It is not about housing (only)! affordable housing policies and the resettlement of informal settlements

Raffael Beier (Ruhr-University Bochum)
Corentin Chanet (ULB (Université Libre de Bruxelles))
Chrystal McMillan, Seminar Room 5
Friday 14 June, 8:45-10:30

Short abstract:

Housing is back on the agenda of many African governments. However, most housing programmes imply displacement and tend to be limited to a notion of 'shelter'. Because of that, we seek to address these displacements through the lens of resettlement, stressing a more comprehensive notion of 'home'.

Long abstract:

After years of rather limited direct state intervention, authors such as Buckley et al. (2016), Croese et al. (2016), and Turok (2016), have observed a return of large-scale housing programmes. Framed as social policies, urban renewal, or upgrading programmes, these housing programmes aim at addressing so-called inadequate housing, shantytowns, slums, or other informal settlements that have developed over decades in relatively central urban areas. Inhabitants of these neighbourhoods are requested - if not forced - to move to social housing estates, new towns, and sites-and-services projects that emerge at the cities' peripheries in short time and with enormous quantities. Although serious distress for affected residents is not denied, most research looked at these programmes as housing policy interventions that aim at improving deprived housing conditions for disadvantaged population groups. In this panel, we seek to address these displacements through the lens of resettlement. Thus, we suggest moving away from the naturally positive connotation of 'housing policies' towards the notion of resettlement that implies a more comprehensive analytical perspective. Beyond the notion of shelter, resettlement may see housing more in terms of 'homes', emphasising the role of livelihoods, living practices, and people's subjective use of their dwelling environment (cf. Turner 1967, Cernea 1997, de Wet 2008). We hope to attract many empirical papers with that look at people before, during, and after resettlement. Furthermore, for those interested in publishing on issues of displacement and resettlement, the aim of this panel is also to start the editorial process of an upcoming volume.