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Phillip Fahie
Phillip Fahie

Planet Of Slums [NEW]

The pessimistic Davis describes slums, in many ways, as lost causes. They are products of an excess surplus of labourers driven out of the rural countryside in search of better lives, only to find themselves living in poorly built, unhygienic, derelict squatter settlements.

Planet of Slums

Slum clearance only leads to the displacement of millions of poor dwellers who are evicted by governments and private estate developers whom have determined that their neighborhoods are slums filled with crime, disease, filth and poverty.

Planet of Slums is a non-fiction book published in 2006 by American author and urban theorist Mike Davis. It chronicles the spread of poverty in cities around the world at a time when more than a billion people live in what the United Nations (UN) classifies as "slums."

In his recent book, Planet of Slums, Mike Davis takes the reader into a place where no human should ever have to venture, but one that is home to many: the slums of the world. Unfortunately, slum life is the daily reality for millions around the world, and the numbers are growing.

Davis, a professor of history at UC-Irvine and an editor of New Left Review, introduces the reader to the prevalence and growth of slums in the first two chapters. Taking the reader on what sometimes seems like a worldwide tour from hell to places like Ajegunle, Dadaad, and Campos Eliseos, Davis stuns the reader with a roll call of growth and demographic facts. He seeks to establish the fact that slums are widespread, growing rapidly, and expected to grow more.

"According to the United Nations, more than one billion people now live in the slums of the cities of the south. In this brilliant and ambitious book, Mike Davis explores the future of a radically unequal and explosively unstable urban world."

Mark Davis (2006) attempts to link the exponential growth of slum areas with industrialization in the Planet of the Slums. The story revolves on the statistics provided by the United Nations (UN) stating that approximately 1 billion people are entrenched in slums located in cities in the South. Davis tries to emphasize the growing gap between urbanization and economic growth. There appears to be an unstable distribution of wealth especially in these supposedly dynamic urban cities. Davis cited several cities as examples and underlined the problems these cities have been facing.

According to Davis, there are several aspects of slums that are being neglected by world leaders. For instances, issues on health, justice, and culture differences are often shelved for other priorities. Davis supported the arguments using figures coming from credible institutions. Among slums, Mexico City has the biggest in terms of population. Other cities such as Manila and Caracas are already mega slums. This observation is worsened by the manner in which governments react. Poor housing and increasing unemployment rates will further expand these slums.

Davis depicts the growth of the slums as no coincidence. It was motivated by several issues that once were completely ignored. Corrupt leadership is always viewed as the main culprit of slum revolution. Ineffective leaders mean that basic social services are not delivered and situations in these areas will indeed worsen. The book also ranted on the systems being manifested by the International Monetary fund. Its control over poor countries prevents equitable growth and development. The most evident cycle that is happening shows the transfer of wealth to the rich from the poor. Moreover, over emphasis on capitalism has further damaged the economic balance.

Towards the end of the book, Davis highlighted the value of the war on terrorism. Such event was described as the fight between imperialism against these slums areas. Davis stated that pursuing these branded terrorists will result to slums becoming battlefields. It is important to consider that most of these elements are part of the slum society. In addition, it appears that the war on terrorism has become selective. Governments are critical on some groups but relatively soft on others. Such treatment depicts the points that Davis has raised all throughout the book.

The description of slums made by Davis is clear. This task perhaps is the hardest part in the book. There have been definitions made in the past as to what a slum is. Davis attempted to use the conventional definitional and made some major changes. It is understandable since slums are dependent on time. The change in periods can indeed affect the dynamics of these communities. Slums are ironies showing progress and stagnation.

Davis described the problems that occur in these slum areas. As expected, poverty was the main issue where the other subjects evolved. It is obvious these slum places are poor in terms of material necessities. Another important description made by Davis is that slums lack access to basic social services. The failure of the governments to provide these needs is established. In addition, there are several problems that occur within these communities. As stated previously, the rise of radicals in these slum areas worsen situation. Instead of cooperation, the government is being blocked by militants and other aggressive goods in these slum areas.

