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Dr. Raffael Beier

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Coordinator PhD-IDS

Institute of Development Research and Development Policy
Ruhr-University Bochum
Universitaetsstr. 105, Room 2.16
44789 Bochum

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone: +49 (0)234 / 32-24857

Fax: +49 (0)234 / 32-14294

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Research Interest

  • Housing and Urban Development
  • Public Transport Infrastructure
  • Protest and Urban Policy
  • Urban Social Movements
  • North Africa and the Middle East

PhD Project (completed)

From the City to the Desert: Analysing Shantytown Resettlement in Casablanca, Morocco, from Residents’ Perspectives

Since the mid-1990s, the majority of the Moroccan population is living in cities – many of them in informal, self-built shantytowns, called bidonvilles. After the suicide bombings in the city centre of Casablanca, conducted by bidonville dwellers in 2003, the Moroccan government has re-enhanced its efforts to tackle the ‘problem’ of shantytowns by announcing the ambitious programme Villes Sans Bidonvilles (VSB, cities without shantytowns). The VSB programme aims at eradicating all Moroccan shantytowns by relocating the dwellers to mostly peripheral, but serviced plots for auto-construction. Following the dominant modus operandi two households from the bidonville receive together one plot in the new town. In more than 90 % of the cases, they are unable to build the house themselves and transfer this duty to a private third party. The third-party investor builds a four-storey house on the plot and receives in return the two lower floors, while the two resettled households move respectively into one of the upper flats. This allows even poor residents to become homeowners of a new flat.

This PhD project looks at both process and outcome of resettlement from the perspective of affected people, analysing the specific resettlement project of the 90-year-old bidonville Karyan Central in Casablanca. Regarding the process, it asked how social dynamics, local actor constellations and power structures shape the resettlement implementation. Concerning the outcome, it analysed in how far the welfare of people affected by the VSB programme change because of the resettlement. Methodologically, the PhD thesis compares in an analytical way current living situations in a nonaffected bidonville and in a resettlement town. The empirical analysis is based on both quantitative and qualitative methods, largely building on a household survey (n > 800) as well as on informal conversations, participant observations, and interviews with different relevant stakeholder. The household survey includes former inhabitants of Karyan Central that were resettled mostly five to six years ago to the new town Nouvelle Lahraouiyine and residents of the bidonville Er-Rhamna, which has a similar size, structure, and functions compared to the demolished Karyan Central.

The results show that satisfaction with the new housing situation depends on various factors beyond housing comfort and is largely shaped by individual needs and former housing pathways. Thus, some residents stressed they were pushed from the city to the desert, referring to the loss of social networks, urbanity, and centrality. Other residents were appreciating the move into new houses, hoping that the government will further invest in the development of the new town, which is already marked by multiple forms of neglect. The thesis emphasises that the VSB programme, although formally part of anti-poverty and urban inclusion policies, puts primary focus on the clearance of the bidonville. Following a rather narrow interpretation of the right to adequate housing, the VSB programme overemphasises physical housing standards, while ignoring aspects of socio-spatial integration. Moreover, various injustices, corruption, and opaque implementation practices have led to homelessness and psychological distress for a considerable number of people – even though affordability was not an issue.

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Matthias Kiese (RUB) and Prof. Irene van Staveren (EUR, ISS)


