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Urban Exclusion in Southeast Asia - Sponsored by the Southeast Asia Council (SEAC)

Fri, April 1, 12:45 to 2:45pm, Washington State Convention Center, Floor: 6th Floor, Room 604

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel


The idea of “urban exclusion” typically evokes images of walls, gates, locked doors or other blockades and forceful mechanisms intentionally designed to deny people access to city spaces. In practice, however, exclusion is not always born from an explicit desire to keep people out, but often emerges as the byproduct of schemes ostensibly designed to make cities “better” places. This panel focuses specifically on the ways in which projects ostensibly designed to “improve” cities in both mainland and insular Southeast Asia have contributed to processes of urban exclusion. To show this, panelists look at the exclusionary consequences of heritage districts, religious-based housing developments, infrastructural developments, modernization, and city beautification. While few of these projects were born from an explicit desire to keep people out of the cities we examine, they all have led to the exclusion of specific kinds of city residents in order to make their vision possible. Combining the perspectives of urban planning, urban geography, spatial demography, anthropology, and urban studies, and discussing case studies in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, the panel papers develop a truly comparative and interdisciplinary lens that expands our understanding of how exclusion works in different social-cultural contexts. Comparing these cases and places reveals that the very will to create spaces of orderly urban conduct—be they “pious spaces,” “historical spaces,” “modern spaces,” or “formal national spaces”—depends on the symbolic, spatial, and often forceful exclusion of people who do not fit into those models of order.

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