Culture, Cooperation, and Planning for Development in Maputo, Mozambique

Laura Andreae Martin (MCP '14) focuses on cooperation projects rooted in cultural ties which are receiving unprecedented attention from the international development community. When and how culture practically matters to development has not been thoroughly explored within urban planning. Her thesis examines whether, when, and how cultural affinities matter for the successful design, management, and implementation of urban planning projects in the global South with international partnerships. By exploring the experiences of urban professionals working on collaborative projects in Maputo, Mozambique, this thesis argues that broadly speaking, culture does matter for cooperation and urban development, but whether cultural affinities and differences matter or not for a project largely depends on the project’s context. Simply speaking, national culture does not always matter. Consideration of culture beyond the national level to a sub-cultural level, such as employment and organization-type, often specifies when, how, and how much cultural affinities matter with cross-cultural urban planning cooperation projects. Ultimately, culture is a factor that needs to be more explicitly explored at a nuanced level and included in the design and management of collaborative urban planning projects. Further, culture should be a topic of conversation in promoting reflective practice and the goal of learning in development, such that cross-cultural exchange can be more enabling for urban development.