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Cities and Fragile States

The work of the Crisis States Programme on cities and urban centres

Social relations in cities are always contested, but the question is how to translate this into generative civic engagement rather than violent civic conflict.


This component of the Crisis States Programme was directed by Prof Jo Beall and involved a comparative study of the relationship between cities and states, whilst also locating cities within their regional and global contexts. There is a close historical relationship between cities and state making and the research sought to demonstrate how cities in fragile states - as social, economic, political and spatial entities - can promote or prevent the unravelling of the state. Since the turn of the century, many cities around the world have become characterised by rising forms of violence, insecurity and illegality. The research undertaken by the CRSC considered these characteristics to be constitutive of state fragility and this formed the basis of its research in the following cities and urban centres: Ahmedabad, Arua, Bogota, Dar-es-Salaam, Goma, Gulu, Kabul, Kampala, Karachi, Kigali, Kinshasa, Managua, Maputo, Medellin, Quetta.

Read an introduction to the research and explore below publications and other outputs from this strand of work.  

Further information and enquiries should be directed to Dr Tom Goodfellow at Sheffield University or Dr Sean Fox  at Bristol University.


Cities and Fragile States Publications

Integrative paper on this theme:
WP85.2 'Cities, Conflict and State Fragility'

Working Papers:

WP89.2 'Understanding the Origins and Pace of Africa's Urban Transition'
WP87.2 'Citizenship, the 'Right to the city' and State Fragility'
WP82.2 'Land Conflicts in Dar es Salaam'
WP72.2 'The Political Economy of Social Violence'
WP71.2 'Some Reflections on the Notion of an 'inclusive political pact': a perspective
from Ahmedabad'
WP70.2 'The Open City: social networks and violence in Karachi'
WP69.2 'Buffer Zone, Colonial Enclave or Urban Hub?'
WP68.2 'Nationalism, Urban Poverty and Identity in Maputo, Mozambique'
WP67.2 'The Bastard Child of Nobody?: anti-planning and the institutional crisis in contemporary Kampala'
WP65.2 'Armed Conflict, Crime and Social Protest in S Bolivar'
WP64.2 'Civil Society in Conflict Cities: the case of Ahmedabad'
WP63.2 'The Changing Dynamics of Cross-border Trade'

WP62.2 ' Eye of the Storm: cities in the vortex of Afghanistan's civil wars
WP61.2 'City as Frontier:urban development and identity processes in Goma
WP60.2 'Urban Politics, Conspiracy and Reform in Nampula, Mozambique'
WP55.2 'Indigenous Institutions, Traditional Leaders & Elite Coalitions'
WP54.2 'The Congolese Elite and the Fragmented City'
WP53.2 'Portrait of Kinshasa: a city on (the) edge' (French version)
WP 44.2 ' Politics and Security in Three Colombian Cities'
WP 43.2 'Who Governs Kabul? urban politics in a post-war capital city'
WP 37.2 ' An Illness called Managua'
WP 36.2 'Gulu Town in War...and Peace? Displacement, Humanitarianism and Post-War Crisis'
WP 35.2 'Creole and Tribal Designs: Dar es Salaam and Kampala as Ethnic Cities in Coalescing Nation States'
WP 32.2 'State-Making and the Post-Conflict City: Integration in Dili, Disintegration in Timor-Leste'
WP 20.2 'RoboWar TM Dreams: Global South Urbanisation and the US Military's 'Revolution in Military Affairs'
WP 18.2 'The State and the Informal in Sub-Saharan African Economies: Revisiting Debates on Dualism'
WP 17.2 'Comparative Research on Contested Cities'
WP 16.2 'The Illegitimacy of Democracy? Democratisation and Alienation in Maputo, Mozambique'
WP 15.2 'Municipal Finance Systems in Conflict Cities'
WP 10.2 'Slum Wars of the 21st Century'
WP 9.2 'Cities, Terrorism and Urban Wars of the 21st Century'
OP10 'Municipal Finance in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania'
OP 6: 'Capital Cities in Civil Wars: The Locational Dimension of Sovereign Authority'
OP 4 'Beyond Beirut: Why Reconstruction in Lebanon did not contribute to State-Making and Stability'

Cities and Fragile States Resources

Jo Beall speaking about this research theme at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town, in November 2010.

CSRC cities research highlighted on id21:
Dennis Rodgers on slum wars in Nicaragua
Jo Beall on the changing face of urban terrorism
Jo Beall on inclusive urban governance in Johannesburg

An Oxfam report by Jo Beall and Sean Fox on urban poverty and development

Dennis Rodgers - on the changing character of slums worldwide for Swiss TV's Geopolitis programme in February 2010

Jo Beall - on the challenges of urban development in Johannesburg, at the UrbanAge conference in Mumbai, November 2007.   Part 1,  Part 2.