Feminising urban struggle: bodies, territories and politics in women’s production and reproduction of peripheral spaces

Dr Priscila Izar, Professor Paula Freire Santoro, and Dr Elinorata Mbuya

Funding period: 1 April 2023 – 31 May 2024
Type of funding: Seminar Series

Host institutions: Centre for Urbanism and the Built Environment Studies (CUBES), University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), University of São Paulo (USP), Architecture and Urbanism School, LabCidade (Brazil), and Ardhi University, Institute of Human Settlements Studies (IHSS) (Tanzania).
Dates: November 2023 (online via South Africa), March 2024 (Johannesburg, South Africa), March 2024 (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania), and May 2024 (São Paulo, Brazil).
Lead organisers: Dr Priscila Izar (University of the Witwatersrand), Professor Paula Freire Santoro (University of São Paulo), and Dr Elinorata Mbuya (Ardhi University)
Team members: Sarah Charlton (University of the Witwatersrand) and Paula Meth (University of Sheffield).
Contact: Dr Priscila Izar

Abstract: As urbanization reaches a planetary scale, its contradictory outcomes persistently and disproportionally affect women living in financially poor and physically precarious (peripheral) territories, predominantly in the global-South. We associate periphery to marginalisation in relation to state and development processes, focusing on peripheral territories that are primarily autoconstructed. The way in which urban poverty and prosperity intersect with patriarchy and unfold in the peripheral territories impacts the lives and bodies of women who build and/or struggle there. The state is not absent but rather present in these peripheries, through seemingly disjointed political actions.

The focus of this series is on Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, which represent, respectively, the world’s fastest urbanization rate today and the most urbanized overall. It will start with an international virtual seminar and continue through three in person seminars in Johannesburg, Dar es Salaam and São Paulo. Each in-person seminar will include a scholarly workshop, field trips to autoconstructed neighborhoods and training session for early career researchers.

This seminar series will strengthen debate and dialogue about the multiple ways in which contradictory outcomes of urban transformation at the periphery affect marginalized women, through gender and intersectional lenses and south-south comparison. We will engage with multiple generations of feminist scholars whose research work and interest lie at the intersection of women’s urban struggle, poverty and urbanization at the periphery, with organized women who are directly involved in urban struggle through autoconstruction, and with early career researchers, contributing to the production of transdisciplinary knowledge about the intersection of gender, women’s struggle and urbanization at the peripheries.

This seminar series will help generate research and publications that employ gender, racial and intersectional lenses to analyse women’s urban struggle and urbanization at the periphery. Outputs include a special issue on women’s urban struggles in peripheral territories through south- south comparisons via a call for papers, short opinion pieces by workshop participants and training for early career researchers in feminist research methods and methodologies.