Random readings on society, politics and change – Jorge Carrillo
This paper draws on the example of partnerships between Brazilian and Mozambican cities to critique attempts to democratise urban governance and development through city-to-city cooperation. As an expression of the notion of technical cooperation among developing countries, city-to-city cooperation in the global South has the potential to catalyse inclusive urban governance and development by exposing local authorities and communities to useful experiences, best practices and innovative ideas. However, it argues that the predominantly technocratic and depoliticised approach to city-to-city cooperation, reflected in the exchanges between Brazilian cities and their Mozambican counterparts, is incapable of inducing the kind of urban transformation inspired by Henri Lefebvre’s notion of a right to the city. When city partnerships are designed and implemented in a manner that fails to challenge unequal power relations, the urban elite tend to use their position as gatekeepers of the institutional landscape of cities to determine which foreign ideas are localised and how, undermining the transformative potential of city-to-city cooperation. In worse cases, city-to-city cooperation can become a tool to reinforce the disenfranchisement of marginalised urban communities.
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