(P76) Urban Porosity and Peri-Urban Space: Materiality and Social Space in Southeast Asia
Thu 11:00-12:30 K12 | 2.15
- Mirjam Le Universität Passau
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Politics of Porous Urbanism: Mixed Formal-Informal Institutional Arrangements on Migrant Housing in Ho Chi Minh City
Minh Doi Nguyen Heidelberg University
In many Southeast Asia cities, porous urbanism is a production of urbanization interleaving formal and informal practices to absorb multifunctional spaces and tolerate social diversity.
This lifestyle is a remarkable characteristic of the peri-urbanization process in Ho Chi Minh
City where has undergone significant rural migration flows. On the one hand, porosity can
provide livelihood ability and social inclusion for migrants; on the other hand, it challenges
the state vision about the global city. This contrast motivates the paper to explore insights into the negotiation and struggle between state and society in producing porous urbanism in Ho Chi Minh City. By utilizing case studies of institutional arrangements related to rural migrants’ housing, the research first conceptualizes porous urbanism and its roles and features in making places for rural migrants in Ho Chi Minh City. Then analyzes the types, processes and stakeholders that constitute mixed formal-informal institutional arrangements on migrant housing. The next part discusses who and why they do and do not benefit from that process. Finally, the paper considers how can achieve governability to optimize the advantages of urban porosity in city-making.
Revitalization of Public Space in Philippine Urban Context
Luzile Satur Passau University
This study deals with festivals manifested as the Night Café in the Southeast Asian City of Cagayan de Oro (CDO), Northern Mindanao, the Philippines. From 2003 until 2013, Mayor Vincente ‘Dongkoy’ Emano together with the city councillors enacted Ordinance Number 8920-2003 that established the weekly Night Café in the public space of Divisoria. The Night Café offered leisure and entrepreneurship activities. Vendors and other informal sectors converged to provide dining, shopping, and entertaining activities. It strengthened the informal economy through the generation of employment and livelihood. The Night Café also symbolised CDO as the ‘City in Blossom, Bloom and Boom.’ The activities and symbolism showcased revitalization of public space; however, they were solely intended for economic consumption. This paper argues that the renewal process utilised cultural references to advance economic interests. Thus, this paper aims to trace the main civic actors, key drivers and the role of the city government in conceptualising the Night Café.
Tensions in local-global production of tourist spaces in Vietnam: Heritage, global flows and local identities
Franziska Nicolaisen Passau University
This paper examines the relations between space production, heritage and locality in Vietnam. Critical heritage tourism research in Southeast Asia1 has largely focused on the adverse impacts these sites have on the environment and local communities regarding land-use. We expand on this idea to integrate social processes of negotiating ownership of these heritage spaces as acts of emancipation.
The creation of cultural heritage sites is based on two consecutive transformation processes introduced by global flows of ideas2: first the original production of urban space as a historical process based on global ideas on urbanity and second the reinterpretation of these spaces as heritage defined by global actors like the UNESCO. Accordingly, global ideas are reimagined locally and employed to create a narrative of historic continuity and community. However, while heritage is perceived as inherently local, its production often leads to a transfer of ownership from local communities to the national and international level. Consequently, local identity and authenticity are contested by external actors. Reclaiming these heritage spaces both for local and national identity is particularly challenging when looking at colonial heritage sites.
Therefore, we situate our research in the framework of post-colonial studies to look at the functionality of postcolonial heritage preservation in Vietnam: Can heritage preservation function as a decolonization project which promotes local emancipation or does it reestablish structures of internal coloniality in the Vietnamese society? To answer this question we focus on the interface between mobile global and local ideas on urban space, the consumption of these spaces as heritage and their ownership.
