New publication: “The developmental state, speculative urbanisation and the politics of displacement in gentrifying Seoul”

The paper that I’ve been working on for a while with another colleague Professor Soo-Hyun Kim (Sejong University; now the Director of the Seoul Institute) is out now, published by the Urban Studies journal as an online first version. This is part of the forthcoming special issue on Locating Gentrification in East Asia, co-edited by myself, Loretta Lees and Ernesto López-Morales. Its full bibliography details for citing are as follows:

Shin, H.B. and Kim, S-H. (2015) The developmental state, speculative urbanisation and the politics of displacement in gentrifying SeoulUrban Studies doi: 10.1177/0042098014565745

It adopts a broader definition of gentrification as an urban process of commodifying urban space that results in displacement of original inhabitants (hence not just owners but also users), and argues that contrary to the notion of gentrification travelling from the West to the East or from the global South to the global North, gentrification as a process of class-led socio-spatial restructuring is essentially an endogenous process that helps rewrite the landscape in Seoul to address the needs of speculative accumulation by the Korean developmental state. I attach its abstract below, with some of the images that are included in the paper.

Abstract:
What does gentrification mean under speculative urbanisation led by a strong developmental state? This paper analyses the contemporary history of Seoul’s urban redevelopment, arguing that new-build gentrification is an endogenous process embedded in Korea’s highly speculative urban development processes from the 1980s. Property owners, construction firms and local/central governments coalesce, facilitating the extraction of exchange value by closing the rent gap. Displacement of poorer owner-occupiers and tenants was requisite for the success of speculative accumulation. Furthermore, the paper also contends that Korea’s speculative urbanisation under the strong developmental (and later (neo-)liberalising) state has rendered popular resistance to displacement ineffective despite its initial success in securing state concessions. Examining the experience of Seoul in times of condensed industrialisation and speculative urbanisation helps inform the existing literature on gentrification by resorting to non-Western empirics.

Figure 2. Ogsu neighbourhood before and after redevelopment (project period: November 1984 - October 1990). Source: Photographs provided through the courtesy of The Seoul Institute.

Figure 2. Ogsu neighbourhood before and after redevelopment (project period: November 1984 – October 1990). Source: Photographs provided through the courtesy of The Seoul Institute.

Figure 4. Locations of areas designated for redevelopment in Seoul. Source: Map adopted from Bureau of Housing (2008) and adjusted

Figure 4. Locations of areas designated for redevelopment in Seoul. Source: Map adopted from Bureau of Housing (2008) and adjusted

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“Speculative Urbanisation in Asia”, an LSE-PKU Summer School course

The London School of Economics runs a summer school programme annually in Beijing in collaboration with Peking University. There will be altogether 15 courses provided for the 2015 session, including Speculative Urbanisation in Asia (course code GY201). This is an urban geography course of mine, an updated version of Urban Asia and China taught in the 2014 session.

Applications for the 2015 LSE-PKU Summer School in Beijing, China, will open in early January 2015. Early applications are recommended. For more details on application procedure and details of fees, accommodations and entry requirements, please visit the official web page of the LSE-PKU Summer School here.

Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any enquiries about the course itself. Below is the summary of the course descriptions and a list of topics covered.

Course Outline

The course explores the contemporary dynamics of urbanisation in Asia, with special emphasis on cities in China and other East and Southeast Asian economies, which share theexperiences of rapid urban development with strong state intervention in speculative city- (re)making and economic development. The course will benefit from the geographical advantage of taking place in Beijing and make use a number of China case studies to examine the differences as well as similarities of urban development between Chinese and other Asian cities.

Applying interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives, the course encourages students to develop critical knowledge and comparative understanding of how urban space is transformed in different social, economic and political settings, and what socio-spatial implications are made in a differentiated way upon local populations. Throughout the course, we ask whether the concepts and theories born out of the (post-)industrial Western urban experiences can be applicable to the understanding of urban Asia. We also ask what are the challenges that cities in East and Southeast Asia face, given its current development trajectory. We do this by examining a set of carefully selected themes that address (a) the integration of Asian cities with the global economy, (2) the distinctive characteristics of Asia’s urban development, and (3) the place-specificities of state intervention in forming urban growth strategies.

Course Contents

Day 1. Introduction: Planetary Urbanisation and Asian Cities
Day 2. Speculative Urbanisation and the East Asian States
Day 3. Urban Change in (Post-)Socialist China: Dialectics of Decentralisation and the Path
Dependency of Economic and Social Reform
Day 4. (Re-)making Cities in East Asia: Speculative Urbanisation and Growth Politics
Day 5. Land and Housing Development in China: ‘Nation of Chai’ (Demolition), Sub-urban
Development and Informality
Day 6. Olympic Cities: Event-led Urban Development and Politics of Spectacles
Day 7. Heritage and Urban Development (inc. Field trip to central Beijing)
Day 8. Gentrifying Asia: Global Gentrifications and Politics of Displacement
Day 9. Contesting Cities: The Right to the City and the Critique of Property-rights Activism
Day 10. Indebted Citizens: Economic Crisis and Work/Social Inequalities

LPS-GY201-2014 (1)

Part of the university campus where Peking University students carry out their daily life

LPS-GY201-2014 (2)

Weiming Lake (or Unnamed Lake in English) in Peking University campus

LPS-GY201-2014 (3)

Field trip in central Beijing (Drum and Bell Tower area) as part of the course activities in 2014

LPS-GY201-2014 (4)

One of many university canteens in Peking University

LPS-GY201-2014 (5)

Group photo session for the 2014 LSE-PKU Summer School students

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Latest issue of the CITY journal, Volume 18, Issue 4-5 out now

ccit20.v018.i04-05.coverThe latest issue of the CITY journal is now available, and all the papers in this issue is free to download! I am pleased to find my own picture (depicting the two main slogans of Shanghai World Expo 2010) included as cover image of this issue.

