On Informality

Taguig City, Manila, Philippines

I must apologize for my recent absence from posting. Luckily, it is due only to good things. As others have mentioned, the past month or so has been consumed with graduating from NYU Wagner’s Master of Urban Planning program, and for me, has also included accepting and preparing for a job in Cape Town, South Africa with Shack/Slum Dwellers International, a dynamic, innovative organization that is doing amazing work worldwide. Should make for some wonderful blogging, too! In the meantime, I came across this quote on The Polis Blog recently and thought I’d share it here:

“The splintering of urbanism does not take place at the fissure between formality and informality but rather, in fractal fashion, within the informalized production of space. Informal urbanization is as much the purview of wealthy urbanites as it is of slum dwellers. These forms of urban informality – from Delhi’s farmhouses to Kolkata’s new towns to Mumbai’s shopping malls – are no more legal than the metonymic slum. But they are expressions of class power and can therefore command infrastructure, services and legitimacy. Most importantly, they come to be designated as ‘formal’ by the state while other forms of informality remain criminalized.”

Ananya Roy, from “Slumdog Cities: Rethinking Subaltern Urbanism,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 2011.

I am excited to explore these concepts further in my new job, and look forward to sharing thoughts on formality/informality in cities worldwide with you all soon!

– Ariana



  1. great project…and congratulations on your new phase in life. would love to hear more about what your new organization does.

    did you by chance catch this: The Global city and the Global Slum.

    La Salada: The Largest Informal Market in South America.


  2. Ariana

    Good morning Saskia! Thank you so much for your comment & good wishes. I had not come across these posts – thanks so much for sharing! Will definitely take a look, and will be sure to post on my involvement in SDI’s work asap!

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