The study focus on two different forms of heritage production in Vietnam and the different foreign flows which influenced their production: (1) the pre-colonial urban spaces like My Son, Hoi An or Hue which were constructed based on spiritual concepts brought by Chinese, Indian and Japanese traders and 2) colonial urban spaces like Hanoi and the hill stations Bana Hill, Da Lat and Tam Dao which embody French aspirations for urbanity and civilization. These pre-colonial and colonial urban spaces influenced by outside ideas were integrated into the concept of a Vietnamese community and embedded in a narrative of historic continuity.
In the last two decades, these historically rooted spaces were transformed into heritage sites, often with the help of UNESCO, and became nodes in the global flows of tourism. We argue that thereby, these places move beyond the local narrative on Vietnamese identity as they represent an image of Vietnam to the outside world. As these transformed spaces are marketed towards a global, mobile audience, they are embedded into processes of alienation from local communities.
In the case of Hoi An, Hue, and My Son, these processes marginalize local neighbourhoods in favor of tourists. Old buildings are restored to create the illusion of historic continuity as residents are pushed to the spatial margins. In the case of the colonial era hill stations, the Disneyfication references European architecture. Drawing on the French colonial tradition of fleeing the summer heat for a more temperate climate, these rebuilt urban spaces provide escapism which targets an alien Vietnamese urban middle class.
Based on literature review and qualitative data from participatory fieldwork in 2020 and online travel sites, we analyze narratives of ownership and identity in the reproduction of heritage sites for tourism. We link these narratives to larger processes of decolonization in the framework of global commodification and mobility.
The corona pandemic, materiality of urban space and urban citizenship in Vietnam
Mirjam Le Universität Passau
Building on the results of my doctoral thesis, the presentation examines how the corona pandemic and the strict lockdown measures for containment in Vietnam have changed the relationship between urban areas and the urban population. Urban spaces in Vietnam are characterized by a high degree of functional and spatial porosity. This porosity allows a high degree of interaction, mobility and self-organization for the urban population. In everyday life, this often compensates for the authoritarian character of the Vietnamese state and enables social and political participation. During the pandemic, and especially since April 2021, the use of urban areas is severely restricted by state lockdown measures for large parts of the Vietnamese population. This reduces economic, political and social participation and mobility in cities. In addition, Corona measures also intervene profoundly in everyday urban life in other ways and change both the urban practices of citizens and the materiality of Vietnamese cities in the short or long term, for example by erecting barriers. In urban planning, the focus is again increasingly on economic development goals, especially because political activists, especially those from the Vietnamese environmental movement, have been pushed out of the public space. In addition, the Vietnamese civil society is also making efforts, in particular to provide support networks for disadvantaged population groups. The presentation examines this field of tension between “public health”, urban spaces as “urban commons” and the role of civil society.
From the globalized glass and steel skylines in Singapore and Bangkok to the old urban center in Hanoi and the transforming urban space in Yangon, the material transformation of urban space in Southeast Asia often follows a global vision of modernity promoted by urban planners and policy makers. However, where state-led space production is globalized, citizens-led space production is localized. Hence, instead of the global urban aspirations of local elites, which
reference global urban forms and metropolitan urban vision, the urban aspirations of local residents are always local, rooted in place and time. This process of localization enables urban citizens to cope with the spatial transformation due to urbanization present in modern cities in Southeast Asia. This results in tensions between the governance and the everyday practice in urban space. These tensions produce urban porosity, which can be understood as ambiguity of the built urban environment where functions and use of space are not fixed but fluid. Interrupted by borders and thresholds, which can be crossed, forgotten empty spaces and voids provide openness, accessibility and mobility, as well as space for innovation and
negotiation. While spatial porosity can be found in every urban space in Southeast Asia, it is especially prevalent in peri-urban spaces where continuous changes open and close access to space. In this porous urban landscape, urban citizenship emerges as the sum of everyday practices and the emerging urban identity, which is localized in the city and at the same time connected to the global discourses and ideas. This panel hence looks at the porosity of urban space prevalent in Southeast Asia through the lens of urban governance and urban citizenship to better understand how spatial transformation, urban governance and practices of participation interact in urban Southeast Asia.