People, Power, and Politics Panel
Terres et villes en développement
Chair/Président: Nila Ayu Utami, University of British Columbia
Discussant/Intervenant: Nila Ayu Utami, University of British Columbia
A tiny “red dot” of 720 square kilometres without any natural resources, Singapore has transformed itself from a British colonial outpost to a global city in less than half a century. The explanation by urban scholars is because Singapore is a “developmental city state” (Castells 1992; Perry et. al 1997; Olds and Yeung 2004). Reasons offered often fall along the well-rehearsed lines of a comprehensive regime of State social control, authoritarianism and the subjugation of civil society, and the assertion of State capitalism and hegemony in determining the functional form of the city, all effectively galvanized par excellence to build the model city (Shatkin 2015). In tracing Singapore’s development milestones through interviews, discourse analyses, and auto-ethnography, I reflect on the accuracy of the caricatures of Singapore in urban scholarship, highlighting how urban strategies have been mobilized in Singapore towards a more communitarian model of development through State capitalism (Chua 1995; 2017). I explore how over the last two decades, a harnessing of Singapore’s global city standing and investments in technology have ameliorated land pressures to enable urban planning strategies to shift from a bulldozer approach towards a temper of calculated governance and paced transformation in Singapore. Yet, while seeking to attenuate the unequal effects of wanton neoliberal capitalism with a greater sensitivity to heritage and nature conservation issues and a redistribution of wealth through public housing tools, these efforts remain contested with mixed results.
This paper asserts that the Salween Peace Park is an embodiment of positive peace that Indigenous Karen people have envisioned and mobilized through conservation. This positive, lasting, and everyday peace that Karen people and leaders in the Salween Peace Park are working toward goes beyond the absence of war, fighting, and conflicts in their homeland. Rather, it entails justice that guarantees fundamental freedoms, equality, and rights to self-determination for Karen people as a nation. Positive peace as “presence of justice” fundamentally addresses the root causes of longstanding conflicts in the country and guarantees the safety and opportunities for displaced people and refugees from Karen state to return and rebuild their livelihoods and cultures lost during conflicts and civil war. This paper details three core aspects of positive peace embodied in the Salween Peace Park: (1) the protection of Indigenous Karen land, territory, and resource governance system against widespread land and water grab and state territorialization; (2) the affirmation of Karen identity and position in the Mutraw district as peace builders in the changing political context of Burma/Myanmar’s ceasefire and peace-making process; and (3) the preservation of Karen cultural traditions and identity against an increasing threat of “Burmanization” and centralized state control over Karen autonomous territory and everyday life.
Compared to the west, Indonesians are very social. With Indonesia’s active social media users, sharing life stories and everyday occurrences is a common and important way of socializing and staying in touch. Moreover, with smartphone cameras, the destination for these digital memories includes Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok, WhatsApp, or Line. Nowadays, two of the more famous neighbourhoods seen across all social media platforms are the “Insta-famous” Alam Sutera and M Bloc Space. However, behind the selfies lies a complex story of how these neighbourhoods have changed. Our study explores the complexity and the diversity of capital reinvestment and social conflict in Alam Sutera and M Bloc Space. Results reveal a complex relationship between local government’s aim to redevelop into a tourist city and many who use the streets who desire to share the land. To prevent what local officials label as “negative things” that are not specifically for tourism, undesirable street vendors have been largely barred from these neighbourhoods. Instead, bicycle rentals, statue performers, and street painters can stay as they have “something to do with art and culture.” Although many street venders and local artists were relocated to an alternative market area, few people visit these places, which, in turn, leads to a substantial loss of income for community members. The processes and outcomes of Indonesia’s changing neighbourhoods highly depends on the context. However, revitalization projects must take into account the long-term socioeconomic, racial, and/or ethnic injustices it could cause. Otherwise, revitalized Indonesian neighbourhoods will only be reserved for certain populations.
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