Knowledge infrastructures, conflictual coproduction, and the politics of planning: A post-foundational approach to political capability in Nepal and Thailand

Robert A. Farnan*, Jonathan Ensor, Anushiya Shrestha, Dilli Poudel, Bijay Singh, Pakamas Thinphanga, Khanin Hutanuwatr, Yogendra Subedi, Sobina Lama, Sangeeta Singh, Richard Friend

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In an era of rapid urbanisation, understanding how marginalised groups shape and are shaped by planning has never been more urgent. Here, we focus on the political capability of marginalised groups, centring analysis on the control (or lack of control) that they have over their livelihoods and environment. Focused on the politics of participatory planning that surround the Kirtipur and Baan Mankong Housing Projects in Nepal and Thailand, we develop a post-foundational approach to explore how the political capabilities of informal settlers and their representatives are bound up in the realisation of conflict. Crucially, our analysis reveals the discourses, alliances, and expertise – referred to as knowledge infrastructures – that are mobilised by constituted and constituent forms of power to construct and contest urban development. Building upon this framework, we demonstrate how technocratic knowledge infrastructures support hegemonic encroachment discourses that, in turn, condition the emergence of insurgent knowledge infrastructures. In doing so, we show that the political capabilities of informal settlers are fundamentally tied to how these insurgent knowledge infrastructures support participatory planning processes conducive to political subjectivisation. Ultimately, we reveal how participatory planning generates struggles for equality and rights that shape the urban as an arena of conflictual coproduction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103002
Number of pages11
JournalPolitical Geography
Early online date21 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the editors of Political Geography and the two anonymous reviewers for thier constructive comments. We would also like to acknowledge the funding provided by UK Research and Innovation through the Global Challenges Research Fund's "Political Capabilities for Equitable Resilience" project, Grant/Award Number: ES/T00259X/1 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors

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