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Friday, March 18 • 9:50am - 10:30am
PS19.0 Informal Settlements in the Contested City: A Case Study of Aleppo During the Syrian Civil War

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Against the backdrop of an increasingly urban, highly fluid civil war, the Syrian city of Aleppo stands as a highly contested space. Reflecting nation-wide trends in urbanisation, Aleppo experienced rapid rates of rural-urban migration in the 10 years preceding the current conflict. Many new migrants found themselves located in informal settlements, where the urban poor bear the brunt of over-stretched infrastructure. While literature has argued that informal settlements provide a breeding ground for conflict, little analysis has been produced that examines the role of Aleppo's informal settlements in the current conflict. This paper seeks to fill the existing gap in knowledge through an analysis of the informal settlements of Aleppo in the context of the Syrian Civil War, ultimately highlighting the interwoven relationship between the nature of the 'informal' and 'formal'. Key to the analysis presented here is open-­source data on the damage that has occurred in Aleppo, which has been distilled and mapped against the existing land use types of Aleppo. The maps produced highlight the disproportionate damage that has occurred in the city's informal settlements and point to an indelible need for a more nuanced understanding of these urban areas. Furthermore, this paper argues against dichotomised stigmatisations of informal settlements as 'feral cities' that are 'void of any social structures' (Norton, 2003 p. 98), instead positing that current understandings should be extended to capture the immense heterogeneity and strengths present in these urban areas. Finally, it is argued that embedded in the folds of formality and informality are multifarious civil society networks that should be supported by the international community.

Speakers
avatar for Felicity Cain

Felicity Cain

University of Sydney


Friday March 18, 2016 9:50am - 10:30am PDT
Indigo West Foyer