Rethinking Southeast Asian Mega-Cities
Time & LocationSession 11
Fri 13:30–15:00 Room 1.101
Save This EventAdd to Calendar
- From a “Danger Zone” to a “Dead Zone”: The Politics of Space and “Relocatees” in Manila Tomonori Ishioka Nihon University
From a danger zone to a dead zone’: this is an idiom used by residents who live in relocation sites that are located in mountainous areas far from Manila in reference to their plight. Such residents are ‘relocatees’ who have arrived from squatter areas of urban centres. Since the commencement of the Aquino administration in 2010, gentrification has accelerated at the centre of Manila, and the urban poor living in designated ‘danger zone’ areas, namely, individuals who occupy public places such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps and riverbanks, have been faced with mass evictions. This seems to be a policy implemented to protect people from disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes; however, in reality, many of the targeted residents interpret it as a method to expel the urban poor from the city centre. They claim that relocation sites are a ‘dead zone’, namely, far more severe than a ‘danger zone’ because such sites have no employment prospects, inadequate social services and weak infrastructures. Furthermore, most importantly, residents have lost their accustomed lifestyles in the squatter settings and have been thrown into uprooted conditions (Bourdieu 2004). The following two issues are significant. First, household structure has been forcibly changed, and separate couple residences have resulted from forced migration. Husbands stay in Manila for work; wives and children live in the relocation areas. Second, relocation sites have no visitors. Previously, squatter areas, visitors in the form of brothers, sisters and friends from provinces would come to stay while seeking employment. These visitors participated in daily activities such as babysitting and shopping to maintain the routines of poor urban families. Such visitors no longer visit the relocation sites owing to the dearth of opportunities. This is evident from the fact that the average number of family members in squatter areas is seven, whereas the number in relocation sites is four. The habitus that the residents have embodied in the squatter areas holds no currency in the relocation sites. Subsequently, the site becomes a ‘dead zone’. This paper examines the politics of space from the perspective of ‘relocatees’ through an ethnographic inquiry.
- Informality at Crossroad? Dynamics Between Inclusion and Exclusion in Case of Bangkok Tamaki Endo Saitama University
With rapid economic development, Bangkok and BMR (Bangkok Mega Region) have become global hubs of finance, production and consumption, attracting the global investors and emerging upper class, but at the same time, exhibiting the continuous expansion of the informal economy and settlements. As the result, the city is showing multi-layered stratification, and inequality within Bangkok has been widening since 2010s. Adding to that, the recent private-led development is drastically changing city’s landscape and therefore accelerating this phenomenon.
This paper will analyze the recent complex dynamics of exclusion and inclusion of ‘informality’ of the city. From the perspective of the urban lower class, urban informality –either in terms of occupations or residences- provide multiple functions such as absorbing the shocks from urban risks (Endo and Shibuya 2019), enable flexible adjustments for their needs in the survival of urban life, opportunities for social mobility and upgrading and so on (Endo 2014). Due to the fact that majority of labour force in Thailand is still in the informal employment, there has been policy shift to expand social security coverage, especially for the self-employed. It can be said that these are the attempts to include informal economy workers into the formal mechanisms. However, if we look at actual urban governance and urban redevelopment projects led by private sectors, the spaces for informality are rapidly eroded and sometime forcedly pushed out by evicting vendors, fresh markets and slum communities. Middle class join the discourse of ‘protecting modern beautiful city’ through SNS and support this harsh attitude towards urban informality.
The urban economy can not be sustained without labour of lower class and they are surely one of the contributors for macro economy. However, ‘informality’ which has been the source of alternative mechanism for their survival, because of the lack of formal institutional supports, is now under threat. This might cause the destructions of social networks, limitation of the resource allocations for lower class and therefore create another social conflicts among social classes. Finding balance between interests of multiple actors in urban redevelopment and governance will be key for better well-being of residents and make city livable.
