Janice E. Perlman, author, researcher and CEO of The Mega-Cities Project, discusses her work in this lecture at the Harvard GSD for the “Urbanization Seminar Series”. This in-depth lecture, titled “Mega-Cities, the Urban Poor and the Place of Planning” covers Perlman’s research and observation in India’s slums, noting the way people upgrade the status of the slum and their own opportunities through minor reforms on small-scales.
The term mega-city was defined by the U.N. in 1970s to categorize cities according to population. The initial definition regarded cities with a population of eight million as being a mega-city and that number soon jumped to ten million. A city that is a “mega-city” has no relationship to its economy. It “does not equal a global city, it does not command global capital” necessarily. Instead, “mega-city” is an interesting term because above all it defines a human condition. It puts people, the social fabric of the city, at its center and opens the dialogue to discussions of urban issues and flows associated primarily with density.
This is the point of departure for Perlman’s lecture. She discusses the intimate details of her projects and research, stories from people with whom she has lived and whom she has interviewed. She makes it clear the improvement of a city is ineffective when it discounts the impoverished class: a critical resource, a labor force and brain power.
Perlman discusses small steps that took place within the slums of India that worked towards improving the status a “slum-dweller” with programs and intiatives that empowered a group of people used to living on the outskirts and constantly being harassed by authorities. The initiatives that Perlman talks about include giving authoritative power to people, allowing them to choose how to live and giving them the opportunity to building their homes under better conditions.
For more information on Janice Perlman and The Mega-Cities Project, click here.