EARCAG Conference Session, Dec 2016: Speculative Urbanisation and Resistant Politics in East Asia

Session Organiser:

  • Laam Hae (York University, Canada)
  • Hyun Bang Shin (London School of Economics and Political Science, UK)

Please reach the organiser at lhae@yorku.ca or h.b.shin@lse.ac.uk if you are interested to present in this session.


In the Western literature, post-industrialisation and global financialisation are identified as a main driver of the rise of property-based urban accumulation, resulting in speculation in the real estate sector. However, in East Asia, land and housing have been subject to rampant speculation during the last three decades of urbanisation and city-making, and not necessarily a result of post-industrialisation, although the region’s declining profitability of manufacturing industries would have contributed to the further rise of real estate speculation that guaranteed high returns on ‘investment’ (Haila, 1999, 2000; Shin; 2016; Shin and Kim, 2016). While East Asian real estate speculation can be understood broadly as social, economic and spatial manifestation of developmental urbanisation, it is also important to acknowledge unevenness in the ways in which such speculation has taken place among different countries in the region. That is, speculation over the urban built environment has been an embedded process in each country, moored in contexts and histories of local politics, economies and societies and expressed in locally specific ways.

In this regard, this session aims to bring together papers that can engage with the following (and other related) questions.

  • How has speculative urbanisation been unfolding in East Asian cities in locally specific ways?
  • What does speculative urbanisation signify in the changing political economy and emerging (re)formations of social structure including class, gender/race relations in each country?
  • How is the process of real estate speculation fraught with dispossession of people’s rights and displacement of the un/propertied?
  • In what ways have various mechanisms of social reproduction been shaped by the unfolding speculation?

We particularly welcome papers that discuss the transformative potential of various resistant politics that have emerged against speculative urbanisation in East Asia.

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