Tales from Two Cities is a decade-long documentary project, to be recorded entirely in localities within two of the world’s largest so-called ‘megaslums’: Orangi Town in Karachi and Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl (Neza) in Mexico City.
Inhabitants of these now well-established cities within cities are certainly challenged by vertiginous inequalities of power, health and wealth. But people here are also agents in networks of localised power, kinship and cultural expression, within fast-growing cities that have been shaped by vast movements of migrants or refugees. Many inhabitants challenge the label of ‘slum’ itself, often in practical ways that are proving transformative. And the ‘slum’ label increasingly ill-fits predominantly working-class cities that have developed political institutions and movements, distinctive cultural energies, and appetites for university education and economic development.
Yet, much of this change is hidden from view, partly because both Orangi and Neza are, by reputation, sites of overlapping global and regional conflicts: the ‘wars’ on terror and drugs.