Tokyo 2020 and COVID19

I have come across with this news today, which reports on the IOC’s consideration of postponing the Tokyo 2020. Such spectacles as Olympic Games entail a sense of ‘state of emergency’, leading to the suspension of normal planing processes and diversion of investment in necessary social and physical infrastructure for the poor and the marginalised. On this particular occasion, the Olympic spectacle is giving in to another ‘state of emergency’, that is, the COVID19 pandemic, which also produces disproportionate impacts on the populations, disadvantaging the poor and the marginalised. Each ‘state of emergency’ seems to reveal the contradictions of our society in a different way.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/international-olympic-committee-considers-postponing-tokyo-games-11584904096?fbclid=IwAR1aUtxSQqpOQNVNuN9HPF3CkuKcefeX-WXgKevZrjvaWg-kD4z41XhtdBU

Panoramic view of the Tokyo Olympic Games main stadium under renovation (Photograph by Hyun Bang Shin, March 2019)

COVID19 and Changes to Teaching Provision

LSE is one of the first universities in the UK to deliver the rest of teaching online as part of its effort to tackle the COVID19 pandemic situation, and also to switch summer term written exams into online assessments. All public events are also to be cancelled or postponed. My department is to enact this from Monday 16 March, after which all teaching will be using online resources. Students and staff are all naturally anxious and many things remain uncertain as to how the remaining academic year is turning out to be. Several students from abroad have already told me about their plans to return to their home countries and join their families.

Last Friday, on the last day of delivering teaching in person, I was able to meet most of my students in the MSc programme I directed and in the PG courses I taught, having had a chance to explain what’s going to happen and how it’s going to happen.

A few things I highlighted were that: (1) this is not the end of their programme and learning experiences; (2) staff including myself are here to support them; (3) staff and students are all new to this uncharted territory and all of us are worried about the pandemic situation, so let us acknowledge that there would inevitably be many glitches along the way as we try new systems; (4) it would be important for us to act with courtesy when we approach each other.

I have also emphasised the duty of care, that is, the need of looking after their own selves as well as other people within their social network, especially those physically, socially, economically and politically more vulnerable during the times of crisis. For any dissertation-related field research, I have encouraged students to reconsider the scope, scale and nature of their dissertation research, and actively think about research ethics, especially the duty of care for research participants while they look out for their own health and safety.

No matter how much the university tries, the learning experiences are never going to be the same for students, and the teaching experiences are also going to be different for staff members. But, with some sense of solidarity and care, I do hope that we survive this and create teaching and learning experiences that are positively different from the normal times, and that we’d reflect upon this moment at a later date with laughter and celebration.

At the end of the talks with MSc programme students, in particular, we took programme cohort photographs, and I appreciated their high spirits and the kind words many shared with me. Here, I share some of the photos. I look forward to seeing them again and especially in the December graduation celebration.

MSc in Urbanisation and Development, 2019-2020 Class

Forthcoming book, Neoliberal Urbanism, Contested Cities and Housing in Asia (Palgrave Macmillan)

Chen, Y.-L. and Shin, H.B. (eds.) (in press) Neoliberal Urbanism, Contested Cities and Housing in Asia. Palgrave Macmillan

Above is an edited volume that I have been working on as co-editor is now at the production stage, scheduled to appear in July 2019. The other co-editor is Dr Yi-Ling Chen at the University of Wyoming. Below is a summary outline of the book as displayed on the publisher’s web site:

Considering Asian cities ranging from Taipei, Hong Kong and Bangkok to Hanoi, Nanjing and Seoul, this collection discusses the socio-political processes of how neoliberalization entwines with local political economies and legacies of ‘developmental’ or ‘socialist’ statism to produce urban contestations centered on housing. The book takes housing as a key entry point, given its prime position in the making of social and economic policies as well as the political legitimacy of Asian states. It examines urban policies related to housing in Asian economies in order to explore their continuing alterations and mutations, as they come into conflict and coalesce with neoliberal policies. In discussing the experience of each city, it takes into consideration the variegated relations between the state, the market and the society, and explores how the global pressure of neoliberalization has manifested in each country and has influenced the shaping of national housing questions.

