Cities of Exception cached version 09/02/2019 22:53:21 en Modern slavery bill: migrant domestic workers fall through the gaps <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>UK immigration rules currently prevent migrant domestic workers from changing employers. This removes these migrant workers’ fundamental rights and leaves them vulnerable to abuse.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="400" height="533" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A migrant domestic worker demonstrates outside parliament 17 March. Kalayaan. All Rights Reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><span>Effective laws and policies by the state are central to the promotion of human rights and the ending of conditions deemed to be modern slavery. The UK’s Modern Slavery Bill has aspirations to set a </span><a href="">world-class example</a><span> in combating modern slavery. However, scrutiny of the bill and the government’s own immigration policies raise a number of critical questions in relation to migrant domestic workers. The UK’s current immigration rules for migrant domestic workers, which were introduced in April 2012, tie domestic workers to their employers. They </span><a href="">have resulted in an increase in the reported abuse and exploitation</a><span> of these already vulnerable workers. On 25 March the House of Lords will vote on an amendment that would address this issue. This is the final opportunity to close a shameful gap in the Modern Slavery Bill.</span></p> <blockquote> <p>‘Domestic workers are imprisoned and made to work all hours of the day and night for little or no pay… We must put a stop to these crimes, and stamp out modern slavery. Theresa May, Home Secretary, <a href="">foreword to the Modern Slavery Strategy</a>, Nov 2014.</p> </blockquote> <p>Domestic servitude and forced labour are forms of human trafficking, with the UK Government very keen to highlight that it is committed to the eradication of these and other forms of exploitation counted as modern slavery today. Paradoxically, the laws and policies applied by government to migrant domestic workers in the UK do not substantiate this rhetoric. </p> <p>The April 2012 changes to the immigration rules for overseas domestic worker (ODW) visas removed the right of migrant domestic workers to change employer. Many workers now actually have their employer’s name written on their UK visa—a clear indication that in practise they are seen as their employer’s private concern. This effectively removes any bargaining power from within an already unbalanced employment relationship, with migrant domestic workers left unable to resign, question or challenge any aspect of their treatment. </p> <p>Almost three years after migrant domestic workers were tied to their employers, the House of Lords voted in February for <a href="">an amendment</a> to the Modern Slavery Bill that would have reinstated the right to change employers and other basic protections. This was overturned in the House of Commons on 17 March and replaced by the government’s amendment in lieu. The government’s stated objection to the Lords’ amendment is that if domestic workers are able to change employers, workers who are abused may simply leave and get a new job. This would allow abusive employers to remain unreported and unprosecuted. Instead, the government’s amendment provides for only those workers who have entered the <a href="">National Referral Mechanism (NRM)</a> and been identified as trafficked to have the possibility of a six month visa as a domestic worker.</p> <p>To prevent domestic workers from changing employers in order to encourage more prosecutions makes no sense. It misses the facts that being able to change employer did much to prevent abuse. Migrant domestic workers were more likely to go to the police when they had the right to change employer and <a href="">were less fearful of authorities</a>. It is Orwellian to leave migrant domestic workers tied to their employers in order to force them, once they are abused, to report their employers to the authorities in order to access any type of protection.</p> <p>The government’s amendment will not be effective. Migrant domestic workers in the UK have now been tied to their employers for almost three years, and since then the only way they can access any advice or protection is if they are positively identified as trafficked via the NRM. To date there has been no upheld conviction for trafficking for the purpose of domestic servitude in the UK. Indeed, in February the <a href="">Court of Appeal upheld a diplomat’s claim to immunity</a>, thereby preventing two domestic workers deemed by the authorities to have been trafficked from bringing a claim for compensation.</p> <p>The government’s stated reason for curtailing the right of migrant domestic workers to change employer in 2012 was to decrease net migration to the UK. However, the percentage impact of migrant domestic workers on UK net migration <a href="">was less than 0.5 percent at the time</a>. The number of visas issued for migrant domestic workers has remained more or less steady since the changes. Home Office figures show that 16,528 ODW visas were issued in 2013; 15,745 in 2012; 16,187 in 2011; 15,351 in 2010; and 14,887 in 2009, according to data obtained through freedom of information requests. Beyond the 200 workers a year who come to Kalayaan, figures on the number of migrant domestic workers who run away from employers to escape suffering are not available. However, it is certain that those that do run away face a more precarious existence than before the introduction of the tied visa because they are no longer able to remain documented and visible.</p> <p>In 2009 the Home Affairs Select Committee’s Inquiry into Trafficking <a href="">found</a> that retaining the protections provided by the pre-2012 ODW visa was <em>“the single most important issue in preventing the forced labour and trafficking of such workers.</em>” With this in mind it is incredible that these very rights were removed so soon after the committee’s findings, particularly so because denying migrant domestic workers the right to change their employers by extension denies them the basic negotiating and registration rights that should be available to any worker. As the Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill published in April 2014 <a href="">found</a>, <em>“In the case of the domestic worker’s visa, policy changes have unintentionally strengthened the hand of the slave master against the victim of slavery.”</em></p> <h2>The experiences of domestic workers on the tied visa</h2> <p>At present, very little is known about what happens to migrant domestic workers once they enter the UK with their employer. Most available evidence comes from Kalayaan, which registered 402 new migrant domestic workers between April 2012 and April 2014. Of these, 120 workers were on the post-2012 visa and therefore tied to their employers. These workers generally reported less freedom and more control by their employers than those who were not tied. Their experiences, about which <a href="">Kalayaan published a briefing</a> in April 2014, are summarised as follows:</p> <p>• Almost three-quarters of workers tied to their employers reported never being allowed out of the house unsupervised (71 percent), compared to under half on the original visa (43 percent). </p> <p>• 65 percent of tied migrant domestic workers (MDWs) did not have their own rooms—they shared with the children or slept in the kitchen or lounge—compared with 34 percent of those not tied to their employers.</p> <p>• 53 percent of tied MDWs worked more than 16 hours a day, compared to 32 percent of those who had the right to change employer. </p> <p>• 60 percent of those on the tied visa were paid less than £50 a week, compared with 36 percent of those on the original visa. </p> <p>• Kalayaan staff internally assessed more than double (69 percent) of those who were tied as trafficked, in contrast with 26 percent of those who had not been tied. Two thirds of referrals into the <a href="">NRM</a> for identifying victims of trafficking made by Kalayaan were of domestic workers who were tied to their employers.</p> <h2>The government’s amendment in lieu</h2> <p>The government’s amendment in lieu does nothing to protect migrant domestic workers against abuse in the way that allowing them to change employers would. Those migrant domestic workers identified as trafficked through the NRM may get a six month visa, but for the worker trapped with her employer the choice remains the same: endure abuse, or break the law and leave.</p> <p>There is no guarantee of protection until the worker receives a positive decision through the NRM. This requires them to go to the authorities—having already breached the immigration rules by leaving their employer—before they know they are safe. Even for those who do escape, who get good advice and support, and who make the decision to enter the NRM the likelihood of actually finding work on a six month visa is low and the fate of the worker beyond this is unclear. There is also the possibility that prosecutions of employers will be <em>less likely</em>, as they can easily suggest that allegations of maltreatment were fabricated in order for the worker to stay in the UK. Only a positive decision as having been trafficked will allow the worker can stay in the UK.</p> <p>Lord Hylton, who is fighting to return basic protections to migrant domestic workers, has tabled a further <a href="">amendment</a> to the government’s amendment. This will be debated on 25 March, and asks only for the minimum migrant domestic workers need to be safe: a) the ability to change employer but not sector; b) the ability to renew visas while employed in full-time domestic work; and c) the ability to obtain temporary visas when found to have been subject to slavery, thereby allowing migrant domestic workers time to look for other jobs. The amendment also requires domestic workers to notify the Secretary of State when they change employers, thereby giving the government the opportunity to follow up with any employers where they are concerned abuse may have occurred. </p> <p>It would be shameful to have a Modern Slavery Bill in the UK which leaves in place a tied visa regime found to have so facilitated the abuse of migrant domestic workers in the UK. 25 March will be Peers’ final opportunity to ensure that this doesn’t happen, but no win can be secured without also being passed by the Commons. We have to hope that parliamentarians will see the right of migrant domestic workers to change employer for what it is; a most basic right without which no worker has any bargaining power or means to challenge abuse. To quote Sir John Randall MP, when he <a href="">explained his support</a> for the amendment at report stage in the Commons:</p> <blockquote> <p>‘I have met too many victims to be able to say that it is a matter for another day’</p> </blockquote><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/izza-leghtas-kate-roberts/modern-slavery-bill-fails-vulnerable-women">Modern slavery bill fails vulnerable women</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/julia-o%27connell-davidson/convenient-conflations-modern-slavery-trafficking-and-prostit">Convenient conflations: modern slavery, trafficking, and prostitution</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Kate Roberts State and the law Cities of Exception Tue, 24 Mar 2015 06:07:17 +0000 Kate Roberts 91483 at The everywhere of sanitation: violence, oppression and the body <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>New Prime Minister Narendra Modi has had nothing to say on the attacks in Uttar Pradesh, but a debate has emerged in India about how a rich country can lag so dangerously far behind its competitors in providing basic safe and clean sanitation.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="Farm hands from dalit communities walk through the mustard field in Uttar Pradesh" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Farm hands from dalit communities walk through a mustard field in Uttar PradeshDemotix/Arindam Mukherjee. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>It is difficult to imagine a more profound illustration of the necessity of sanitation to life itself: two teenage girls venturing into the fields at night, brutally raped, killed and left to hang from a mango tree. They left their homes because they had no alternative, due to the denial of adequate sanitation, but to answer the call of nature by use of a nearby field. </p><p>This is a shocking and extremely sad story of violence and vulnerability in Uttar Pradesh, India. What kind of vulnerability is this? A vulnerability produced by caste oppression, the normalisation of horrific violence against poor women, and the structural and systematic failure of the Indian state to provide the minimum of everyday rights: a clean, functional toilet. The <em>National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights</em> recently reported that 67% of low caste Dalit women - often referred to as ‘untouchable’ - have faced some form of sexual violence (Soundararajan, 2014). This is likely to be an underestimate. Many of these attacks happen because women are forced into open defecation in fields, railway tracks, forest areas, garbage grounds, and other marginal spaces across India. The denial of adequate toilets, a profound and fundamental bodily need, gives rise to an opportunity for the worst kind of bodily violence. When it comes to rape, the oppressive ethic of ‘untouchability’ appears to give way.</p> <p>There is a profound sadness to the unfolding of India’s sanitation history. Is there any sphere of human life more intimately connected to progress, however discredited that notion may have become, than adequate sanitation? Sanitation is historically a bringer of life and health – more important than Independence, Gandhi famously observed – but in practice it symbolises the threat of violence, and is intimately linked to crushing forms of torturous poverty. </p><p>New Prime Minister Narendra Modi has had nothing to say on the attacks in Uttar Pradesh, but a debate has emerged in India about how a rich country can lag so dangerously far behind its competitors in providing basic safe and clean sanitation. For the sad and shocking truth is that this is the latest more extreme example of entrenched daily violence emergent from inequalities in gender, caste, class and sanitation in India. Poor sanitation conditions are not the cause of caste-based gendered violence, but the denial of sanitation facilitates the toxic relationship between vulnerability and violence more profoundly than any other facet of Indian life. For millions of Indian women, everyday life is a series of struggles, anxieties and risks around sanitation. </p> <p>If Modi said anything at all in his recent election campaign that mattered, it was this: toilets matter more than temples. India’s sanitation crisis ought to be a living obsession for the new Indian government: at least as important as the civil rights movement in the US and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa (Soundararajan, 2014). </p> <p>The tragedy of sanitation is that it is fundamentally not just about toilets and pipes. Sanitation is far more than the staples of daily life, the unglamorous backstage of everyday life, as Erving Goffman once put it. Sanitation is an incessantly morphing object: it is immersed in and enrolled through malnutrition, violence, caste cultural politics, sexism, ethno-religious hatred, political patronage, educational disadvantage, illness and disease, precarious livelihoods, unemployment, environmental pollution, and more. </p><p>Inadequate sanitation intensifies India’s poverty and displays its inequalities more starkly than any other aspect of life in the country. It is a tragedy of the rural and urban commons. And yet, while we should not pretend that solutions are straightforward, it is hardly rocket science to fix inadequate sanitation, and there are plenty of low-cost, technologically flexible, and context specific options out there, if only the political will was in place to deliver them (Mara, 2012). In countries where that political will is real – examples include Vietnam and Malaysia, who put the emergent global superpower to shame - open defecation has been all but eliminated, and India’s neighbour Pakistan has had far higher rates of success despite still being a very long way from universal provision. </p> <p>In 2011, Aasma Sheikh, a resident of Rafinagar, a predominantly Muslim slum in northeast Mumbai and one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the city, suddenly became the subject of media attention. She and her infant son featured centrally in a report that was part of the <em>Hindustan Times</em> newspaper’s ‘Hunger Project’ (Bhattacharya, 2011). She was the mother of Gulnaz, a severely malnourished child that caught the media’s attention. Malnutrition here is common, a product of poor sanitation conditions and crippling poverty. Aasma was prescribed medicines to treat the illnesses that she, Gulnaz and her other children suffered from and which were exacerbated by malnutrition, but the cost of water meant that she could not afford to buy them. She had to spend Rs. 30-40 on water per day, she said. She was faced with the choice: water or medicine. The child later died. While Mumbai gets an average water supply of 200 litres per capita per day, the city's slums get less than 90 litres. Informal neighbourhoods such as Rafinagar get nothing, at least not legally. Families here earn roughly Rs. 100-150 per day, a substantial amount of which goes on water and kerosene. </p> <p>Following the <em>Hindustan Times</em> report, then women and child development minister, Varsha Gaikwad, visited Rafinagar, but no change followed and the deaths from a combination of malnutrition, poor sanitation and low incomes have continued. In fact, local public health NGO Apnalaya stated that the situation has worsened. Here is India’s ‘development miracle’. India shining, an economy celebrated for its growth rates, a middle class that has firmly announced itself as at one with the globalisation party, and where poor women must choose between fields and the risk of rape when they need the toilet, or between water and medicine for their children when they are ill from poor sanitation and a failing welfare system. Even beyond these extreme but not uncommon stories, the links between gender, class, caste, religion and sanitation fragment and oppress daily lives across the country. </p> <p>“If we had to pick one tangible symbol of male privilege in the city”, write Shilpa Phadke, Sameera Khan and Shilpa Ranade in their 2011 book on Mumbai, <em>Why Loiter?</em>, “the winner hands-down would be the public toilet” (<em>ibid</em>: 79). They show how in Mumbai, India’s richest city, not only is there a profound imbalance of provisions of toilets for women as compared to men, the size, functionality and location of public toilets is extremely circumscribed. This is particularly difficult for poorer and usually lower caste women, who find it harder to make use, for instance, of the toilets of hotels or restaurants, and for whom the lack of toilets is, as Phadke <em>et al </em>(<em>ibid</em>. 80) put it, “a reminder of her unwantedness in the city”. </p><p>This unwantedness reflects in part the gendered nature of infrastructure provision in the city and expectations about who uses and should be using public space, as well as cultural notions of pollution and the female body associated in particular with Hindu social orders linking caste and gender. Women’s bodies, like toilets themselves, are often linked to contamination, dirt and pollution, meaning that many people are reluctant even to speak about sanitation: “Women’s bodies are associated with bodily secretions – menstruation, ovulation, lactation – seen as sources of ritual contamination at particular times of the month or year” (<em>ibid</em>. 82). The impact on the everyday health of women is profound. </p> <p>Sometimes this cultural politics of ‘pollution’ can be turned on its head. A few years ago, a public toilet block run by a private company in Rafinagar doubled the pay-per-use price from Rs.1 to Rs.2. In this neighbourhood, women are discriminated against in several ways: as Muslims in an illegal neighbourhood distant from the public eye and living on the edge of the city’s largest garbage ground, Deonar. A group of residents began to protest the price hike, as Mumtaz related: “The public created a scene. They went and sat down [to defecate] anywhere, in the <em>maidan </em>[open ground], on the road, near the clinic…So that he [the toilet block caretaker] will also not be able to sit there, he will also get the stink, no?”</p> <p>Mumtaz positions smell, not organizational pressure, as key to this political act. This is a form of protest in which an urban collective temporarily constitutes a political moment that dramatizes the limited options available to the poor, forced here to use their own bodies as political agents in their own neighborhoods. The protest in the end was successful, and points to a wider set of small contestations whereby residents try to maintain conditions or nudge them in a different direction. </p><p>These are temporary conflicts that resonate with accounts of lower key contentious politics, where urban public spaces become particularly important for pursuing and registering grievances (e.g., Bayat 2010). They are part of a longer repertoire of what Sudipta Kaviraj (1997: 110) calls “small rebelliousness” around sanitation, where improvised defilement itself becomes a political outlet that depends on the power of smell, irritation, and proximity. Small rebelliousness, emergent in metabolic and social desperation, with small victories, repeated daily up and down the country. Up and down the country, sanitation is everyday violence, oppression, exploitation and politicization of different forms. </p> <p>To take another example, in August 2013, to demand rehabilitation and immediate passage of a pending Bill outlawing ‘manual scavenging’ - cleaning drains and sewers with your bare hands - and providing provisions for retraining, hundreds of manual scavengers, and many of their family members, from across the country burnt their baskets at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. The protests were aimed at the most oppressive working conditions in the country, where workers are squeezed into narrow urban drains, surrounded by raw sewage and toxic gases. In Delhi, in February 2013, three men were killed trying to unblock a drain underneath the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. In Chennai, two months later, two men died attempting to unblock a 40-foot deep septic tank underneath a hotel. </p><p>The men, typically working without any safety gear, were killed by asphyxiation from polluting gases in the drains. These stories of death, not to mention disease and illness, from cleaning drains and sewers, can be multiplied in cities across India. While many states in India have banned the practice commonly referred to as ‘manual scavenging’ - always carried out by Dalits - and insisted sanitation workers are issued with adequate safety equipment, in practice the process continues. </p><p>Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, speaking in June 2011, called manual scavenging “one of the darkest blots on [India’s] development process”, but two years later the Supreme Court expressed serious concern at the inordinate delay in passing the <em>Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill</em>, developed in 2012 and aimed at amending and replacing the existing 1993 <em>Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act</em>. The new bill promises rehabilitation for manual scavengers in the form of training and education grants, but its slow implementation brought some of India’s most marginalised, exploited and desperate workers onto the streets of the capital.</p> <p>Sanitation is not a development target. It is more than this. It is a network, ever morphing: an ideology of pollution, a cultural logic of oppression, a political economy of class inequality, a social relation of gender, caste and religion, and an infrastructural challenge. It is a symbol of exploitation and fear, the promise of health, and the possibility of safety, education and livelihood. All India needs to fix this is public pressure and political will. The new government must be held to account on its capacity to provide this most fundamental of bodily requirements, and the debate that has begun cannot be allowed to pass over into another instance of temporary public fury. </p> <p><strong>References</strong></p> <p>Bhattacharya, P. (2011) ‘<a href="">A bad return on investment</a>’. <em>Hindustan Times</em>, accessed July 2014 (published October 14th, 2011).</p> <p>Kaviraj, S. (1997) ‘Filth and the public sphere: concepts and practices about space in Calcutta’. <em>Public Culture</em>, 10:1, 83-113.</p> <p>Mara, D. (2012) ‘Sanitation: what’s the real problem?’ <em>IDS Bulletin</em>, 43:2, 86-92. </p> <p>Phadke, S., Khan, S., and Ranade, S. (2011) <em>Why Loiter? Women and Risk on Mumbai’s Streets</em>. Penguin: New Delhi.</p> <p>Soundararajan, T. (2014) ‘<a href="">India’s caste culture is a rape culture</a>’. <em>Women in the World, The Daily Beast</em>: accessed July 2014.</p> <p>Bayat, A. (2010) <em>Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East.</em> Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/kavita-ramakrishnan/sexual-violence-on-margins-of-delhi">Sexual violence on the margins of Delhi</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/ayona-datta/myth-of-resettlement-in-delhi">The myth of resettlement in Delhi</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> India </div> </div> </div> openIndia openIndia openSecurity India Cities in Conflict Colin McFarlane Cities of Exception Wed, 11 Jun 2014 23:29:31 +0000 Colin McFarlane 83653 at The urban paradox <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As <a href="">Cities in Conflict </a>goes on hiatus, I take a look back at the past fourteen months of publishing articles, film, photo-essays, mappings and infographics on the series, and comment on where urbanism is today: stuck between logics of saviourism and withdrawal. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Fourteen months ago, with the support of my colleagues at openSecurity and openDemocracy, we launched <a href="">Cities in Conflict</a>, a public editorial series which sought to investigate and publish critical analysis on urbanisation—the urbanisation of conflict and urbanisation as conflict. </p> <p>It is perhaps no surprise that we began discussions on launching the series at the time we did—as any <em>good </em>&nbsp;urbanist will have heard, time and time again, that in 2008 “for the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population live[d] in cities”. More profoundly, with the backing of major international institutions, cities nowadays perhaps more than ever, are not simply inexorable, spontaneous products of history but living, breathing testing-grounds for a host of social, political and economic processes. </p> <p>Moreover, when I began formulating Cities in Conflict in 2012 we were in the midst of political events, crises and uprisings of a particularly “urban” bent: from the 2007-08 sub-prime-mortgage crash in the US; to the influx of mega-city and infrastructure production in countries such as China, India, Brazil, Nigeria and South Africa (with much of the necessarily attached&nbsp; creative destruction); to the<em> Arab revolutions </em>from 2010; to the urban social movements sweeping across <em>crisis Europe </em>from that year onwards—not to mention the increasing speed of urban withdrawal, privatisation, fragmentation and bordering on a global scale. The period 2007-14 has demonstrated quite patently the integral and fraught relationship of the urban—of land, housing, the <em>public, </em>the city—to the global political economy.&nbsp; </p> <p>Despite this, what we felt was remarkably absent in 2012 was an international, public platform where activists, residents, citizens, non-citizens and academics could discuss the changes affecting their cities. This is what spurred Cities in Conflict<em>. </em>Publishing in six sub-themes, the series sought to bring to the fore analysis and debate on the conflictual and contested nature of urbanisation at a global level. </p> <p>There have been too many fantastic pieces of work to list them all (see the “<a href="">Editor's pick</a>” timeline for more) but a few can demonstrate the breadth of the series over the past 14 months. We have published: Stephen Graham on <a href=""><em>New Military Urbanism</em></a>;<em> </em>AbdouMaliq Simone on the <a href="">“tricks of urban endurance<em>”</em></a><em>;</em><a href=""><em> </em>Flavie Halais</a> on security, surveillance and dispossession in the run up to Rio’s mega-events; <a href="">Crisis-Scape</a>’s series of short documentaries on Athens and the political crisis; on <em>global city</em> building in <a href="">Dakar</a> and <a href="">Kigali</a>; on <a href="">building as resistance</a> in Hebron; on the <a href="">Gezi Park</a> and <a href="">Sao Paulo</a> uprisings of 2013;<a href=""> Ayona Datta</a> on the violence of urban renewal and resettlement in New Delhi and elsewhere; <a href="">Mary Ann O’Donnell</a>’s mini-series on Shenzhen’s urbanisation; on urban security and development&nbsp; <a href="">in Bogota</a>; on resistances to dispossession and austerity in <a href="">Barcelona</a>, <a href="">London</a>, <a href="">Durban</a> and <a href="">elsewhere</a>; and on the troubling policy buzzwords of <a href=""><em>failed</em></a><em>, </em><a href=""><em>resilient</em></a><em>, </em><a href=""><em>fragile</em></a><em> </em>and<em> </em><a href=""><em>smart</em></a><em>&nbsp; </em>cities.&nbsp; </p> <p>As Cities in Conflict takes a pause, where are we now? Of course, the political events and trajectories I have mentioned are as important and dominant as ever; what is warming, however, is that more and more of the alternative and mainstream media are giving credence (and publishing space) to urban politics and processes. Beyond—as Rich Goulding (in <a href="">Tom Slater</a>) puts it—asking readers “about the most innovative synergistic initiative unleashing quality of life in your shanty town”, <em>some</em> are beginning to engage critically with the production of, and resistance to, contemporary urban processes.</p> <p><strong>The urban paradox</strong></p> <p>In the current conjuncture, cities are sites of two counterposed tendencies. First, the city is upheld as the physical metonym of modernity, the unsurpassable form of human progress, wherein any manner of economic, social and environmental ills may be treated—where non-people become people, where technology and smartness come to govern political and social contestations, where human <em>resilience </em>and innovation (no matter how destitute such humans may be) can mitigate the oppressive character of capital-led urban growth. Against and yet within this, largely neo-liberal, imagination exists the global trend of urban retraction, of bordering, segregation, fragmentation, state withdrawal, enclave-ing. The traditional model of urban entrepreneurialism which David Harvey discussed in the 1980s is today optimised from particular, mostly elite fragments of accumulation, (the mega-event, the gated community, the mall, etc.) marginalising entire populations, entire ways of thinking and being deemed obsolete. These are two contradictory arms of neoliberal urbanism.&nbsp; </p> <p>Cities, whether moving from established welfarist models or from longer heritages of fragmentation, are clenched in these two contradictory logics, of urban saviourism and of withdrawal. The space wherein the utopian conception of the city operates is getting smaller and smaller, higher and higher. There are examples all over the world—from India’s <a href=";utm_medium=social&amp;;utm_campaign=buffer">“Smart” Dholera</a> and <a href="">privately governed Gurgaon</a>, to inner London’s <a href="">property-led social cleansing of working-class, black and otherwise undesirable residents</a>, to <a href="">Durban’s brutal oppression and marginalisation of shack-dwellers</a> and the <a href="">privatised “charter” Cities of the US and Honduras</a>. This is as true of older urban settings as the new developments (even if more acute in the latter) and is particularly pertinent given the mass capitalist urban productivism still predominating in China, India, South Africa and Nigeria. </p> <p>Importantly this paradox breeds conflicts: the counter-logics of increasing fragmentation and mass influxes of urban population for example are necessarily complicit and intertwined, proliferating and confronting spaces of obstruction, contradiction and resistance. Conflicts over whom and what our urban environments are for<em>, </em>over<em> </em>the<em> </em>pervasive and destructive rhetorics of “renewal”, “regeneration”, “beautification”, “resilience” and “the modern”. Within these conflicts, and amid pervasive mass dispossessions, residents of the city are utilising their own produced spaces to obstruct, expel and resist the devastating effects of the urban paradox. </p> <p>It is these residents whose struggles I have also attempted to highlight on the series: the young mothers in east London <a href="">fighting for universal housing</a>; the <a href="">anti-eviction movements</a> in Spain; the courageous occupiers of the world’s squares, <a href="">metro stations</a> and <a href="">public parks</a>; <a href="">the shack-dwellers of Durban</a> battling for universal housing; &nbsp;the communities of <a href="">Bogota resisting eviction and scarcity</a>; the people and “<em>non-people” </em>of Athens&nbsp; <a href="">challenging a corporate-fascist takeover</a> of Greece; the <a href="">migrant workers of Barcelona</a>; the brave communities of Palestine who continue <a href="">to build resistance</a> to colonisation; the workers <a href="">on the peripheries of Dhaka</a> opposing an oppressive global supply chain. And of course there are so many more we didn't cover—for example, the incredible <a href="">Southall Black Sisters</a> and their fight against state oppression in west London: the list is thankfully, endless. </p> <p>The challenge is of course one of persistence in the face of failure, of challenging the paradoxical logics of “urbanism” at their root—of building solidarities among the various fragments of humanity struggling for better, more just, social environments.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/tom-cowan/cities-in-conflict-editors-pick">Cities in Conflict: the editor&#039;s pick</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> openSecurity openSecurity Cities in Conflict Tom Cowan Cities of Exception Cities of Shock Splintering Cities The City Yet To Come The Disputed City The Insurgent City Fri, 02 May 2014 06:00:00 +0000 Tom Cowan 82397 at Dompak eco-city: a tale of corruption <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The creation of new master-planned cities is an emerging transnational trend stretching across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Indonesia’s dream of a clean, modern eco-city in Dompak, however has been mired by the corruption of local and national elites.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Urbanization in Asia is often talked about in terms of expanding slums, gated enclaves for the elite and endless sprawl. On the other hand, little attention has been paid to new master-planned cities popping up across the world that are designed to showcase national aspirations, to ‘leap-frog’ economies from Third World to First World, and to display the power and ambitions of the local elite. </p> <p>The creation of new master-planned cities is an emerging transnational trend stretching across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, with dozens of cities currently under construction to accommodate from tens of thousands to up to several million residents in some cases. Similarly, the price tag for these new cities ranges from the tens of millions of dollars up to 100 billion USD for Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Economic City.</p> <p>To justify such massive expenditures on urban mega-projects, governments provide various rationales: old cities are overcrowded, a new city will diversify or jump-start the economy, a new city will put them on the world stage, etc. There are no guarantees that this strategy works, and what’s more a growing body of evidence indicating that many of these projects, aside from the financial risks involved, are deeply mired in corruption.</p> <p><strong>The making of a new capital</strong></p> <p>The Riau Islands is an archipelago of over 3,000 islands located between the tip of the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The archipelago split from Riau Province, located on Sumatra, in 2004, one of several new provinces formed in the years following the downfall of President Suharto. In 2006, Riau Islands Province (Kepulauan Propinsi Riau, otherwise known as Kepri) along with Singapore, became part of a Special Economic Zone, which has resulted in an economic and population boom. Since 2000, the population of Kepri has doubled and, thanks to increased manufacturing and off-shore oil, the provincial government’s cash flow has hit an all-time high.