  • Beier, Raffael (2021) From Visible Informality to Splintered Informalities. Reflections on the Production of ‘Formality’ in a Moroccan Housing Programme, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (online first: http://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2427.13001)
  • Beier, Raffael (2020): Ganz gewöhnliche Viertel - Stigma und Realitäten in Casablancas Slum Er-Rhamna. In: sub\urban. zeitschrift für kritische stadtforschung, 8(3), S. 73–96. doi: 10.36900/suburban.v8i3.592.
  • Beier, Raffael & Cristiana Strava: Losing or Gaining Home? Experiences of Resettlement from Casablanca’s Slums. In Angela D. Storey, Megan Sheehan & Jessica Bodoh-Creed (eds.) The Everyday Life of Urban Inequality: Ethnographic Case Studies of Global Cities, Lexington Books, Lanham, MD, pp. 3-22.
  • Beier, Raffael (2020): The world-class city comes by tramway: Reframing Casablanca’s urban peripheries through public transport. In: Urban Studies 57(9), 1827-1844. (more information)
  • Beier, Raffael (2020): Resettlement and Persisting Informality in Casablanca. TRIALOG 135, 27-33. (available online)
  • Beier, Raffael (ed., 2020) (with Gerhard Kienast, Yassine Moustandiji and Sonja Nebel): TRIALOG 135 "Housing and Urban Redevelopment in the Maghreb" (available online)
  • Beier, Raffael & Amina Nolte (2020) Global aspirations and local (dis-)connections: A critical comparative perspective on tramway projects in Casablanca and Jerusalem, Political Geography 78 (online first)
  • Beier, Raffael (2019): From the City to the Desert – Analysing Shantytown Resettlement in Casablanca, Morocco, from Residents‘ Perspectives. UA Ruhr Studies on Development and Global Governance 72. Berlin: Logos.
  • Beier, Raffael (2019): Worlding Cities in the Middle East and North Africa – Arguments for a Conceptual Turn. In META 12: 28-34. (full text)
  • Beier, Raffael (2018): Zwischen Rebellion und Global City: Stadtentwicklung in Marokko, in: Welt-Sichten Dossier 9-2018, pp. 16-17.
  • Beier, Raffael & Jasmin Fritzsche-El Shewy (2018): UN-Habitat, the New Urban Agenda and Urban Refugees – A State of the Art. In: Z’Flucht – The German Journal for Refugee Studies 2(1), 128-142.
  • Beier, Raffael (2018): Towards a New Perspective on the Role of the City in Social Movements. Urban Policy after the 'Arab Spring'. In: City 22(2): 220-235.
  • Beier, Raffael (2018): Social Movements as Drivers of Urban Policy: The Case of the Arab Uprisings in North Africa. In: Schoch, Aline and Reto Bürgin (eds.), Urbane Widerstände – Urban Resistance. Peter Lang: Bern, pp. 63-78. (more info)
  • Beier, Raffael & Fritzsche, Jasmin (2017): Refugees and the City: UN-Habitat’s New Urban Agenda. In: Forced Migration Review 55, pp. 29-30. (full text)
  • Beier, Raffael (2017): Tunis und Casablanca - Stadtentwicklungspolitiken zwischen "Worlding" und Sozialverträglichkeit. In: inamo, Informationsprojekt Naher und Mittlerer Osten 23(89), S. 24-28. (full text)
  • Beier, Raffael (2016): Workshop Report. First Workshop of the Working Group Stadt / Raum of the Institute for Social Movement Studies: What is the "Urban" in Urban Social Movements? In: Moving the Social 56, pp. 149-154.
  • Beier, Raffael (2016): "Shifting Urban Policies in North Africa after the "Arab Spring" - Urgent Reaction or Real Changes?" (Diskussionspapiere Volkswirtschaft des Vorderen Orients, 113) Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag.
  • Beier, Raffael & Vilmondes Alves, Mariana A. (2015) Die Dominanz des Quantitativen - Das Dilemma des Rechts auf angemessenen Wohnraum in Brasilien, Marokko und Südafrika. In: RaumPlanung 182/6-2015, S. 40-45.
  • Beier, R. (2012): Wohnimmobilien im Fokus von Investoren und Stadtplanern - Auswirkungen der Finanz- und Wirtschaftskrise auf den Düsseldorfer Wohnimmobilienmarkt. Hamburg.

