Ins and outs of the cultural polis: Informality, culture and governance in the global South

Mbaye, Jenny and Dinardi, Cecilia. 2019. Ins and outs of the cultural polis: Informality, culture and governance in the global South. Urban Studies, 56(3), pp. 578-593. ISSN 0042-0980 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article provides an epistemological critique of informality by focusing on cultural governance in two cities of the global South, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Dakar, Senegal. Aiming to enrich debates about urban creativity and urban cultural policy, which are still mainly focused on and articulated from the global North, we consider the broad field of ‘informality’ research as an entry point for such a discussion. Using case studies from African and Latin American contexts, we focus on the interstices of cultural policy and the borderlands of (in)formality, examining how governmental institutions are entangled in informal processes, and how grassroots cultural interventions become part of mainstream cultural circuits. The analysis sheds light on how these creative spaces of cultural production, located in Southern contexts of urban extremes, contribute to the vitality of informal urbanisms and unsettle predominant views that see them merely as sites of infrastructural poverty and social exclusion. The article suggests that a creative remapping of informality, through an inquiry of the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of the cultural polis, could improve our translating capacity of academic discourse into institutional/policy-related operations.

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civil society, cultural polis, Dakar, global South, governance, informality, Rio de Janeiro, urban cultural policy市民社会, 文化政策, 达喀尔, 南半球, 治理, 非正规性, 里约热内卢, 城市文化政策

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute for Cultural and Creative Entrepreneurship (ICCE)


3 November 2017Accepted
17 January 2018Published Online
1 February 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

20 Mar 2017 11:26

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:41

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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