</p> <p>After the new province was formed, government officials of Kepri quickly decided that Tanjung Pinang, a bustling port city of 100,000 and the main city of Riau Islands Province, would not be a suitable provincial capital. Rather, Dompak, a 925 hectare island a short drive south of Tanjung Pinang, was selected to be the site of the new capital and all public service sectors were to be relocated from Tanjung Pinang. </p> <p>When the decision was made to construct a new capital, Dompak had a population of 2,679 residents who primarily earned their living through fishing and other maritime activities. The local residents, however, did not fit in with the vision for the new capital and plans to relocate the entire population were soon drawn up.</p> <p>According to government officials in Kepri, the inspiration for Dompak is Putrajaya, Malaysia’s new administrative capital. The brainchild of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir, Putrajaya is a gleaming new capital with wide, empty streets and orderly clusters of high-rise apartments for civil servants situated around a man-made lake. Putrajaya’s government buildings, bridge and parks have a distinctive “Islamic fantasy” style, in which government buildings and other secular buildings are topped with Islamic-looking domes. </p> <p>With 20 kilometers of coastline, the plan was to transform Dompak into an ‘Eco City’ that would minimally impact the natural environment. The master plan features open green spaces and maintains the existing forest cover, water bodies and coastline as much as possible. Dompak was to have three bridges to connect it to Bintan Island and feature government offices, an Islamic university, a mosque, hospital, housing for civil servants, a golf course, botanic gardens and a small airport. In 2007, government officials publicly claimed that the Dompak project would achieve the level of prestige and international reputation that they perceived in Putrajaya.</p> <p>While the models for Dompak appeared to emulate Putrajaya’s formal and lavish Islamic-looking capital, the project has taken a dramatically different course than its Malaysian counterpart. Over the past several years, Dompak has been submerged in a corruption scandal that has stalled construction and irreversibly damaged the landscape and ecology of the island and the credibility of local officials.</p> <p>When the deadline for completion arrived at the end of 2010, only a third of the city infrastructure had been completed, while 75% of the 1.3 trillion rupiah budget had been spent. Since only the main mosque, Islamic center and several government buildings had been completed, the contractors paid the compulsory fine stipulated by the contract they signed with Kepri officials in 2007. Along with much of the original construction budget, the money paid by the contractors in 2011 <a href="">disappeared into the hands of local government officials</a>.</p> <p>The disappearance of the original investment funds, the lack of progress made on the infrastructure and buildings, and the missing fines have provoked considerable anger among residents of the Riau Islands. Since the island belongs solely to the government and there are no private buildings, the blame cannot be deflected away from the government. In a climate of rampant corruption, government officials do not appear to fear any consequences of their actions.</p> <p>Locals have expressed outrage and disbelief that the project, which was seen to be a symbolic and very public statement of Kepri’s new era of development and prosperity, should be so badly mismanaged. Student activists have attempted to pressure local Kepri government officials to perform a <em>sumpah pocong</em>, or ‘pocong’ oath, a Muslim oath that is intended to identify and religiously punish the corrupt individuals. The oath involves dressing government officials in white cloth usually used to dress Muslim corpses, and asking them direct questions about their involvement in the corruption. If lies are told while performing the oath, it is believed that those individuals would receive a direct punishment from God. All of the government officials <a href="">have refused to perform the oath</a>.&nbsp; </p> <p>Meanwhile, over 200 households <a href="">have refused to be relocated</a> off the island into housing provided by the government. Dompak residents have visited the government housing and <a href="">are outraged</a> to see that it is substandard, run-down and lacking plumbing and electricity. By the summer of 2012, only five households had agreed to leave Dompak and move into their new homes on Bintan Island. Several families <a href="">claim that they were forced</a> to leave against their wishes and did not feel they had been given a choice. While many locals do not own official documents for their ancestor’s land, several families do have paperwork that alleges that they own over 40 hectares of the island. <a href="">One landowner claims</a> that the government deliberately refused to acknowledge his claims or process his paperwork.</p> <p>Locals have also expressed frustration about the disruption to the island’s tranquility and the environment. The movement of earth has had an adverse effect on fishing, the most common occupation for Dompak residents,<a href=""> forcing locals to fish further afield</a> from their traditional areas near the island. &nbsp;<strong></strong></p> <p>Yet one of the most unbelievable developments in Dompak’s progress is the discovery that large tracts of the island were being excavated not to construct foundations for buildings, but to illegally mine bauxite. Bauxite is a component of aluminum, the price of which has risen dramatically in recent years. Large machinery was transported to Dompak over the recently built bridge to extract the bauxite from open pit mines located in close proximity to recently constructed government offices. The heavy machinery has badly damaged the bridge, which was intended for cars; even after the mining activities were publicized, <a href="">mining locations have increased</a>. Locals are shocked that law enforcement officials appear to be looking the other way as private mining companies openly bring equipment across the bridge. The mining activities have <a href="">badly damaged newly-built roads on the island</a> and caused major soil erosion and coastal pollution.</p> <p>Excavated earth, piles of bauxite and open pits lie next to new buildings and offices. The underground power lines that provide electricity for offices have been damaged and power outages are common. The pipe that encases electrical wires near the Agung Mosque appears to be cracked due to landslides caused by the excavation. The bauxite mining has irreparably ravaged the island’s ecosystem, completely derailed any ‘green’ aspirations for the project and severely undermined public confidence. </p> <p>A major public health problem has also emerged as a result of the open pit mining and poorly managed construction in Dompak. Over one thousand construction workers have fallen ill with malaria, a disease that had been wiped out from the region but has made a startling comeback.</p> <p>The fate of the new provincial capital encapsulates the rampant corruption that maintains Indonesia’s ranking as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. In 2013, Transparency International ranked Indonesia and Egypt as tied for 114th most corrupt countries, after Ethiopia, Kosovo and Tanzania. While city-centric development and the creation of new master planned cities have seduced government officials across the developing world who seek to project images of urban modernity and progress, new cities such as Dompak are proving to be an unprecedented opportunity for corrupt officials to personally enrich themselves.</p> <p>The dream of a clean, modern and eco-friendly capital for Riau Islands Province has been dashed for the foreseeable future. Until government officials in Riau Islands Province can regain the trust of investors and the local population, Dompak will sit as a massive monument to Indonesia’s misguided city-centric ambitions and the insidious and shameless corruption of the local and national elite.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/persis-taraporevala/creating-subjects-in-lavasa-private-city">Creating subjects in Lavasa: the private city</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/arthur-phillips/charter-cities-in-honduras">Charter cities in Honduras? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Indonesia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Dompak </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Dompak Indonesia Cities in Conflict Sarah Moser Cities of Exception Fri, 02 May 2014 00:00:00 +0000 Sarah Moser 82394 at Beyond the Kunming attack <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The recent attacks on Kunming train station represent a watershed moment in China-Uyghur relations, as Uyghurs across China face widespread recriminations.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><a href=""><small>Peter Carney/Demotix</small></a><br /><br />On March 1, a massacre at a busy Kunming train station claimed the lives of at least 29 individuals and injured more than 140.&nbsp; Before long, Chinese authorities blamed the attacks on a group of eight Uyghurs wielding knives who were led by Abduréhim Qurban (also spelled Abdurehim Kurban). Once again, violence in China has been at the hands of Uyghurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim group who predominate the <a href="">Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region</a>.&nbsp; </p> <p>The brutal attacks have evoked passionate and angry responses from the Chinese Party-State, Han and Uyghur netizens, and observers in the West. In the wake of the attacks, each party continue to sift through the still scant details of the perpetrators in order to better understand their motives. Meanwhile others appear more interested in engaging in debates on how to properly label the violence.&nbsp; </p> <p>Having conducted nearly three years of research among Uyghurs in Beijing and Xinjiang, however, I can’t help but consider the immediate and long term ramifications of the tragic incident. Certainly, the Kunming attacks will be a watershed moment in China’s overall treatment of the Uyghurs.&nbsp; </p> <p>Since the 2009 Urumqi riots, Western observers, including myself, have leant a sympathetic ear to Uyghur cries of the systematic mistreatment they endure at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).&nbsp; Indeed, we have thus far <em>blamed </em>the violence on discriminatory <a href="">government policy</a>, the <a href="">inaction of government officials</a>, or <a href="">Han people themselves</a> – whom Western analysts routinely, <a href="">yet incorrectly</a>, regard as the compliant executors of CCP policy, with few <a href="">dissenting voices</a> or <a href="">reflexive commentary</a>. To be sure, we have condemned the paroxysms of violence that have rattled stability in Xinjiang. But have our attempts to understand the bloodshed in the region and <a href="">Beijing</a>, unintentionally rationalized these actions? Concluding: violence in Xinjiang is reactionary; the Uyghurs have been provoked.&nbsp; </p> <p>Media outlets operating in China have been quick to dismiss the “West”'s (mis)representation of the violence. Whilst Chinese policy makers, journalists, as well as the broader public have pointed to the <a href=";from=timeline&amp;isappinstalled=1">West’s “contradictory” reporting practice</a>: it’s only terrorism when it happens on their soil, they retort.&nbsp; </p> <p>In fact, amid growing criticism from Chinese media, the US State Department formally labeled the Kunming attack as <a href=";_type=blogs&amp;_r=0">an act of terrorism</a> two days after the incident. </p> <p>Instead of chiming in to the “is this or isn’t this an act of ‘terrorism’” polemic, I would like to pose a question that is hopefully worthy of greater scrutiny.&nbsp; Would it not be better to stop debating the symantics of “terrorism” and instead focus on the significance and long term consequences of the Kunming attacks?</p> <p>Indeed, the attacks in Kunming are far more disturbing than other recent episodes of violence. To begin, they occurred outside Xinjiang.&nbsp; But unlike the October crash of an SUV in front of Beijing’s iconic Tiananmen Square, Kunming, the subtropical capital of Yunnan Province, is not a touchstone of Chinese political might. And unlike recent attacks in Kashgar and Khotan wherein perpetrators have targeted individuals with identifiable pro-CCP leanings – <a href="">police officers, village secretaries,</a> and other government officials, the assailants in Kunming indiscriminately and mercilessly attacked unsuspecting crowds.</p> <p>As the nature of these attacks change, so too will China’s treatment of the Uyghurs.&nbsp; </p> <p>For Uyghurs in Xinjiang, they will inevitably face more stringent surveillance and control as the government tries desperately to prevent further violence. Policy experts have already identified Zhang Chunxian’s, the current Party Secretary of Xinjiang, recently adopted <a href="">hardline approach to stability</a> in China’s far northwest as a nod in this direction. Invariably, these policies are aimed at curtailing the influence of Islam.&nbsp; </p> <p>To be sure, the CCP distinguishes between “legal” (Ch. <em>hefa</em>; Uy. <em>qanunluq</em>) and “illegal” (Ch. <em>feifa</em>;<em> </em>Uy. <em>qanunsiz</em>) religious activities, but the line dividing the two is blurry at best. &nbsp;Descriptions of the twenty-three “illegal religious activities” remain conspicuously vague and can be broadly interpreted by government officials at local levels.&nbsp; The umbrella of “illegal religious activities” will surely be widened, and even the most mundane forms of Islamic practice will now attract a suspicious gaze, if not the heavy hands, of government officials.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>For the growing number of Uyghurs who work and study in eastern Chinese cities, they will likely face more distrust and harassment from Han Chinese.&nbsp; Even before the Kunming tragedy, young Uyghurs living in Chinese cities claimed widespread discrimination. According to reports I have gathered, several college-educated, bilingual (Chinese and Uyghur) individuals have been refused rooms at Han-owned hotels. At transport hubs, they are routinely targeted by police during “random” checks and forced to present their identification cards. Unfortunately based on the practices already in place, the next step may be to round up Uyghurs who do not possess proper documentation and send them back to Xinjiang.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Based on my experiences on university campuses in Beijing, Uyghur and Han students keep their distance. The rare encounters between Uyghur and Han are regularly shrouded in misunderstanding and prejudice.&nbsp; Uyghur students are routinely asked condescending questions by their Han peers, such as: Why are the Uyghurs thieves? Do you travel by camel in Xinjiang? Do you share rooms with domesticated farm animals?&nbsp; If <a href="">Chinese blogs</a> provide any indication of the immediate future of Han-Uyghur relations, the teasing will soon mutate into vicious slurs.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>And finally for the CCP, the violence in Kunming confirms a grim reality—Uyghur discontent is rife and <em>not </em>isolated to a few, misguided individuals in Xinjiang. Thankfully, only a very small minority of Uyghurs will ever turn to violence. However, based on my interactions with Uyghurs throughout China, a large proportion of this marginalized ethnic group willfully reject their forced inclusion into China’s “great family” of peoples. Uyghurs resent China’s language policy, which prioritizes mastery of Putonghua over their mother tongue.&nbsp; Religiously devout Uyghurs insist that Islam is under attack by the Party-State. And young Uyghurs are frustrated with state and private employers who systematically favor Han Chinese in the hiring process.&nbsp; Until Party officials come to terms with the shortcomings of their policies, they will be incapable of achieving social stability in Xinjiang.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>I have no doubt that the CCP will maintain its sovereignty over Xinjiang for many years to come. All sides, Uyghur, Han, and the West, must accept this reality.&nbsp; Instead of pointing fingers or engaging in superfluous debate, these parties should redirect their energy towards finding effective, long term solutions that will end the string of senseless violence.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/liam-powers/kashgars-redevelopment-is-about-more-than-antiuyghur-sentiment-0">Kashgar&#039;s redevelopment is about more than anti-Uyghur sentiment</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/china-and-india-heartlands-of-global-protest">China and India: heartlands of global protest</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/hyun-bang-shin/development-and-dissent-in-chinas-urban-age">Development and dissent in China&#039;s &#039;urban age&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/jonathan-bach/shenzhen-constructing-city-reconstructing-subjects">Shenzhen: constructing the city, reconstructing subjects</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/xinjiang-tibet-beyond-china-s-ethnic-relations">Xinjiang, Tibet, beyond: China&#039;s ethnic relations</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/xinjiang-china-s-security-high-alert">Xinjiang: China’s security high-alert</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/henryk-szadziewski/kashgars-old-city-endgame">Kashgar&#039;s old city: the endgame</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> China </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Kunming </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Kunming China Cities in Conflict Liam Powers Cities of Exception Tue, 18 Mar 2014 15:35:17 +0000 Liam Powers 80422 at Crime and politics in Crimea <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img style="float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" src="" alt="" width="80" />The link between crime and politics in Crimea has been evident for some time. Now, crime boss Sergei Aksyonov – the ‘Goblin’ – has become its self-declared leader…</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Western media are widely reporting that self-declared Crimean leader Sergei Aksyonov was an organised crime boss in the 1990s, with the nickname ‘Goblin.’ The link between crime and politics in Crimea seems to have caught Western media off guard, and yet abundant evidence of such links has been available for a long time from a variety of sources, including US diplomatic cables.</p> <p>In the 1990s, Crimea was a major source of organised crime, and had the largest number of murders of any Ukrainian region, according to former Police Chief Yuriy Lutsenko, with Donetsk coming second. Not coincidentally, Crimea and Donetsk were the strongholds of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.</p><p class="pullquote-right">Links between business, politics and crime in the former USSR began to surface in the second half of the 1980s.</p> <p>Links between business, politics and crime in the former USSR began to surface in the second half of the 1980s, at the same time as Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev liberalised the economy. Crime exploded in three regions of Ukraine – Crimea, Donetsk and Odesa – where there were huge profits to be made from trade, tourism, property and the export of raw materials. During this legal vacuum, and at a time of the disintegration of one state (USSR) and a yet-to-be-built Ukraine, individuals such as Yanukovych, Aksyonov and their Donetsk and Crimean allies literally fought their way to the top. Those who survived the bloodshed, by the late 1990s were already attempting to transform themselves into <em>biznesmeni</em>.</p> <p>
Serhiy Taruta was appointed Donetsk governor by Kyiv’s then revolutionary leaders because although co-director of the Industrial Union of Donbas, he had never joined the Party of Regions, and supported the pro-Western opposition. In 2010, Yulia Tymosenko’s election headquarters were located in Kyiv’s Hyatt Hotel that he owns.</p> <p>A <a href="">cable from the US Embassy in Kyiv</a> reported that Taruta had dismissed the whole Donetsk-Regions group, saying 'they are all looters’, which, as clearly seen in the massive asset and budget stripping that occurred under Yanukovych. Former National Security and Defence Council Secretary Volodymyr Horbulin <a href="">told US Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst</a> that the Party of Regions was 'notable for its inclusion of criminal and anti-democracy figures.' <a href="">Another cable</a> described the Party of Regions as, 'long a haven for DONETSK-based mobsters and oligarchs,' led by 'DONETSK CLAN godfather Rinat Akhmetov.' 
Akhmetov, who has close business ties to Yanukovych going back to the 1990s, backed him to the ignominious end, and has issued timid statements during the Maidan protests and Crimean invasion.</p><p class="pullquote-right">The Party of Regions elected organised crime leaders to the Ukrainian and Crimean parliaments.</p> <p>The Party of Regions elected organised crime leaders to the Ukrainian and Crimean parliaments and local government. In the March 2006 elections to the Crimean parliament and local councils, hundreds of candidates who had 'problems with the law,' according to then Interior Minister Lutsenko, ran in the election blocs ‘For Union!’ and ‘For Yanukovych!’ </p> <p>Many of these candidates were, like Aksyonov, members of the Seilem organised crime gang, such as its leader Aleksandr Melnyk who was elected in the ‘For Yanukovych!’ bloc. Yanukovych reportedly told a Party of Regions deputy who criticized this alliance with organised crime that, 'I take responsibility for him (Melnyk);' 

and Prime Minister Yanukovych asked Police Chief Lutsenko to not touch 'my Sasha' (Melnyk). </p> <p><span>The corrupt Prosecutor-General’s office assisted in protecting these ties between politics, business and crime. Former Deputy Prosecutor-General Renat Kuzmin ensured Melnyk evaded justice, after the Party of Regions lobbied the prosecutor’s office not to press charges. Lutsenko said, 'Having all the evidence connecting the (Seilem) gang to murders' Kuzmin 'releases the man who Yanukovych shelters, the head of an organised crime gang.' <a href="">Lutsenko told the US Embassy in Kyiv</a> that the Seilem organised crime gang had been responsible in the 1990s for 52 contract murders, including one journalist, two police officers, 30 businessmen and 15 organised crime competitors</span><span>.</span></p> <p>Kuzmin ‘rehabilitated’ another of Ukraine’s most notorious crime bosses, Givi Nemsadze, who led an organized crime gang that committed over a hundred murders. In 2010, after Yanukovych came to power, criminal charges against Nemsadze were closed.</p> <p>In the second half of the 1990s, when Yanukovych was Governor of Donetsk, Nemsadze’s organised crime group had worked for him destroying a rival gang led by Yevhen Kushnir who was blamed for the murders of Donetsk crime boss Akhat Bragin ('Alek the Greek'), and Ukraine’s then wealthiest oligarch Yevhen Shcherban in 1995-1996. Ethnic ties from Russian Tatarstan connected Bragin, Shcherban and Akhmetov; and a large Islamic school and mosque was opened in Donetsk in the late 1990s, in honour of Bragin that was paid for by Akhmetov.</p> <p>From 1997, when Yanukovych became Donetsk governor until 1999, 24 Kushnir gang members were murdered and eight imprisoned while none of the Namsadze gang were arrested. Melnyk and the Seilem groups, which included Aksyonov, provided local protection for the business interests of Yanukovych and Donetsk oligarch Rinat Akhmetov. Subsequently, the Seilem and Nemsadze gangs defeated their Kushnir and the Bashmaki rivals. In Donetsk, organised crime integrated itself under the <em>krysha</em> (Russian for 'roof' and widely used as a term for official protection) of the Party of Regions whereas in the Crimea they established Russian nationalist parties such as Russian Unity led by Aksyonov.</p> <p>The Donetsk prosecutor’s office in the 1990s and the following first half of the decade was led by Kuzmin, ousted Prosecutor-General Viktor Pshonka and former Prosecutor-Generals Hennady Vasyliev and Oleksandr Medvedko, all of whom had strong ties to the Party of Regions. With a background in covering up gangland murders on behalf of political and business bosses, it is little wonder there was no rule of law in Ukraine. Perversely, Kuzmin led the criminal cases against Tymoshenko upon whom he tried to pin the Shcherban murder.</p> <p>Criminal ties to business and politics did not stop there. Gas tycoon Dmytro Firtash, who was detained in Vienna on Thursday 14 March, and Akhmetov gained enormously from Yanukovych’s presidency. Firtash <a href="">admitted</a> in December 2008 to US Ambassador Taylor that he had been assisted in entering the energy business by mafia don Semyon Mogilevich who is wanted by the FBI. Mogilevich protected the energy market, and worked with Russian leaders until 2008, just ahead of the [opaque] gas intermediary RosUkrEnergo (45% owned by Firtash) being removed in the January 2009 gas contract, negotiated by Vladimir Putin and Tymoshenko.</p> <p>In his capacities as Prime Minister and President, Yanukovych strengthened the already close ties between crime and energy. The 2006-2007 Yanukovych government signed an oil deal whereby the four owners in Vanco Prykerchenska included Akhmetov’s DTEK (Donbas Fuel-Energy holding), Party of Regions deputy Vasyl Khmelnytskyy’s Austrian-registered Integrum Technologies, and Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Novitsky’s Shadowlight Investments. A <a href="">US cable from Moscow</a> and other sources described Novitsky as leader of the Solntsevo criminal gang&nbsp;that provided protection to gas intermediaries such as Itera, that had been operated in the 1990s by Gazprom.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p> The alliance between Yanukovych, Donetsk oligarchs such as Akhmetov, Party of Regions bosses and Crimean Russian nationalists such as Aksyonov, was always close; with the appointment of Aksyonov as ‘leader’ of Crimea, those ties will only become closer.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/taras-kuzio/crimea-%E2%80%93-from-playground-to-battleground">Crimea – from playground to battleground</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/gerard-toal/could-crimea-be-another-bosnia-republika-srpska-krajina">Could Crimea be another Bosnia?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/andrei-vasiliev/crimean-%E2%80%98army%E2%80%99">The Crimean ‘Army’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ukraine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia Ukraine Taras Kuzio Cities of Exception Ukraine is missing something Politics Economy Conflict Fri, 14 Mar 2014 14:59:03 +0000 Taras Kuzio 80320 at 25 years of MIPIM is enough <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Real estate managers, asset dealers and city sellers at this years MIPIM, the world's biggest property fair, will for the first time be met by a Europe-wide coalition, calling for an end to the great city sell-off.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>During the past 25 years some of us have been promised private homes, but all we got is debt and the threat of eviction. Others paid rising rents, and what we got is a lack of maintenance, and gentrification. Many have been pushed out of our neighbourhoods; others are homeless or badly housed. During the past 25 years much investment has come through our cities, but at the end the vast majority of us are poorer. In their view we, the producers of their buildings, the inhabitants of their assets play only one role: We pay for their business and loans; be it as tenants, as mortgage payers or as citizens and tax payers. </p><p><iframe width="460" height="259" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p><p>Now, after 25 years, after all the costs, the losses, the crashes it is really time to say “no” to this business. For a long time we have been saying no: no to evictions in Barcelona and Rome, no to homelessness in Paris and Budapest, no to gentrification in London and Berlin, no to rent increases and no to demolitions…but that has not stopped them. Now we are coming to where they gather to say “no” even in Cannes! No to their destructive ideas of a total market, where houses and other social infrastructure become private, purely financial, assets! No to their reduction of the city, our common habitat, to a globally competing business place, filled only with commodities. No to the plundering of our environment and urban heritage! No to their workfare, precaritisation and control! No to the public bailout of their crisis, their crashes. No to their systems of greed, structural irresponsibility and profit extraction!</p> <p><strong>Look back in anger</strong></p> <p>When the first Mipim took place 25 years ago the crisis of the social factory with its mass housing machines was already 20 years old. In reaction to that crisis the neoliberal ideology of homeownership has been normalised and the “right to buy” progressively replaced the right to equal housing rights. In 1989 the time was ripe for the lift-off of the property business from its territorial relations and the freeing from its role as a mere service for industrial production and social reproduction. The real estate business became an “industry” in its own. As Mipim was one of the main promoters of this development we call this phenomenon “Mipimism”.</p> <p>Mipimism was warmly welcomed by market-driven governments in Europe. Germany for instance, after long political disputes, in 1989 abolished a law which protected the huge sector of non-for-profit rental housing from being sold out. Soon after the iron curtain fell and Eastern Europe became an El Dorado for privatisers and speculators. At the same time the growing European Union totally moved in the direction of neoliberal market policies without a counterpart; in social rights and equality. Step by step, all barriers for the free float of globally accumulated and heavily concentrated capital were abolished. Much of this capital was invested into housing and commercial real estate, making living in Europe's major cities more and more unaffordable. Tourism, urban entertainment, the concentration of retail, mega-events and large scale urban projects transformed many city regions into agglomerations of transnational property investments.</p> <p>At the same time financial accumulation and new technologies of shadow banking promoted the development of a huge transnational mortgage and housing bubble. The crashes since 2007, the public bail outs, the fundamental crisis of the EU and the mortgage misery in southern Europe during the past years…all a consequence of 25 years of Mipimism.</p> <p><strong>Diagnosis of the results</strong></p> <p>Let’s have a look at the results, as they appear to the members of our European Action Coalition:</p> <p>In Southern Europe the Troika reacted to the debt crisis with conditions which deeply affect people’s housing. Instead of liberating the real use-value of the housing stocks from financial abuse and transforming it into social, public or common housing, the Troika enforced a bailout of the failed mortgage banks without protecting indebted homeowners from the consequences. As a consequence there has been a dramatic increase in housing precarity and forced evictions in all countries.</p> <p><strong>In Spain</strong> economic growth during the past decade was mainly based on tourism and real estate. <a href="">The result was an enormous housing bubble.</a> At the same time no social housing provision was established. In order to get a house people were forced to shift into the debt system and lend money at high risks and on bad terms. When the bubble burst people were not able to pay their mortgages. 200.000 families have been evicted, 400.000 foreclosure processes are going on. At the same time the unemployment rate is 27% and 3.5 million homes are empty. The state bailed out the banks resulting in extraordinary high public debt, being a threat for the whole economy not only in Spain.</p> <p><strong>Also Portugal</strong>l during the past 25-30 years promoted private mortgage and the creation of a housing bubble as a “solution” for mass housing. Their crazy logic: the more credit available, the higher the prices of houses will be. Now, after the crash most families are indebted for their whole life. Because of the austerity politics of the Portuguese government on the orders of Troika, people are also losing their jobs and can’t afford the loans anymore.<br /> In its “memorandum of understanding” the Troika also imposed the full liberalization of the rental housing market which means rent increase and evictions. Also the new urban renewal plans and the sale of public housing, land and infrastructure is part of the austerity regime.&nbsp; Consequently, there is a deep transformation of city centres. Local residents and traditional commerce gets replaced with hotels, franchised shops, hostels and luxury houses. Within few years this has caused a fundamental change in the social composition of the city. The working classes will have no space inside the central city districts any more.</p> <p><strong>In Greece</strong> the housing problem is a direct consequence of the austerity politics implemented by the Greek government following the Troika adjustment programs and consecutive memoranda since 2010. Housing precarity has increased because of the expansion of credit and dependence of access to housing from bank lending in previous years, but also because of the heavy taxation that the government is imposing on private property and the increasing housing costs. People can no longer pay for their houses because of rising unemployment (almost 30% at the end of 2013), reduction of income, cuts in pensions and wages leading to an acute impoverishment of wide parts of the population. As a result people are indebted towards the banks, the state and social security funds. Inability to pay and poverty is penalised and people are threatened with confiscations of income, pensions, mobile and immobile property. The protective frame and moratorium of evictions that was in place until the end of 2013, is now being withdrawn, and housing auctions and evictions are starting to take place. But it is not only private property and housing that is under threat. As part of the adjustment program a huge privatisation and clearance program is taking place, putting all public land and property on sale to international and local investors in order to increase public revenues. Housing precarity and auctions are also used as a way to produce a slump in the real-estate market in order to provide for better ‘investment opportunities’ further jeopardising the right to housing and the city.</p> <p> <iframe width="460" height="259" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p><p><strong>In Britain</strong> council housing stock has been decimated, home ownership has massively decreased, tenants have been pushed into insecure tenures, a third of renters are in the private sector and a large number of them are impoverished. Squatting residential properties has been criminalized in a general shift to shore up property rights. We are seeing a massive deregulation of the planning procedures in the interest of developers. Demolition and rebuilding of social housing is failing to provide affordable homes for local people and leads to ever more reduction of secure council stock. Thus homelessness has risen steeply with funds solely for management, rather than breaking the cycle. It is readily apparent that change will not occur from representational bodies, due to the fact that a third of parliamentarian members are buy to let landlords. ‘Revolving doors’ policies between local municipalities and private developers are common practice and are showcased spectacularly at MIPIM. These ensure profits for an elite of housing speculators and investors at the cost of ordinary tenants.</p> <p><strong>In the Netherlands</strong> a broad social rental sector was built from the beginning of the twentieth century that gave access to affordable good quality housing to approximately 1/3 of the Dutch population (5 million people in 2012). But this social housing system has been under attack over the last 25 years. The social housing corporations got entangled in a leak to the capital market; they privatised the social housing stock, demolished thousands of social rental homes and were floated in megalomaniac urban renewal and gentrification programs. As a result the social housing stock has been seriously reduced. At the same time the Dutch government has been executing neoliberal policies promoting privatization, home-ownership and high rent increases. Currently the government is paving way for a massive sell off of the social rental housing sector to foreign investors. Also since 2013 it is further taxing the social housing sector millions of euros to pay for the debts of the crisis. In these dynamics, the shortage of affordable housing in the Netherlands is growing, hence people are increasingly forced to accept temporary rental contracts without any tenants rights. ‘Vacant property protectors’, commercial companies that were born from the interests of real estate, have found a way to by-pass all tenants’ rights completely, thus setting a new norm for the right to housing: it will be precarious.