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.

Publication of a journal special issue on Locating Gentrification in the Global East

USJ-53-3-2016I am delighted to see the publication of the following special issue on Locating Gentrification in the Global East from Urban Studies as Volume 53, Issue 3. You may find the table of contents and all the papers on this page: http://usj.sagepub.com/content/53/3.toc (also see below). The abstract for the guest editors’ introduction provides some key thoughts behind this special issue:
This special issue, a collection of papers presented and debated at an Urban Studies Foundation-funded workshop on Global Gentrification in London in 2012, attempts to problematise contemporary understandings of gentrification, which is all too often confined to the experiences of the so-called Global North, and sometimes too narrowly understood as classic gentrification. Instead of simply confirming the rise of gentrification in places outside of the usual suspects of North America and Western Europe, a more open-minded approach is advocated so as not to over-generalise distinctive urban processes under the label of gentrification, thus understanding gentrification as constitutive of diverse urban processes at work. This requires a careful attention to the complexity of property rights and tenure relations, and calls for a dialogue between gentrification and non-gentrification researchers to understand how gentrification communicates with other theories to capture the full dynamics of urban transformation. Papers in this special issue have made great strides towards these goals, namely theorising, distorting, mutating and bringing into question the concept of gentrification itself, as seen from the perspective of the Global East, a label that we have deliberately given in order to problematise the existing common practices of grouping all regions other than Western European and North American ones into the Global South.
This project has been a long and persistent endeavour, and it is the greatest pleasure for me, Loretta and Ernesto as guest editors to be able to see the project coming to fruition. All the contributions are empirically rich and theoretically insightful. It is the belief of the guest editors that this special issue would make a substantial contribution to the contemporary debates on gentrification and urbanisation as well as broader discussions in (comparative) urban studies and urban geography of Asia and the Global South.
The publication of this special issue coincides nicely with another book, Planetary Gentrification, which has just been released from Polity Press (http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9780745671642). The book coauthored by the guest editors builds upon a wide range of contemporary literature on urban processes in both the Global South and North. What we learnt from the contributions to this special issue have greatly enriched our arguments in this book.

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