Skip to main content

People, places, and infrastructure: Lessons from Mumbai, Rio, and Durban


Durban, Mumbai, and Rio exemplify the rapid growth and transformation that has gripped cities across the Global South. They share a host of challenges, including the violence and insecurity that accompany rapid change.

This 2016 global narrative report compares and contrasts findings from three years of cross-regional research conducted by three teams: the Instituto de Pesquisa e PlanejamentoUrbano e Regional) in Rio de Janeiro; the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban; and the Centre for Urban Policy and Governance at the Tata Institute for Social Sciences in Mumbai. Through a series of city profiles and case studies, they explored the trajectory of social and spatial change in their respective cities over the past two to three decades, following the advent of neoliberalism. Research critically applied the concept of “spatial (in)justice” to examine how transformations led by an alliance of state and market forces affected the incidence and experiences of violence in each city.

From mass evictions in Durban and Rio, to the casual daily violence experienced by women in Mumbai who must risk their lives to use a toilet, this report catalogues and exposes the toll taken on the poor by market-based urban redevelopment approaches. It underscores the vital role that citizen’s movements play in resisting exploitation and negotiating alternatives.

Read the global narrative report People, Places, and Infrastructure: Countering Urban Violence and Promoting Justice in Mumbai, Rio, and Durban (PDF, 1.16MB)

Learn more about this research at Urban Resources Knowledges.

Explore the IDRC-supported project People, places and infrastructure: Countering urban violence and promoting justice in Mumbai, Rio, and Durban.

Learn more about IDRC’s research support to make cities safer through the Safe and Inclusive Cities partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development.