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In a state of slum: governance in an informal urban settlement in Ghana

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Old Fadama in Accra, Ghana, is a vast informal settlement. A legalistic approach
by successive governments has meant a near-absence of statutory institutions
and the emergence of alternative public authorities. These endeavour to
provide the area with a range of basic public services to solve the area’s
serious developmental challenges. Through processes of informal negotiation
residents establish rights and social contracts that underpin and define what
will constitute ideas of state and law. At the same time, self-governance
emerges while relations with statutory institutions shift back and forth
between vilification, tacit acceptance, and productive cooperation. The article
contributes to studies of governance in informal urban settlements on two
fronts. First, it shows how informal arrangements lead to the provision of
basic public services and influence the workings of formal institutions of government. Second, it challenges facile understandings of large-scale informal settlements as generally chaotic, lawless or subversive.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Modern African Studies
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)591-615
Number of pages25
StatePublished - 2016

ID: 168595472