Publication Date

April 2017


J. Donald Moon


College of Social Studies


English (United States)


This thesis is grounded in field research conducted in Al Kora, a slum adjacent to Rabat, in which residents have recently been rehoused as part of the national slum eradication program. Field research revealed that the residents and government have defined slum differently which is leading to different perceptions of the project’s success: the government views slums as structures and sees the goal of slum eradication as their elimination and substitution; the slum dwellers define the slum holistically— as not only the structures, but as the interpersonal relations of the slum and the spatial and socio-economic marginalization that defines the slum space. The government views successful implementation as one that is cost-effective, increases the city's urban competitiveness, and reduces insecurity; residents view a success as long-term expansion of economic opportunity, housing upgrades that do not uproot their social relations and proximity to family, and a reduction in violence and the fear of violence. From the fieldwork, I recognize that, despite the government's and residents' distinct aims, both parties shared a common motivation: security. The fieldwork in Al Kora is supplemented by fieldwork in another neighborhood, Sidi Moumen, where a more participatory mode of implementation was used. Comparing these two case studies reveals that expanding participation could advance their common security goals; additionally, the comparison revealed that creating more participation could more fully realize the kind of successful implementation imagined by the residents; greater participation could help address the grievances borne out of the slum eradication program as well. Seizing on the common motivation, security, this thesis seeks to first understand the nature of the government's security motivation in launching the slum eradication program (chapter two). Then, using a game theoretic model, it asks whether or not the security motivation will be sufficient to incentivize the Moroccan government to adopt a more participatory approach to slum upgrading when confronted with their other interests in the program: cost-effectiveness and enhancing urban competitiveness (chapter three). The fourth and final chapter anticipates a time where the government is sufficiently incentivized to implement a more participatory approach to slum upgrading on a nationwide scale. It offers a template to understand how individual cities might best realize participation within their slum upgrading programs based on their unique contextual factors. The frameworks proposed in chapters three and four can be used to increase resident participation in urban development projects in contexts where a) the government is motivated both by the capital accumulation aims that Harvey critiques and the security motivations, which fall outside the scope of Harvey’s analysis and b) where citizens are unwilling or unable to call for the type of systemic change that Harvey advocates.



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