<br /><br /> <strong>In Belgium</strong> the governments (federal, regional and municipal) in general have failed to create a housing policy that respects the constitutional Article 23 concerning the right to housing, thus failing to ensure affordable (social) housing for those that need that in the long term. Increases in the cost of real estate in the form of gentrification of cities has resulted in less access to housing, the eviction of residents and in general the negation of the right to housing. Especially in the main Walloon cities, housing speculation has as a primary consequence the process of gentrification and therefore the displacement of the original population. In Charleroi, Liège, Brussels, as in Louvain-la-Neuve, in the province of Brabant, people can no longer afford to live in their home town and are moving to more accessible areas for the benefit of new, more affluent residents. In Brussels about half of children already live in inadequate housing,- unsafe or too small. Most better quality housing is very expensive. The demand for social housing is the most pressing in Brussels (40,000 households waiting).</p> <p><strong>In the countries of ex-Yugoslavia</strong> MIPIMism arrived only after the wars had ended, therefore quite late and in the form of selling off of infrastructure and natural resources. The effects of homegrown and international privatization have been disastrous, leading to mass impoverishment, unemployment and critical levels of precariousness. Property development is almost completely deregulated and politicians are able to sign off public assets without due process. The current uprisings in Bosnia are a good example of the effects of the marketization of public assets and the deregulation of planning and political power which go hand in hand in the states of post-war Yugoslavia.<br /><br /> <strong>In Germany </strong>more than 2 million housing units were sold after 2000. Approximately 900,000 housing units today are under direct control of financial investors. At the level of the housing and facility management the results were disastrous: Forced to extract a return and interest from an aged housing stock, landlords reduced maintenance and the workforce in their management. A proportion of the companies “defaulted”. In spite of these experiences public banks and governments in 2013 have continued to sell housing companies to private business controlled by financial investors.</p> <p><strong><em>Concrete accusations of Mipim-attendees</em></strong><br /> <em><br /> In Cannes members of the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and to the City will point out the following concrete cases of violations of housing rights, democratic and social principles in their cities by actors who attend the MIPIM</em>:</p> <p>From Lisbon “Habita” accuses ESTAMO, which is a public company responsible for the sale of public land and buildings and the CML which is the municipality of Lisbon. Together these two public entities are promoting speculative operations and sell the public infrastructure in retail. “Habita” also accuses real estate funds from banks like Millennium-BCP that have been buying land and promoting processes of mass eviction of the poor from working class areas in collaboration&nbsp; with municipal entities.These banks are also among the actors which are mainly responsible for the housing bubble in Portugal. The bubble indebted thousands of families for life, and evicted them from their foreclosed homes. Even in losing their home, they still maintain a debt to the bank.</p> <p>The Athens groups “encounterAthens”, Committe of struggle for a metropolitan park in Helliniko, occupied theater EMPROS, Solidarity for all, Network for the protection of Saronikos bay<strong> </strong>are accusing the state company TAIPED (hellenic republic asset development fund), the greek government and the Troika for the austerity and privatisation policies they are implementing, in favour of the banks, financial sector and big investors. The processes of deprivation and dispossession that are taking place are putting people and local communities in fear, insecurity, while undermining the possibilities of their future recovery.</p> <p>The “<strong><a href="">Radical Housing Network</a>” </strong>in London accuses the mayor Boris Johnson of cultivating a metropolis for global elites and forcing lifelong communities to disperse. Across the capital council estates are being demolished and unaffordable homes are taking their place. We accuse Brent Housing Partnership and the corporate councils of Brent and Southwark, the construction firm Willmott Dixon, developers Lend Lease, Berkeley Homes, and the housing associations Catalyst and Genesis that control the new housing product. All these will be in attendance, making MIPIM-deals without transparency or consultation of those affected.</p> <p>The “Bond Precaire Woonvormen”<strong>, </strong>a Union of people whose housing situation is precarious from the NETHERLANDS, is accusing Camelot Europe, one of the largest ‘vacant property protecting’ commercial companies, that is by-passing all existing tenant laws and using people in need of housing as ‘real-estate pawns’ and as ‘out-sourced dwellers’ that only serve to facilitate speculation. The Mipimist Camelot is currently housing thousands of people throughout Europe, without assuming the slightest responsibility that a landlord should bear. Speculation research collective “SPOK” is accusing the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area since the shortage of affordable housing in the region is grinding yet at the same time the (office) vacancy rates are excessive.<br /> The BELGIAN organisations “Habitat et Participation”, “Solidarités Nouvelles” and “Réseau brabançon pour le droit au logement” point their accusations to the Belgian government and the investors at Mipim who should have moral and social responsibilities. They explain how big developers, hand in hand with the government, transform Brussels by constructing buildings for the middle and upper classes. This work goes much faster than the construction of new social housing. In older neighbourhoods, small owners benefit from the arrival of a new population and the increase in prices by dislodging former tenants to renovate and re-let at double the price. In Charleroi, a formerly working industrial area with a high unemployment rate, the city center is being “revitalized” by the “cleansing” of neighborhoods which started with the renovation of the station in 2010.</p> <p><strong>Tenant Associations from RUHR DISRICT </strong>(Germany) accuse some of their large financialized landlords of extracting profit from the housing companies without respect to standards and needs. Currently they i.e. accuse LEG to demand unjustified rent increases.</p> <p>The <strong>Serbian </strong>government is accused for the project “Belgrade on the Water” which it is presenting at this year’s MIPIM. This so-called masterplan is another word for a land grab which will encourage international land banking, expropriation and consolidation of prime riverside land, the use of political power to sell off public land for the benefit of transnational capital and the United Arab Emirates, and the seeking of party-political gains by Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, whose political career is directly responsible for the war in Yugoslavia, and whose government has only further dispossessed the people of Serbia.<br /> <strong><em></em></strong></p><p><strong><em>Decentralised Action</em></strong></p><p>Parallel or in context with the activities in Cannes the following decentralised actions will take place by local organisations in the cities:</p><p> In Sabadell near Barcelona the<a href=""> Platform of Victims of the Mortage and the&nbsp; Crisis (PAH) </a>since 5th March<a href=""> has been occupying a bank office</a> protesting against forced evictions of several families.</p> <p>On Thursday 6th March housing groups and residents from across London<a href=""> demonstrated outside the London City Hall </a>to express their anger at Mayor Boris Johnson and over 20 UK councils participating in the MIPIM conference.</p> <p>On Saturday 8th March a local group in Düsseldorf, Germany, <a href="">organized an open meeting</a> in a housing estate of the former public landlord LEG, which via Goldman Sachs meanwhile is being traded at the stock exchange. In Düsseldorf – as in many other cases – LEG has increased the rents heavily.</p> <p>In Portugal, on March 26th, residents from different popular neighborhoods of Amadora (near to Lisbon) will promote a convergence process of the struggle: a demonstration will be organized in front of the City Hall of Amadora because this has been a major player in the execution of hundreds of evictions on land recently bought by speculation funds like Millennium-BCP. Moreover, this town hall has also increased social rents, impoverishing the families of social housing neighborhoods and forcing them into the rental market</p> <p>In Athens, on March 15th, groups, individuals and social movements fighting for the right to housing and the city,<a href=""> will demonstrate in front of the seat of TAIPED in the center of Athens</a> (Kolokotroni Square) against the privatisation of public land and property, which leads to the displacement of local groups and their usage, and the delivery of public assets to private speculation.</p><p><hr /> <em>Statement released by the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City on <a href="">Reclaiming Spaces</a>.</em></p><p> <strong>For more articles on the series, go to the <a href="">Cities in Conflict</a> home page.</strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Radical Housing Network</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/alex-vasudevan/reclaiming-life-in-precarious-city">Reclaiming life in the precarious city </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/chloe-peacock/territorial-stigma-and-regeneration-in-tottenham">Territorial stigma and regeneration in Tottenham </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/cecil-sagoe/squeezing-poor-out-of-london">Squeezing the poor out of London</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/kate-belgrave/focus-e15-young-mothers-struggle-for-universal-housing">Focus E15: the young mothers&#039; struggle for universal housing</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/carlos-delcl%C3%B3s/victims-no-longer-spain%E2%80%99s-anti-eviction-movement">Victims no longer: Spain’s anti-eviction movement</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/crisis-scape/athens-future-suspended">Athens: future suspended</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> openSecurity Can Europe make it? openSecurity Cities in Conflict European Action Coalition for the Right to housing and the city European Cities in Conflict Cities of Exception Fri, 14 Mar 2014 12:58:50 +0000 European Action Coalition for the Right to housing and the city 80313 at From Olympic spectacle to social crisis: review of Future Suspended <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><strong>Review:</strong> Crisis-Scape's new film invites us in to the shadows of Athens, a city tenuously held together by state imposed order, privatisation, anxiety and violence. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>New documentary by the <a href="">Crisis-Scape</a> collective, <strong>Future Suspended</strong> focuses on the hues of the Greek crisis usually absent from media headlines that hover between flaming streets and indecisive boardrooms. Both elegant yet unflinching, the film draws upon voices from everyday life tracing the trajectory of Greece’s recent history: ‘from Olympic spectacle’ to what the film names, ‘the dawn of the authoritarian – financial complex'. </p><p>Using the glossy metro as a metaphor, the film transports us through the mega infrastructure which fuelled Greece's decade of rapid growth (the pinnacle of which was the 2004 Olympic Games, a testament Greece had 'made it'), infrastructure which now seem absurd monuments. After three years of fiscal adjustment – as the authorities like to call the on-going social catastrophe – Greece today is encapsulated by three themes which the documentary explores:&nbsp; privatised, devalued and militarised.&nbsp; </p> <p><strong>Privatised: land, Olympics and the neoliberal city.</strong></p> <p>One of the conditions of economic bail-out was that the government take on one of the largest disinvestment programmes in the world. And all state owned enterprises and other public assets continue to be put up for sale with one single stated aim: any money raised will be used solely to repay Greece’s creditors. Debt repayments are currently made towards European governments, the European bailout fund and the IMF who currently hold three quarters of Greece’s debt, one quarter is in the form of bonds – which from the <a href="">millions made on it</a>, we know is partly in the hands of various hedge funds. The film details the role of the Greek <a href="">TAIPED</a> fund responsible for the transfer of all water, rail and electricity companies, airports, ports and roads, real estate properties, mines and licensing to private investors. TAIPED is not only composed of ex-employees from many of the soon-to-be privatised companies, but thus far there has been no public access to information about decision making withing TAIPED, decisions which have an immense public impact.</p> <p>And yet, much of the dystopian tone of the film comes from images of those public assets unsold and lying dormant. Just like Spain, where the landscape is dotted with white elephant projects like <a href="">airports with no planes</a>, Future Suspended takes us to the desolation of the abandoned Elliniko airport, which the state had hoped to sell to foreign developers eager to develop luxurious real-estate. The reality is far from the government’s hopes: the old airport has been left to dilapidate, with no investment forthcoming the airport has been transformed into a community garden by a local community resisting the sell-off.</p> <p><strong>Devalued: everyday racism, the depreciation of labour and of human life</strong></p> <p>Many who watch the film may be well aware of the explosion of racist and xenophobic crimes, linked by most to Golden Dawn's growing popularity. <em>Future Suspended</em> looks at the rising phenomenon of race crimes through the prism of the urban landscape, crimes which according to the filmmakers, are primarily spearheaded, not by the Golden Dawn, but by a more pervasive mainstream state apparatus. Using narratives of everyday racism the film demonstrates the extent to which state propelled racism is just as formidable and culpable as thug violence. Through various interview, eye-witnesses give account to the manner in which scapegoating migrants has had increased purchase since the crisis began. The dangers and myths are powerfully extolled in a scene with members of the United African Women’s Organisation in Athens, who describe how migrants are being targeted by the government to divert people’s attention from the real problem, government imposed impoverishment.</p> <p><strong>Militarised: state of emergency and the ill city </strong></p> <p><em>Future Suspended’s </em>final theme, focuses on militarisation. Despite maintaining a semblance of democracy, the film details the manner in which, under crisis the state apparatus has become radically authoritarian. The film walks us through the at-times heavily militarised neighbourhoods of Athens, such as Exarcheia, wherein the state of emergency is used by the police to purge resistance to the crisis. It often comes as a surprise to hear that Greece has one of the <a href="">largest military expenditures</a> as a proportion of GDP in the EU. However, with corruption scandals unfolding over the past month regarding foreign companies <a href="">bribing officials</a> to win contracts, and the willing determination of politicians to push through austerity, the issues raised by Future Suspended are perhaps less surprising. </p> <p>In order to deal with a society that is crumbling and the corollary widespread disobedience towards the state’s agenda, the state has needed to reinvent its repressive rhetoric and technologies. This is not done only through the use of force, but also through increased use of <a href="">legislative</a> acts used to bulldoze through unpopular changes, without Parliamentary approval. Combined, <em>Future Suspended</em> invites us to the shadow of a city, kept together by state imposed order, violence, anxiety and poverty. </p><p> <iframe src="//" width="460" height="281" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/crisis-scape/athens-future-suspended">Athens: future suspended</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/ross-domoney-antonis-vradis/metronome">Metronome</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/ross-domoney/landscapes-of-emergency">Landscapes of emergency</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/ross-domoney/notes-from-athens-social-meltdown">Notes from Athens: Social meltdown</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Greece </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Athens </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Can Europe make it? openSecurity Athens Greece Cities in Conflict Christina Laskaridis European Cities in Conflict Cities of Exception Tue, 25 Feb 2014 16:54:13 +0000 Christina Laskaridis 79690 at Athens: future suspended <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><strong>Watch: </strong>What impact does a global financial crisis have on everyday life in the city? Crisis-Scape's final 35' documentary film traces the multiple transformations of crisis-ridden Athenian public space and those who traverse it.</p> </div> </div> </div> <iframe src="//;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="460" height="259" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe><p> Future Suspended is divided in three sections. “Privatised” explores the legacy of mass privatisation projects that preceded the 2004 Olympics, placing them in the context of present day privatisation schemes. “Devalued” gazes at the ever-shrinking spaces of migrants in the city and the devaluation of their lives that comes as a result. “Militarised” shows how, in face of the crisis, this devaluation turns into a generalised condition. Through its cinematic traversal of today's Athens, "Future Suspended" traces the rise of the authoritarian-financial complex and how this shrinks public space in the city, fuelling social despair and anger in return. Future Suspended is part of the research project at</p><p> <em>This film is released under the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence. Details here: <a href=""></a></em> <hr /> <strong>For more articles on the series go to the <a href="">Cities in Conflict</a> main page.</strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/christina-laskaridis/from-olympic-spectacle-to-social-crisis-review-of-future-suspended">From Olympic spectacle to social crisis: review of Future Suspended</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/ross-domoney/impossible-biographies-migrant-life-in-crisis-athens-0">Impossible biographies: migrant life in crisis-Athens</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/ross-domoney-antonis-vradis/metronome">Metronome</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/antonis-vradis/crisis-of-presence-war-on-greek-cities">A crisis of presence: the war on Greek cities</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/jaya-klara-brekke/mapping-racist-violence-in-athens">Mapping racist violence in Athens</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/dimitris-dalakoglou/greetings-from-athenian-democracy">Greetings from Athenian democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/ross-domoney/notes-from-athens-political-build-up">Notes from Athens: Political build-up</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/ross-domoney/notes-from-athens-social-meltdown">Notes from Athens: Social meltdown</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Greece </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Athens </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Can Europe make it? openSecurity Athens Greece Cities in Conflict Video Crisis-Scape European Cities in Conflict Cities of Exception Tue, 25 Feb 2014 12:54:33 +0000 Crisis-Scape 79681 at The resilience of neoliberal urbanism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span><span class="null">Resilience, the latest urban policy and think tank buzzword extolled upon the world's urban dwellers, operates as an insidious alias to dispossession and territorial stigmatisation.</span></span><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG ></o> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--></p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Yesterday morning (27<sup>th</sup> January 2014) I noticed a few tweets announcing the Guardian’s <a target="_blank" href="">new “Cities” section</a>. The newspaper has a track record of publishing excellent short essays addressing urban issues, especially in its “Comment is Free” section, so I confess to initial interest and perhaps even mild excitement.&nbsp; Then I read two of the introductory pitches by the editorial team, delivered with an intention to “start the debate”.</p> <p>Yesterday morning (27<sup>th</sup> January 2014) I noticed a few tweets announcing the Guardian’s <a target="_blank" href="">new “Cities” section</a>. The newspaper has a track record of publishing excellent short essays addressing urban issues, especially in its “Comment is Free” section, so I confess to initial interest and perhaps even mild excitement.&nbsp; Then I read two of the introductory pitches by the editorial team, delivered with an intention to “start the debate”. The first was by editor Mike Herd, entitled “<a href="">What makes your city so special</a>?” the sort of emetic rubric you might expect to find a ‘Business Traveller’ section of an in-flight magazine. Here is how he invited browsers to contribute:</p> <p>“This is truly the age of the metropolis, and we want to uncover what's really going on in cities all over the planet – be it good, bad or eye-wateringly ugly…..[W]e want to start the conversation now: tell us about the one initiative in your city which has made the most significant difference to your personal quality of life. It can be on any issue, big or small, from a smart city app to an old-quarter renovation, new cycle paths to a community cooking collective. Just write a short explanation of what – and who – makes it so great, and we'll feature a few of our favourites on the site soon. Thanks for stopping by.”</p> <p>Amidst the bilious drivel (I think a ‘community cooking collective’ is best understood as a ‘Big Society’ dystopia), a few buzzwords stood out: “smart city app”, “old-quarter renovation”, “cycle paths”.&nbsp; The steer is towards a particular vision, that of the gentrifying city embraced by policy elites enamoured with pseudo-intellectuals like Richard Florida, Leo Hollis, Andres Duany and Ed Glaeser, but universally panned by any urbanist with a sense of social justice and an ounce of theoretical awareness.&nbsp;&nbsp; A few tweeters began to smell a rat, but <a href="">Rich Goulding</a> produced my favourite: “Tell us about the most innovative synergistic initiative unleashing quality of life in your shanty town”. Already more widely across the website, and propping up the gentrified quaintness being embraced, were uncritical nods towards the urbanism of Jane Jacobs, whose defeat of New York City’s master planners is these days romanticised as a humanising vision for cities without any <a href="">acknowledgement of the disruptive and cookie-cutter gentrification that such a vision has unleashed all over the world</a>.</p> <p>Next up was <a href="">a longer piece</a> written by, tellingly, an architecture and design critic, Oliver Wainwright, who began by parroting the irksome nugget that “more than half of the world's population now live in a city” before continuing with, mercifully, the welcome statement that “such statistics are meaningless without asking what these cities will be like, who they are for, and how they are being made.”&nbsp; But that’s where any genuinely critical impulse ends. Wainwright continues,</p> <p>“Featuring regular contributions from established experts and new voices, we'll be peeling back the glossy veneer of the computer renderings, and going beyond the facts and figures of the city sales pitch, to ask what our future cities will actually be like – and how we can influence them for the better.”</p> <p>In an essay that actually reads more like a research centre grant application, he outlines a few issues facing cities and asks what he thinks are pertinent questions, all of which have already been (and continue to be) addressed by urban scholars all over the world, and some of which cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered critical, e.g. “as high streets continue to decline, could there be more to the city experience than eating and shopping?” </p> <p>Wainwright’s article draws to a conclusion with the first mention of a word I was waiting for:</p> <p>“Facing threats of flooding and earthquakes, storms and tsunamis, the resilience of cities is tested to the limit…with flooding becoming an increasingly regular event, should we be retreating behind bigger barriers and steeper levees, or learning to adapt our cities to work with, rather than against, these conditions?”</p> <p><strong>Resilience</strong> </p><p>This is the latest policy and think tank abomination to infect and paralyse the study of cities, to the extent that it has become a research funding council priority all over the world (recently, the Urban Europe “<a href="">Joint Programming Initiative</a>” was released, inviting proposals on broad topics, among them “Urban Vulnerability, Adaptability, and Resilience”, where projects will “enhance understanding of and response to natural, environmental, social, economic and technological shocks as well as gradual changes”).&nbsp; It is not a new development that scholarly priorities are, regrettably, shaped by policy priorities (and by the strategies of big business and worries of the mainstream media) and therefore it is no coincidence that an entire cottage industry on “resilient cities” has emerged at a time of global austerity (a needless and wicked political and corporate assault on the poor that needs to be captured as a crisis per se, rather than as a response to an economic crisis).&nbsp; The insidious work of urban resilience lies in the obvious and, to its proponents entirely logical policy suggestion the word carries: “urban dwellers of the world, brace yourselves for austerity [or environmental catastrophe] and everything will be fine in the end!”&nbsp; Recently <a href="">Julian Reid</a> &nbsp;tweeted a photograph of a poster which, in a beautiful act of resistance, perfectly captures the symbolic power of the anaesthetising spell of resilience:</p><p><a href=""><img width="460" src="" /></a><br /><small>A poster in New Orleans, <a href="">blogged here</a>.</small></p> <p>It therefore came as no surprise that the Guardian Cities team ran an article on the day its website launched entitled “<a href="">What makes a city resilient</a>?” which recognised that resilience was a ‘buzzword’ but did absolutely nothing in the way of shining a critical light on it. In fact, it concluded in rosy and technocratic terms:</p> <p>“More broadly, however, the resilience movement is a global attempt to address two of the longest-standing and most vital questions facing theorists, planners and leaders. Namely, what is the purpose of society, and what is a society's responsibility to its citizens.”</p> <p>Less surprising still, but more concerning, is the realisation that ‘resilience’ is guiding this entire Guardian ‘Cities’ initiative.&nbsp; It is sponsored by The Rockefeller Foundation, which has devoted extraordinary resources to a research programme entitled “<a href="">100 Resilient Cities</a>”, effectively a neoliberal competition that awards grants to the 100 cities that it feels "have demonstrated a dedicated commitment to building their own capacities to prepare for, withstand, and bounce back rapidly from shocks and stresses". In other words, prizes to the cities that rack up points in respect of getting back to the desired status quo of capital accumulation and elite wealth capture as quickly as possible. That there is a strong desire among urban managers to compete is evident in the fact that more than 1000 cities registered to take part in this programme, and almost 400 formally applied for inclusion.&nbsp; </p> <p>Like its ideological twin of ‘sustainable urbanism’ before it, 'resilient cities’ is proving extraordinarily seductive. In the UK it is currently being embraced and pushed by deeply conservative ‘good-design-can-save-us’ organisations such as <a href="">The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community</a> and <a href="">Create Streets</a>. These are effectively large landowner lobbies that are pushing a profoundly conservative vision of cities. Staffed by bourgeois architects, planners and self-styled ‘urban gurus’, all of whom have started using appeals to environmental terms like ‘resilience’ to bolster their long-held&nbsp; fanatical devotion to the sinister American cult of ‘new urbanism’, they advance a darkly troubling vision of urban planning that purports to be about recreating ‘traditional’ streets and pedestrian-friendly ‘mixed-income’ communities. In reality, they advocate the creation of self-absorbed, clap-happy zones proudly celebrating how handpicked social housing tenants – a minority - are hidden behind a sterile vernacular of Quality Street, neo-Georgian facades. Those behind the scenes, extracting value from the hysterical panic of a ‘housing shortage’ whilst ignoring the existence of nearly 1 million <a href="">empty homes</a> in the UK, call themselves ‘<a href=";journalCode=rjou20#.UufSmndFC70">placemakers</a>’ without the least hint of irony or even squeamishness.</p> <p>Resilience so easily supports not only austerity, but the territorial stigmatisation that so often precedes strategies of dislocation (“that community is just not resilient enough, so we need to break it up and scatter its residents”). Since the famous and hugely influential writings of the Chicago School of Human Ecology, there is a long and ugly history of concepts being brought from biological sciences to be applied to the social sciences and especially the study of cities – “regeneration” being the most pervasive recent example. In the case of resilience, a global recession morphs from being a political creation into a naturally occurring phenomenon that requires a program of public expenditure gutting to set it back on its natural path. As an analytic framework (if it can even be called that) “resilience” studiously, perhaps even judiciously, ignores every important question about the contradictions of capital accumulation and circulation,&nbsp;about uneven development, about enabling political structures, about state strategies of ‘growth machine’ branding – I could go on.</p> <p>What we will not learn from the Guardian ‘Cities’ feature it is that when the shadowy urban ‘experts’ talk of “resilient cities”, there is a symptomatic silence over the most resilient feature of cities all over the world: what David Harvey calls “accumulation by dispossession”, or the relentless quest for profit from land and real estate, usually achieved via violent land grab and forced eviction. Indeed, a frequent past contributor to The Guardian, Saskia Sassen, has a book forthcoming analysing this phenomenon, entitled “Expulsions”. While in 2009, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions produced a devastating report in the wake of a global analysis of forced eviction, and concluded that it “ranks amongst the most widespread human rights violations in the world.” Attention should surely be towards the diminishing ability of people to stay put in cities, given the potential ground rent to be extracted from the land they occupy.&nbsp; </p> <p>Neoliberal urbanism has proved to be extraordinarily resilient, and the most “resilient community” of all appears to be that of a cartel of politicians and financial executives, aided by think tanks and philanthropic organisations, who have “bounced back” (to take the language used in the Guardian) from a crisis they created with even more violence and venom towards marginalised citizens (who they treat as the culprits).&nbsp; There are scholars and activists all over the world charting and challenging these developments, and also researching the social movements and class struggles erupting from Athens to Istanbul to Buenos Aires to Cape Town.&nbsp; But these scholars are very poorly represented, if at all, among the “best urban voices” and “best city blogs” on Twitter currently collected by Guardian Cities editorial team. This very disappointing series is nothing more or less than a pure exemplar of vested-interest urbanism. Given the sponsor, it is impossible to be convinced by Oliver Wainwright’s plea that the series is critical and all about “peeling back the glossy veneer” of buzzwords and ‘big data’ visualisations. Approach with extreme caution. We are not resilient. </p><p> <strong>For more articles on the series, go to the <a href="">Cities in Conflict</a> main page.<br /></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/alex-vasudevan/reclaiming-life-in-precarious-city">Reclaiming life in the precarious city </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/camillo-boano/architecture-must-be-defended-informality-and-agency-of-space">Architecture must be defended: informality and the agency of space</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/abdou-maliq-simone/urban-security-and-tricks-of-endurance">Urban security and the &#039;tricks&#039; of endurance</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/jonathan-moses/byron-brewdog-and-recuperation-of-radical-aesthetics">Byron, Brewdog, and the recuperation of radical aesthetics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/arthur-phillips/charter-cities-in-honduras">Charter cities in Honduras? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/emma-cummins/beyond-ghost-town">Beyond the ghost town</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/cecil-sagoe/squeezing-poor-out-of-london">Squeezing the poor out of London</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> openSecurity openSecurity Cities in Conflict Transformative Cities Tom Slater Cities of Exception Tue, 28 Jan 2014 17:38:07 +0000 Tom Slater 78842 at Charter cities in Honduras? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Are private cities the miracle cure for Honduras' surging violent crime, state violence and institutional disarray?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>For many Hondurans, the past few years have been among the worst in memory. In the wake of a June 2009 coup that removed leftist president Manuel Zelaya from office, violent crime has soared and state institutions have fallen into disarray if not outright failure. Five months after the coup, the de facto government held elections which members of the political opposition boycotted and regional heads of state overwhelmingly refused to recognize. Under the resulting government, led by the National Party&rsquo;s Porfirio &ldquo;Pepe&rdquo; Lobo Sosa, lawyers, journalists, human rights defenders, and Zelaya loyalists have routinely been the victims of threats, arrests and assassinations.</p> <p>The role of the national police in violent, often politically motivated crime became a liability for the Lobo administration, which responded by developing a highly publicized police reform law. The bill appeared on its way to passage until November 2012, when a Supreme Court panel, by a 4 to 1 vote, ruled the law unconstitutional. Shortly after the court&rsquo;s decision, the congress, in an extraordinary session reminiscent of Zelaya&rsquo;s ouster years earlier, voted to dismiss the four justices who rejected the cleanup law. The press raised concerns that the move could turn into a full-blown crisis, many commentators focused on the police reform ruling as the conflict&rsquo;s source; others pointed elsewhere.</p> <p>A month earlier, the same four justices had ruled unconstitutional a law that would allow the creation of privately run municipalities with their own police, tax structures, and judicial systems, known as <em>Regiones Especiales de Desarollo</em>, or RED. According to Russell Sheptak, a Research Associate at the University of California and co-author of the Honduras Culture and Politics blog, the proximate cause for the justices&rsquo; removal was their ruling on the police reform law. &ldquo;However, the muttering against them began at the top with Lobo Sosa chastising them over the RED ruling,&rdquo; Sheptak wrote in an email, &ldquo;and remained in the background of the debate about removing them.