CFP AAG 2015 Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, April 21-25, 2015
Informality and the Everyday State
Session organizers: Hanna Hilbrandt, the Open University; Hannah Schilling, Humboldt Universität, Berlin; Tauri Tuvikene, University College London and Tallinn University.
Discussant: Nicholas Blomley, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.
This paper-session aims to explore informal practices in regulatory regimes presumed to rely on strong legal frameworks and functioning bureaucracies. It strives to combine two perspectives. On the one hand, research has examined informal practices of vending, housing and governance in cities of the global North (Mukhija and Loukaitou-Sideris 2014; Hentschel 2014). This work has drawn on the rich experience of research in the global South that has shown how informality is strongly bound to the workings of state institutions (Roy 2005; Yiftachel 2009). On the other hand, legal geographers and state-theorists have thoroughly explored the social and legal practices through which regulations are made and enacted in the functioning of modern bureaucracies (Blomley 2014; Valverde 2012). We seek to learn from these insights on the mundane mechanisms of regulating cities to push the debate on informality in two directions.
Firstly, the session aims to discuss how informality works as part of the normal functioning of bureaucracies, rather than as a result of the inadequacy of regulations or the transgressions of street-level officers. Cases of informality are often studied as examples of institutional injustice or states of exception, in which people’s relation to the state is marked by eviction or harassment (Duneier 1999; Devlin 2011). However, research on the nature of informality in the context of functioning institutions remains scarce. How do legal and bureaucratic institutions facilitate, enable or constrain informal practices? In what way do these ‘normal’ modes of governance produce or further inequalities?
Secondly, cases of informality in ‘high-capacity-states’ pose new conceptual challenges to theorizing cities. Urban scholars have highlighted the interdependence of formal structures and informal practices (McFarlane and Waibel 2012). They have conceptualized informality as a ‘mode of urbanization’ to show how informal processes are strongly bound to the workings of state institutions (Roy 2005). Yet, conceptual uncertainty about the link between urban informality and the mundane mechanisms of institutional regulation remains. We aim to attend to the ways in which the everyday state works, can rely on, or is transcended by informal processes. How can we theorize the interaction of informal and regulatory practices in the everyday politics of governing cities?
We welcome both empirical and theoretical papers that discuss the links between informality and the workings of regulatory regimes presumed to rely on strong legal groundings and functioning bureaucracies. If you are interested in participating in this session, please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words to Hanna Hilbrandt (email@example.com) by October 10th 2014. We will notify the authors of selected papers by October 15th 2014 and ask them to register on the AAG website by October 30th 2014.
Bayat, Asef (2004) Global… and the politics of the informal. In, Roy, A. and Sayyad, N. A. Urban Informality: Transnational Perspectives from the Middle East, Latin America, and South Asia. Oxford: Lexington Books, 79 – 105.
Blomley, Nicholas (2014) Disentangling Law: The Practice of Bracketing. Annual Review of Law and Social Science 10 (1): (forthcoming).
Duneier, Mitchell (2001) Sidewalk. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Devlin, Ryan T. (2011) ‘An Area That Governs Itself ’: Informality, Uncertainty and the Management of Street Vending in New York City. Planning Theory 10 (1): 53 – 65.
Hentschel, Christine (2014) Postcolonializing Berlin and the Fabrication of the Urban. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (forthcoming).
McFarlane, Colin and Michael Waibel (2012) Urban Informalities. Reflections on the Formal and Informal. London: Ashgate.
Mukhija, Vinit and Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris (2014) The Informal American City: Beyond Taco Trucks and Day Labor. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
Roy, A (2005) Urban informality: toward an epistemology of planning. Journal of the American Planning, Association 71 (2) 147 – 158.
Simone, A. M. (2004) For the City yet to Come: Changing African Life in Four Cities. Durham: Duke University Press.
Valverde, Mariana (2012) Everyday Law on the Street. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press.
Yiftachel, Oren (2009) Critical theory and “gray space”: Mobilization of the colonized. CITY 13, 246 –263.