The book includes nine chapters in total, covering Taipei, Ho Chi Minh City, Nanjing, Bangkok, Seoul and Hong Kong. The table of contents is as follows:


Chapter 1. Centering Housing Questions in Asian Cities (Yi-Ling Chen, The University of Wyoming; Hyun Bang Shin, London School of Economics and Political Science)

Chapter 2. ‘Re-occupying the State’: Social Housing Movement and the Transformation of Housing Policies in Taiwan (Yi-Ling Chen, The University of Wyoming)

Chapter 3. Displacement by Neoliberalism: Addressing the Housing Crisis of Hong Kong in the Restructuring Pearl River Delta Region (Shu-Mei Huang, National Taiwan University)

Chapter 4. When Neoliberalization meets Clientelism: Housing Policies for Low- and Middle-Income Housing in Bangkok (Thammarat Marohabutr, Mahidol University)

Chapter 5. Neoliberal Urbanism Meets Socialist Modernism: Vietnam’s Post Reform Housing Policies and the New Urban Zones of Hanoi (Hoai Anh Tran, Malmö University; Ngai-Ming Yip, City University of Hong Kong)

Chapter 6. Beyond Property Rights and Displacement: China’s Neoliberal Transformation and Housing Inequalities (Zhao Zhang, Zhejiang University of Technology)

Chapter 7. Development and Inequality in Urban China: The Privatization of Homeownership and the Transformation of Everyday Practice (Sarah Tynen, University of Colorado Boulder)

Chapter 8. Weaving the Common in the Financialized City: A Case of Urban Cohousing Experience in South Korea (Didi K. Han, London School of Economics and Political Science)

Chapter 9. Contesting Property Hegemony in Asian Cities (Hyun Bang Shin, London School of Economics and Political Science)


As is expressed in the book’s collective acknowledgments, the book has become “a product of an enduring process, involving negotiations with academic and family responsibilities that have spanned across three continents.” I am glad to see it coming to its material presence. Many thanks are owed to all the chapter contributors and other colleagues who provided insights and inspirations.

LSE-Southeast Asia Early Career Researchers Network Symposium

Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre is organising its first ever #ECR networking event to take place on 13th February at LSE. Please see the event description in the image below. This is an exciting opportunity to meet ECRs working on Southeast Asia. If you cannot attend but want to be added to the networ list, please send your message to seac.admin@lse.ac.uk, introducing who you are and what you currently do.

[New book] Developmentalist Cities? Interrogating Urban Developmentalism in East Asia, edited by Jamie Doucette and Bae-Gyoon Park

Colleagues and students interested in understanding the ‘developmentalist’ interpretation of urbanisation in East Asia would be delighted to see the this new volume, Developmentalist Cities? Interrogating Urban Developmentalism in East Asia, edited by Jamie Doucette (University of Manchester) and Bae-Gyoon Park (Seoul National University), published by Brill in November 2018.

I am pleased to receive an author copy of this new book just now, and look forward to browsing many interesting chapters in the volume. Many thanks to Jamie and Bae-Gyoon for kindly republishing my Urban Studies paper (co-authored with Soo-hyun Kim, now in the President’s Office in South Korea) in their volume, which in this volume is titled “The Developmental State, Speculative Urbanization and the Politics of Displacement in Gentrifying Seoul” (pp. 245-270). The original Urban Studies paper version can be found here.