&rdquo;</p><p><img src="" alt="" width="460" /><br /><small>A protest against Charter cities legislation in Honduras. Reading: Coup d'etat: Economic crisis + model cities. Image credits: <a href="" target="_blank">Black Fraternal Organisation of Honduras (OFRANEH)</a></small></p> <h2>Charter cities in Honduras?</h2> <p>The idea of building private cities is a divisive one. Many of the country&rsquo;s elite advanced the concept as something new to spur economic growth. The cities would facilitate foreign investment and development, which would reduce the influence of criminal networks. Those opposing the concept, however, variously rejected the proposition as a neoliberal gift to the rich, a continuation of oligarchic rule and a threat to democratic governance. These objections came in the context of economic policies that have exacerbated inequality, poverty and unemployment. According to a recent report by the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research, from 2010 to 2011 over 100% of income gains went to the 10% of Hondurans at the top of the income distribution ladder.</p> <p>In 2009 Paul Romer, an economist then teaching at Stanford University, started presenting his idea to build new cities in poor countries as an innovative economic development strategy. The RED came to prominence in Honduras shortly after Pepe Lobo met with Romer. The new &ldquo;charter cities,&rdquo; as the U.S. economist called them, would be overseen by developed countries with a stronger rule of law and would prioritize investments in infrastructure. Each city would resemble a country within a country and would compete for hard-working, law-abiding residents from around the world. The islands of economic development would, in Romer&rsquo;s vision, pressure governments to clean up their act and, cumulatively, could have a massive global impact.</p> <p>Honduras&rsquo; governing officials enthusiastically embraced the idea and, given the country&rsquo;s poverty and crime, Romer likely saw it as a natural fit. Yet after Lobo&rsquo;s emergence through fraudulent elections, with the country&rsquo;s institutions in shambles and many leading officials suspected of having ties to criminal networks, one could begin to see the plan&rsquo;s inherent contradiction: How could you build brand new, principled institutions in partnership with a government so plagued by corruption?</p> <p> <img src="" width="460" /><br /><small>Trujillo has been touted as a site for a charter city. Image: David Sherwood. </small> </p><h2>Development in exchange for democracy</h2> <p>Despite its enthusiasm for Romer&rsquo;s thinking, the government balked at handing over sovereignty to another nation&rsquo;s courts. Rather than creating a charter backed by a foreign country, officials proposed establishing an external court of appeal and a transparency commission with Romer as its chairman. Among the responsibilities of this interim commission would be to propose to the president the nine members who would form the permanent commission. That group would be responsible for choosing the RED&rsquo;s governor, though at some unidentified time in the future the commission would transfer its full authority to the city&rsquo;s residents.</p> <p>Many of the law&rsquo;s skeptics have been particularly critical of the RED&rsquo;s antidemocratic design. Others have characterized Romer&rsquo;s thinking as being informed by a colonialist view of development. As Rosemary Joyce, a professor of anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley and Sheptak&rsquo;s co-blogger, wrote in an email, the charter cities concept &ldquo;presumes that certain places in the world are too backward to be allowed the luxury of normal aspects of democratic governance, such as self-determination through elections based on the principle of one person, one vote.&rdquo;</p> <h2>The RED unravels</h2> <p>Romer says he had reservations about the transparency commission&rsquo;s arrangement all along. Those fears were validated in September 2012, when the Honduran government signed the first RED contract with a group of foreign investors. Romer only learned of the deal by reading about it in a newspaper, and when he asked for details he was rebuffed. Shortly thereafter he resigned from the commission and distanced himself from the project. </p> <p>When I asked about his thoughts on the commission&rsquo;s demise, Romer wrote, &ldquo;In the future, I would not agree to work with a country that proposes a [transparency commission] structure as a way to establish rule of law.&rdquo; But the economist did not express regrets regarding his engagement with the controversial Honduran government. &ldquo;If I had the decision to make again, I would still try to do something if people from a country ask for help and if their elected leader is someone like Lobo, who was making a serious attempt at reconciliation,&rdquo; he wrote in an email.</p> <p>Others strongly disagree with Romer&rsquo;s characterization. Referring to U.S. efforts to promote Lobos&rsquo;s government as engaging in reconciliation, Joyce wrote, &ldquo;No one in Honduras, and no one who understands Honduras, would take this seriously.&rdquo;</p> <p>While Romer suggested he would have done some things differently, he also made clear his frustration with his critics. &ldquo;For a country like Honduras, what still surprises me is how many people seem to think that it is morally preferable to just look away and do nothing while the people who live there continue to suffer.&rdquo; When asked whom he was referring to as preferring &ldquo;moralistic rationalizations for apathy,&rdquo; Romer chose not to answer the question.</p> <p>The RED law in Honduras was barraged by legal challenges from civil society, LGBT, indigenous and religious groups. And after the Supreme Court&rsquo;s ruling and the removal of the four justices, the law was eventually abandoned. &nbsp;At the center of the legal challenges, according to Sheptak, was the contention that the law violated Honduras' sovereign control over its territory and the constitutionally established judicial structure. In other words, the aspects of the law that are seemingly crucial to Romer&rsquo;s utopian vision appeared also to have been its greatest liabilities.</p> <h2>In place of RED</h2> <p>As one would expect following the removal of the four justices, leading officials were not simply going to let the RED fade into oblivion. In January the president of the congress, Juan Orlando Hern&aacute;ndez, announced a new version of the law that he explained would resolve the outstanding legal issues. Yet while Hern&aacute;ndez deliberately drew a line between the visionary ideals of Romer&rsquo;s RED and the new law, the latter had little to do with high-minded development; instead, it arguably amounted to a gift to the country&rsquo;s richest families that regularly use the state as a mechanism for enrichment. Among other aspects of the new law, which would create <em>Zonas Especiales de Desarrollo Econ&oacute;mico</em>, or ZEDE, it lowers restrictions on business by prioritizing industries such as mining, forestry, agriculture and tourism in different parts of the country.</p> <p>One significant difference between the RED law and its successor is how they affect land ownership, a highly contentious issue in Honduras. Under the RED, the government had purportedly planned to grant sparsely inhabited land to investors who would then build new cities, <a href="">arousing opposition</a> from indigenous and minority groups that have often suffered the effects of land dispossession in the name of national economic development. With the new law, the <em>zonas</em> would instead be established in areas that may already be densely populated. Those directing a <em>zona</em> would have to purchase land from its current owners, rather than have land granted to them by the state. Sheptak notes, however, that both the Honduran and the ZEDE governments could invoke eminent domain to acquire land from holdouts.</p> <p>Given the state&rsquo;s abysmal record of granting property title to its citizens, and its <a href="">violent repression</a> of those asserting their rights to land in the Bajo Aguan region, Sheptak and Joyce expect the new law to escalate conflicts. Joyce noted that &ldquo;ZEDEs have explicitly been discussed as means to transform existing economic targets into new forms,&rdquo; such as tourist development. &ldquo;The fact that these existing places have existing populations will inevitably place the ZEDE and these people in conflict.&rdquo;</p> <h2>A changed political landscape</h2> <p>This November, Hondurans returned to the polls for the first national elections in four years. Xiomara Castro, the wife of the deposed Zelaya, was the presidential candidate for the new LIBRE party, which formed as a coalition of diverse opposition groups in the wake of the 2009 coup. Despite campaigning under constant threats and targeted violence&mdash;over the election weekend alone, three party activists were killed&mdash;LIBRE mobilized massive popular support. By the official count, the party received 29% of the vote and nearly a third of all congressional seats, second only to the National Party. </p> <p>LIBRE and international observers have nonetheless cried foul, pointing to significant discrepancies in the tally sheets, evidence of vote-buying, and acts of outright intimidation by actors sympathetic to the National Party. Castro has asserted that she won the election. Yet despite mass demonstrations demanding a comprehensive recount, the supreme election tribunal declared Castro&rsquo;s closest competitor and the National Party candidate Hern&aacute;ndez the next president of Honduras. </p> <p>Looking ahead, it remains unclear what will become of the ZEDE law. Joyce suggests that &ldquo;the law as written is flawed enough, and the apparent policy direction provided by Congress is confused enough, that the whole thing may come to nothing.&rdquo; Whether or not the law&rsquo;s many outstanding legal challenges are ruled upon, Joyce comes back to the significance of the recent election. &ldquo;The new Congress&mdash;with blocks for National, Liberal, LIBRE, and Partido Anti-Corrupci&oacute;n that are of significant size&mdash;will always require coalitions on any major issue. That should mean that there will be more debate about the substance of any laws like these in the future.&rdquo; Although many in Honduras feel the presidency was stolen, LIBRE&rsquo;s showing at the polls could mean the country will no longer be ruled by an ideologically homogenous government looking only after the interests of the elite. </p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Honduran Charter Cities are a symptom of, not a solution to, instability. <a href="" target="_blank">Keane Bhatt</a> on <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/persis-taraporevala/creating-subjects-in-lavasa-private-city">Creating subjects in Lavasa: the private city</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/ayona-datta/myth-of-resettlement-in-delhi">The myth of resettlement in Delhi</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/emma-cummins/beyond-ghost-town">Beyond the ghost town</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/carlos-delcl%C3%B3s/mount-zion-city-within">Mount Zion: the city within</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/john-perry/honduras-three-years-after-coup">Honduras - three years after the coup</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/matt-kennard/honduras-politics-of-violence">Honduras, the politics of violence</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Honduras </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Honduras Conflict Democracy and government Cities in Conflict Arthur Phillips Cities of Exception Splintering Cities Tue, 07 Jan 2014 17:20:16 +0000 Arthur Phillips 78248 at Bloomberg's biopolitics: the molecular mayor <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Looking back on three terms of Michael Bloomberg we see a mayor who sought to fundamentally change New York’s character through a series of interventions in the City’s body and the bodies of its citizens. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Looking back on the three terms of Michael Bloomberg we see a mayor who sought to fundamentally change New York’s character through a series of micro-interventions in the City’s body and the bodies of its citizens. From market reports to body mass indexes, the mayor’s life work has been the analysis and management of risk. Biopolitics is a word out of favor these days. Michel Foucault's term for the way power is manifested at the level of the body is all but lost to academics and obscure to the general public. Biopower—practices related to corporeal control, particularly based in matters of health and reproduction—was one of Foucault's most central ideas. While the theory has fallen out of vogue in the academic sphere, it has re-emerged in the most unlikely of places: the governing strategies of another Michael. Bloomberg, a true Foucaultian, brought governance to the nano level. As he reaches the twilight of his three terms in office (and, presumably, his career in electoral politics), many have lauded his interest in health as his most visionary quality. The unsettling part of Bloomberg’s biopolitics is the who and what that gets managed.</p> <p>Since he took office in 2002, the mayor has transformed the City through rezonings, street closures, and waterfront development while simultaneously advocating for changes in the bodies of New Yorkers. Bloomberg’s strategy appears to be the exact opposite of a typical progressive like Bill de Blasio, his successor, whose base-building approach to politics (nurture ideas so they can jump up in scale) comes out of the world of community organizing. &nbsp;While Bloomberg advocated for big projects, he did so by taking big ideas, breaking them into bits, then tunneling down into the city, and depositing them in the hope that they would have the soil to grow. The terrain that proved richest for Bloomberg’s policies was in New York’s marginal places: low-income communities, communities of color, and other historically underrepresented groups. </p> <p><strong>Foucault’s biopolitics</strong></p> <p>For Foucault, the corporeal was always the political. He promoted the study of the minor ways in which people accept power in daily life. The body, his theories assert, matters in myriad ways: it is central not just to our sexual lives but also to control administered by the state. &nbsp;Biopolitics– how power is asserted at the level of the corporeal—scaled down even to the molecular. It represents a wide variety and intensity of power relations: ranging from vaccination to torture, from kindergarten etiquette to supermax solitary confinement. It is the state’s way of making the body ‘docile’—ready to accept further instructions when required. Foucault’s later work chronicles the Raison d’État: &nbsp;the reason for the state’s existence, from the medieval concern with the salvation of the soul, to political economy, to the health of the social body, and, finally, to the individual: the body in space. &nbsp;</p> <p>Forty years ago, French academics were struggling with their long overdue break-up with traditional Marxism in the wake of Prague ’68. Unsatisfied with their own mini-revolution in Paris of the same year they began to look inward. They threw out Mao’s “Little Red Book” and Lenin’s Revolution and the State in favor of a more nuanced theory of power— one in which the wielding of force is done with a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. This group increasingly focused inward and away from the state and class, asking: how do people accept authority in places that we would not expect? With the door thrown open in the 1960s, postmodernists poured in: eschewing the influence of capitalism, for the most part, and choosing to focus on a range of power structures like heteronormativity, patriarchy, racism, and ableism. Foucault was at the head of the pack and his work was soon adopted by theorists of gender and sexuality as their magna carta. At the same time, changes in technology, urbanization, and medicine made his work even more relevant: court mandated ankle bracelets, hair follicle drug testing, surveillance cameras, and GPS came into wide, and contested, use. Targets of biopolitical interventions were almost always poorer and darker. In the United States, this came in the form of urinalysis for suspected drug use, home visits from welfare and child services, fingerprinting, metal detectors in schools, and a surfeit of other state and private measures to guarantee ‘social integrity.’ &nbsp;</p> <p>In 1981, Bloomberg founded his first company, Innovative Market Systems, which was based not on a mathematical equation but on biological principles. It’s aim was not to grow a single firm, but rather, to speed up the metabolism of the financial industry itself by providing a constant and exceptionally detailed picture of the market’s ecosystem through terminals sold to brokerage firms. Bloomberg’s fascination with metabolism extended into all aspects of his mayoralty: not just the heartbeats of a healthier citizenry but the inner workings of the city’s own decision-making system. The mayor’s City Hall ‘bullpen’ is an innovation in ‘smart city’ governance imported from technologically enabled trading floors and brokerages. It is a fully open space crammed with computer terminals, scuttling officials, and ringing phones: it is a giant digestive tract for the polis’ complex and departmentalized body. 311, the municipal services hotline (an idea Bloomberg lifted from his 2001 Democratic opponent Mark Green), is a citywide nervous system dispensing information on everything from “dead cat disposal protocol” to tenant rights, enabled by a new vascular system of fibre optic cables, mobile phone receptors, and CCTV eyeballs. The thinking was that if data could be accessed more more quickly it would empower politicians to pursue smart governance with the same zeal that brokers embraced the accelerated trading environment made possible by the Bloomberg Terminal.</p> <p><strong>Bloomberg and the body</strong></p> <p>While Rudolph Giuliani's administration had a myopic focus on ‘the street’ (with all of its gritty NYPD Blue nightstick-swinging-cuff-snapping implications) the apple in the eye of Bloomberg’s people (particularly his health czars, Thomas Frieden and Thomas Farley) was always the body. With this focus came undeniable advances in public health including a switch to less-polluting heating oils in major buildings, a smoking ban in public places, and a sincere effort to combat combined-sewer-overflow in environmentally sensitive areas. However, these changes to the body of the city came with more insidious demands on the bodies of the metropolis’ citizens, particularly the ‘insalubrious’ poor. &nbsp;</p> <p>When he took office in 2002, Michael Bloomberg tried out a big ideas approach to governance but was soon stymied. New York’s Byzantine political allegiances did not mesh well with his boardroom boss mentality. Many of his most ambitious plans ran aground without the support of outer-borough politicians (who he purposefully neglected or simply failed to court). His take-away from these early policy burns was not to beef-up his political muscles but to re-focus. By the end of his first term, Bloomberg moved down to the micro level of the body. Governance on the molecular level sought big returns through a series of small tweaks and minimal public input: the stats, once crunched, would not lie and the people were not meant to interfere.</p> <p>The stakes of regulating soda size, calorie counts, trans-fats, and cigarettes seem quite low in relation to the War in Iraq or the meltdown of Wall Street. However, following the postmodernists—that unloved group of sentence-muddlers whose invocation can ruin even the most vibrant dinner party—we must pay attention to how power manifests itself in the minutest forms in order to understand it at all. The micro political skirmishes of the Bloomberg era prove instructive. Bloomberg’s ban on smoking, pitched by Department of Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden as the World Trade Center remains smoldered, was largely successful because it was in step with smoking bans in hundreds of other cities globally. It came after 20 plus years of public information campaigns that helped frame smoking as a truly unacceptable risk. When the ban went into effect smokers were de-glamorized and very familiar with the public service announcements, it had been nearly five years since the tobacco settlement and ten years since the expunging of characters like Joe Camel. Smokers were grimly resigned to their habit—knowing full well that it could be a mortal danger.</p> <p>The Bloombergian ‘wars’—against trans fats and salt—were significantly less successful because there was scant public discourse on the health risks posed by these products. Bloomberg also ruffled the feathers of those in the fine dining industry when he implied that their kitchens might also be up for scrutiny. The attempted takedown of big soda—an American staple—proved even more difficult to win, because Bloomberg’s proposal came before a widespread awareness of the adverse effects of the product (and because the effects are only dangerous in large quantities—quantities that most believe they have the self control to avoid). The ban on sugary drinks did not go down smoothly. Bloomberg’s image as a tisk-tisker, a micro manager, and nanny proved hard to shake. &nbsp;</p> <p>The incident where Bloomberg stands closest to early prying health reformers is probably his entry into the breastfeeding debate with the botched “Latch on NYC.” The initiative directed the City’s maternity wards to hide their infant formula in order to promote breastfeeding. This law mirrored similar initiatives in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but it was the mayor’s dismissive handling of the bodies of new mothers that earned him the ire of the media and drew comparisons to the well meaning but thoroughly out-of-touch reformers of a century ago. As the <a href="">Atlantic dryly noted</a>: “giving birth to a baby does not make you an infant.”</p> <p>The mayor’s policies truly ran aground when they intersected with low-income, historically underrepresented, and new immigrant groups. His relentless pursuit of obesity in communities of color came with more than a pinch of slum charity moralism. It was ‘these people’ who couldn’t control their impulses. This double moral was more than just perceived: when, during the summer of 2011, the billionaire mayor was asked why working class New Yorkers were being ticketed by the hundreds for drinking beer on Rockaway Beach, while Upper East Siders sipped white wine with impunity at the Philharmonic’s performances in Central Park, Bloomberg noted that the classical music enthusiasts “were far better behaved.”</p> <p>The 20th century was defined by a narrowing in focus of American public health reform goals: the century started with the Progressive Movement’s interest in virtually every aspect of living together in cities and ended with a focus on only the most eminently curable woes within the human body. Early reformers, inspired by Jacob Riis, attempted to control slum neighborhoods through modifying the built environment with new laws that regulated apartment windows, occupancy, and airshafts. The reordering of physical space quickly moved to corrective measures at the level of the body. Women’s organizations, like Jane Adams’s famous Hull House in Chicago, dealt with the thorny issue of reproduction in immigrant slums and, a generation later, family planning became an important aspect of urban reform across the United States. The public health advocates in the employ of the Bloomberg administration continue to pursue a wide variety of well-meaning health policy reforms, and—very similar to settlement house forebears—they were largely aimed at those who supposedly cannot care for themselves.</p> <p>Many of those who object to Bloombergian biopolitics do so not because of the substance of &nbsp;the regulations but because of their indelicate implementation. Bill de Blasio has promised to continue to push for some of Bloomberg’s signature public health initiatives, including a ban on large sugary beverages. What he has vowed to stop—and made a centerpiece of his campaign—is stop ‘n frisk, the practice of stopping, searching, and interrogating young Black and Latino men without probable cause. This should give us hope, not for an end to government policy that seeks to discipline the body– Foucault famously had a very bleak outlook on the possibility to resist all power and particularly the biopolitical variant—but hope for a more equitable application of measures that intersect with our physical beings. It’s not just that New Yorkers should have been given longer consultation periods, more public input, or more explanatory materials to demystify new systems that will regulate them at the bodily level, it’s that these systems must also be receptive to qualitative, not just quantitative commands. They must be—unlike the dream machines of Bloomberg—fallible. There has to be an override for the policy black boxes of Bloomberg’s creation.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/sophie-lewis/unreformable-end-to-stop-and-frisk-in-nyc">Unreformable: an end to stop-and-frisk in NYC?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> New York </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity New York United States Culture Democracy and government Cities in Conflict Sam Holleran Max Holleran Cities of Exception Thu, 02 Jan 2014 14:24:40 +0000 Max Holleran and Sam Holleran 77998 at Visualizing Palestine <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Over the past two years, Visualizing Palestine has harnessed visual storytelling to bring public attention to the daily injustices facing Palestinians. Here they present four infographics on dispossession, administrative detention, the wall and Palestinian refugees. Click to enlarge.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div id="comslider_in_point_72168"></div><script type="text/javascript">var oCOMScript72168=document.createElement('script');oCOMScript72168.src="";oCOMScript72168.type='text/javascript';document.getElementsByTagName("head").item(0).appendChild(oCOMScript72168);</script> <p> Over the past 2 years, Visualizing Palestine (VP) has harnessed visual storytelling to bring public attention to the daily injustices facing Palestinians, from demolition of homes to mothers forced to give birth at military checkpoints. VP wants to start 2014 by raising global awareness around two key issues. </p><p> First, they’re targeting Israeli military detention. The world needs to know that more than 500 Palestinian children are detained by the Israeli military each year, and that an estimated 40% of the adult male population in the West Bank and Gaza has been detained at least once. This animated short tells the story of one young Palestinian who faced unjust arrest, and how Visualizing Palestine works to get stories like his to the world. </p><p> Second, VP wants the world to know about the Israeli ID system, and how it is used to segregate and displace Palestinians. </p><p> On 9 October, Visualizing Palestine launched a 30 day crowdfunding campaign to bring these issues to the world. Every dollar raised during the campaign will go towards VP’s efforts to address military detention, the ID system and a range of other campaigns through 2014. </p><p> The campaign ends on the 9th November, and VP needs every bit of support they can get to hit their campaign goal. Visit the campaign page, today: <a href=""></a>. <hr /></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/elisa-ferrato-john-lewicki-mick-scott/building-resistance-in-hebron">Building resistance in Hebron</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/ahmad-barclay-dena-qaddumi/on-strategies-of-spatial-resistance-in-palestine">On strategies of spatial resistance in Palestine</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Palestine Cities in Conflict Photo Essay Visualizing Palestine Cities of Exception Fri, 08 Nov 2013 17:39:10 +0000 Visualizing Palestine 76671 at City bypassed: the casualties of Mumbai's urban renewal <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><strong>Watch: </strong>A short film exploring Mumbai's urban renewal as seen from Byculla, a multicultural inner-city neighbourhood symbolically and physically bypassed by road infastructure projects in Mumbai's race for global city status <em>(13 mins).</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <iframe src="" width="460" height="259" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe> <p><a href="">City Bypassed: The casualties of Mumbai's urban renewal</a> from <a href="">Ayona Datta</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>.</p> <p> Mumbai's road to global city status has been marked by the construction of flyovers and road infrastructure projects. Apart from increasing the speed with which the city's new arrivals travel from its domestic/international airport straight to the business district, these infrastructure projects also enable Mumbai as an aspiring global city to make its marginal spaces and citizens invisible to these new arrivals in the city. City bypassed presents the story of Mumbai’s urban renewal as seen from Byculla, a multicultural inner-city neighbourhood symbolically and physically bypassed by road infrastructure projects along Mumbai’s journey to global city status. </p><p> Set in Byculla, South Mumbai, City Bypassed tells the complex story of the ironies of Mumbai's urban renewal and the casualties along this journey. Byculla has the the largest Muslim population in Mumbai and rose to notoriety as the site of communal violence between Hindus and Muslims in 1992. Still coping with the stigma of communalism and violence, Byculla however has seen high urban renewal because of its proximity to the central business district. Yet this renewal comes at the cost of ghettoisation and increasing marginalisation of women and urban poor. City Bypassed explores the ways that Mumbai’s minorities, women and poor continue to enter the public realm, claim citizenship rights and negotiate the larger forces of change dividing and shaping the city along class and religious lines. </p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/ayona-datta/myth-of-resettlement-in-delhi">The myth of resettlement in Delhi</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/matt-birkinshaw/battle-for-golibar-urban-splintering-in-mumbai">The battle for Golibar: urban splintering in Mumbai</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> India </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Mumbai </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Mumbai India Conflict Democracy and government Cities in Conflict Ayona Datta Cities of Exception Splintering Cities Tue, 06 Aug 2013 10:07:21 +0000 Ayona Datta 74542 at Football, politics and protest in Brazil <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The protests on the streets of Brazilian cities are by no means anti-Brazil (or even anti-football). Rather, they are unquestionably patriotic: people believe that Brazilian public education, healthcare, and democracy should be every bit as admirable as the national football team.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>As in many countries, Brazilians often joke that one should never discuss politics or football in mixed company. The potential for conflict and/or hurt feelings is simply too great. Yet in June of 2013, something amazing began to happen in Brazil: football and politics seemed the only two issues <em>anyone</em> wanted to discuss, and incredibly, nearly everyone seemed to agree with one another.</p><p><img src="" alt="" width="460" /><br /><small>Protestors in Fortaleza. Priscila Dantas.</small></p><p>In the days leading up to the Confederations Cup &ndash; the main appetizer for next year&rsquo;s FIFA World Cup &ndash; university students in S&atilde;o Paulo began to organize around increasing public transportation costs. The questions they raised were myriad, but in the most basic since they asked why bus and metro fares should be going up when the quality of bus and metro service was going down? They mobilized in protest on the eve of the Confederations Cup, and very quickly they found themselves brutally confronted by Military Police officers. When <a href="">images</a> of peaceful student protestors attacked by rubber bullets and pepper spray went viral, the ranks of demonstrators in S&atilde;o Paulo began to swell. And very soon thereafter protesters mobilized in every other major Brazilian city. </p> <p>That public transportation issues lit the fuse of what&rsquo;s been burning since the beginning of June is perhaps not surprising: bus and metro service in Brazil&rsquo;s major cities has grown increasingly crowded, unreliable, dangerous, and expensive in recent years. And it&rsquo;s something that affects millions of people on a daily basis. So when students took to the streets in protest over these issues &ndash; and were battered by police for it &ndash; nearly everyone in the country sided with the protestors. This wasn&rsquo;t a special interest group pushing their own agenda; these were courageous individuals speaking out on behalf of the urban multitude. And to be sure, public transportation is by no means the only issue that has brought people together: since the beginning of June, people all over Brazil have taken to the streets for a host of different reasons, many related to the misuse of public funds, political corruption, and the country&rsquo;s misguided development priorities.</p><p>What international news media outlets have largely failed to recognize, however, is the broad spectrum of demands that unites this wave of Brazilian protesters. Unlike in past national demonstrations (e.g., the <em>Direitas J&aacute;!</em> movement at the end of the military dictatorship in 1984 or the impeachment of President Fernando Collar in 1992), there has been no singular, easily addressable issue raised by these protests. Rather than mobilizing around one, immediate common demand, people have <a href="">come together</a> to address <em>dozens</em> of very significant, structural issues. Political parties and labor unions have been publically sidelined, and rather than directing their complaints towards a singular political leader or faction, protestors appear united in their dissatisfaction with how Brazil has been managed at nearly <em>every</em> administrative level. </p><p>So what is it, then, that brought millions of people into the streets, every single night, in cities large and small all over Brazil, for the better part of June? As the protestors themselves made clear, it&rsquo;s about much more than just public transportation. Recurring demands include better public education and university opportunities, improved healthcare services, public security, putting an end to (or at least diminishing) political corruption, and better use of public funds. Many Brazilians are appalled by how much public money has been spent preparing for the World Cup while basic urban infrastructural problems continue to grow worse everyday. Who wants to live in country, they ask, that has first-world football stadiums and third-world hospitals, schools, and sewage facilities? Where FIFA sets the agenda and local people are mostly ignored? Taxes are in fact quite high in Brazil, yet the returns that people see are insulting. And at the root of this problem, as everyone in Brazil knows, lies a long history of corruption, legal loopholes, and impunity for business and political elites. Inflation and high costs of living are also concerning to many, and just like nearly every other political leader, President Dilma Rousseff&rsquo;s approval rating has plummeted in the last few weeks. People have come together, in the streets, online, and around television sets, and they&rsquo;ve found that they share many of the same frustrations and concerns. Support for the protests has been almost universal in Brazil &ndash; excluding, of course, small groups of vandals that garner disproportionate media attention &ndash; and politicians are now finding they must address the demands of an engaged citizenry. </p> <p>As journalists and some academics have recently pointed out, this wave of protests in Brazil, Turkey, and countries elsewhere comes from a growing <a href="">middle class</a> that expects higher levels of accountability and democratic transparency. This expanding base of people feel they uphold their civic responsibilities &ndash; paying taxes, buying homes, investing in education, starting families, voting, following legal protocol, reporting unattended luggage, and so on &ndash; and in return, they expect political leaders to follow suit. And needless to say, they&rsquo;re nonplussed with what they&rsquo;ve seen from politicians. </p> <p>To a certain extent, this is very much what&rsquo;s behind mass mobilizations in Brazil. But there are other, perhaps more nuanced reasons for why the Brazilian multitude should erupt at just this moment. To begin, the domestic economy has been growing, modestly but consistently, for nearly a decade now. And urban Brazilians in particular are no longer so willing to accept the narrative that they live in a poor country that should suffer so many &lsquo;developing world&rsquo; problems. Coupled with this are economies in North America and Europe that continue to flounder, and Brazilian politicians are finding it increasingly difficult to blame so many of the country&rsquo;s infrastructural woes on wealthy foreign profiteers. Yes, many Brazilians recognize, neocolonial interests are harmful to Brazil&rsquo;s long-term development goals, but equally corrosive can be a domestic culture of political corruption and negligence.