This issue’s Interventions pieces help deepen the thematic focus on informality and the state. The seven brief pieces, which include an introduction by Christian Haid and Hanna Hildebrandt and concluding reflections by Julie-Anne Boudreau, utilize the five concepts of governance, agency, sovereignty, legitimacy and legality to reveal the ways that informal practices are implicated in the exercise of formal state authority. And while acknowledging and crediting the scholarship that has earlier demonstrated informality as a key logic of state power, the authors contributing to this collection maintain that this insight has largely remained confined to the postcolonial contexts in which it originated. In order to further transcend and help dismantle unproductive geographic divides, the selected cases highlight the state-informality nexus in urban areas in France, Poland, the UK, the Netherlands, and Hong Kong, contexts typically understood to have the capacity to regulate their populations and eliminate informality. But rather than simply applying the study of urban informality to cases in the North, the authors reflect on the work of translation required for communicating across contexts. This reflection, while present across the individual cases, is addressed most directly in Boudreau’s concluding essay, in which she commends the authors for undertaking the ambitious task of rethinking the boundaries, functions, and activities of state through rich, empirically grounded cases of the city, or what she has earlier referred to as ‘transurban language of urbanization’.
— Liza Weinstein
Urban Informality and the State: Geographical Translations and Conceptual Alliances
Christian G. Haid & Hanna Hilbrandt
The Myth of Formality in the Global North: Informality‐as‐Innovation in Dutch Governance
Rivke Jaffe & Martijn Koster
Informalization of the State: Reflections from an Urban World of Translations