Below is the brief description of the book as explained on the publisher’s web site for your information:

Developmentalist Cities addresses the missing urbanstory in research on East Asian developmentalism and the missing developmentalist story in studies of East Asian urbanization. It does so by promoting inter-disciplinary research into the subject of urban developmentalism: a term that editors Jamie Doucette and Bae-Gyoon Park use to highlight the particular nature of the urban as a site of and for developmentalist intervention. The contributors to this volume deepen this concept by examining the legacy of how Cold War and post-Cold War geopolitical economy, spaces of exception (from special zones to industrial districts), and diverse forms of expertise have helped produce urban space in East Asia. 

https://brill.com/view/title/34395

Social Justice and the City – the latest issue of the Annals AAG

The latest issue of the Annals of the American Association of Geographers is a collection of papers addressing the theme of “Social Justice and the City”. It has a wonderful set of contributions that have global coverage, including cases that range from Singapore, Hong Kong and Seoul, Bucharest to London, St.Louis, Chicago and Esmeraldas in Ecuador. Altogether, 26 papers, including my own (see below), are included in this special issue, addressing those themes that require urgent attention by critical scholars. Following is an excerpt from the editorial introduction led by Nik Heynen who was instrumental to the production of this special issue:

Myriad questions related to social justice have shaped urban geographic scholarship, among which two things remain clear: geographers maintain fidelity to the idea that the discipline should keep working to understand unjust processes within urban life and simultaneously seek solutions to make cities more just. Beyond this, few geographers today would come to the same set of defining characteristics of what a just city would look like, or agree on the right questions to ask toward its realization. What the concept of social justice lacks in terms of facilitating intellectual and political consensus, it makes up for in centering heterodox efforts at generating relevant theory and practice that can change the social circumstances of people living in cities, regardless of how these terms are defined.

It is out of these enduring commitments, demands, and possibilities that the theme of this special issue emerged: Social Justice and the City.

It is my pleasure to have made a contribution to this issue, which is entitled “Urban Movements and the Genealogy of Urban Rights Discourses: The Case of Urban Protesters against Redevelopment and Displacement in Seoul, South Korea”. It traces the evolution of the urban rights discourses in Seoul, situating them in the rich history of South Korea’s urban social movements and democratisation, and appreciates the contributions made by the alliance of urban displacees and social movement groups in the midst of fighting speculative urbanisation. Up to 50 copies can be downloaded by clicking this link*: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/8bhBgem76MQecpe3KbQC/full

Below is an abstract of my own paper for your information:

Despite significant contributions made to progressive urban politics, contemporary debates on cities and social justice are in need of adequately capturing the local historical and sociopolitical processes of how people have come to perceive the concept of rights in their struggles against the hegemonic establishments. These limitations act as constraints on overcoming hegemony imposed by the ruling class on subordinate classes and restrict a contextual understanding of such concepts as the right to the city in non-Western contexts, undermining the potential to produce locally tuned alternative strategies to build progressive and just cities. In this regard, this article discusses the evolving nature of urban rights discourses that were produced by urban protesters fighting redevelopment and displacement, paying particular attention to the experiences in Seoul that epitomized speculative urban accumulation under the (neoliberalizing) developmental state. Method-wise, the article makes use of archival records (protesters’ pamphlets and newsletters), photographs, and field research archives. The data are supplemented by the author’s in-depth interviews with former and current housing activists. The article argues that the urban poor have the capacity to challenge the state repression and hegemony of the ruling class ideology; that the urban movements such as the evictees’ struggles against redevelopment are to be placed in the broader contexts of social movements; that concepts such as the right to the city are to be understood against the rich history of place-specific evolution of urban rights discourses; and that cross-class alliance is key to sustaining urban movements.

Figure 3. Protesters in 1991 demanding the right to housing, Seoul. Source: The Kyunghyang Shinmun (Park, Yong-Su), provided by the Korea Democracy Foundation (http://archives.kdemo.or.kr/)

<작은것이 아름답다> 2017년 12월호 기고글: “어떻게 덜 소유하고 함께 정주할 것인가”. A new essay entitled “Owning less and sharing together to co-habit”

I was invited to contribute an essay to a monthly magazine in South Korea, as part of its theme on ‘apartment forest 1980-2017’, which was to reflect on the urban forms resulted from Korea’s condensed urbanisation and vertical urbanism/accumulation (for vertical accumulation, see my own essay here). The essay was entitled “Owning less and sharing together to co-habit“.