</p> <p>In just a few short weeks since people took to the streets, protestors have already made significant gains. Many cities have frozen or even reduced bus and metro fares, and <a href="">PEC-37</a>, the constitutional amendment that would have prevented the Public Ministry from investigating cases of corruption and crime (thereby providing politicians and police even greater levels of impunity), met a very public defeat in the Brazilian congress. People are feeling increasingly empowered, and while this round of protests is likely to fade at the draw of the Confederations Cup, it&rsquo;s safe to expect that the streets will fill again this time next year, perhaps with even more people, as the World Cup kicks off. The multitude is growing in Brazil, people are becoming better connected and well informed, and until some profound changes have been addressed, demonstrators are unlikely to pass on the international platform provided by upcoming mega events (the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics). </p> <p>While rivalries between different football clubs in Brazil can spark bitter debates, one thing that draws nearly everyone together is support for the national team. And throughout the month of June, as the Brazilian football team thrived in the Confederations Cup, protestors made it clear that their message was by no means anti-Brazil (or even anti-football). Rather, it was unquestionably patriotic: there is incredible love for this country, and those in the streets believe that Brazilian public education, healthcare, and democracy should be every bit as admirable as the national football team. It&rsquo;s a message that&rsquo;s brought millions of people together, in conversations about politics <em>and</em> football, and it&rsquo;s sparked a growing sense of passion and excitement. June of 2013 will not be a month that is soon forgotten in Brazil: the team kept winning on the pitch, the people kept winning in the streets, and now, on the eve of the World Cup, there is cautious optimism about the future. This is an incredible time for Brazil, and people will be reticent to let this momentum slip away. </p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/amanda-walters/copa-pra-quem">Copa pra quem?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/flavie-halais-yuseph-katiya/demonstration-games">The demonstration games</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/flavie-halais/pacifying-rio-whats-behind-latin-americas-most-talked-about-security-oper">Pacifying Rio: what&#039;s behind Latin America&#039;s most talked about security operation</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/jaime-amparo-alves/beyond-samba-and-football-brazilian-protests-in-context">Beyond samba and football: The Brazilian protests in context</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Brazil </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> São Paulo </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity São Paulo Brazil Producing Rio Cities in Conflict Football Politics Society Jeff Garmany Cities of Exception The Insurgent City Mass or elite movements? Fri, 05 Jul 2013 08:21:33 +0000 Jeff Garmany 73735 at Copa pra quem? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In Belo Horizonte, under the slogan "Copa pra quem?" (Whose Cup?) thousands have taken to the streets, occupied and set-up neighbourhood assemblies to reclaim their city from World Cup forces.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="" alt="" width="460" /><br />Thousands gather to protest in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. <a href="">Fernando Henrique C. de Oliveira</a>/Demotix</p><p>To many Brazilians football is a religion, so much so that international match days are celebrated as bank holidays. So as you can imagine when Brazilians heard the news that the Football World Cup would be held in their country they were over the moon. Football was coming home. </p><p>Yet during this year&rsquo;s Confederations Cup we have witnessed the largest demonstrations in a generation across the country&rsquo;s major cities, marching against the Cup with banners and placards proclaiming &ldquo;Cup for who?&rdquo;. Focusing on Belo Horizonte (BH), one of the host cities for the game, why did the protests start and how have they developed?</p> <p><strong>Bus Fare </strong></p> <p>The demonstrations began in Sao Paulo and were initially sparked by rises in public bus fares, and called for free bus passes for students - a long running campaign. Similar demonstrations followed in other cities, including BH where, on June 15, 8,000 marched against a R$0.20 (7p) <a href="">fare rise</a>. That may not sound like much, but in a country with a growing driving population, it is the working classes and favela residents, those who can ill-afford fare increases, who predominately use public transport in Brazil. If you live in one of the favelas in the outskirts of the city you may need up to three buses to get to work and three back &ndash; a rise of 40p a day. To add insult to injury the city government launched a <em>free </em>tourist bus for tourists to see the city weeks before the Confederations Cup, which <a href="">included </a>a soft drink, snack and alcoholic beverage.&nbsp; In response to the protests, only a few days ago the city-government repealed the fare rise by a meagre R$0.05, whilst at the same time <a href="">dropping</a> the bus companies&rsquo; tax by R$0.10.</p> <p><strong>World Cup</strong></p> <p>The second wave of demonstrations focused on the World Cup. The two major international sporting events, the Olympics and the World Cup, held every four years are notorious for succeeding a variety of human rights abuses by the host city-governments in the rush to comply with International Olympic Committee or FIFA regulations. Just as we saw in the <a href="">last World Cup</a> in South Africa, at the Beijing Olympics or the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, history is repeating itself once more as Brazil prepares for the games at the cost of its people&rsquo;s rights to housing, life, work and protest. </p> <p>As we have seen elsewhere the governments of the host cities often use the mega-event competitions as excuses to displace and vilify undesirable populations from valuable land in city centres, near the stadiums or around central routes to make way for new premium developments for wealthier citizens or tourists. Across Brazil 170,000 people have been or will be forced out of their home in preparation for the games. The displacements are carried out without compensation or satisfactory resettlements, often undertaken with physical and/or psychological <a href=";view=item&amp;id=198:dossi%C3%AA-nacional-de-viola%C3%A7%C3%B5es-de-direitos-humanos">violence</a>. </p> <p>&lsquo;Cleansing&rsquo; the streets of homeless people is a common practice by host cities before the games. The National Centre for the Defence of Human Rights of the Homeless and of Collectors of Recyclable Materials stated that in BH the homeless are <a href=";view=item&amp;id=198:dossi%C3%AA-nacional-de-viola%C3%A7%C3%B5es-de-direitos-humanos">increasingly victim</a> to increasing police violence. The number of murders of homeless people has reached 100 in the last 2 years. 35% of these deaths have been by gunshot leading to suspicions of police brutality. </p> <p>Furthermore, the &ldquo;FIFA by-laws&rdquo; demand a 2km radius around the stadium where informal economic activities cannot take place; informal activities which are a key resource for many working people. As a result o the by-law 150 families have lost their right to work around the stadium, a job which some have had all of their life. 750 street vendors have been made destitute from their place of work and 5,500 workers have been directly or indirectly affected. So far there has been <a href=";view=item&amp;id=198:dossi%C3%AA-nacional-de-viola%C3%A7%C3%B5es-de-direitos-humanos">no compensation</a> from the government. The purposes of the bye-law are plain to see, it is to ensure a monopoly of profits for the international sponsors of the mega-events. </p> <p>The right to protest has also been criminalized within the 2km area. In BH this area includes the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG). In the state of Minas Gerais, of which BH is the capital, the Justice Tribunal of Minas Gerais banned demonstrations on match days. The organisers of a protest faced a R$500,000 (&pound;167,000) fine. After 20,000 people defied this law in BH on the 17th June the law was <a href="">eventually overturned</a> a few days later. However, demonstrations within the 2km area are still banned. Hence why more than 65,000 people in BH marched on the match days of the 22nd and 26th June and <a href="">attempted to cross </a>the police barriers protecting the 2km radius<a href="#_ftn9">.</a></p> <p>Many Brazilians had expectations that the Cup would bring investment in public services that would benefit everyone. Two areas in dire need of investment are healthcare and education. Some blame this on the widespread corruption of politicians. The protestors demanded to know why they have to pay more for public transport, whilst R$28 billion (&pound;23 billion) of <a href="">public money </a>had already been spent in the private sector for the Cup. Why is it that they have to wait <em>days</em> in public emergency rooms, whilst R$8.4 billion (&pound;2.8 billion) has been spent on airports? Why is it that the state education system is poorly funded, state school teachers are poorly paid, whilst almost R$700 (&pound;233 million) <a href="">has been spent </a>on refurbishing the Miner&atilde;o stadium in BH? Not only has this money been spent on the Cup instead of public services but the state of Minas Gerais has guaranteed FIFA and the Miner&atilde;o stadium a profit &ndash; in other words if the private company do not make a profit from the games, the state will cover their losses. Essentially, rather than investment in public services to the benefits of standards of living, Brazilians have seen their basic rights to everyday life infringed for the benefit of private interests.</p> <p><strong>The people woke up</strong></p> <p>Although the protests began on those topics they soon spread to other points of dissatisfaction, such as the need for real participatory democracy.<br /><br /> For example&nbsp; &lsquo;Cura Gay&rsquo; - <a href=",e073e160f4d8f310VgnCLD2000000ec6eb0aRCRD.html">a bill</a> that is to be voted on which would allow psychologists to treat homosexuality as an illness to be cured, a woman&rsquo;s right to choose, legalise cannabis &hellip; and countless other individual placards. That is the nature of the demonstrators as they have no leaders, parties or organisations managing them. So much so that groups with large banners battle for the front of the marches, at times racing ahead of one another, leaving the rest of the march behind. The trajectory of the demonstrations is decided organically by the people marching. As the marches roam the city streets, shop keepers shut for the day, which allows the workers to join the protests. The demonstrations are made up of all sections of society: students, workers, families, kids from favelas, executives&hellip; Due to its widespread support people chant &ldquo;The people woke up&rdquo;. </p> <p><strong>Media</strong></p> <p>The mainstream media jumped on the bandwagon of support for the protests. The right wing press were especially supportive, and focused their coverage on the corruption of politicians in an attempt to delegitimize their natural enemies, the centre-left government. Throughout the demonstrations they praised those holding Brazilian flags and singing the national anthem, which lead to an increase in the visibility of nationalist right-wing groups in the protests. In parts of the country these groups attacked other protesters using left-wing party flags or t-shirts. Along with General Azevedo&rsquo;s manifesto on the demonstrations that warned of the readiness of the military to act if order is not regained (a claim somewhat reminiscent of current events in Cairo), the fear of another military coup has had a severe grip on the <a href="">movement</a>.&nbsp; </p> <p>As is <a href="">common </a>in many &lsquo;democratic&rsquo; countries with right-leaning or institutionalised media outlets, the mainstream media has by and large distorted the truth about the confrontations with the police and criminal damage carried out by protestors. &lsquo;Infiltrated minority&rsquo; is a common term used for the thousands of people willing to defend themselves from police violence and to symbolically damage the property or advertising of those companies in benefit of the great games give-away; multi-national companies, banks, Cup-related advertising and government property. </p> <p>While eager to pick up on rare acts of property damage, the mainstream media rarely discuss the <em>real</em> infiltrated minority: the undercover police in the marches (<a href="">video</a>), which protesters say are known to instigate violence toward the police in order to justify their actions against the protesters.</p> <p><strong>Violence</strong></p> <p>When the demonstrators tried to walk through the police barriers - Gandhi-style - that protected, what the police commander for BH, Coronel Claudia called, &ldquo;FIFA territory&rdquo; they were met with tear gas, rubber bullets, batons, cavalry and pepper spray.&nbsp; This sparked outrage amongst the demonstrators, many of whom retaliated by tossing back the tear gas canisters, throwing stones at the police and destroying the shops of big business. During the first protests in BH groups of middle class pacifists and reformists would shout &ldquo;without violence&rdquo; during these acts. However by the last demonstrations, with increasing police violence, the slogan has been rarely heard. Instead people from all backgrounds have come ready with helmets, goggles, masks and shields to defend themselves and their rights; an unfortunate yet increasingly necessary attire for those across the world expressing their right to disagree.</p> <p>In 2012 the UN recommended that Brazil should cease to have a militarized police force, instead the Brazilian government have continued to invest as was most visibly seen in the <a href="">favela clearances or &ldquo;pacifications&rdquo; in Rio</a>. Many of those striking back at the police are young people from the favelas which have long experienced daily police repression at the hands of the police and suffer most from neoliberal development of their local areas. Conversely, it is not just the kids from the favelas in the front lines. You see people from different classes, backgrounds, political orientations, gender and age fed up with a system that favours private interest over public good. </p> <p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p> <p>The demonstrations, thanks to the numbers attending and the magnitude of civil disobedience, have got the attention of the politicians. The President, Dilma Rousseff, gave a speech where she acknowledged the concerns of the people, offered some solutions she will undertake and promised to listen to the different groups involved in the demonstrations throughout the the momentum of the <a href="">movement.</a> In many cities we have also seen a symbolic decrease in the bus fare price. Yet this is not enough to curb the passion of the awakened people. Now that the Confederations Cup has ended the movement is looking to use other tactics. For instance, in Belo Horizonte on the 29th June an occupation of the Municipal Chamber began, which threatens to not budge until the Mayor <a href="">meets their demands</a>. Twice a week there are also People&rsquo;s Horizontal Assemblies that anyone can participate in to decide the future of the movement. Furthermore, people are setting fire to buses and cars to block the main commercial routes in and out of the city, a tactic <a href="">successfully used in El Alto</a> to dispose of the Bolivian president in the 2000s. If the people&rsquo;s wishes are not met this Confederations Cup will have just been a practice run for both sides before next year&rsquo;s World Cup.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/flavie-halais/pacifying-rio-whats-behind-latin-americas-most-talked-about-security-oper">Pacifying Rio: what&#039;s behind Latin America&#039;s most talked about security operation</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Brazil </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Belo Horizonte </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Belo Horizonte Brazil Cities in Conflict Amanda Walters Cities of Exception The Insurgent City Fri, 05 Jul 2013 08:20:13 +0000 Amanda Walters 73780 at The demonstration games <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Recent protests over a bus fare increase signal a major shift in Brazilian society as the growing middle class demands social justice. But what future is there for a movement without leadership or clear direction?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>That a twenty-cent bus and metro fare increase could bring millions to the streets of Brazil would have been unthinkable a couple of months ago. And yet it seems Brazil’s youth have had enough; in large cities like São Paulo, commuters face monster traffic jams, crowded buses, metros and trains. The public-private model adopted for public transport has resulted in poor service provision and sky-high ticket prices. </p> <p>Protesters on the streets across Brazil are using words like “cartel” and “mafia” to describe the private bus companies (“public” bus networks in Brazil are usually privately-run). The feeling is that with growing car-ownership across the country, and few solutions to car-driven cities, the liveability of Brazilian cities is only getting worse.</p> <p><strong>Generalized anger</strong></p> <p>And yet Brazilians are not protesting over transportation per se, but against a system of governance which makes life unbearable for vast swathes of the population, disillusioned that everyday life has yet to live up to the country’s much lauded economic transformation. From education to health to corruption to high taxes, Brazil’s youth (according to a survey conducted by DataFolha, most protesters are between 26 and 35) fail to see the benefits of the country’s newfound wealth in their daily lives.</p> <p>“Brazil is one of the countries with the highest taxes,” says 28-year-old journalist and protester Táia Rocha. “What’s strange is that this is not visible in the quality of services […] Corruption has settled in and is now part of Brazil’s identity.”</p> <p>Ironically, mega-events that were marketed to the population as an invaluable opportunity to sustain economic growth and lift national spirits have crystallized all grievances; more than anything else, the series of mega-events represent the wasteful spending, high-prices, and lack of transparency that have alienated people across the political spectrum in this soccer-mad nation.</p> <p>The challenge for the three levels of government (municipal, state and federal) is how to skilfully address a social movement that has no leadership and such a wide array of demands. In an emergency move, several cities have announced drops in public transportation fares, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, yet the protests continue, however with diminished intensity since Brazil’s victory&nbsp; in the Confederations Cup. The onus is now on President Rousseff to address the broader complaints of the protestors, such as poor urban infrastructure and crippling corruption. After running an exceptional meeting with leaders of the Free Fare Movement and other groups (perhaps for good measure only, as Rousseff quickly deemed free mass transit “unfeasible”), she announced last week a package of reforms targeting health, education, inflation, transportation and political institutions.</p> <p>Rousseff has much to lose from the situation. A much-loved political figure before the protests began (her government’s approval went from 57% to 30% in three weeks), she will face re-election in October 2014, only a few months after the World Cup. The former guerrilla must now deal with the pressure of the street and of a stale and corrupt political system, while proving the strength of Brazil’s democracy during turmoil.</p> <p><strong>Football democracy</strong></p> <p>And democracy it would seem, is something FIFA is not too fond of either. In a somewhat prophetic moment, last April, Jerome Valcke declared that “less democracy is sometimes better for organizing a World Cup” (minutes later during the same event, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said the 1978 World Cup <a href="">reconciled the Argentinian people with their military regime.</a> Interestingly, the protests have proven a test case for the <a href="">massive security apparatus</a> that is being set up for FIFA and Olympic events, with drones and helicopters purchased to fight off acts of terrorism being used to monitor crowds. Blatant acts of brutality have revealed how Brazil’s military police, an institution that hasn’t been reformed since the end of the dictatorship and is considered to be <a href="">one of the most violent police forces in the world</a>, braces for major challenges in controlling large peaceful demonstrations in urban centres, let alone actual threats to national security.</p> <p>Rousseff seems to have engaged so far on the path of dialogue and welcomed Brazil’s largest protests in 20 years as an act of democratic expression, perhaps to Valcke’s dismay. “I want to repeat that my government is listening to the democratic voice, to the democratic voices that go out and emerge on the streets and call for changes,” <a href="">she said last Monday</a>. </p> <p>However, listening to the democratic voices is one thing, and making sure that reforms go through is another. There isn’t much room for mistakes here; as Brazil faces an economic slowdown as well as the threat of high inflation, spending for mega-events infrastructure is on the verge of becoming uncontrollable – a recent report from the federal senate estimates the current budget for the 2014 World Cup to be bigger than the last three editions combined. If costs keep on being readjusted as they have since construction began, the overall budget <a href=";fb_source=other_multiline">might very well outgrow</a> that of all past World Cup editions.</p> <p><strong>A lost generation awakens</strong></p> <p>Brazil’s urban youth have sent a clear message to politicians that they are indeed able to demand good governance, and that lack of trust in political institutions doesn’t necessarily transcribe into apathy. In that way, these protests have much in common with the new wave of youth-driven, leaderless movements in North America and Europe such as Occupy or Quebec’s Maple Spring, with a fight for social justice and equality at the forefront of demands. </p> <p>“I’m happy to see that even though the economy has greatly improved in the last 10 years&nbsp;[…], people are still capable to voice their indignation,” says Rocha. “That is very encouraging, since my generation has often been described as lost, alienated, individualistic and consumerist.”</p> <p>In Brazil, a key victory for protesters is the support they gained from the usually government-friendly media; after journalists found themselves targeted by the police, they went from labeling protesters as vandals to embracing their cause. Signs of this shift are already visible: <a href="">RioReal notes that</a> TV Globo spent an unusual five minutes last week covering a shooting between police and residents in the Maré favela complex that left 10 dead. </p> <p>Whether the movement dies out or carries on, Brazilians will have many opportunities to voice their demands in the future, with international scrutiny reinforcing the pressure on governments to deal with discontentment in a sensible way. If the Confederations Cup is considered as a test drive for the World Cup as far as soccer is concerned, it may be that the protests were also just a dress rehearsal.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/amanda-walters/copa-pra-quem">Copa pra quem?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/jeff-garmany/football-politics-and-protest-in-brazil">Football, politics and protest in Brazil</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/flavie-halais/pacifying-rio-whats-behind-latin-americas-most-talked-about-security-oper">Pacifying Rio: what&#039;s behind Latin America&#039;s most talked about security operation</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Brazil </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Río de Janeiro Brazil Cities in Conflict Yuseph Katiya Flavie Halais Cities of Exception The Insurgent City Fri, 05 Jul 2013 08:16:00 +0000 Flavie Halais and Yuseph Katiya 73738 at Spectacle and surveillance in Brazil <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The unprecedented series of mega-events which are set to take place across Brazil in the coming years have lead to heightened security in host cities – a gold mine for the global private defence industry.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="" alt="" height="280" width="420" /><br /><small>Police patrol Manguinhos favela in R&iacute;o de Janeiro. <a href=";popup=1"> Santi Carneri/Demotix.</a></small> </p><p>The Confederations Cup, to be held in June across six host cities, comes as a test for Brazil as it braces for a never-before-seen series of mega-events, including the soccer World Cup in 2014 and the summer Olympics in 2016. Among the top concerns for organizers, as is usually the case for major international events, is security, a concern that has been amplified by the country&rsquo;s high crime rates. Brazil has taken up the challenge with a $900-million investment in security forces from the federal government, as well as a slew of measures, from CCTV cameras to drone monitoring, to the spectacular <a href="">&ldquo;pacification&rdquo; programs</a> run by certain World Cup host cities to clear the <em>favelas</em> from drug gangs. During the Confederations Cup alone, approximately 15,000 private officers will guard the various venues &ndash; twice as many are planned for the 2014 World Cup. </p><p>These mega-events, as well as the security apparatus they imply, come at a time of shift for Brazil in the arena of defense. The country, which seeks to increase its status on the global stage, is also looking at increasing the protection of its borders and natural resources (in particular, its oil reserves, located on the coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro). Brazil has been lobbying for a permanent seat at the UN and has entered a phase of renewal of its military equipment; its president, Dilma Rousseff, has exempted defense companies from taxes for five years, in order to boost national production. Mega-events are clearly a way to showcase the country&rsquo;s strength and credibility as a major player on the international scene. But using security for image building, as past examples have shown, can be akin to opening Pandora&rsquo;s box.</p> <h3>Spectacle and surveillance</h3><p> In Discipline and Punish, Michel Foucault wrote: &ldquo;our society is one not of spectacle, but of surveillance,&rdquo; in reference to Guy Debord&rsquo;s society of the spectacle theory. In recent years, mega-events have blurred the lines between Foucault&rsquo;s and Debord&rsquo;s worldview, turning sporting events into showcases of security know-how, and security into a spectacle itself (a phenomenon called &ldquo;spectacular security&rdquo; by <a href="">Canadian sociologists Philip Boyle and Kevin Haggerty</a>.) Mega-events provide host countries and cities with the perfect opportunity to improve their credibility by proving they are in control of their territories. Therefore, the purpose isn&rsquo;t to ensure security <em>per se </em>but to demonstrate an illusion of security that will reassure mega-event stakeholders. This illusion begins long before the events start, indeed the Brazilian government officials declared last year they were hoping to make the 2014 World Cup &ldquo;one of the most protected sports events in history&rdquo;. The willingness to perpetually outdo every previous event in order for host countries or host cities to distinguish themselves from others has led to an escalation in security bills. In the case of Olympic Games, they went from $66.2 million for Barcelona Games in 1992, to $179.6 million in Sydney in 2000, to Beijing&rsquo;s $6.5 billion in 2008 and London&rsquo;s $2.2 billion in 2012. </p><p>This rhetoric has been fuelled by the meteoric growth of the private security industry, one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, spurred itself by the post 9/11 global climate characterized by fear of unpredictable attacks. For these companies, major international events are a godsend &ndash; they provide the opportunity to sign huge contracts, showcase their products and knowledge, and establish new standards for urban security that will be replicated around the world. A vast number of companies and consultants now gravitate around the organization of mega-events, helping new host cities and countries learn from &ldquo;best practices&rdquo; in the field. Brazil has reportedly taken advice from the Royal Canadian Mountain Police after Canada hosted the Vancouver 2010 winter Olympics, and from Spanish and American trainers, among others. Rio de Janeiro also signed a multi-year consultancy contract with former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani to learn from his <a href="">&ldquo;broken windows&rdquo;</a> <a href="">theory</a> (in spite of having mitigated results in Mexico). </p><p>But Brazil&rsquo;s strongest ties with a foreign security industry are with those of Israel. Israeli companies like Elbit Systems, Israeli Aircraft Industries and Israeli Military Industries have been doing business with Brazil for years, while Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has bought a 40% stake in Brazilian GESPI Aeronautics. Back in 2010, Brazil and Israel signed a security cooperation agreement, with news reports stating the agreement dealt specifically with the World Cup and Olympics. Since then, officials from both countries have met to develop partnerships for mega-events and Israeli security experts have given several conferences and workshops for Brazilian officials and members of the Municipal Guard. In late 2012, Brazil&rsquo;s chief of security for major events said Brazil and Israel were in the process of signing a protocol to share security intelligence. </p> <h3>Planning for the unthinkable</h3> <p>Interestingly, the &ldquo;best practices&rdquo; shared by these companies, as noted by Naomi Klein in <em>The Shock Doctrine</em> and <a href="">underlined</a> by <a href="">Stephen Graham</a>, have been acquired in military settings &ndash; in the case of Israel, during the occupation of the Palestinian Territories, and for the US, in Kabul and Baghdad. Through the knowledge transfer enabled by mega-events, these strategies and technologies irremediably find themselves in the streets of Western cities. The justification for using military techniques in a non-war context has become &lsquo;common sense&rsquo; in the 9/11 era and the pervasive climate of fear the event has brought along. Preparation for mega-events now implies assessing the risk of a terrorist attack, a risk that isn&rsquo;t truly measurable. Security experts therefore prefer to brace for any scenario possible, regardless of its probability, (what<a href=""> Philip Boyle and Kevin Haggerty</a> call &ldquo;precautionary governance&rdquo;) and planning for the unthinkable. &ldquo;While terrorists certainly could target a mega-event, the real likelihood of their doing so is often a complete unknown,&rdquo; write Colin Bennett and Kevin Haggerty. &ldquo;Analyses of terrorist activity have repeatedly demonstrated the &lsquo;spatial displacement&rsquo; of attacks away from hardened targets to softer, less defended areas. This has been particularly true for recent manifestations of violent Jihadi extremism. Hence, beyond a minimal threshold of basic security measures, elaborate and intense additions to the security presence at mega-events typically does little to reduce the prospect that terrorists might attack at the periphery of an event.&rdquo;</p> <p>In the recent case of BRIC-hosted mega-events, security concerns have also been inflated by issues of local crime. Many observers have cast doubt over the fact that Brazilian cities, with large parts of their territories under the rule of drug gangs, could successfully host major events, even though Rio de Janeiro has held Carnival and New Year&rsquo;s festivities for years. Interestingly, local activists don&rsquo;t worry as much about security during the World Cup or the Olympics as in the aftermath &ndash; they fear the city&rsquo;s commitment to the pacification program might end once the international media&rsquo;s attention is elsewhere. Another concern is that local police forces are too weak to sustain the burden of securing the events (Brazil&rsquo;s Military Police is known for being corrupt and its officers underpaid and violent). This has been used as the justification for increasing the role of private security companies.</p> <p>One last point to consider when looking at the implications of Brazil ramping up its security apparatus during upcoming mega-events is the legacy these measures will leave behind. In the specific case of Rio, whose poorest neighbourhoods have historically remained in the center of the city, the pacification program has clearly been targeting tourist areas and Olympic venues, causing house prices to rise and, in some instances, instigated full-on gentrification. Generally, the urban revitalization effort spurred by preparation for the World Cup and the Olympics has clearly been giving priority to certain parts of the city, creating a spatial fragmentation that will increase social divisions. During the events, cities will give away control of entire areas surrounding sports venues to FIFA and IOC, with special rules of laws being applied regarding civil rights and commercial deals. &ldquo;The general tendency of the mega-event mode of production is to limit the &ldquo;right to the city&rdquo; through the installation of a new form of governmentality that uses apparatuses of security as its essential technical element,&rdquo; writes Rio-based geographer Christopher Gaffney. &ldquo;No informed population with a strong civil society would consensually submit to this outlandish proposal, thus the security apparatus functions to establish and guarantee these new circulations through the exercise of violence.&rdquo;</p> <p>The question of whether event-specific technology (e.g. CCTV systems) and practices will remain is also a crucial one. In Rio, certain observers worry that a corrupt and already violent military police will then use the crowd-controlling techniques learned for mega-events, and that an influx of weapons will worsen the arms traffic (for example, Rio&rsquo;s military police has signed a sponsoring contract with weapons manufacturer Glock to use its handguns during the Olympics). The city, which already faces near-war situations on a daily basis, will see the lines between civil and military life blurred even more, and the &ldquo;state of exception&rdquo; instated to meet the supposed needs of mega-events will become permanent. &ldquo;The dynamics of securitization point towards the wider legitimation of surveillance, regardless of whether or not &lsquo;things go wrong,&rdquo; write Colin Bennett and Kevin Haggerty. &ldquo;If no threat to security occurs, planners can boldly assert that their extensive measures have &lsquo;worked.&rsquo; If a threat does materialize, it can be conveniently explained by unforeseen gaps in the infrastructure and used to ratchet up levels of security at the next event.&rdquo;</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For more see: <a href=""></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/flavie-halais/pacifying-rio-whats-behind-latin-americas-most-talked-about-security-oper">Pacifying Rio: what&#039;s behind Latin America&#039;s most talked about security operation</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/flavie-halais/rios-favela-residents-fight-mega-event-eviction">Rio&#039;s favela residents fight mega-event eviction</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/stephen-graham/foucault%E2%80%99s-boomerang-new-military-urbanism">Foucault’s boomerang: the new military urbanism</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Brazil </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Río de Janeiro Brazil Sochi: sport and security Producing Rio Cities in Conflict Flavie Halais Cities of Exception Splintering Cities Thu, 02 May 2013 12:01:03 +0000 Flavie Halais 72339 at Creating subjects in Lavasa: the private city <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Through a process of devolution to private enterprises, a number of private cities are emerging across the Indian landscape. While private cities have been lauded by some as symbolic of a modern, global India, their impact on the nature of democracy and citizenship in the emerging city remains a contentious issue.