International 'good practice' and local action: conservation and change
in a slum upgrading project in India
Despite the international rhetoric describes best practices as effective models for local improvements, much critique has been moved to that concept because of its exogenous rationale and the risks of inhibiting local processes of change. Instead of taking one of the two positions, the paper will argue for a more nuanced interpretation of the relationships between global models and local capacity to innovation and change. Building on a detailed analysis of a slum upgrading project in India, which received several best practices awards for the participatory model of governance employed, the paper will analyse a twofold dynamic favoured by the project at the local level: on one side the stable consensus gained by the project has been used by the local bureaucracies to strengthen their global alliances and to mask their attempt to preserve local power; on the other, it has been used by slum dwellers as a starting point to develop empowerment practices in the background of the project. Finally, the relationships between these multilayered dynamics of conservation and change and local processes of governance change will be discussed.