Slums: Background information when reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers

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Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

by Katherine Boo

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2012, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2014, 288 pages

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Slums

According to the UN, the percentage of urban dwellers living in slums dropped 10% to 37% in the 15 years leading up to 2005. But before you break out into celebration, there's just one tiny catch - because of the rising population, the total number of people living in slums has actually increased substantially, and is expected to continue to rise from about one billion today to about two billion by 2030.

Map of Slums

Many residents vigorously oppose the description of "slum" on the basis that it leads to them being pathologized and opens them to threats of eviction (for example, this statement by the representatives of an informal settlement in Durban, South Africa). Even the United Nations (specifically the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-HABITAT) has come under fire from some academics for their "Cities Without Slums" campaign which is intended to encourage urban upgrading but that some say has led to a significant increase in forced evictions as cities try to sweep the...

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