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The picturesque city of Lavasa is located in the western hill range of India between the cities of Mumbai and Pune. Lavasa is an amalgamation of twenty villages encompassing seven hills and, on completion, will have an area of 100 sq km. The city is representative of a rapidly urbanising India, with one crucial difference - there is no democratic electoral process at the city-level. Lavasa is governed by Lavasa Corporation Limited (LCL), a private enterprise. This arrangement has resulted in a unique form of governance that challenges the notions of democracy and citizenship in the Indian context. <br /><br /><img src="" alt="" height="315" width="420" /><br /><small>Lavasa, 2010. Persis Taraporevala.</small></p> <p>Public opinion of the city is deeply divided. One faction of Indian society envisions Lavasa as an embodiment of a new emerging India with planned world-class cities that can act as engines of growth for the nation. Others are deeply critical of the city, predominantly, for the problematic processes that were utilised while acquiring land and the breach of environmental laws while constructing the city. Lost in this fray of adulation and accusation is a critical study of the governance body and its relationship with the citizens of Lavasa. </p><h3>History</h3> <p>The governing body in Lavasa has not arisen out of a void but through a slow systematic hollowing out of the state machinery by the Government. In the 1980s, the State Government (Maharashtra) decided to increase revenue through prioritising tourism across the state, and chose seven sites, including the current location of Lavasa, to attract tourists. These sites would each be governed by a Special Planning Authority (SPA), comprised of bureaucrats and technocrats. Since the sites were located in ecologically sensitive areas, there were stringent regulations controlling the size of the sites and the extent of felling and excavation allowed. Over time these regulations were diluted, and between 2001 and 2004 the regulation controlling the size of site was removed, further excavation and felling of trees were allowed and most importantly the SPA could now be constituted by any agency or authority deemed fit by the State Government, including private enterprises. In 2008 Lavasa Corporation Limited was notified as the Special Planning Authority of the 100 sq km that constitutes Lavasa, by the State Government. As the SPA of the area, LCL has been vested with most of the powers and functions of the local self-governing body or the municipality of the area.&nbsp; The geographical jurisdiction of the SPA covers the area that LCL owns within the 100 sq km of the notified area, which is currently limited to 50 sq km. The SPA can buy, hold and sell land and property, it can provide the area with utilities like water, electricity, gas, sewage treatment and other amenities that are required to develop and improve the area. </p> <p>The SPA is accountable to the Town Planning Department of Pune, the nearest city, and it must submit plans to this Department for approval. While this arrangement does bring in some level of accountability, the overall structure and functioning of the LCL creates spaces that are disenfranchising and restrictive. The city is partially functional as only two phases of the planned four phases are inhabitable, thus understanding the relationship between the governing body and the citizens is speculative and based on a critical analysis of the governing body and their contractual relationship with the residents.</p><p><img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br /><small>Lake side in Lavasa. <a href="">Wikimedia Commons.</a></small></p> <h3><strong>Disenfranchisement</strong></h3> <p>The structure of the Special Planning Authority is necessarily disenfranchising as the governing body is selected on behalf of the local people by LCL. The citizens also cannot participate in government by standing for elections. The loss of political rights is indicative of a thinning down of citizenship to the extent that the individuals are moving away from the empowered role of citizens and toward the rather archaic role of subjects. This relationship is explicitly described in the contract between Lavasa and its residents.</p> <p>The contract states that LCL, as the SPA, can collect fines, fees, service taxes and deposits. These amounts can be changed, as per the perception of the company. The agreement states that the customer cannot object to these changes and must pay the new fees and prices for land and services rendered for maintenance and administration. A customer cannot sell or lease out her property without consent from LCL. In case a customer decides to sue LCL, the contract stipulates that this could only be done through a process of arbitration in Mumbai. LCL has the right to choose the arbitrator and all proceedings have to be conducted in English. Furthermore LCL can transfer its authority to any nominee that the company sees fit. This third party or nominee will then undertake all the powers and functions attributed to Lavasa Corporation Limited. This nominee in turn can charge customers fees and also undertake functions related to the general management and supervision of the city. The document states that the customer cannot object to the appointment of such nominees. Finally, LCL can terminate the contracts of individuals, if they have been termed a nuisance by other residents or by the company itself. There is no explanation of what would constitute nuisance. The lease also states that the customer acknowledges the legitimacy of the guidelines created by Lavasa Corporation Limited and follows these guidelines, knowing that they can be changed whenever the Special Planning Authority deems appropriate.</p> <p>The company has sweeping rights over nearly all aspects of the life of the residents; it has the right to evict, to tax, to determine the use and design of land, to change the governing body and to change the rules while controlling the rights of people to object to these processes. Should residents feel the need to seek justice, their right to protest and their chance of getting a fair and independent arbitrator is also compromised.</p> <h3>Conflict of Interest</h3> <p>The Special Planning Authority in Lavasa conflates two roles, the role of the governing body and the role of the planning body. The former is supposed to administrate and govern over an area, and is legitimised by the fact that it is elected and is accountable to the citizens who live in the area. The second role of the planning body is the role of a development authority and consists of appointed technocrats. The Special Planning Authority conflates the two roles and is simultaneously the governing and planning authority of the area. Traditionally, cities have municipalities to govern the city and the role of the planning authority is restricted to infrastructure development and town planning. In addition to conflating these two roles, as the SPA consists of people chosen by the private company that have business interests in the area, a conflict of interest could arise. If the SPA chose to administrate and govern so as to benefit the company over the needs of the citizens, the voices and the needs of the people might be sacrificed, in the absence of accountability to people and in the interest of profit maximisation.</p> <p>In this approach to citizenship, market rationalism dictates and structures governmental processes and the equality of outcome for the citizens is not ensured. Individuals are viewed as active participants in the market, capable of promoting their own interests and thus the outputs and lives of these citizens would be a reflection of their individual skills and resources. This free market approach to citizenship does not guarantee that all people will be able to participate in citizenship because the criterion for participation is based on access to capital. In this formulation, citizenship is neither a universal right nor a moral prerogative.</p> <h3>Relevance</h3> <p>While there are only a few cities that are discussed as private cities in India, there are hundreds of private cities in the form of Special Economic Zones. An SEZ is a development enclave that is state sanctioned but owned and governed by a developer. The &lsquo;developer&rsquo;, according to the Special Economic Zone Act, 2005 could be a government body or any agency that has permission from the Central Government to set up an SEZ, including private enterprises. This arrangement is similar to the Special Planning Authority of Lavasa where the developer is also the governing body and all previous local governing bodies are dissolved. There are currently over 900 approved SEZs in India and more private cities have been planned along the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. These development enclaves are rationalised on the basis of economic growth while simultaneously undermining the democratic foundation of the nation and the sovereignty and rights of the citizen. With hundreds of these privately governed areas dotting the nation, this model of urbanisation is swiftly replicating itself across the Indian landscape.</p> <p>Lavasa and the other privately governed areas in India, follow the principles of good governance and transparency in a corporate context. These spaces pride themselves for their efficient private administration, security, efficiency, cleanliness while remaining silent on issues of democracy and accountability. What is alarming is that the acceptability of these private governing bodies has arisen in a complete vacuum of debate on the political ramifications that such bodies would have on citizenship and governance as a whole. It is imperative that India debates these issues or else her citizens may unwittingly override their basic rights and liberties in the bargain of creating world-class cities and infrastructure. </p> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> India </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> New Delhi </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openIndia openSecurity New Delhi India Civil society Democracy and government Cities in Conflict Persis Taraporevala Cities of Exception Tue, 16 Apr 2013 11:18:35 +0000 Persis Taraporevala 72183 at Laying siege to the villages: neighbourhoods for the working poor <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Part 4: As of 2013, with a population of 140,000 residents Baishizhou was the largest of Shenzhen's urban villages. The sheer size and density of the village highlights the contradictions between formal and informal urbanization of the city. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>As of 2013, Baishizhou was the largest of the so-called urban villages in Shenzhen&rsquo;s inner districts. With respect to the overall layout of Shenzhen, Baishizhou occupied both the southern and northern sides of the Shennan middle road, at peripheries of both Luohu (moving west) and the Nantou peninsula (moving north), making it one of the most centrally located transit centers in the inner districts (See map below).</p><p> As of 2013, Baishizhou had a total area of 7.4 km2 and an estimated population of 140,000 residents, of whom roughly 20,000 held Shenzhen <em>hukou</em> and 1,880 were locals. The population density of Baishizhou had breached 18,900 people per square kilometer, more twice that of municipal average of 7,500 people per square kilometer, a statistic which in 2012 had made Shenzhen the fifth most densely populated city on the planet. There were 2,340 low and mid-rise buildings in the area, with an estimated 35,000 units. Monthly rents ranged from 700 to 3,000 rmb, which were significantly cheaper than in neighboring Overseas Chinese Town (OCT) or nearby housing estates, where a &ldquo;cheap&rdquo; apartment could rent for 4,000 rmb. </p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br />Location of Baishizhou, 1996 Master Plan</p> <p>Many of the garbage collectors for the area live in the cheapest rentals, rural Mao-era dormitories where it is possible for three workers to share a 30 m2 dorm room for 200 rmb a head, plus electricity and water. </p><p>Old Cai, for example, was 65 years old, when interviewed. He came to Shenzhen after retirement because his monthly pension is 40 rmb per month, but he and his wife need 20,000 rmb annually, or about 1,700 a month to meet their expenses. In Baishizhou, he makes a living collecting and reselling cardboard boxes and other garbage. He says he can save money this way because although there&rsquo;s no real profit, he makes enough to support himself and to bring a little home for Chinese New Year. </p><p>However, the diversity of Baishizhou residents also includes working families who have lived in the area since migrating to Shenzhen over twenty years ago and young professionals who are sharing their first flat independent of their families. One family from Sichuan, for example, rents a 60 m2 two bedroom apartment for 1,700 rmb a month, which the husband, his wife, her mother-in-law, and their two children share. During the day, the parents work at one of the OCT themeparks, while the mother-in-law takes care of the children and housework. In addition, many of Shenzhen&rsquo;s young designers and architects who work in the OCT Loft, a renovated factory area for creative industry live in higher-end handshake buildings, which sometimes include parking space for a car.&nbsp; </p> <p>In addition to rental properties, the first floor of most Baishizhou buildings was used for commercial purposes and the area boasted several commercial streets, at least two night markets and entertainment areas, in addition to independent vendors and office space for independent carpenters, builders, and handymen. There was an elementary school and several nursery schools. Moreover, in between two of the abandoned factories of the Shahe Industrial Park enterprising migrants have set up the Baishizhou Pedestrian Street, which mimics the Dongmen Walking Street. There are food stalls and toy vendors, and several juvenile rides. </p> <p>Clearly, using the term &ldquo;village&rdquo; to describe this level of settlement density and diversity is misleading &ndash; Baishizhou is a vibrant urban area composed of five neighborhoods &ndash; Baishizhou, Shangbaishi, Xiabaishi, Xintang and Tangtou, which under Mao had been organized into a state-owned agricultural collective, Shahe Farm. In the early 1980s, 12.5 km2 area of the Shahe Farm was partitioned into two enterprise areas &ndash; Overseas Chinese Town in the eastern section and Shahe Enterprises in the western section. In the mid-1980s, both OCT and Shahe built factories for assembly manufacturing. </p><p>However, the management teams and access to investment capital were significantly different. OCT was a state-owned enterprise and its management team educated professionals from China&rsquo;s major cities. In contrast, the former collective leaders managed Shahe and its development. In the post Tian&rsquo;anmen era when Shenzhen&rsquo;s low-tech low cost manufacturing had ceased to be as profitable as during the 1980s, OCT developed themeparks &ndash; Splendid China, Window of the World, and Happy Valley &ndash; to stimulate the economy. In turn, this investment also enhanced the rental value of the area and drove the redevelopment of the former industrial park into a Soho like creative area.</p> <p><a rel="lightshow[baishi]" href="">This selection of images</a> walks the reader through the different areas of Baishizhou, illustrating both the contradictions between formal and informal urbanization in Shenzhen and the creative potential of the city&rsquo;s informal neighborhoods. </p> <p> <a href="">Back to the start</a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/mary-ann-o%E2%80%99donnell/laying-siege-to-villages-lessons-from-shenzhen">Laying siege to the villages: lessons from Shenzhen</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/mary-ann-o%E2%80%99donnell/laying-siege-to-villages-nantou-peninsula">Laying siege to the villages: the Nantou peninsula</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/mary-ann-o%E2%80%99donnell/laying-siege-to-villages-informal-urbanization-in-outer-districts">Laying siege to the villages: informal urbanization in the outer districts</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/mary-ann-o%E2%80%99donnell/laying-siege-to-villages-neoliberalizing-bamboo-curtain">Laying siege to the villages: neoliberalizing the bamboo curtain</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> China </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Shenzhen </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Shenzhen China Lessons from Shenzhen Cities in Conflict Photo Essay Mary Ann O’Donnell Cities of Exception Thu, 28 Mar 2013 18:25:31 +0000 Mary Ann O’Donnell 71828 at Laying siege to the villages: neoliberalizing the bamboo curtain <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Part 2: Both Cold War geo-politics and the rush to develop the neoliberal city informed the development of a particular form of urban inequality within Shenzhen's informal villages.&nbsp; <strong>Next: </strong><strong><a href="">Informal urbanization in the outer districts</a></strong> </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Two factors &ndash; political and economic &ndash; motivated the 1953 decision to move the Bao&rsquo;an County Seat from its historical site at Nantou on the Pearl River, to Caiwuwei a village located next to Shenzhen Old Town and the first station on the Chinese side of the Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR). Politically, Shenzhen Market was located at the actual Sino-British border and this is where the Chinese military was stationed after England supported the American action in Korea. This border became metaphorically known as the Bamboo Curtain, a reference to the Cold War Iron Curtain that split Europe into Capitalist and Communist blocs. Luohu Bridge was the southern entry point into the People&rsquo;s Republic. </p><p>Beginning in 1955, it is estimated that between 1 and 2.5 million mainlanders attempted to escape through Bao&rsquo;an to Hong Kong, with mass exoduses occurring in 1957, 1962, 1972, and 1979. Economically, the Shenzhen train station connected the area to the national railway system. The socialist planned economy relied on an extensive railway system to transform the scale of the Chinese economy from a traditional economy of peasants to a modern economy based on mass transfers of goods and people. In addition, the location of the new county seat also facilitated processing of foodstuffs that were sold for hard currency in Hong Kong via the Wenjing Crossing (See map below). </p><p> <img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br />Bao&rsquo;an County Seat and Luohu Train Station Area, circa 1978</p><p>The establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in 1980 was also implicated to take advantage of proximity to Hong Kong to achieve national goals. The earliest plan for the Shenzhen SEZ was to develop the 50-km2 area that extended east and west from the KCR railway tracks, upgrading extant roads and developing the rice paddies and Lychee orchards that surrounded the county headquarters, commercial area of Old Town, and extant villages. </p><p>Two of the most important decisions were to restructure the traffic flow of the area. First, the railroad tracks that traversed county headquarters were removed. Industrial parks were built along the remaining extension line and the northern portion of the railroad. Second, the area&rsquo;s main road, Jiefang was widened west beyond county headquarters and east near Huangbeiling. The stretch of liberation that traversed Old Town remained intact. Instead, the People&rsquo;s Engineering Corps lay a segment of new road that went around the southern border of Old Town or Dongmen, connecting the newly widened sections of Jiefang Road. This new road was called Shennan Thoroughfare and its layout informed all subsequent urbanization of the area. Subsequent development either followed the railroad north toward Buji or west toward Guangzhou. </p> <p>Villages immediately adjacent to Luohu bridge, Wenjing crossing, county headquarters, and the KCR railroad tracks boomed. In 1980, the villages had four primary sources of revenue &ndash; monetary compensation for land rights transfer from collectives to the state; profits from agricultural produce sold to the immigrants; rental properties, and; contraband goods that were smuggled into Shenzhen and sold in either the village market or a stall in Dongmen. However, very quickly the villages also built leisure facilities and commercial areas that targeted Hong Kong day-trippers, who enjoyed services and bought products at prices well below Hong Kong rates. Indeed, by Deng Xiaoping&rsquo;s 1984 tour of the SEZ, the Luohu Villages had become the symbol of &ldquo;<em>small prosperity (xiaokang)</em>&rdquo;, the material quality of their homes, furniture, and income even surpassing that of workers in state-owned industries, let alone the rest of China.</p> <p>The most famous Luohu Village was Yumin or Fishing Village, which held an important place in both national Chinese and local Shenzhen symbolic geography for three reasons. First, the name &ldquo;Fisher People Village&rdquo; indicates the ongoing smoothing of local hierarchy and integration of Dan households into first Bao&rsquo;an County and then the city. &nbsp;Yumin Villagers were ethnically &#34507;&#23478; (Literally &ldquo;Egg Households&rdquo;), the group of South Chinese fishermen who did not have land settlement rights. Historically, local governments did not permit Dan to wear shoes when they came ashore, to use red lanterns at wedding ceremonies, to marry land villagers, or to participate in the imperial examination. Under Mao, the Dan had been given land from&nbsp;Caiwuwei Village (location of Baoan County headquarters), moving&nbsp;onshore to build homes. </p> <p>Second, Yumin Village was one of the first villages to take advantage of reforms, but not in the form of the <em>household responsibility</em> system, but rather as a collective. In 1979 &ndash; even before the official establishment of the SEZ, the Yumin village head, Deng Zhibiao organized the purchase of tractors to increase the size of Yumin fish farms by converting all unused land into fisheries, increasing production from several to over 100 <em>mu</em>. According to Deng Zhibiao&rsquo;s calculations, at the time one <em>mu</em> of fish produced several thousand yuan. </p><p>Within a year, the village had saved enough money to collectively build 2-3 story private homes as well as factories. Yumin Village thus had the distinction of being the first &ldquo;10,000 yuan village&rdquo; in the country. When Deng Xiaoping visited Shenzhen in 1984, he was taken to view one of the small 2-3 story houses that the villagers had built and shown a modern parlor, complete with tv, curtains, and new furniture. In news reports about Deng&rsquo;s 1984 Southern Tour, Yumin Village was mistaken for Shenzhen&rsquo;s &ldquo;original settlement&rdquo; and the myth that Shenzhen was once upon a time a small fishing village embedded itself in future reports about the city. </p> <p>Third, Yumin Village&rsquo;s location meant that they were positioned to develop rental properties for the massive influx of Shenzhen migrants. Even as Deng Xiaoping was pushing through reforms to the 14 coastal cities, by the late 1980s and early 1990s, Yumin villagers were razing the original private homes and putting up 6-8 story handshake buildings to take advantage of rental opportunities. After all, Yumin village was conveniently located next to the train station. Consequently, in 2,000 when Luohu began to negotiate village renovation with Yumin village the stakes had been raised significantly. At the end of the process in 2004, Yumin village had been rebuilt as an upscale residential area, under a single village owned property management company. The new village consisted of eleven 12-story buildings and one 20-story multi-purpose building. Each village household was given 30 units within the new complex. </p> <p>Importantly, Yumin was only one of the Luohu area villages. Each of the other villages &ndash; Caiwuwei, Hubei, and Xixiang, for example, underwent similar transformations with one important exception. Unlike Yumin, Caiwuwei, Hubei and Xixiang had histories that stretched into the Ming-Qing dynasties. This meant their land holdings were not only more extensive than Yumin, but also gave them a stronger bargaining position vis-&agrave;-vis the state apparatus. </p><p>Moreover, since the 2007 decision to make urban villages the focus of urban renewal, the Luohu villages have been the sites of the strongest popular resistance to upgrading for two reasons. First, as of 2013, the villages remained the cheapest and most convenient housing option for the working poor. Secondly, the older sections of the villages represented the history of Shenzhen, both ancient and contemporary. Over thirty years after the establishment of the SEZ, Luohu has become an object of nostalgia for many early migrants, second generation Shenzheners and young professionals. Not unexpectedly, perhaps, villagers themselves have been willing to sell their housing rights to the highest bidder, while low-income families have viewed the villages as gateways to better living conditions in one of Shenzhen&rsquo;s formal housing estates.</p> <p><a rel="lightshow[dongmen][Entering Dongmen commercial area]" href="">This selection of images</a> illustrates the density and diversity of settlement in and around the Luohu train station. In particular, I draw attention to four generations of construction and reconstruction &ndash; formal and informal &ndash; of Old Shenzhen through a juxtaposition of the Dongmen Pedestrian Commercial Area, the occupied and vibrant street life of Hubei old village, and Hubei new village. This comparison makes salient the forms of inequality that have driven and been exacerbated through post Cold War neo-liberalization of the Bamboo Curtain.</p><p> <strong><a href="">Next: Informal urbanization in the outer districts</a></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/mary-ann-o%E2%80%99donnell/laying-siege-to-villages-lessons-from-shenzhen">Laying siege to the villages: lessons from Shenzhen</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/mary-ann-o%E2%80%99donnell/laying-siege-to-villages-nantou-peninsula">Laying siege to the villages: the Nantou peninsula</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> China </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Shenzhen </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Shenzhen China Lessons from Shenzhen Cities in Conflict Photo Essay Mary Ann O’Donnell Cities of Exception Thu, 28 Mar 2013 18:22:09 +0000 Mary Ann O’Donnell 71824 at Laying siege to the villages: the Nantou peninsula <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Part 1: The urbanization of Shenzhen references three key moments in China's history. Such moments are spatially expressed in concentric development around traditional villages. <strong>Next:</strong> <strong><a href="">Neoliberalizing the bamboo curtain</a></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The built environment of Shenzhen's urban villages reference three moments of China's history &ndash; late Qing and Nationalist-era rural society, Maoist collectivization, and post Mao reforms. Spatially, this history has been expressed as concentric occupations, with the oldest sections being first appropriated and then surrounded by newer developments. In turn, older settlements have been downgraded and converted into low-income neighborhoods. Locally, this process has been called, <em>&ldquo;cities surround the countryside&rdquo;</em>, which not only resonates ironically in post Mao China, but also identifies poverty with rural status. Maoist theory and practice had identified cities with all that was foreign and reactionary, and villages with all that was truly national and revolutionary. In contrast, the elevation of Bao&rsquo;an County to Shenzhen Municipality began the administrative transvaluation of the rural-urban relations, which was formalized in 1982 Chinese Constitution.</p> <p>Over 1,000 years ago, salt fields were developed in the Shenzhen-Hong Kong area, and the yamen for the local salt intendant was located on the Nantou Peninsula. The area was also famous for its oyster and pearl production. The peninsula provided protected harbors and access to Guangzhou via the Pearl River. During the Ming dynasty, the Shenzhen-Hong Kong area was called Xin&rsquo;an County, and thus Nantou City was designated its county seat.</p><p> Located on the southeastern banks of the Pearl River, Xin&rsquo;an was historically poorer than the counties on the eastern banks. Nevertheless, the harbors of the Pearl River&rsquo;s eastern coastline were significantly deeper than those on the western coastline. Consequently, Chinese maritime access to the South China Sea traditionally went through Humen (in neighboring Dongguan) and Nantou. Indeed, Zheng He&rsquo;s fleet stopped at the Tianhou Temple in Chiwan Harbor on their voyages of exploration (1405-1433), which took the Ming explorer as far as Africa. After the Ming ban on ocean travel made it possible for pirates to control the South China Sea, Guangzhou remained the southern gate to China and the ports on the eastern coast of the Pearl River became even more coveted by international traders (see map below). </p> <p> <img src="" alt="" width='420"' /><br /><small> Xin&rsquo;an County Seat in the Reign of the Kangxi Emperor (1661-1722)</small></p><p>By the late 18th Century, Guangzhou had not only become and important financial center, but also the center of opium trade. The first Opium War ignited when Lin Zexu dumped the opium stocks of British traders in the Pearl River. In turn, the traders successfully pressured the British government to use military means to secure compensation for their losses. China&rsquo;s defeat in the Opium Wars resulted in British colonialization of southern Xin&rsquo;an, including Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories. The Sino-British border was drawn along the Shenzhen River and passed just south of Shenzhen Market (see map below). </p><p>The laying of the Kowloon-Canton Railway in 1913 further shifted the flow of goods and people toward Hong Kong and away from Nantou. Small-scale trade between settlements on the Pearl River continued, although Nantou no longer played a dominant role in the regional political-economy. Instead, Shenzhen Market, the first station on the Chinese side of the KCR became the political and economic center of Xin&rsquo;an County, which was renamed Bao&rsquo;an at the start of the Nationalist era.&nbsp; </p><p> <img src="" alt="" /><br /><small> Riparian Trade Routes, Nantou City, and British Incursions</small></p> <p>In fact, the establishment of Shenzhen explicitly invoked colonial history, making the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty one of the key political impulses behind economic liberalization. Maoist modernization of Nantou, for example, included a two-lane road (today known as New South Road), which was laid parallel to the ancient South Gate Road and connected the peninsula villages to the national railroad and highway system. In the post Mao-era, however, state investment has aimed to urbanize the area, rather than to integrate rural settlements into the state apparatus. Land reclamation of Pearl River coastline gives the clearest indication of the scale and ambition of these plans &ndash; replacing Hong Kong and possibly even Guangzhou in the global organization of South China trade. </p> <p>The reform-era transformation of the Nantou Peninsula illustrates the broad contours and social contradictions that have characterized &ldquo;cities surround the countryside&rdquo;. During the Ming Dynasty, a pounded earth wall enclosed Nantou, but by the time of the first Opium War, the wall had crumbled into disuse and only the southern and eastern gates still stood. A road stretched from the decrepit Southern Gate and along the coast of the Pearl River to Nanshan Village, which was located at the foot of Nanshan Mountain. Between Nantou Old City and Nanshan Village six villages &ndash; Guankou, Yongxia, Tianxia, Xiangnan, Beitou, and Nanyuan &ndash; claimed land that included access to the Pearl River, a portion of South Gate Road that they identified as Village Main Street, and farmlands that extended inland. </p><p> However, through land reclamation and the emplacement of a grid of four- and six-lane roads, such as Qianhai Thoroughfare, Shenzhen&rsquo;s rural origins have been surrounded and isolated South Gate Street neighborhoods from the larger city. This selection of photos walks the viewer through the old village remnants of South Gate Street, highlighting the social stratification that occurred when cities surrounded the countryside (see map below). </p> <p> <img src="" alt="" /><br /><small> Cities Surround the Country: The Nantou Peninsula</small></p><p> <strong><a href="">Next: Neoliberalizing the bamboo curtain</a> </strong></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/mary-ann-o%E2%80%99donnell/laying-siege-to-villages-lessons-from-shenzhen">Laying siege to the villages: lessons from Shenzhen</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> China </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Shenzhen </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Shenzhen China Conflict Lessons from Shenzhen Cities in Conflict Mary Ann O’Donnell Cities of Exception Thu, 28 Mar 2013 18:21:52 +0000 Mary Ann O’Donnell 71822 at Laying siege to the villages: lessons from Shenzhen <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In this 4-part series, Mary Ann O'Donnell explores the social antagonisms that have emerged through Shenzhen's informal urbanization of villages. Each article features a corresponding photo-walk. <strong>Next: </strong><a href="" target="_self"><strong>Lessons from Shenzhen: the Nantou peninsula</strong></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Despite Shenzhen being famous for its &ldquo;urban villages&rdquo; or &ldquo;villages in the city&rdquo; (&#22478;&#20013;&#26449; <em>chengzhongcun</em>), in 2004 Shenzhen became the first Chinese city without villages. Full stop. This fact bears repeating: legally, there are no villages in Shenzhen. As of 2007, Shenzhen Municipality had a five-tiered bureaucracy consisting of the municipality (&#24066;<em>shi</em>), districts (&#24066;&#21306;<em>shiqu</em>), new districts (&#26032;&#21306; <em>xinqu</em>), sub-districts or streets (&#34903;&#36947;<em>jiedao</em>), and communities (&#31038;&#21306;<em>shequ</em>). Since 2010, the Districts have been known as the inner districts and outer districts, reflecting when they were incorporated into the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (SEZ) (See map below). </p> <p> <img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br /><small>Shenzhen Municipality, 2013. Mary Ann O'Donnell.<br /></small></p> <p>Under Mao, rural areas were China&rsquo;s revolutionary heart and &ldquo;villages surrounded the city (&#20892;&#26449;&#22260;&#32469;&#22478;&#24066;)&rdquo; was an explicit political, economic, and social strategy for revolutionary change. The Mandarin expression &ldquo;surrounds (&#22260;&#32469;)&rdquo; can also be translated as &ldquo;lays siege to&rdquo;, highlighting the rural basis of the Chinese Revolution. Early Chinese Communists had followed the Russian example and entered cities to organize workers. However, when Nationalist forces led by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek violently suppressed Communist organizations in Chinese cities the Communists retreated to the countryside. Moreover, communists and local people identified colonial ports such as Hong Kong with the proliferation of traitors, parasitic merchants, and corrupt officials. Consequently, while Marx claimed that modern history was the urbanization of the countryside, the Chinese revolution aimed to re-occupy and purify the cities. Beginning in 1927 until the occupation of Beijing in 1949, the Communists organized rural resistance to both Japanese invaders and Nationalist hegemony, literally surrounding the cities with an estimated 5 million rural soldiers. </p> <p>The establishment of Shenzhen signaled the beginning of a new era in Chinese history &ndash; &ldquo;cities surround the villages (&#22478;&#24066;&#22260;&#32469;&#20892;&#26449;)&rdquo;, an expression which Shenzhen urban planners and architects have self-consciously used to describe urbanization in the city. </p><p>Historically, there were legally constituted villages in Shenzhen. The present ambiguity over the status of villages and villagers is a result of contradictions between Maoist economic planning and post-Mao liberalization policies. Under Mao, the country was segregated into rural and urban areas. In rural areas, villages were designated production teams and organized into work brigades that were administered by communes. Communes had to meet agricultural production quotas that financed industrial urbanization and socialist welfare policies in cities, which were tellingly defined as &ldquo;not-agrarian (&#38750;&#20892;<em>feinong</em>)&rdquo;.