<작은것이 아름답다> 255호 특집 [아파트숲 보고서 1980-2017] (http://jaga.or.kr/?p=10612&ckattempt=1) 에 기고했던 “어떻게 덜 소유하고 함께 정주할 것인가”를 공유합니다. @jaga_green@PRESSIAN_news가 기사공유를 하고 있어서 덕분에 기고문 원문을 나눌 수 있게 되었네요. 프레시안에서 편집하면서 원제목을 부제로 바꾸었습니다.

http://www.pressian.com/news/article.html?no=180427 

세상에 ‘좋은 젠트리피케이션’은 없다

우리 사회는 철저하게 소유자 중심 사회다. 도시 주거공간의 변화가 오로지 소유자 이익을 위해 일방통행으로 이뤄지는 탓에 주민들의 오랜 정주성이 파괴된다. 도시 공간 변화가 사회구성원의 평화롭고 평등한 공존을 애초 어렵게 만든다. 어떻게 공존의 가치를 앞세우고 덜 소유하며 함께 정주할 것인가. 정주성을 빼앗는 소유자 중심 일방통행 최근 빈민지역운…

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New article: Urban Movements and the Genealogy of Urban Rights Discourses in South Korea

My article on the genealogy of urban rights discourses in Korea has finally been published by the Annals of the American Association of Geographers. This has been a product of what I have been working on in recent years, especially between 2011 and 2015, and aims to interpret the long history of urban movements in Korea against the back drop of the political economy of speculative urbanisation.

도시운동과 도시 권리 담론의 역사를 다룬 새 논문이 미국지리학회지에서 출간되었습니다. 2011-2015년 사이 한국을 다니며 수행했던 인터뷰와 문헌조사 등을 토대로 투기적 도시화의 정치경제학 측면에서 한국 도시운동의 역사를 분석하고 앞으로의 방향을 모색해보고자 했습니다.

Shin, Hyun Bang (2017): Urban Movements and the Genealogy of Urban Rights Discourses: The Case of Urban Protesters against Redevelopment and Displacement in Seoul, South Korea, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2017.1392844
http://www.tandfonline.com/…/…/10.1080/24694452.2017.1392844

Abstract:

Despite significant contributions made to progressive urban politics, contemporary debates on cities and social justice are in need of adequately capturing the local historical and sociopolitical processes of how people have come to perceive the concept of rights in their struggles against the hegemonic establishments. These limitations act as constraints on overcoming hegemony imposed by the ruling class on subordinate classes and restrict a contextual understanding of such concepts as the right to the city in non-Western contexts, undermining the potential to produce locally tuned alternative strategies to build progressive and just cities. In this regard, this article discusses the evolving nature of urban rights discourses that were produced by urban protesters fighting redevelopment and displacement, paying particular attention to the experiences in Seoul that epitomized speculative urban accumulation under the (neoliberalizing) developmental state. Method-wise, the article makes use of archival records (protesters’ pamphlets and newsletters), photographs, and field research archives. The data are supplemented by the author’s in-depth interviews with former and current housing activists. The article argues that the urban poor have the capacity to challenge the state repression and hegemony of the ruling class ideology; that the urban movements such as the evictees’ struggles against redevelopment are to be placed in the broader contexts of social movements; that concepts such as the right to the city are to be understood against the rich history of place-specific evolution of urban rights discourses; and that cross-class alliance is key to sustaining urban movements.

