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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  July 2010  /  The return of the slum: Roundtable

The return of the slum: Roundtable

In honour of Alan Gilbert’s influence as a leading scholar of urbanisation and development

The return of the slum: Roundtable

On 24th June, nearly fifty colleagues and friends gathered in UCL Geography to mark Professor Alan Gilbert’s formal retirement by engaging with his recent criticisms of “the return of the slum” as a possibly dangerous over-simplification of the nature and causes of urban poverty.

Contributions came from former students, Professor Silvia Chant and Dr Gareth Jones (LSE) and Dr Deborah Potts (KCL), and from Professor David Simon (RHUL), Dr Julio Davila (UCL DPU), Dr Sunil Kumar (LSE) and Professor Caroline Moser (Manchester).

They reflected on the ways in which Alan’s empirically-based, comparative, critical, policy-directed approach had influenced their own research experience in Latin America, Africa and India. This highlighted the diversity and complexity of urban poverty, and the need to adapt policies to the specific needs of communities without imposing outside assumptions about the nature of their problems. The discussion went on to address the future role of ‘Northern’ academic research in relation to philanthropic and other funding agencies, NGOs and ‘think-tanks’, and ‘Southern’ researchers. It was concluded that there may still be scope for the sort of detailed research championed by Alan, but it should especially seek to be longitudinal and comparative in scope.

The Roundtable was organised by Dr Pushpa Arabindoo on behalf of the UCL Urban Laboratory.

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