted/situated in the South/context'

A project in the making





Planning theories, Planning, Global South, Euro-American, Canon


Over the years a growing number of planning and urban theorists located in, or writing on, planning and urban theories in the global South have argued that theories emerged on the basis of assumptions within a northern context that do not ‘fit’ or are not applicable in global South contexts (Rao 2006; Ferguson 2006; Watson 2009; Roy 2009; Myers 2011; Parnell and Robinson 2012). Hence, they maintain, there is a need to rethink the northern bias in planning and urban theory and to develop new concepts, ideas, vocabularies and practices from southern perspectives. McFarlane (2008) uses the term ‘southern turn’ in urban studies, while arguing that productive comparisons across contexts constitute an epistemological transformation in urban theory. He uses the term ‘urban shadow’ to explain how southern cities are considered marginal and on the ‘edges’ of a predominantly Euro-American oriented urban theory canon (McFarlane 2004; 2008). Rao dwells on Amin & Thirft’s (2002) Cities: Reimagining the Urban to develop her ‘slum as theory’ wherein she critically reflects on the dominant discourses that inform and guide planning and urban theory. In 2009, Watson (2009), a scholar based in the South, introduced the idea of ‘seeing from the south’ to explain the need for context-rooted theory development. Yiftachel (2006) introduced a South-Eastern approach instead to break the binary of North-South and East-West. Roy (2009) calls for new geographies of ‘imagination and epistemologies’, as dominant theorizations are based on Euro-American experience, and are unable to capture the grounded reality of the global South.




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