Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Comparing Hybrid Urbanisms in the Global South: Water Delivery Configurations in Peru and Ghana

Full Text   PDF (free download)
Views: 456 | Downloads: 517

Abstract:  Urban development processes in the Global South (and North) are often described as characterized by formal and informal practices of different actors and their respective material realities. In critical urban studies, the disposition for this binary conception of formal and informal urbanisms has been discussed for many years. To a certain extent, these sometimes align rather problematically with contrasting notions of the “structural” versus the “everyday.” In this article, we explore an understanding of formal and informal urban practices (and respectively “structure” and “everyday”) as always interrelated, and we develop a methodology for a comparative examination of such hybrid urbanisms. In doing so, we address a missing link in the surging theoretical debate on comparative/southern urbanisms, which has rarely been substantiated by methodological explorations. The adapted concept of “delivery configurations” combines analyses of actor networks, material realities, rules and regulations, discourses, and heterogenous arrays of urban practices of negotiating these. However, bringing together local particularities and structural commonalities and exploring their interrelation only provides a basis for understanding case-specific complexities. We argue that embedding the analysis in a multi-scalar comparative framework can further its analytical rather than descriptive attributes and provide deeper insights into issues such as social inequality. To illustrate our methodological contribution, we provide first insights from a comparative research project of water delivery in different neighbourhoods in the secondary cities of Sunyani (Ghana) and Arequipa (Peru). We highlight the practical challenges of comparing diverse urban contexts and examining the rather complex relationships between infrastructure delivery, urban development, and social inequality.

Keywords:  delivery configurations; Ghana; hybridity; informality; infrastructures; multi-scalar comparison; Peru; water



© Christian Rosen, Nina Gribat. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.