尽管当代有关城市与社会正义的辩论, 已对激进的城市政治做出显着的贡献, 但仍需充份捕捉人们在与霸权形构的斗争中, 如何理解权益的概念之在地历史与社会过程。这些限制, 成为克服统治阶级对从属阶级施加的霸权之限囿, 并限缩了对非西方城市脉络中的城市权概念的脉络性理解, 且有损生产建立激进与正义城市的在地化另类策略之潜能。因此, 本文探讨由对抗再发展和迫迁的城市抗争者转变中的城市权论述, 并特别关注首尔——一个象徵着在 (新自由主义化的) 发展形国家中的投机性城市积累之地。研究方法上, 本文运用档案纪录 (抗争者的宣传手册和通讯) 、照片与田野研究档案。这些数据, 由作者对于先前与当下的居住倡议者所进行的深度访谈补充之。本文主张, 城市中的穷人, 具有挑战国家压迫和统治阶级意识形态霸权的能力; 诸如被驱逐者反抗再发展的斗争之城市运动, 必须被置放在更广泛的社会运动脉络中; 诸如城市权的概念, 必须相对于城市权论述在特定地方的丰富演变历史进行理解; 跨阶级的结盟, 则是维系城市运动的关键。

Pese a las contribuciones significativas que se aportan a la política urbana progresista, los debates contemporáneos sobre las ciudades y la justicia social claman porque se involucren también los procesos locales históricos y sociopolíticos acerca de cómo ha llegado la gente a percibir el concepto de los derechos en su lucha contra los establecimientos hegemónicos. Estas limitaciones actúan como obstáculos para vencer la hegemonía impuesta por la clase dominantes sobre las subordinadas, y restringen un entendimiento contextual de conceptos como el del derecho a la ciudad en contextos no occidentales, debilitando el potencial de producir estrategias alternativas localmente afinadas para construir ciudades progresistas y justas. A este respecto, este artículo discute la naturaleza evolutiva de los discursos sobre derechos urbanos que se originaron desde acciones de manifestantes urbanos contra el redesarrollo y el desplazamiento, prestando particular atención a las experiencias de Seúl que encarnaron la acumulación especulativa urbana bajo un estado desarrollista (neoliberalizador). En términos de método, el artículo hace uso de registros de archivo (panfletos de los manifestantes y boletines informativos), fotografías y archivos de investigación de campo. Esos datos fueron suplementados con entrevistas a profundidad del autor con activistas enfrentados al problema de vivienda, anteriores y actuales. El artículo arguye que los pobres urbanos están en capacidad de desafiar la represión estatal y la hegemonía ideológica de la clase dominante; que movimientos urbanos tales como las luchas de los desahuciados contra el redesarrollo deben ser ubicados dentro del más amplio contexto de los movimientos sociales; que conceptos por el estilo del derecho a la ciudad deben entenderse contra la rica historia de la evolución específicamente relacionada con lugar en los discursos sobe derechos urbanos; y que la alianza entre clases es clave para mantener los movimientos urbanos.

Key Words: displacementrights discoursesSeoulurban movementsurban protests

关键词:: 迫迁, 权益论述, 首尔, 城市运动, 城市抗议。

Palabras clave: desplazamiento, discursos sobre derechos, Seúl, movimientos urbanos, protestas urbanas

Eminent Scholar at KyungHee University, Seoul

I’ve been nominated as Eminent Scholar by KyungHee University in recognition of my research, and will be visiting Seoul and the university a couple of times this year, once between 20 August and 9 September, and again between 11 October and mid-November. I look forward to many fruitful discussions about Korea/Asia’s speculative urbanisation, gentrification, the right to the city, and social justice, and to imagining alternative urbanism collectively.

앞으로 일 년 동안 (2017년 5월 – 2018년 4월) 경희대학교 석학 초빙제도를 통해 Eminent Scholar로서 활동합니다. 이를 위해 8월 20일부터 9월 9일까지, 그리고 10월 11일경부터 11월 중순까지 두 차례에 걸쳐 경희대학교를 방문, 공동연구와 대학원 강의 등을 수행할 예정입니다. 이 기회에 한국/아시아에서의 투기적 도시화, 젠트리피케이션, 도시권, 사회정의 등에 대해 많은 분들과 논의하고 대안적 도시에 대한 상상을 함께 할 수 있기를 기대합니다.

관련기사: “도시재생 분야 석학 신현방 교수 초빙” http://www.khu.ac.kr/life/newsView.do?newsId=