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Published by: solomounapapa on Oct 20, 2011
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Mass forced evictions take place in rich and
poor countries, and in urban as well as rural
areas. There has been a dramatic increase in
urban evictions in recent years. Writing about
China, Macdonald has pointed out that “the
number of involuntary resettlers has risen
dramatically in recent years in response to
the increasing number of projects that are
fnanced in cities” (Macdonald 2006: 29). A
similar trend has occurred in Latin America.
According to Mejia (1999: 148-149): “In
the 1970s and 1980s [World] Bank-fnanced
projects involving resettlement in the region
were mostly located in rural locales, but
by the middle of the current decade the
majority of such resettlement-related projects
were in urban areas”. However, mass urban
displacements are nothing new, nor are they
limited to developing countries. Fullilove has
described in detail how in the United States
the federal Housing Act has since 1949 been
used for the ‘urban renewal’ of one thousand
six hundred African American neighbourhoods
and the dispersal and impoverishment of their
communities (Fullilove 2005: 223-225).

Whether rural or urban, or in rich or poor
countries, the overwhelming majority of victims
of evictions are members of marginalised
communities living under informal or
customary tenure arrangements. It is often
“their very poverty that subjects the poor to
processes of displacement and resettlement”
(Oliver-Smith 2009: 18). The fact that the poor
often lack formal tenure security can make
them immediately vulnerable to removal from
land that is needed or desired by the powerful.
The fact that they lack power or infuence can
make them “targets of least resistance” during
development planning processes (Oliver-Smith
2009: 19). The fact they live under terrible
conditions can, in itself, become grounds for
their eviction from an area so that, through
their removal, the assets of the wealthy are
promoted. During her research into urban
renewal in the United States Fullilove found


Similar processes have taken place in many
other cities of the world.2

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