</p><p> Importantly, the <em>hukou</em> or household registration policy literally kept people in place &ndash; the allocation of food, housing, jobs, and social welfare took place through <em>hukou</em> status. Food and grain coupons were city-specific, for example, and a Shanghai meat coupon could not be legally exchanged in a neighboring city, let alone Beijing. In rural areas, however, communes and production brigades provided neither food coupons nor housing to members. Instead, brigade members produced their own food (usually what was leftover after production quotas had been met) and built their own homes or rural dormitories as they were known in the Maoist system.&nbsp; </p> <p>In 1979, when the Guangdong Provincial Government elevated Bao&rsquo;an County to Shenzhen Municipality, the area was rural, and the majority of its 300,000 residents had household registration in one of 21 communes, which were further organized into 207 production brigades. However, <em>hukou</em> status notwithstanding, the integration of brigades and teams had not been complete and members continued to identify with traditional village identities. Although the names of Shenzhen&rsquo;s current districts were the names of ten of the larger communes, for example, with the exception of Guangming, they were also historically the names of large villages that had been the headquarters for communes. </p> <p>In 1980, the Central government further liberalized economic policy in Shenzhen by establishing the area that bordered Hong Kong as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). This internal border was known as &ldquo;the second line&rdquo;, in contrast to the Sino-British border at Hong Kong or &ldquo;the first line&rdquo;. The re-designation legalized industrial manufacturing and foreign investment (primarily from Hong Kong) in the new SEZ. Outside the second line, Shenzhen Municipality established New Bao&rsquo;an County, which was still legally rural and administered through collective institutions. </p> <p>The elevation of Bao&rsquo;an County to Shenzhen Municipality created an anomalous situation within Socialist China because the administrative division of Shenzhen into the SEZ and New Bao&rsquo;an County only legalized new economic measures; it did not transfer traditional land rights from brigades and teams to the new municipal government. Instead, the first task of urban work units that came to the SEZ was to negotiate the equitable transfer of land rights from the collectives to the urban state apparatus. The goal was to insure that rural workers would continue to have space for housing and enough land to ensure agricultural livelihoods. And this is where historical village identities reasserted themselves. In theory, the urban work units negotiated with brigade and team leaders to transfer the administration of land from the rural to the urban sector of the state apparatus. In turn, the brigades and teams would continue to produce food for the new urban settlements. In practice, however, brigade and team leaders acted on behalf of their natal villages and co-villagers, asserting a pre-revolutionary social identity. </p> <p>The legal slippage between collective identity within China&rsquo;s rural state apparatus and collective identity through membership in a traditional village arose because although the Constitution and subsequent Land Law of 1986 stated that rural farmland belonged to the collective, neither document went so far as to define what a collective actually was in law. Indeed, the difference between rural and urban property rights has been the foundation for post-Mao reforms, first in Shenzhen and then throughout the country. In 1982, the amended Constitution formally outlined the different property rights under rural and urban government. According to Article 8 of the Chinese Constitution:</p> <p><em>Rural people's communes, agricultural producers' co-operatives, and other forms of co- operative economy such as producers' supply and marketing, credit and consumers co-operatives, belong to the sector of socialist economy under collective ownership by the working people. Working people who are members of rural economic collectives have the right, within the limits prescribed by law, to farm private plots of cropland and hilly land, engage in household sideline production and raise privately owned livestock. The various forms of co-operative economy in the cities and towns, such as those in the handicraft, industrial, building, transport, commercial and service trades, all belong to the sector of socialist economy under collective ownership by the working people. The state protects the lawful rights and interests of the urban and rural economic collectives and encourages, guides and helps the growth of the collective economy.</em><a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a></p> <p>In contrast, according to Article 10, land in cities is owned by the State:</p> <p><em>Land in the rural and suburban areas is owned by collectives except for those portions which belong to the state in accordance with the law; house sites and private plots of cropland and hilly land are also owned by collectives. The state may in the public interest take over land for its use in accordance with the law. No organization or individual may appropriate, buy, sell or lease land, or unlawfully transfer land in other ways. All organizations and individuals who use land must make rational use of the land.<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a></em></p><p><em> </em></p><p>The contradiction between the fact that villages no longer have legal status in Shenzhen and their traditional claims to land rights and social status &ndash; both of which are recognized by Shenzhen officials and residents &ndash; has constituted a serious political challenge for Shenzhen officials, who have viewed the villages as impediments to &ldquo;normal (&#27491;&#24120;)&rdquo; urbanization. Officials have defined &ldquo;normal&rdquo; urbanization with respect to the Shenzhen&rsquo;s Comprehensive Urban Plan, which has already gone through four editions (1982, 1986, 1996, and 2010). In other words, &ldquo;normal&rdquo; urbanization has referred either to formal urbanization or informal urbanization that has secured legal recognition. In contrast, Shenzhen&rsquo;s urban villages emerged informally as local residents not only built rental properties to house the city&rsquo;s booming migrant population, but also developed corporate industrial parks, commercial recreational and entertainment centers, and shopping streets. As of January 2013, for example, it was estimated that half of Shenzhen&rsquo;s 15 million registered inhabitants lived in the villages. Moreover, these densely inhabited settlements also provided the physical infrastructure that has sustained the city&rsquo;s extensive grey economy, including piecework manufacturing, spas and massage parlors, and cheap consumer goods.</p> <p>In Shenzhen, urban villages have been the architectural form through which migrants and low-status citizens have claimed rights to the city. Importantly, informal urbanization in the villages has occurred both in dialogue with and in opposition to formally planned urbanization. On the one hand, informal urbanization in Shenzhen urban villages has ameliorated many of the more serious manifestations of urban blight that plague other boomtowns. Unlike Brazilian favelas, for example, Shenzhen urban villages are not concentrated in one location, but rather distributed throughout the entire city and many urban villages occupy prime real estate. Consequently, Shenzhen&rsquo;s urban villages have been integrated into the city&rsquo;s infrastructure grid and receive water, electricity, and also have access to cheap and convenient public transportation. Moreover, as Shenzhen has liberalized its <em>hukou</em> laws, urban villages have also been where migrants have access to social services, including schools and medical clinics. Thus, Shenzhen&rsquo;s urban villages have provided informal solutions to boomtown conditions. </p> <p>On the other hand, the lack of formal legal status of urban villages and by extension the residents of urban villages has allowed the Municipality to ignore residents&rsquo; rights to the city via the convenience of centrally located low-income neighborhoods. In fact, the ambiguous status of urban villages became even more vexed in 2007, when the Shenzhen government initiated a plan to renovate urban villages. It has been widely assumed that the government promulgated the new plan in order to benefit from the real estate value of urban village settlements. Critically, the municipality&rsquo;s plans for urban renovation compensated original villagers while ignoring the resettlement needs of migrant residents. Thus, the status of at least half of Shenzhen&rsquo;s population suddenly entered into public discourse as it has become apparent that although the urban villages resulted from informal practices, nevertheless, they have been the basis for the city&rsquo;s boom.</p><h3>Ruralization: the ideology of global inequality </h3><p>This set of essays aims to demonstrate that Shenzhen&rsquo;s so-called urban villages are in fact urban neighborhoods that grew out of previous rural settlements through rapid industrial urbanization. Nevertheless, the designation of &ldquo;rural&rdquo; or &ldquo;village&rdquo; still clings to these neighborhoods, making them the target of renovation projects and ongoing calls for upgrades. In turn, these calls justify razing neighborhoods and displacing the working poor with upper and upper middle class residential and commercial areas. Recently, Caiwuwei was razed and rebuilt as the KK 100 Mall, while Dachong was razed and as of 2013 a new development under construction. Hubei, the old commercial center in Luohu has been designated as the next major area to be razed, while in late 2012, the Shenzhen Government and Lujing Developers announced their intention to raze and rebuild Baishizhou as a centrally located luxury development. </p><p>In Shenzhen, ruralization is primarily an ideological practice through which neighborhoods for the working poor and low-income families have been created by denying the urbanity of these neighborhoods and their residents. In this practice, the city&rsquo;s rural history is invoked to demonstrate that neighborhoods which grew out of villages are continuations of the village, rather than the results of informal urbanization. Indeed, there are few actual remains of Shenzhen&rsquo;s rural past. Instead, the target of official rural renovation projects are in fact the informal housing and industrial parks that were built roughly between the mid 1980s through 2004/5, when the municipal government began actively preventing informal construction. </p><p>All this to make a very simple point. When we speak of rural urbanization in Shenzhen, we are &ndash; to redeploy Maoist language &ndash; speaking of the process through which &ldquo;the wealthy lay siege to poor neighborhoods&rdquo; or more simply, gentrification with Chinese characteristics.</p><hr /><p>Each of the following sections explore the social antagonisms that have emerged through the transformation of Bao&rsquo;an County into Shenzhen Municipality via informal urbanization in the villages. </p><p>With respect to recent Chinese history, this level of specificity aims to make salient how Shenzhen enabled national leaders to reform Mao&rsquo;s rural revolution. With respect to contemporary research on mega-cities, the series of articles draws attention to the ways in which architectural forms have facilitated neoliberal urbanisms that exclude the poor from desired futures. <a href="" target="_self"><strong>Next: The Nantou peninsula</strong></a></p> <hr size="1" /><p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> <em>Constitution of the People&rsquo;s Republic of China</em> (adopted on December 4, 1982), accessed at on February 26, 2013.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> Ibid.</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/jonathan-bach/shenzhen-constructing-city-reconstructing-subjects">Shenzhen: constructing the city, reconstructing subjects</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/hyun-bang-shin/development-and-dissent-in-chinas-urban-age">Development and dissent in China&#039;s &#039;urban age&#039;</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> China </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Shenzhen </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Shenzhen China Democracy and government Lessons from Shenzhen Cities in Conflict Photo Essay Mary Ann O’Donnell Cities of Exception Thu, 28 Mar 2013 18:20:01 +0000 Mary Ann O’Donnell 71607 at Shenzhen: constructing the city, reconstructing subjects <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Shenzhen, one of our greatest contemporary urban experiments, faces huge challenges in integrating the non-urban populations on which the city was built, into the city-proper.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Premised on exports and experiment, Shenzhen is a city stretched between high expectations and the unintended consequences of constant expansion. Great expectations lie in its DNA; from Deng Xiaoping&rsquo;s conviction that the creation of Shenzhen in 1979 would spur China&rsquo;s reform and opening, to his <a href="">prodding in 1992</a> that the city not &ldquo;act as women with bound feet,&rdquo; to current leader Xi Jinping&rsquo;s <a href="">symbolic choice of Shenzhen</a> for his first official visit in December 2012 to signal his reform agenda. Shenzhen did meet expectations, and then some. As one of our greatest contemporary urban experiments, the staggering growth that made Shenzhen synonymous with the rise of &ldquo;Made in China&rdquo; must be regarded as much as the result of massive improvisation as of master planning. And today, what started as a city of exception is a site of an ongoing struggle to define the rule.</p> <p>The early decades saw much improvisation to channel a huge labor force into the flow of production within the constraints of China&rsquo;s restrictive residency system (<em>hukou</em>). Today, rather than securing surplus labor power, the city seeks to &ldquo;optimize&rdquo; its labor force in more subtle ways. The changing approach to labor is connected to the delicate negotiation of rural and urban on which China&rsquo;s rise as a global power ultimately depends. How rural populations will or won&rsquo;t be integrated into national systems, and what sort of politics can emerge from and through the management of socio-economic diversity, is actively shaping the meaning of citizenship in Shenzhen and China. Here the experience of Shenzhen will be instructive.</p> <p> <img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br />Within an urban village in Shenzhen. Jonathan Bach. </p><h3><strong>Urban-rural divisions</strong></h3> <p>The interplay between urban and rural has driven China&rsquo;s legendary urban growth: by 2011 <a href="">253 million migrant workers lived in cities</a>, where average salaries form an irresistible draw at 300% higher than those in the countryside, while the expropriation of rural lands for urban expansion drives real estate markets. Shenzhen&rsquo;s meteoric rise led the way into China&rsquo;s urban age. Shenzhen was a product of orchestrated administrative planning and an aspiring managerial class, but its growth would have been impossible without unauthorized migrants working in everything from construction to services to factories. This was a public secret from the beginning.&nbsp; </p><p>In addition to the (usually unregistered) rural workers who flocked to Shenzhen, the city&rsquo;s workforce is made up of (mostly lawful) migrants from other cities&mdash;millions of technically &ldquo;temporary&rdquo; residents. They are, in effect, the embodiment and image of Shenzhen while the true &ldquo;locals&rdquo;&mdash;the former villagers&mdash;make up the smallest group of all, numbering in the tens of thousands in a city hovering somewhere between 12 and 15 million.<a href=""></a></p><p><a href="">Mary Ann O&rsquo;Donnell</a> cites the ratio of migrants to former &ldquo;local&rdquo; villagers today at about ten to one within the borders of the original zone (inside the so-called first line), and 30 to one in some of Shenzhen&rsquo;s outer districts (beyond the so-called second line). This tripartite mix of former villagers, lawful migrants, and unauthorized migrant workers forms the human infrastructure for Shenzhen&rsquo;s urban improvisations and administrative apparatus. To understand Shenzhen we have to understand how the physical configuration of the city goes along with subject re-configuration. </p> <h3>&ldquo;Building the city at no cost&rdquo;</h3><h3> </h3><p>Today the rural and urban fuse in a Moebius strip-like continuum, which began with allowing villages to maintain rural legal status long after the city was created. This effectively embedded hundreds of <a href="">mini-rural enclaves in the emerging urban fabric</a>, and made them unwittingly central to the city&rsquo;s trajectory. </p><p>The inevitable loss of land and livelihood that befell the villages as their fields turned to factories, was offset by new sources of income: illegal housing for migrants and expanded village enterprises to attract investment and factories. These informal and quasi-formal infrastructures enabled the city to maintain a fiction of planning around an incongruously small &ldquo;official&rdquo; population while absorbing masses of new workers who found quarter in villages: by the 1990s as much as 50% of the real population in central Futian district lived in &ldquo;urban villages,&rdquo; though they occupied only 15% of the land. Since most of these people and buildings did not officially exist, the city did not need to include them in their budgetary plans (with serious later shortcomings concerning schools, health care, and security, among other issues). As one city official once put it to me, this was part of Shenzhen&rsquo;s &ldquo;secret of success,&rdquo; what he called &ldquo;building the city at no cost.&rdquo;</p><p> <img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br />Caiwuwei village from above. Jonathan Bach. </p><p>Offloading the burgeoning population to informal housing arrangements was only part of &ldquo;building the city at no cost.&rdquo; Another involved <a href="!NgTang_2004.pdf">granting tax exemptions and free land</a> to ministries from China&rsquo;s central government to industrialize the countryside. This form of improvisation resulted in a patchwork of at least 24 ministries developing land, intersecting with the parallel patchwork of approximately 200 recognized villages from the pre-Shenzhen era. These industrialized areas became the site of Shenzhen&rsquo;s economic might, while the &ldquo;villages&rdquo; became urban enclaves with some of the highest density in the world (or, in the outlying districts, the locus of manufacturing <a href="">as the center shifted</a> to finance, high tech, and service industries). The result has been an imbrication of the rural and urban in such a way that Shenzhen has come to be defined by the ongoing process of determining who and what is subject to the urban. The rest of this short intervention will explore these modalities of cities and citizenship.</p> <h3>Urban subjects</h3> <p>Shenzhen is engaged in a long-term project of creating the civilized (<em>wenming</em>) &ldquo;urban&rdquo; Shenzhen subject. For the former farmers, this involved forcibly revoking their &ldquo;rural&rdquo; residence status and giving them Shenzhen urban residency. While urban residency is a holy grail for many peasants, in Shenzhen this meant effectively ending their exceptional status that allowed former villages to operate more easily outside the legal purview of the city. The city hopes to force the villagers into the regulated economy and end informal settlements that have, in the official view, outlived their usefulness. Through economic urban citizenship the villagers, as one city official put it, will &ldquo;<a href="">come in peasants and leave citizens</a>,&rdquo; (echoing unwittingly, perhaps, the title of Eugen Weber&rsquo;s classic book on French modernity, <em>Peasants into Frenchmen</em>). </p> <p>Not only the villagers, but also the migrants who make up the vast bulk of Shenzhen&rsquo;s population are subjects of new forms of urban citizenship. Of the 12 to 15 million people in Shenzhen, less than a quarter hold permanent residency, approximately six million migrants are unregistered, and the rest hold temporary permits (precise numbers are hard to come by).&nbsp; The city has been experimenting with <a href="">new forms of incentives</a> to <a href="">&ldquo;optimize their population structure&rdquo;</a> by easing residency requirements for the &ldquo;right&rdquo; kind of urbanite&mdash;above all degree holders, investors, professionals, and skilled workers, but even &ldquo;regular&rdquo; people are incentivized to apply if they <a href="">accumulate enough &ldquo;credit points&rdquo;</a> through a combination of work years, skill level, and insurance and tax payments.</p><h3><strong>Citizenship and urban surveillance</strong></h3> <p>While in this way the most desirable migrants are offered formal citizenship in the city (Shenzhen <em>hukou</em>), there is a parallel effort to replace the temporary residence card (which many people simply ignored) with a mandatory internal &ldquo;Green Card.&rdquo; This biometric card ostensibly improves access to urban privileges for migrants, who were historically differentiated by their access to city benefits (housing, health care, education, etc.), and has been touted as a significant step in the reform of the household registry system that manages population flows. </p> <p>Whether or not the new card actually provides any new rights, it stands out as an <a href="">emerging biopolitical form of population management</a>. The card can be tracked electronically and its data includes marital status, family planning, employment, insurance, criminal, credit, purchase and address records. Together with a massive corollary project of face-recognition enabled CCTV cameras and voice recognition technology, Shenzhen, already the <a href="">supplier of 60%</a> of all of China&rsquo;s security products, is <a href=";_r=0">developing a state of the art urban surveillance system</a> (financed by an American company) with more than 20,000 integrated cameras, along with police directed centrally by GPS on high resolution maps across the city. Even as such sophisticated technology invites as-yet-unknown forms of subterfuge and re-appropriation, it signals a shift in the how the city seeks control over the flow of labor and links it to the formation of urban citizens.</p><h3>Subject to urbanisation</h3><p>In addition to <em>who</em> is the subject of (and subject to) the urban, Shenzhen is trying to clarify <em>when and how</em> remaining &ldquo;agricultural&rdquo; land can become urban. The city led the way in making revenues from land sales the major source of income for local government when &ldquo;use rights&rdquo; became a way to marketize state-owned land. The city seeks to buy low by paying small compensation to former collectives and sell high to developers. Yet Shenzhen&rsquo;s imbrication of rural and urban has resulted in a situation where rural residents still <a href="">live on 42%</a> of the little remaining available land that the city is able&mdash;and eager&mdash;to develop. Only a quarter of these residents own legal title, which complicates the process of state acquisition and resale even more.</p> <p>In the latest and boldest of a series of attempts to gain control over formerly (and formally) rural lands, primarily on the outskirts, rural collectives as of 2013 will be <a href="">able to sell</a> on the open market and keep up to 50% of the revenue. </p> <p>These dual processes of creating new subjects and using market alchemy to <a href="">turn rural land</a> into urban development is propelled by a tension between Shenzhen&rsquo;s rural roots and urban identity. Yet this tension is less about differences between country and city folk (real though they may be) than about how the flow of labor can be managed in new ways. Shenzhen is again at the vanguard, this time of a shift from the enclosure, so to speak, of workers in inflexible residency classifications to the modulation of workers through differential forms of access to urban rights, where rights refers to both virtues and prerogatives. While the old improvisations of the urban villages as sites for quasi-legal migrant housing are decreasingly central to Shenzhen&rsquo;s urban form, the new challenges of modulating urban citizenship will spark no less improvisation in the years to come.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For more expanded discussions of the themes covered in this posting see the author’s articles <a href="">“’They Come in Peasants and Leave Citizens’: Urban Villages and the Making of Shenzhen, China”</a> in <em>Cultural Anthropology</em> (2010), “<a href="">Shenzhen: City of Suspended Possibility</a>” in the <em>International Journal of Urban and Regional Research</em> (2011), and <a href="">Modernity and the Urban Imagination in Economic Zones</a> in <em>Theory, Culture &amp; Society </em>(2011).</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/hyun-bang-shin/development-and-dissent-in-chinas-urban-age">Development and dissent in China&#039;s &#039;urban age&#039;</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> China </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Shenzhen </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Shenzhen China Democracy and government Lessons from Shenzhen Cities in Conflict Jonathan Bach Cities of Exception Thu, 14 Mar 2013 11:38:14 +0000 Jonathan Bach 71463 at Pacifying Rio: what's behind Latin America's most talked about security operation <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Rio de Janeiro has engaged in an ambitious security operation aimed at freeing its favelas from the control of gangs in time for the 2016 Olympics. But security is not the only rationale behind the program. As with everything, economic interests and international exposure drive Rio's makeover.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>With a series of major international events culminating in the summer Olympics in 2016, Rio de Janeiro is set to make its comeback on the international scene after decades marked by violence and neglect. A crucial step on the way to regaining the trust of investors and tourists is lowering the city's infamous crime rate, mostly concentrated in the gang-controlled favelas. To do so, the state of Rio de Janeiro has engaged in an ambitious favela-clearing program called &ldquo;pacification&rdquo; or UPP (for Pacification Police Units), which involves retaking territories through&nbsp; invasions led either by SWAT-like units or the military itself, and subsequently handing daily policing to community police forces while bringing much-needed public services to the area. </p><p> <img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br /><small>Complexo do Alem&atilde;o during the military occupation. Flavie Halais.</small> </p><p>Over 30 communities have already been &ldquo;pacified&rdquo;, with 70 more to come by the 2016 deadline. For Cariocas, as Rio residents are known, the pacification comes as a breath of fresh air in the midst of daily violence, their response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive. Meanwhile, the world observes with interest, as the programme holds the potential to provide a solution for countless other urban areas plagued with violence. The question on everyone's lips is: will the pacification be successful? And will its success be sustainable over the long term? Yet a far more crucial question remains unasked: how does a democratic country on the path to economic prosperity come to view warfare as the preferable solution to dealing with a matter of national policing? The answer, while complex, provides an insightful glimpse into the practice of urban governance in today's militarized cities.</p> <p>Security in Rio has been a concern of international observers since the city won the bid to host the Olympics in 2009. Indeed a 2009 cable from the U.S. embassy in Brasilia and released by Wikileaks read: &ldquo;the great question mark concerning Rio's selection has been the security situation, a question brought to the fore on October 17th as a gunfight between drug gangs resulted in the shooting down of a police helicopter&rdquo;. <br /><br />The drug factions that took control in the 1980s rule over most of Rio's 600 favelas with extreme violence and their wider grip over the city at large should not be understated. In 2002, the Red Command, Rio's oldest faction and one of its largest, ordered all stores and schools to close for a day in protest against the detention of the faction&rsquo;s leader. Residents dutifully complied, fearing retaliation.</p> <h3><strong>A state of exception</strong></h3> <p>In a way, Rio de Janeiro is but another name on the list of urban areas perceived as problematic. In recent years, urban conflicts in vulnerable cities such as Bagdad, Kabul, Medell&iacute;n or Ciudad Juarez have led academics in the military, geography and planning circles to view cities of the developing world, with large numbers living in informality and governed by weak governments, as a breeding ground for terrorism and widespread violence. A vocabulary of &ldquo;urban battlespace&rdquo;, &ldquo;feral&rdquo;, &ldquo;failed&rdquo; or &ldquo;fragile&rdquo; cities are just some examples of the language used in academia to describe cities in conflict. In many ways, &nbsp;both the academy and policymakers&rsquo; preoccupation with controlling the urban poor in such cities has eclipsed the will to understand reasons why violence exists in such cities, namely the failure of governments to include all populations into civic and economic life.</p> <p>In <em>Planet of Slums</em>, Mike Davis notes: &ldquo;The demonizing rhetorics of the various international &ldquo;wars&rdquo; on terrorism, drugs, and crime are so much semantic apartheid: they construct epistemological walls around gecekondus, favelas, and chawls that disable any honest debate about the daily violence of economic exclusion. And, as in Victorian times, the categorical criminalization of the urban poor is a self-fulfilling prophecy, guaranteed to shape a future of endless war in the streets. As the Third World middle class increasingly bunker themselves in their suburban theme parks and electrified &ldquo;security villages,&rdquo; they lose moral and cultural insight into the urban badlands they have left behind.&rdquo;</p> <p>The perceived danger posed by urban peripheries &ndash; although Rio's poor, due to particular historical reasons, remain in large part in the centre &ndash; has increased the divide between formal and informal city and provided governments the justification to instate drastic measures that often violate civil rights, from &ldquo;slum&rdquo; removals to security walls. Informal city dwellers, existing outside of regular&nbsp; judicial channels, find themselves living in a &ldquo;state of exception&rdquo; as theorized by Italian philosopher Georgio Agamben, wherein the state imposes exceptions to regular juridical order as permanent norms in chosen spaces. Interestingly, the same processes are understood to have taken place in many World Cup and Olympic cities, where regular laws are frequently suspended and civil rights ignored in the name of security. In places where mega-events and informal city collide, such as Johannesburg and Beijing, hundreds of thousands of residents have been affected by state violence.</p> <h3><strong>Military urbanism</strong></h3> <p>Increasingly, such logics are used to justify tactics of territorial governance usually confined to full-on wars, from surveillance to military invasion, <a href="" target="_blank">a phenomenon well-documented by Stephen Graham</a> in <em>Cities</em><em> Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism</em>. Prior to Rio's pacification, Latin America had already been the terrain of several military operations intending to temporarily take over law enforcement duties and stabilize crime in places like Mexico's Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana, Colombia's Medell&iacute;n, and Jamaica's Kingston. </p><p>In 2007, Rio's state governor Sergio Cabral and secretary of public security Jos&eacute; Mariano Beltrame travelled to Medell&iacute;n and Bogot&aacute; to learn how both cities had managed to curb crime. Their UPP program was eventually inspired by <a href="" target="_blank">Medell&iacute;n's Orion operation</a>, which successfully removed FARC guerrilla factions from the city, but in doing so led to major human rights violations and granted paramilitary leader Don Berna a monopoly on organized crime and violence in the city. Medell&iacute;n's infrastructure upgrading and social programs, which were implemented after Orion, as well as Bogot&aacute;'s social prevention and community policing programs, have been unanimously praised as being the source of a long-lasting reduction of crime. In Rio however, such social aspects of pacification have been relegated to a much less prominent place.</p> <p>"It is thus important not to be blinded by the achievements and uncritically present policies adopted in Colombia as a blanket model to be emulated in other parts of the world&rdquo;, writes Vanda Felbab-Brown, an expert on international and internal conflict and counterinsurgency. &ldquo;As with all public policies, molding anti-crime strategies to local institutional and cultural context continues to be a critical determinant of their effectiveness."</p> <p>Indeed, the history of Rio's favelas should not be so quickly assimilated to that of other &ldquo;fragile cities&rdquo;. Since the creation of Rio's first favela 115 years ago and until the 1990s when the first major infrastructure upgrading program was launched, the municipal and state governments have tolerated, but never incorporated favelas into the formal city, leaving residents to organize such services as electricity, running water or garbage collection in their neighbourhoods.<br /><br /> After drug gangs moved in the 1980s, media reports continuously portrayed favelas exclusively as hotbeds for crime, leading to an increasing spatial segregation of social classes, despite less than one percent of favela residents engaging in violent crime. Such narrow-minded analysis omits the fact that favela residents are the maids, cooks, gardeners, nannies and other poorly-paid employees that have helped middle and upper classes maintain their lifestyle. It also conveniently forgets the role of Rio's notoriously violent and corrupt police force, whose history of brutality can be traced back to the military dictatorship, and who themselves are responsible for a large number of violent crimes, more than 1,000 homicides each year.</p> <h3><strong>Brazil's time to shine</strong></h3> <p>That Rio de Janeiro would want to break with the status quo with an aggressive militarized campaign instead of the longer, but proven route of social programming cannot be merely explained by the need to secure the city for mega-events like the World Cup and Olympics. &ldquo;Rio has safely staged major events and annually hosts 2 million people at the Carnival and New Years Eve celebrations&rdquo;, notes a report by the International Olympic Committee. It might be worthwhile to note that crime had been declining in the city even prior to the UPP (from a homicide rate of 56.5 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2002 to 34 in 2008), and that an experiment in community policing was launched in 2002, and then discontinued in 2004.</p> <p>The creation of the UPP can perhaps be explained by Brazil's ambitions to become a major economic and military player on the Latin American and international stages, notably in the war on drugs (the country has launched a massive border securitization program, going so far as to conduct a coca eradication operation in Peru). Brazil's government has been lobbying for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council for years, and sought to prove its reliability by running the military wing of the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti. In Port-au-Prince, the Brazilian army perfected its counterinsurgency and slum-securitization techniques, which army sources have since deployed in Rio's favelas &ndash; some soldiers who have been posted in both places have even reportedly found their work in Rio more difficult than in Haiti.</p> <p>But the UPP isn't just a political affair. The prospect of incorporating millions of residents into the formal economic life means big business for Rio and Brazil as a whole. &ldquo;There are... significant economic interests at stake, with some analysts estimating Rio de Janeiro's economy would grow by 38 billion Brazilian Reals ($21 billion USD) should favelas be reincorporated into mainstream society and markets&rdquo;, notes a 2009 cable from the US Consulate in Rio released by Wikileaks.