Seminars and Conferences

  • “Ordinary Neighbourhoods – Stigma and Realities in Casablanca's Shantytowns”, Workshop “Dislocating Urban Studies”, Malmö University (online), 18-19 March 2021
  • “Negotiating Survival – Street Vendors’ Struggles for a Right to the City in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe”, 5th Southern Africa City Studies Conference (SACSC), Johannesburg (online), 1-5 September 2020 (together with Langton Moyo)
  • “From the City to the Desert – Shantytown resettlement in Casablanca, Morocco”, Faces of the City Seminar, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 10 March 2020.
  • “From the City to the Desert – Analysing Shantytown Resettlement in Casablanca, Morocco, from Residents’ Perspectives”, Deutscher Kongress für Geographie (DKG), Kiel, 26-29 September 2019
  • “Bringing People Back to Centre – Dwellers’ Expectations and Experiences of Shantytown Resettlement in Casablanca”, RC21 Conference, Delhi, 18-21 September 2019
  • "Rumours and the Lottery – The Pervasive Effects of Small-Scale Capitalism in Moroccan Housing Programmes", 8th European Conference on African Studies (ECAS), Edinburgh, 11-14 June 2019.
  • "Social mobilisations and the construction of urban periphery in Casablanca", NIMAR workshop, "Urban Space and the Common Good", Rabat, 22nd November 2018 (together with Wafae Belarbi).
  • “Shades of Grey – Urban Informalities and Resettlement in Casablanca“, 7th PhD Conference on International Development, Bochum, 8-9 November 2018
  • 'Worlding Cities in the Middle East and North Africa', 25th International Congress of the German Middle East Studies Association (DAVO), Frankfurt, 4-6 October 2016
  • '"They Pushed Us Out of the City!" – Rethinking Resettlement and Slum Upgrading', Workshop der DGVN AG Junge UN-Forschung und des Lehrstuhls für Internationale Politik der Universität Potsdam, 'Localizing the Sustainable Development Agenda: Städte als Schlüssel für eine nachhaltige Entwicklung?', Potsdam, 7-8 September 2018
  • 'Pictures of Contrast – Casablanca’s Tramway between Urban Exclusion and Inclusion', III. Midterm Conference of ESA RN37 ‘Inequality and Uncertainty’, Madrid, 27-29 June 2018
  • 'De la ville vers le désert – Recasement des bidonvilles à Casablanca', Workshop du projet GELULE (Géopolitique de la lutte contre l’étalement urbain) de l’Agence Nationale de Recherche, Saint-Etienne, 31 January – 2 February.
  • 'Pictures of Contrast – Casablanca’s Tramway between Urban World-Class and the Right to the City', Workshop "Infrastructure and the Making of Urban Space: Critical Approaches", Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO), Berlin, 21-22 September 2017
  • 'Consequences of Branding 'Slum-Free' - Experience from Casablanca', 33. Deutscher Orientalistentag (DOT), Jena, 18-22 September 2017
  • 'Starting from Zero: Social Reconfigurations and Resettlement at the Fringes of Casablanca, Morocco', RC21 Conference 'Rethinking Global Urban Justice', Leeds, 11-13 September 2017
  • 'From the City to the Sahara – Shantytown Resettlement and the Right to the City in Casablanca', 13th European Sociological Association (ESA) Conference, Athens, 29 August - 1 September 2017
  • '"The house is nice, but ..." - Shantytown Resettlement through Small-Scale Private Construction in Casablanca, Morocco', 7th European Conference on African Studies (ECAS), Basel, 29 June - 1 July 2017
  • 'Moroccan Cities without Slums? The Need to Think Beyond Housing', Guest Lecture at Netherlands Institute in Morocco (NIMAR), Rabat, 7 February 2017
  • 'Towards a New Perspective on the Role of the City in Social Movements - Urban Policy after the Arab Spring’, Annual International Conference of the Royal Geographical Society 2016, London, 30 August - 2 September 2016
  • 'Shifting Urban Policies after the Arab Spring - Urgent Reactions or Real Changes', RC21 Annual Meeting 2016, Mexico City, 21-23 July 2016
  • Der Euro-Mediterrane „Dialog“ zu Migration, Mobilität und Sicherheit: Von ‚neuen‘ Diskursen und ‚altbekannten’ Instrumenten', Geographisches Kolloquium der RWTH Aachen, Aachen, 3. Februar 2016 (zusammen mit Anja Zorob)
  • 'Urban Mobility, Resistance, and the State - The Urbanism of Urgency in North Africa', International Graduate Conference 'Move on! Mobility meets (little) resistances', Vienna, November 26-28, 2015
  • 'Die Bedeutung raumbezogener Politiken im Arabischen Frühling', Deutscher Kongress für Geographie, 'Stadt Land Schaf(f)t – Land Schaf(f)t Stadt', Berlin, 1.-6. Oktober 2015
  • 'Shifting Spatial Policies after the Arab Spring - Urgent Reactions or Real Changes?', 22nd International Conference of the German Middle East Studies Association (DAVO)& 1st Section Conference of the Islamic Studies Section of the German Oriental Society (DMG), 'The Middle East and the Islamic World in the Mirror of Humanities and Social Sciences', Bochum, 24-26 September 2015
  • 'European Migration Policy after the Arab Spring: Sticking to "Securitization" or Rising to the Challenges in the Mediterranean?', 22nd International Conference of the German Middle East Studies Association (DAVO)& 1st Section Conference of the Islamic Studies Section of the German Oriental Society (DMG), 'The Middle East and the Islamic World in the Mirror of Humanities and Social Sciences', Bochum, 24-26 September 2015 (together with Anja Zorob)
  • Participation in the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), Nairobi, 14-16 April 2015
  • 'Zwischen Prestigeprojekten und Elendsvierteln - Auswirkungen dualistischer Stadtpolitik in Marokko', 5. Bochumer Nachwuchsworkshop der Mittelmeerstudien, Zentrum für Mittelmeerstudien (ZMS), Bochum, 26.-27. Februar 2015
  • 'The European Migration Policy in the Mediterranean after the Arab Spring – Old Concepts in New Design?', 4th EUMEF Alumni Reunion Conference, 'The MENA Region in Turmoil - Causes and Ways out of the Crises', German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), Berlin, 13-15 November 2014
  • 'Slum Clearance in Morocco - Welfare Gains for Whom?', 12th Development Dialogue, 'Rethinking Democracy', ISS, The Hague, 16-17 October 2014.