In this issue, there are two special features, one on The Production of Shared Space in Northern Ireland and another on Crisis-scape: Athens and Beyond. The latter is a collection of papers originally presented at a conference with the same title, which took place in May 2014. My own paper Contesting Speculative Urbanisation and Strategising Discontents is also included in this special feature, along with Tom Slater’s passionate piece on Unravelling False Choice Urbanism. Also recommended are the pieces by Stavros Stavrides on Emerging Common Space as a Challenge to the City of Crisis, and by Nasser Abourahme who wrote his own reflection on the crisis-scape.net’s recent documentary Future Suspended.

  • Click here to watch the documentary Future Suspended. This made me think again what has happened in South Korea at the time of the 1997-1998 Asian Financial Crisis. I should revisit the experience and produce my own account sometime…

The editorial piece by the journal’s editor-in-chief Bob Catterall, has wonderfully captured the essence of own paper, and made a perceptive connection with the key features covered in this issue. See here for the editorial piece, “Editorial: ‘City makes your life happier’?“. Continue reading

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New publication: Contesting speculative urbanisation and strategising discontents

In my earlier post, I have mentioned a crisis-scape.net conference in Athens that I am attending soon. As part of this, I’ve written a chapter for a book that is published as a conference proceeding. Attached below is the direct link to my chapter’s online version (images to follow are the ones inserted in my own chapter):

http://crisis-scape.net/conference/item/186-contesting-speculative-urbanisation-and-strategising-discontents

The full conference proceeding can be freely downloaded from this link: : http://crisis-scape.net/resources/conference-publication

The proceeding includes a number of writings by key critics including David Harvey, Andy Merrifield, Tom Slater and Stavros Stavrides. For those of you interested in urban crisis in Greece, there are many interesting chapters in the book, written by those who study in/on Greece.

Update: A slightly revised version of this paper is now published from the CITY journal, and can be fully downloaded freely from the link below. Please use this journal version for any citation.

Shin, H.B. (2014) Contesting speculative urbanisation and strategising discontents. City 18(4-5): 509-516

 

Flattened former rural village in Guangzhou (Photograph by Hyun Bang Shin, 2010)

Flattened former rural village in Guangzhou (Photograph by Hyun Bang Shin, 2010)

 

 

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[Conference] Crisis-scapes: Athens and beyond, Athens, 9-10 May 2014

Upon kind invitation from the crisis-scape research team based in Athens, Greece, I am giving a paper in this exciting event to be held between 9 and 10 May 2014. Many thanks to Antonis Vradis in particular for making things really smooth and enjoyable. The team has put together an excellent line-up of speakers, which can be found out on the conference site.

click on the image to go to the conference site

click on the image to go to the conference site

My session is in Panel 4 on the second day with the session title of “The Right to the City in Crisis”. My paper on the right to the city in China is to appear shortly on the conference site. It builds upon my earlier paper from Antipode, The Right to the City and Critical Reflections on China’s Property Rights Activism (click here) and my short essay on China’s speculative urbanism.

The organisers also video-recorded all the talks and put these online, which can be found here.

Below is my own talk, lasting a little less than 20 minutes.

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China Policy Institute Blog » China’s Speculative Urbanism and the Built Environment

The following is an invited contribution to the China Policy Institute Blog (thanks to Jonathan Sullivan for the invitation and editorial support). The theme of the blog at the time of the invitation was ‘environment’, and to me, this cannot be detached from the issue of China’s speculative urbanism that has been sweeping the country for years.

  • Updated on 12 October 2014: A related piece is published in the CITY journal in September 2014. It is entitled Contesting Speculative Urbanisation and Strategising Discontents. Click here to read the paper. Related blog post can be found here.

China Policy Institute Blog » China’s Speculative Urbanism and the Built Environment

Published on 24 April 2013

Critics have been speculating since the 1990s that China had already entered an ‘urban age,’ with a large number of migrants unaccounted for in the national census. But it was not until 2011 when the majority of the country’s national population were to be found, officially, in urban areas for the first time in history. From the viewpoint of the built environment, China’s urbanisation has entailed a massive accumulation of the country’s fixed assets through investments in infrastructure, facilities and real estate properties. Key cities have led the way. For instance, in the case of Beijing, the city’s share of total fixed asset investment in its gross regional product was more than 40 per cent for much of the 2000s. More than half of Beijing’s fixed asset investment during this period went into the real estate sector. Such a mode of urban accumulation plays out in a geographically uneven way. In comparison with Beijing, the share of Tianjin’s total fixed asset investment in its gross regional product was more than 50 per cent in 2008, and rapidly rose to 71 per cent in 2010, but the city’s investment in the real estate sector remained around 20 per cent or less during the first eight years of the 2000s. Continue reading

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