- Reconfiguring Urban Development: Activating Alternatives in a Philippine Market Trade B. Lynne Milgram Ontario College of Art and Design University
With growing Global South urbanization governments are revamping urban renewal by privileging large-scale projects and face lifting so-called problematic areas such as informally-spacialized street and public market trades (Brenner, Marcuse, Mayer 2012). This agenda is evident in the northern Philippines where in 2016 the Benguet provincial government attempted to unilaterally move vegetable traders from the region’s key wholesale market – the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post (LTVTP) – to its new mega-facility, the Benguet Agri Pinoy Tading Center (BAPTC). This move would have disenfranchised a range of suppliers’ “informally-fashioned” produce sourcing integral to ensuring LTVTP wholesalers’ commodity flows. Rather than imposing a hegemonic vision of appropriate “cityness,” Robinson (2006) suggests an “ordinary city” perspective that enables space for urban diversity – a local “reterritorialization” that best meets urbanites subsistence needs across sectors.
This paper engages this issue by analyzing the edgy side roads LTVTP marketers used to defeat the government’s market relocation efforts. I argue that marketers combine “advocacy” (petitions) and “everyday” politics (occupying public space) (Kerkvliet 2009) to sustain the personalized and sometimes extralegal practices that secure their livelihoods while contributing to the city’s economy. To promote their cause, LTVTP marketers launched civil law suits and appeals, obtained Restraining Orders and operationalized their supplier networks across “gray spaces” of trade (Yiftachel 2012). That Benguet officials sanctioned the simultaneous operation of both wholesale vegetable markets in 2018 highlights government complicity in formalizing informality and extralegality as urban organizing logics when it is to their advantage (Roy 2005). LTVTP marketers’ advocacy thus materializes how civic engagement can be effectively negotiated when competing ideologies clash over livelihood rights and how to structure a inclusive urban texture.
- Urban Informalities and the Politics of Space in Southeast Asian Mega-Cities Sandra Kurfürst University of Cologne
Although highly contested and often criticized for its indistinct analytical value, urban informalities are still existent, both in theory and in practice. Since the benchmark publication of Ananya Roy and Al Sayyad (2004) research on urban informalities has flourished. Many of those works consider informality as an idiom of planning (Roy 2009), encroachment of the ordinary (Bayad 2004) or a way of knowing the city (McFarlane 2012). However, while there seems to be at least some agreement on what informality is, the urban as an object of study has become highly questioned as the urban fabric expands onto the whole planet (Brenner 2013). This paper sets out to discuss some pertinent ideas on what the city constitutes, while highlighting the idiosyncrasies of Southeast Asian urbanism. It does so by focusing on the politics of space in Mainland Southeast Asia with a special focus on Hanoi.
With rapid economic growth, many mega cities in Asia have become global hubs of finance, production and consumption. They also serve as leading centers of economic growth in the world and show interconnected dynamics with strong economic and social networks among these cities. These cities are experiencing ‘compressed development’ of economy and society resulting in multi-layered stratification. Under such circumstances, the mega-cities of Southeast Asia face complex challenges and rapid change that municipalities, national governments, civil society and urbanites have to deal with.
The 21st century has been termed the “Asian urban century” with half of the urban world population living in Asia (UN-Habitat 2012: 28). Roy (2014: 14) comprehends the Asian urban century as the “historical conjuncture”, at which the urban becomes a matter of government. Urbanism then is “produced through the practice of statecraft and the apparatus of planning” (Roy 2014: 14).
Against this backdrop we would like to rethink Southeast Asian mega-cities from a geographical comparative and interdisciplinary perspective. The urbanization of Southeast Asia was led by dynamics of interconnected cross-border investment and economic activities, sociopolitical and cultural changes. We look for idiosyncrasies and commonalities across cities. We invite papers comprising empirical case studies and theoretical reflections on Southeast Asian mega-cities from the social sciences, such as economics, political science, sociology, and area studies.