  • „Housing Theory, Concepts and Policy” (co-teaching; University of the Witwatersrand, 2020)
  • “Research Methods” (co-teaching; University of the Witwatersrand, 2020)
  • Seminar 'Urbanisation and Development' (MADM, Summer Term 2017 and 2019)
  • Seminar 'Qualitative Methods' (MADM, Summer Term 2017 and 2019)
  • Seminar 'Current Topics of Development Policy' (M.Sc. WiWi, Winter Term 16/17, Summer Term 2017)
  • Lecture 'Grundlagen der Wirtschaftswissenschaften' (B.Sc. Geographie, 14/15 - 15/16)

Mentoring (Master in Development Management)

  • Panasiuk, Olha (2020) Individual’s Participation Perspectives in Waste Management: An Analysis of Recycling Behavior in Kyiv.
  • Khurana, Nayani (2020) Perceptions and approaches to urban renewal. A case study of Bombay Development Directorate chawls redevelopment in Mumbai, India
  • Moyo, Langton (2019) Urban Informality in Zimbabwe. Survival Strategies of Street Traders in the Bulawayo Metropolitan
  • Fungurai, Philip N. (2019) An interrogation of civic participation in promoting social accountability. The case of Mutare City Council, Zimbabwe
  • Manganya, Keneilwe (2016): Examining Lived Experiences: Narrative Stories of Backyard Shack Dwellers in the Mohlakeng Township
  • Maqubela, Anele N. (2016): Informal Settlement Upgrading and Housing Use Values in the Republic of South Africa: Evidence from Duncan Village and Reeston
  • Siemonsen, Svenja (2015): Community Participation in Informal Settlement Improvement Projects: Exploring Stakeholder Perceptions and Factors Stimulating Community Participation in the Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project

How to contact us

Institute of Development Research and Development Policy
Ruhr University Bochum

Room 2.04
Universitaetsstr. 105
D-44789 Bochum

E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone:   +49-(0)234 / 32-22418
or   32-22243
Fax:   +49-(0)234 / 32-14-294

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Latest Publications

Raffael Beier: From Visible Informality to Splintered Informalities. Reflections on the Production of ‘Formality’ in a Moroccan Housing Programme, in: International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (online first)

Andrea Gatto, Wilhelm Löwenstein and Elkhan R. Sadik-Zada: An extensive data set on energy, economy, environmental pollution and institutional quality in the petroleum-reliant developing and transition economies, in: Data in Brief, Volume 35, April 2021, 106766 (online first)

Diotima Chattoraj: Displacement Among Sri Lankan Tamil Migrants. The Diasporic Search for Home in the Aftermath of War, now available in print.

More information: "Publications / New Publications"