The other side of the coin details the possible flaws in the book. The title perhaps needs to be change as it appears to be stereotyping cities in the South. The title is general and there were no supporting subtitles to specify target discussions. Unless it is read, the audience will find it depressing. In addition, there are other views when it comes to slums. There are some misconceptions as to its application in the current society. Davis attempted to put color in what was normally perceived as an issue of poverty. It is necessary that other understand the exact focus of thus book.

It appears that Davis has divided the world into two realms. Davis classified the areas where rich class evolves and the places where poor people exist. In truth, however, cities provide complex structures that go beyond the realms defined by Davis. Moreover, there are signs of progress in this so called slum areas. The only problem is that the growth is overshadowed by the physical presence of these slums. Further, there are major interactions that are happening in cities including the slums. Hence the notion that slum areas are restricted from city affairs is fallible.

Writer and urban theorist Mike Davis, whose book "Planet of Slums" examines the growth of slums around the world and considers their social and economic repercussions, will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday at Rhodes College as part of its Communities in Conversation lecture series.

A MacArthur fellow and professor emeritus at the University of California, Riverside, he will urge the audience not only to acknowledge that the planet of slums exists, but also to reflect on ways to address the problem.

Are the great slums, as a terrified Victorian middle class once imagined, volcanoes waiting to erupt? Davis provides the first global overview of the diverse religious, ethnic, and political movements competing for the souls of the new urban poor. He surveys Hindu fundamentalism in Bombay, the Islamist resistance in Casablanca and Cairo, street gangs in Cape Town and San Salvador, Pentecostalism in Kinshasa and Rio de Janeiro, and revolutionary populism in Caracas and La Paz. Planet of Slums ends with a provocative meditation on the "war on terrorism" as an incipient world war between the American empire and the new slum poor.

This is a relatively recent phenomenon, says Davis, and one that has been powered by a range of factors and forces over the last three decades--in contrast to Engels's singular vision of capitalism as the motor of rural migration, growing manufacture and urban dwelling. In Davis's analysis, complex dynamics of international capitalist policy (the notorious 'structural adjustment programmes'), processes of decolonisation and national independence, civil and international wars, and drought and famine act as the mass producers of ThirdWorld slums. Furthermore, there is no established (or emerging) base of formal employment available in most Third World cities to offer the migrants a foothold, since mass urbanisation is now decoupled from industrialisation, and is creating a surplus population far beyond Engels's expectations. The characteristics of urban living resulting from this complex process are stark indeed--some echoing Engels's descriptions of Victorian Manchester, while others are more novel, but equally dis-turbing.

In this process of rampant urbanization, the planet has become marked by the runaway growth of slums, characterized by overcrowding, poor or informal housing, inadequate access to safe water and sanitation, and insecurity of tenure. UN researchers estimate that there were at least 921 million slum dwellers in 2001 and more than 1 billion in 2005, with slum populations growing by a staggering 25 million per year.

The fallout has been predictable: hundreds of millions of new urbanites must further subdivide the peripheral economic niches of personal service, casual labor, street-vending, ragpicking, begging, and crime. With its high-tech border enforcement blocking large-scale migration to the rich countries, the new world order has dictated a formula for the mass production of slums, and for rising suffering from flood, slides, quakes, and fire.

The examples can easily be multiplied: everywhere, obedience to international creditors, whose policies helped create slums in the first place, has dictated cutbacks in medical care and precipitated the emigration of doctors and nurses, the end of food subsidies, and the switch of agricultural production from subsistence to export crops.

Mike Slums definitely does love statistics more than Harvey. However, his statistics do help prove his points. I find the growth in the South unbelievable. How is it that so many people live in the slums and prefer to stay there. I would guess that they would want to better their situation. 041b061a72


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