Mellon Forum on the Urban Environment - Spaces of Belonging: "Land, Law & Speculative Urban Futures"
Urban landscapes described as bidonvilles––a Francophone term for shantytown first coined in the late 1920s in Casablanca––have repeatedly been framed as spontaneous, unplanned, or illegal developments, a status that has helped to ensure their broader spatial and social exclusion. However, the histories of many of these sites reveals quite the opposite. Maghrebi property owners and residents repeatedly leveraged the gaps and opportunities written into legal frameworks that instituted the defining distinctions between citizen and subject, civil and customary law, which had ensured territorial dispossession on a vast scale. The canny navigation of co-existing legal regimes facilitated potent strategies of city-building, whether embracing conventions of hospitality, asserting administrative autonomy, or enacting speculative futures.