• Document: Contesting space in urban Malawi: A Lefebvrian analysis
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Contesting space in urban Malawi: A Lefebvrian analysis by Evance Evan Mwathunga Dissertation presented for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University Supervisor: Prof. SE Donaldson April 2014 Stellenbosch University http://scholar.sun.ac.za i DECLARATION By submitting this thesis electronically, I declare that the entirety of the work contained therein is my own, original work, that I am the sole author thereof (save to the extent explicitly otherwise stated), that reproduction and publication thereof by Stellenbosch University will not infringe any third party rights and that I have not previously in its entirety or in part submitted it for obtaining any qualification. April 2014 Copyright © 201 Stellenbosch University All rights reserved Stellenbosch University http://scholar.sun.ac.za ii ABSTRACT Cities in Malawi continue to be sites and spaces of resistance, struggle and contest over urban spaces. Since the introduction of colonial modernist planning with its adherence to segregation through functional zoning, homogenisation, and fragmentation of urban areas, squatting and land invasions on urban land have remained one of the widespread struggles for space in urban Malawi. Continued occurrence of squatting, land invasions, and encroachments on urban land reflect the inability of urban planning and its attendant land policies to provide land and housing to the majority of urban dwellers mainly the middle income as well as the marginalised urban poor. Over the years, government efforts have not decisively addressed the issue of land contestations in urban areas in spite of numerous reports of increasing cases of conflicts and competing claims over urban land in Malawi including land dispossessions, conflicts over land uses in urban and peri-urban areas and most significantly contestations manifested in squatting and land invasions on state land leading to growth of spontaneous settlements. In urban areas, efforts to address these competitions have included relocation; titling programmes, sites-and-services schemes, land reform programmes, and forced evictions, but struggles such as squatting and land invasions persist. In urban Malawi, the question is: why is urban planning, as it is conceived and acted upon (i.e. as mode of thought and spatial practice), a creator and not a mediator of urban land conflicts? The study aimed to answer this question, by using Lefebvre’s conceptual triad of social production of space, to gain an in-depth understanding of how the contradictions between people’s perceptions and daily life practices in relation to space, on one hand, and planner’s conceptions of space as informed by colonial, post-colonial, and neoliberal perceptions of space, generate perpetual struggle for urban space in Malawi. The study also investigated spatial strategies and tactics which urban residents employ to shape, produce and defend urban spaces from possible repossession by the state. Finally, the study explored lived experiences and the multiple meanings that urban residents attach to spaces they inhabit and these are used to contest imposition of space by state authorities while at the same time to produce their own spaces. Mixed method approaches were used to gather geodata, quantitative and qualitative data in the two neighbourhoods of Soche West (Blantyre city) and Area 49 (Lilongwe city) where there are on-going tensions over land between state authorities and urban residents. Primary sources of data included household surveys, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, documentary sources, observations, and electronic and print media. In view of the magnitude of the data, three software were used namely, SPSS, ATLAS.ti, and ArcGIS 9.3TM GIS for quantitative, qualitative, and spatial data respectively. Content and discourse analysis were also used to analyse government documents and newspapers. The research found that although planning thought and practice is dominated by imported modernist conceptions of space, planning authorities in Malawi are unable to impose this space on urban residents. Specifically, the research identified a number of constraints faced by planning authorities ranging from human and technical capacity, corruption, cumbersome and bureaucratic procedures, archaic, rigid and contradictory in laws and policies, complexity of land rights, poor enforcement, political influence and emergence of democracy, incomplete reclassification of rural authority into urban authority and sho

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