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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

McFarlane, C. Fragment Urbanism: Politics on the Margins of the City. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 2018;36:1007-1025.

Author(s) from Durham


Fragmentation is a keyword in the history of critical urban thought. Yet the products of fragmentation – the fragments themselves – tend to receive less attention. In this paper, I develop a politics of urban fragments as a contribution to debates both in urban theory and in urban poverty and inequality. I examine inadequate and broken material fragments on the economic margins of the urban global South, and ask how they become differently politicized in cities. I develop a three-fold framework for understanding the politics of fragments: attending to, generative translation and surveying wholes. I build these arguments through a focus on a fundamental provision – urban sanitation – drawing on research in Mumbai in particular, as well as Cape Town, and connecting those instances to research on urban poverty, politics and fragmentation.

Department of Geography