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Planning privatopolis : Urban integrated megaprojects and the transformation of Asian cities

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Planning privatopolis : Urban integrated megaprojects and the transformation of Asian cities


, ville nouvelle, privatisation, projet urbain, aménagement urbain, ségrégation urbaine, politique urbaine, espace urbain, gouvernance, Shatkin Gavin, Asie, Asia


Organisers' description :
The past two decades have witnessed the emergence throughout Asia of the idea that, through the development of large scale, controlled urban environments master planned and managed on a commercial basis by private developers, cities can transcend their congestion and poverty and enhance their competitiveness in the global economy. These ‘urban integrated megaprojects’ (UIMs) have proliferated in most major cities in the region. In Jakarta, for example, a 1998 study listed 16 privatized ‘new town’ projects either planned or under construction, with a combined land area about equal to that of New York City. In India projects like Dankuni Township in Kolkata and Maha Mumbai have been planned for populations approaching a million. These projects have the potential to dramatically reconfigure the sociospatial landscape of cities throughout Asia. While touted by governments and developers as critical for economic growth, they also raise troubling questions of displacement, environmental damage, and socioeconomic segregation that have major implications for social equity and environmental sustainability.

In addressing the question of why UIMs have become so prevalent, the literature on these projects has largely focused on two related arguments: that they represent a Westernization or Americanization of urban form; and that they are a product of the desire of an emerging elite to retreat from the chaos of the city into controlled urban enclaves. In other words, most analyses focus on the middle and upper classes and developers as the key agents of this change. In this presentation, I will focus instead on the role of the state in driving this model. I will argue that UIMs represent one manifestation of the privatization of urban planning, i.e. the transfer of responsibility for and power over the visioning of urban futures and the planning, implementation and regulation of urban spaces from public to private sector actors. Highlighting the agency of government planning and policy in driving forward the UIM model focuses attention on the changing dynamics of citizenship in the global era. It calls on us to assess state objectives in pursuing this model, which include the monetization of land and the creation of controlled spaces for accumulation. It also calls attention to the reallocation of rights and privileges that is taking place in contemporary cities, specifically the assertion of ability to pay as a key criterion in determining the right to access urban space, and the growth of state-backed efforts to purge cities of extra-legal appropriations of space by the urban poor.

Gavin Shatkin is Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.


Gavin Shatkin


22 July 2010