Discourses of Informality in Urban Planning

The Case of the City of the Dead

In the past years and due to various factors, Cairo’s inner migration has drastically increased and modified the city landscape on different levels. As flows of people and resources are an everyday reality, the built environment is gradually being transformed by both informal settlers and the government. Citizen’s needs, rights and urban planning do not find common ground in housing policies and exclusion rather than inclusion is the norm for Cairo’s city development plans. This exclusion is made possible and exacerbated by discourses of informality, which are accepted by both sides, informal and formal. I want to ask how the structural exclusion of the City of the Dead and its inhabitants is possible. The unit of analysis will be the geographic location of the City of the Dead and the people living there.

Throughout the presentation, insights into the living circumstances and wishes of the residents will be given and used as a parameter for the social functioning of policy interventions and development plans. Around this unit of analysis I will try to build three interconnected layers that explain the current challenges to successful policy making regarding the cemetery communities. I argue that due to its historical importance and origin, the City of the Dead can neither be informal nor excluded from urban development plans. Rather, the people living there should be accepted as a part of the city and concepts elaborated with them and the physical City of the Dead in mind.

Presentation Nura Ali – The City of the Dead