</p> <p>The economic gains brought about by the pacification begins with residents starting to pay taxes, as well as utilities like electricity and cable TV (in gang-controlled favelas, utilities are stolen from the grid and sold for a profit by the gangs. Light, Rio's electricity company, was thought to lose the equivalent of 30% of the electricity it produces). Retail is also a major winner, with dozens of banks, telecommunication companies, clothing or furniture stores moving into pacified communities formerly out of reach, expecting to win dozens of thousands of new clients at a time. With such economic prospects, it is perhaps no surprise that the UPP program is subsidized by private companies like Coca-Cola, and by Brazil's richest man, entrepreneur Eike Batista.</p> <h3>Gentrification through pacification</h3><p>Rio's already inflated real estate market however, has gained the most from pacification, with house prices increasing by up to 50% in pacified communities only 24 hours after the &ldquo;invasion&rdquo;. In middle-class communities located near favelas, news reports cite increases of up to 600%. Vidigal, a small hillside favela conveniently facing the ocean, has been gentrifying at high speed, with foreigners and young Cariocas moving in as an attempt to escape Rio's unaffordable rent market. There is no doubt that other favelas in the touristy South Zone will follow suit.</p> <p>The pacification comes at a time of economic growth and social change in Brazil, with millions of Brazilians exiting poverty to access the &ldquo;Class C&rdquo;, the lower-middle-class. It can be safely said that some kind of change in the favelas would have taken place regardless of the pacification, with the historical equilibrium between the lower and middle/upper-classes disrupted by favela residents now accessing university education and higher-paying jobs. </p><p>Although the pacification can certainly be recognized as the biggest effort ever conducted to tackle crime in Rio, it cannot be seen as the result of good timing as much as of good will, with social change, political forces and international events aligning to provide the perfect justification for an operation of that scale. The pacification is not the brainchild of a progressive government. It doesn't address profound issues such as corruption and real estate speculation, nor does it envision the much-needed reforms of the police or of the judicial system that should provide the stable bases for lasting change. It takes much more than a band-aid to fix a dysfunctional city.</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/flavie-halais/rios-favela-residents-fight-mega-event-eviction">Rio&#039;s favela residents fight mega-event eviction</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/flavie-halais/spectacle-and-surveillance-in-brazil">Spectacle and surveillance in Brazil</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Brazil </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Río de Janeiro Brazil Conflict Democracy and government Sochi: sport and security Producing Rio Cities in Conflict present and future Flavie Halais Cities of Exception Tue, 12 Mar 2013 09:32:20 +0000 Flavie Halais 71465 at Conservation and dispossession in Bogotá <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The deployment of conservation zones in Bogotá's 'green' neighbourhoods, is fast becoming an alibi for the dispossession of the city's most vulnerable residents.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The past two decades have brought about remarkable change to Bogot&aacute;. Once known as one of the most violent cities in the world, the city has transformed into a modern, cosmopolitan, dynamic and green urban model for other cities of the global South to follow. Such a transformation reflects broader processes across the whole of Colombia, as a result of state policies of economic deregulation and heavy securitisation of urban centres; producing investor and tourist friendly cities. </p> <p>Under &Aacute;lvaro Uribe&rsquo;s presidency, economic deregulation was introduced to Colombia&rsquo;s economy in order to entice foreign investment to the country&rsquo;s cities. However, rebranding the country as &lsquo;good for business&rsquo; depended on the illusion of &lsquo;safety&rsquo; particularly in Colombia&rsquo;s cities; unfortunately &lsquo;safety&rsquo; was to come at a heavy cost. Widespread state-sanctioned violence and repression toward both urban and rural residents was subsequently carried out, justified as a fair price to pay for the country&rsquo;s ambitions to achieve &lsquo;security&rsquo; and &lsquo;development&rsquo;.</p> <p>In Bogot&aacute;, new streams of foreign investments alongside the withdrawal of public spending, lead to extreme spatial inequalities between internationally financed, hypervigilised real-estate for investors and tourists, and the dilapidated, forgotten neighbourhoods to which forcibly displaced populations from all over the country fled. As such, alongside and partly due to the securitisation programme, Bogot&aacute; has become one of the most expensive and uneven cities in Latin America. Previously underinvested, ignored social issues in the city have subsequently become valorised for capital-led forms of urban development, including security and the highly contentious issue of environmental protection.</p> <h3><strong>Urban conservation and displacement</strong></h3><h3> </h3><p>The establishment of urban conservation areas in Bogot&aacute; increasingly constitute de facto privatised spaces for the city's wealthy residents. As &lsquo;green&rsquo; areas in the city become more attractive to the upper and middle-classes, local residents are stigmatised as threats to environmental security, and subsequently evicted leaving their land for more profitable, &lsquo;environmentally-friendly&rsquo; uses. Thus, it is precisely in the name of the environment that a deeply fractured urban landscape of exclusion, segregation and dispossession has been legitimated and reinforced in the city. </p> <p>Over the past 20 years, the number of urban conservation areas in Bogot&aacute; has grown to cover 83,901.87 hectares, more than half of Bogot&aacute;&rsquo;s urban area. Many of these conservation sites are surrounded by, or overlap with, prime real-estate land, often &lsquo;informally&rsquo; inhabited by less privileged urban residents. In most of these areas, official conservation strategies stand in direct conflict with the expectations and everyday practices of the local population. </p> <p><strong>Legacies of participation</strong></p> <p>Due to the failures of past conservation strategies, contemporary conservation is heavily endowed with a language of community participation. In Bogot&aacute; however such &lsquo;participation&rsquo; translates simply to the signing of consent forms, often after the dispossession has ocurred; while &lsquo;conservation&rsquo; is routinely administered to valorise areas for potential investment, and in doing so serves to dispossess local residents who can ill afford their newly valorised neighbourhoods. </p> <p>Conservation strategies in the city fundamentally dismisses the important work that local community members undertake towards the protection of those environments they have long inhabited. The idea that preserving natural spaces requires sanitising areas from contact with the poor, contradicts the historic role those who live in urban conservation areas have played to maintain the city&rsquo;s green areas. Many of these communities feel a true commitment to caring for forests, rivers, and plant and animal species. In these neighbourhoods, nature is present in all aspects of life, many make it their responsibility to keep a watchful eye on the area &ndash;calling the police when debris is thrown, rescuing and caring for animals that fall in gutters, organizing the community, picking up trash, teaching children about the ecological importance of the neighbourhood, denouncing large construction companies, the list goes on. </p> <p>Most of the residents of designated conversation areas traditionally integrate natural spaces with their homes, streets and neighbourhoods. Living in these neighbourhoods is living in nature. And although this is not always a romantic, power-free relationship, their connections with natural resources are profoundly intertwined with their identities, histories, and personal and collective expectations. Their lives are a permanent exercise of evoking, experiencing and reproducing the practices of being in touch with what, to outsiders, is considered &lsquo;wilderness&rsquo;. </p> <p> <img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br /><small>As nature is integrated into the home, and not a distinct, recreational site elsewhere, there has been strong social and economic connections between in the two in areas such as Bosque Calder&oacute;n (pictured), for more than a hundred years.</small></p> <p>As one of the inhabitants of a forest neighbourhood located within the mountains east of the city puts it: &ldquo;I love living here... [because of] the air, the freedom one has here. This still feels like a small town, like the countryside... it is all silent, there are animals...&rdquo; (09.22.2012).</p> <p>In another neighbourhood within a wetland called Techo, residents recall the absence of officially recognised wetland until only recently. They tell how conservation of the area and the prevention of development or landfill on the site is the result of their own interest and timely efforts and not any municipal 'conservation strategy'. </p> <h3>Housing rights and conservation</h3> <p>As in the case of Bosque Calder&oacute;n, there exists a strong relationship between housing rights and conservation. It makes no sense to draw a line between home and habitat; the right to decent housing implies the right to a liveable environment. As the residents put it &ldquo;we protect our Techo (literally &ldquo;roof&rdquo; in Spanish), we defend our rights&rdquo; (<em>Protegemos nuestro Techo, defendemos nuestro derecho</em>). </p> <p>Conservation strategies in Bogot&aacute; however, often operate to stigmatise the city&rsquo;s urban poor, rendering them &lsquo;invaders&rsquo;, a delegitimizing process which often justifies disinvestment from poorer neighbourhoods, eviction and even direct violence. For many public officials, those who have lived for many decades in later declared conservation areas are now &lsquo;illegal&rsquo; and &lsquo;invading&rsquo; natural sites that belong to the general public. Despite the fact that &lsquo;conservation&rsquo; is cited as a key justification for eviction, it is common for these same sites to be subsequently sold off by the state to high-end property developers to build neighbourhoods with exclusive views and access to &ldquo;green&rdquo; areas of the city. </p> <p>Official city conservation policy restricts the access of local inhabitants to areas designated &lsquo;at risk&rsquo;. This is despite the areas having long been conserved for generations precisely by those who are now portrayed as their destroyers. They oversee and manage the tight connections between society and local ecologies, yet their political and legal rights as residents are dismissed. Deemed as threats to the ecological stability and viability of key conservation areas, residents are criminalized and put under pressure to leave. While the less privileged are on the verge of eviction, nearby businesses and residential buildings flourish, allowing popular and official discourses to celebrate investment, industry and growth. Such are the paradoxes of a deeply uneven city; those privileged enough are able to purchase in a few months, what others have been fighting for generations: a place in the city. </p> <p>In this way, only meters away from the stigmatized, illegal areas of the city&rsquo;s urban poor, tenuously legal high-rise buildings marketed to the middle and upper classes are built in a matter of weeks. The speed with which these exclusive apartment complexes emerge sharply contrasts with the generations the urban poor have spent waiting for basic services to be installed, for titles to be recognized, for permits to be issued, even for orders of resettlement to be signed. It is in that sense that conservation becomes a new rationale for excluding Bogot&aacute;&rsquo;s less profitable spaces and populations from the city, and wherein everyday conflicts and negotiations around use, access and control of conservation areas emerge. </p> <p>These fragmented spaces of conservation deepen the uneven geographies of the city; a city where access to a healthy living environment is a privilege one has to pay for, and not a right. While for certain urban conservation is an urgent task, it will not succeed at the expense of its traditional carers, the local residents. Instead, we must take into account the confluences between struggles for a better quality of life and the search for more sustainable environmental practices. This implies taking seriously the multiple ways in which, from below, another less perverse version of a &lsquo;green city&rsquo; might be possible. </p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/federico-p%C3%A9rez/peopling-space-contemporary-redevelopment-in-bogot%C3%A1">Peopling space: contemporary redevelopment in Bogotá</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/austin-zeiderman/securing-bogot%C3%A1">Securing Bogotá</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Colombia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bogota </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Bogota Colombia Civil society Conflict Cities in Conflict Carlos Del Cairo Diana Bocarejo Diana Ojeda Cities of Exception Splintering Cities Tue, 12 Mar 2013 09:31:33 +0000 Diana Ojeda, Diana Bocarejo and Carlos Del Cairo 71469 at Peopling space: contemporary redevelopment in Bogotá <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>While previous 'security planning'&nbsp; in Bogotá has been premised on eviction and demolition, emerging redevelopment frameworks are geared toward a far more pervasive practice of urban renovation; the re-peopling of problem areas in the city.</p> </div> </div> </div> <h3>Urbanism as warfare </h3> <p>Security rationales have long featured in logics of urban planning in Latin America. Devastating battles have been fought over the seemingly innocuous and mechanistic task of reorganizing the urban fabric, its casualties rendered invisible by state rhetoric of order, development, and democracy. But the targets and tactics of urban security are continually shifting, its legitimacy repeatedly called into question in cities across Latin America, where projects of spatial transformation are frequently confronted by competing claims for urban safety and social justice. </p><p>In the late 1990s, <a href="" target="_blank">Bogot&aacute; became the site of a war</a> against crime and incivility waged in part through the reconstruction of urban space. The city administrations of Antanas Mockus (1995-1997; 2001-2003) and Enrique Pe&ntilde;alosa (1998-2000) advanced a series of policies aimed at eradicating &lsquo;disorder&rsquo; through the production and recovery of public space. Attempts to rebuild the public sphere during this period often translated into tactics of removal and control, which, paradoxically, undercut the broader democratic ideals for which these administrations became widely renowned. An exclusionary politics, it seemed, was intrinsic to assembling the &lsquo;publics&rsquo; for whom &lsquo;public space&rsquo; was being produced.</p><p> In more recent years, a shift has been gradually taking place in Bogot&aacute;: from the ideology of spatial reconstruction to a far more pervasive discourse of urban renovation. Whereas the &lsquo;urban security&rsquo; of previous years was premised on the emptying out of problem areas, contemporary redevelopment frameworks are geared more toward urban repopulation and reactivation. </p><p> The struggles over Bogot&aacute;&rsquo;s emergent renovation plans evince the tense articulations between projects to secure and projects to democratize urban space. Although discourses of social justice have permeated Bogot&aacute;&rsquo;s urban policy frameworks since the 1990s, debates over urban inclusion have become particularly central in the city&rsquo;s present juncture. The election of city mayor Gustavo Petro (2012-2015) &ndash;a former M-19 guerrilla militant and leftist politician&ndash; is exemplary of this political moment. Significantly, redevelopment policies are now a key component of Petro&rsquo;s agenda. Relabeled as &lsquo;urban revitalization&rsquo; by his administration, the planned repopulation and densification of the inner city is presented not only as a means to revert urban decline, but also as a path towards socio-spatial inclusion. The implications of such rebranding efforts under Petro are ambiguous, such moves could either enforce more subtle and opaque tactics of urban discipline and displacement in the city, or open up new spaces for political contestation and urban inclusion. </p> <h3>The rise and fall of crisis planning</h3><p> The city&rsquo;s undeclared state of emergency of the 1990s brought about a form of crisis planning in which spatial violence became increasingly overt. The emblematic project aimed at securing Bogot&aacute; during this period was the demolition of El Cartucho &ndash;a bustling hub of illegality and marginality located in the Santa In&eacute;s neighborhood in the heart of downtown Bogot&aacute;. Between 1999 and 2005 twenty blocks were razed for the construction of the Parque Tercer Milenio or Third Millennium Park: a monumental space to mark the city&rsquo;s entrance into the 21st century. </p><p>The Third Millennium Operation was in many respects a continuation of one of the greatest &ldquo;mass demolitions&rdquo; of Bogot&aacute;&rsquo;s history: the construction in the 1940s of the Carrera D&eacute;cima, a 40 meter wide and 8 kilometer long avenue in the city center. Although many remember the 1948 Bogotazo riots as the city&rsquo;s main episode of urban ruination, this larger programme of planned destruction was well underway when the insurrection took place. The road project was a large-scale assault on what planners viewed as cluttered and derelict downtown quarters. Significantly, well-known architects at the time welcomed the Bogotazo riots and even suggested that &ldquo;Bogot&aacute;'s urban problem&rdquo; had been &ldquo;frankly cleared and partially resolved&rdquo;. <a name="art1"></a><a href="#i">[i]</a> </p><p> <img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br /><small>Carrera D&eacute;cima in the 1960s from south to north. Sa&uacute;l Orduz. Instituto Distrital de Patrimonio Cultural - Colecci&oacute;n Museo de Bogot&aacute;. All rights reserved.</small> </p><p>Santa In&eacute;s was one of neighborhoods that had been cut off from the city center by the modernist thoroughfare. State (in)action transformed the neighborhood into a &lsquo;residual space&rsquo; that rapidly declined and eventually became known as El Cartucho. By the 1980s the neighborhood was not only a refuge for impoverished migrants, tenement dwellers, and street vendors, but also the site of a powerful illegal drug market controlled by local mafias<a href="#ii">[ii]</a>. The militarized construction of Third Millennium was ultimately a demonstration of sovereignty aimed at recapturing urban space from criminal gangs; the scores of marginalized urban dwellers that the operation displaced were merely &lsquo;collateral damage&rsquo; in battle for spatial control of the area. <br /><br /> Today, the use of the park is fairly stratified: bazuco (crack cocaine) smokers and street vendors are confined to the edges, while more &lsquo;disciplined&rsquo; users visit inside. The park is a buffer zone between the more prestigious districts of east downtown and the &lsquo;unruly&rsquo; surroundings to which El Cartucho&rsquo;s criminal activities relocated. The residential neighborhood of San Bernardo, to the south, became home to El Cartuchito, a smaller version of the original olla (drug market). The infamous olla of El Bronx, to the west, grew considerably and is now in the front line of Bogot&aacute;&rsquo;s urban conflicts. <br /><br /><img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br /><small>The San Victorino redevelopment site, as of 2012 being used as a parking lot for police vehicles. Federico P&eacute;rez.</small></p><p> On the north side of the park, four hectares of the original twenty that were demolished remain vacant. Originally envisioned as an open-air mall, the San Victorino project has been on hold for years due to mismanagement and under suspicions of corruption. This faltering intervention is emblematic of Bogot&aacute;&rsquo;s most recent redevelopment struggles. The city administration is currently involved in a contentious move to devote part of the land for the construction of social housing. The question is no longer how to design destruction<a href="#iii">[iii]</a>; but rather how to populate space. Here, as in other renovation projects in the inner city, the tensions between security, profitmaking, and inclusion are more acute than ever. </p><p> <img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br /><small>"Aqu&iacute; se renueva el centro de la ciudad" [The city center is renovating here], San Victorino, 2012. Federico P&eacute;rez.</small></p> <h3>Peopling space</h3><p>A block on the east side of downtown Bogot&aacute; became ground zero in the city&rsquo;s latest wave of urban renovation. Strategically located below the emblematic Montserrate Mountain and next to the historic neighborhood of La Candelaria, the 8.500 m2 site was demolished in 2009 and remains unchanged to this date. The project, known as Block 5, proposed the construction of a cultural center, which was to be funded by the Spanish government, along with a middle-income residential development. The fate of Block 5 is demonstrative of the social struggles that have surfaced in recent initiatives aimed at repopulating &lsquo;underused&rsquo; and &lsquo;deteriorated&rsquo; zones through mixed-use redevelopment.<br /><br /><img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br /><small>"Aqu&iacute; empieza a renacer el centro de Bogot&aacute;" [The rebirth of the center of Bogot&aacute; starts here], Block 5, 2012. Federico P&eacute;rez</small></p><p> Today, the construction of the cultural centre is uncertain due to Spanish withdrawal of support in the wake of the global financial crisis. The sales office of what is now marketed as a high-end condominium, however, opened this year. In the meantime, evicted property owners persist in a legal battle, as of yet lost, to recover their properties or obtain greater compensation. For the property owners, their eviction was the perverse upshot of state-backed real estate speculation. Margarita, an elderly woman from the area, expressed her outrage during a conversation we had in 2012: &ldquo;They stole the block from us in such a savage way.&rdquo; What most shocked her was that it had been &ldquo;the state itself that had done the robbing.&rdquo; The former owners of Block 5 had experienced the violence of the law through a highly bureaucratized form of displacement. <br /><br /><img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br /><small>The Block 5 site, with the Universidad de los Andes campus behind it, and Las Aguas neighborhood (Fenicia Progresses Plan site) on the upper left, 2012. Federico P&eacute;rez</small></p><p> In contrast to Third Millennium, recent renovation plans such as the Block 5 project aim to open highly profitable real estate markets in places where the notions of &lsquo;decay&rsquo; are strongly contested. For Paulina and Enrique, two community leaders affected by another downtown renewal plan&ndash;Central Station&ndash; a politics of &lsquo;decline&rsquo; had been mobilized to displace residents for the profits of redevelopment. For them, &lsquo;insecurity&rsquo; and &lsquo;decay&rsquo; had to be dealt with by the police and judiciary and not through eviction and renovation. <br /><br />In the absence of policies for the inclusion of local inhabitants, Paulina noted, it would be primarily developers and new higher-income residents who would reap the benefits of renovation. Security and development would arrive after local residents had left. On one occasion Enrique further questioned the collaboration between security discourse and economic interests by drawing a parallel with Colombia&rsquo;s armed conflict: </p><p><em>&ldquo;I haven&rsquo;t found anyone who can tell me the difference between what&rsquo;s going on here and the violent displacement of campesinos [rural peasants] by paramilitary forces.&rdquo;</em></p><p> The Block 5 and Central Station projects, and the multiple private development plans that followed, sought to redevelop land for mixed uses, in contrast to the public space centered paradigm of previous years. Security was now less about terrain and more about activities and population. Such plans, however, also bore continuities with earlier interventions in their attempts to erase and fully reinvent spaces and their inhabitants. Securing and recovering the city was to be accomplished not through the violence of spatial emptiness but through the force of radical redevelopment. This wave of urban renovation peaked between 2007 and 2009 but soon died out. Displacing local inhabitants to remake spaces exclusively for new capital and new people quickly became politically and socially untenable. Urban renovation had to come to terms with mounting claims for inclusion. <br /><br />A new approach confronting these challenges has begun to take shape since 2010, when a private university, acting as developer, took the first steps in rethinking urban renovation. During the past two years the Universidad de los Andes has promoted a participatory redevelopment plan known as Fenicia Progresses in the east side of downtown Bogot&aacute;, next to the Block 5 project. The university has focused its efforts on building a partnership with property owners and residents with the aim of avoiding displacement and redistributing the benefits of urban renovation. The plan relies on the voluntary association of local actors who can become redevelopment partners by contributing their land. Although not without opposition, the Fenicia Progresses plan was submitted to city authorities in late 2012 and is currently under study. </p><p> <img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br /><small>Participatory urban design workshop, Fenicia Progresses Plan - Las Aguas neighborhood, 2012. Federico P&eacute;rez.</small> <br /><br />During the past year, the recently elected administration of Gustavo Petro has attempted to redirect the city&rsquo;s renovation policies along these same lines. In what could be described as an associative turn, the administration&rsquo;s &lsquo;revitalization&rsquo; policies now emphasize participation and inclusion. One of the government&rsquo;s key policies is the densification of the inner city and, in particular, the production of low-income housing in central districts. Current attempts to restructure plans that were formulated by previous administrations &ndash;such as San Victorino, Block 5, and Central Station&ndash; now seek to include local residents, diminish the projects&rsquo; profit-driven character, and increase the overall offer of accessible housing.&nbsp; <br /><br /> Although their future is uncertain, Bogot&aacute;&rsquo;s emergent renovation frameworks strive to connect concerns for security, development, and inclusion. Redevelopment appears here less as a matter of spatially displacing violent conflict and &lsquo;urban decay&rsquo;, and more about reverting it from within through more complex forms of managing spaces and people. While apparently carving out promising political openings to address the city&rsquo;s deep-seated patterns of inequality, these new conceptions of urban revitalization are nonetheless compelled to contend with market forces and to rely on an individualistic ethos. Partnership schemes, and what are still only elusive associations, are primarily open to propertied and self-reliant individuals, who are willing to remake themselves into real estate and development entrepreneurs. In the absence of clear state sanctioned rights, capable institutions, or strong forms of cooperation that can offset market-driven inequalities, it may well be that urban citizens will unwittingly contribute to their own displacement by participating in the construction of an exclusive city.</p><hr /><p> <a name="i"></a><a href="#art1">[i]</a><small>Revista Proa no. 13, &ldquo;Reconstrucci&oacute;n de Bogot&aacute;,&rdquo; Junio, 1948.</small></p> <p> <a name="ii"></a><a href="#%5Bii%5D">[ii]</a><small>For more on the history of El Cartucho see: Ingrid Morris, En un lugar llamado El Cartucho: cr&oacute;nica (Bogot&aacute; : Alcald&iacute;a Mayor de Bogot&aacute;, 2011).</small></p><p> <a name="iii"></a><a href="#%5Biii%5D">[iii]</a><small>Eyal Weizman and Phil Misselwitz, &ldquo;Military Operations as Urban Planning,&rdquo; Mute Magazine, August 2003.</small></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/austin-zeiderman/securing-bogot%C3%A1">Securing Bogotá</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/teo-ballv%C3%A9/medell%C3%ADn-whos-afraid-of-hip-hop">Medellín: who&#039;s afraid of hip-hop?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Colombia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bogota </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Bogota Colombia Conflict Democracy and government Cities in Conflict Federico Pérez Cities of Exception Splintering Cities Mon, 04 Mar 2013 12:00:00 +0000 Federico Pérez 71158 at Development and dissent in China's 'urban age' <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As China enters an 'urban age' for the first time in its entire history, a new set of urban conflicts over identity, development and inclusion are emerging across the country. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The sight of houses standing alone in cleared construction sites has captured the media&rsquo;s attention both in and outside of China in recent years. A recent case featured a five-storey house that stood in the middle of a newly constructed road in the city of Wenling in Zhejiang province. The house-owners were reportedly frustrated with the inadequate compensation they were offered by the local authority, and unlike their neighbours, refused to relocate. After sparking an internet sensation, the house was demolished in early December 2012: the owners eventually accepted compensation, reportedly around one third of what they <a href="">claimed to be</a> the original construction costs. </p><p>The case of the &lsquo;Wenling couple&rsquo; is one of the many examples of what the Chinese popularly refer to as ding-zi-hu, or nail-households; a Chinese neologism that refers to those households which stubbornly refuse to vacate their properties, hindering the progress of urban development projects.</p><p> <img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br /><small>Houses awaiting demolition in Hongkou, Shanghai.<a href="">Paul Kretek/Flickr</a></small></p><p> Disputes over urban development projects are becoming increasingly prevalent in mainland China. Dilapidated neighbourhoods or those standing in the way of infrastructure projects are frequently threatened with eviction and demolition by development-minded local states looking to exploit a booming real-estate economy. In rural areas, media reports occasionally cover stories of violent protests against land expropriation, launched by villagers whose collective land ownership provide them with a stronger sense of property rights than those in urban areas. The most recent widely publicised case was the <a href="">villager protest in Wukan</a>, Guangdong province. </p><h3>Accumulation by dispossession in China</h3><p> These protests by residents and workers are direct reactions to China&rsquo;s rapid urbanisation. It has been the case for many years that China depends heavily on investment into fixed assets in order to boost its economic growth, expressed frequently in terms of gross domestic product. The investment in fixed assets includes money flowing into constructing factories and infrastructure facilities such as airports, motorways and high-speed railways. Real estate projects have also become an important element in fixed assets investment, occupying more than 50 percent of total fixed assets investment in cities like Beijing during the first half of 2000s according to the municipal statistical yearbook.</p><p> The abundance of such development projects has contributed much to China&rsquo;s accumulation, but in most cases directly translates to land assembly, and therefore the displacement and relocation of an area's existing residents. In other words, displacement is synonymous with development. </p><p><img src="" alt="" width="420" />&nbsp; </p><h3>The uneven geographies of &lsquo;One China&rsquo; </h3><p> While the intensification of developmental projects in China is a top priority at regional, provincial and national levels of government, the extent to which such accumulation unfolds in a geographically uneven way further complicates the nature of urban conflicts in China. </p><p>For instance, in order for China&rsquo;s government to address the country&rsquo;s multiple needs; accumulation, reduction of regional inequality, expansion of domestic markets and exploitation of natural resources, there has been increasing emphasis placed on developing the central and western regions of the country. Such development is spurred by a strategic influx of the dominant Han population in the autonomous regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, and heavy prescriptions of the nationalist &lsquo;Harmonious Society&rsquo; and &lsquo;One China&rsquo; programmes. The resulting discontent among local communities, particularly among growing separatist movements in the targeted development areas, has led to numerous cases of deadly protest and a series of self-immolations in the region. </p><h3> <strong>Property-rights activism </strong></h3><p>Shifting to the more affluent eastern coastal provinces, we witness more localised mass and individual protest launched by factory workers against poor working conditions and low wages, by villagers against the unfair/corrupt expropriation of their collectively owned land, and by urban citizens against demolition of their properties in the wake of urban redevelopment. </p><p> <img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br /><small>Demolition of an urban village in Guangzhou. Hyun Bang Shin. All rights reserved.</small></p><p> Protests by villagers or home-owners against the expropriation and/or demolition of their properties has been characterised by some such as Ching Kwan Lee and You-tien Hsing as &lsquo;property rights activism&rsquo;. While these forms of protest vividly demonstrate community outcry for broader social justice, their impact and scope are considerably limited and deeply contingent on China&rsquo;s history and political economy. </p><p> Firstly, as scholars such as Elizabeth Perry and Minxin Pei have argued, rights awareness in China is conditioned by the long established &lsquo;collective membership&rsquo; state welfare system which divides urban and rural residents. Under the collective system,&nbsp; urban residents' work units channel welfare provisions for employees and family members, while rural residents' collectives, organise rural welfare arrangements. In this regard, those who protest tend to invoke the state&rsquo;s historic responsibility to provide necessities for particular membership groups rather than calls for cross-societal change, and are further often premised on criticism of corrupt officials, cadres or village leaders rather than criticism of the state itself. </p><p>Secondly, rights awareness in China, albeit in its ascendancy in times of accelerated urbanisation, is very much associated with rights to subsistence. This notion of rights awareness has a history dating back to the imperial period when the legitimacy of the ruling emperor/empress was secured through their capacity to feed the population and protect their livelihoods against enemy intrusion. Demands for <em>distributional </em>justice, therefore, have a long history in China and are more readily accepted by the State than explicit claims to political rights (including Tibetan protests for independence) or bottom-up demands for political reform; which are more likely to be met with direct repression from the state. </p><p>Thirdly, as the scale of migration from rural to urban areas and from poorer cities to more prosperous ones increases, China&rsquo;s household registration system is transitioning and will likely face further calls for reform. The household registration system, known as hukou, has been in place since the late 1950s, and acts to determine one&rsquo;s access to welfare entitlements depending on the location of one&rsquo;s household. The system was notorious for ring-fencing urban benefits for those whose household registration was classified as urban. This has resulted in the great urban-rural divide, and in the past acted as a control mechanism to discourage migration to cities. Household registration has evolved over the years, and while there are signs that barriers between rural and urban hukou holders within the same locality are fading, new walls are being erected in the form of &lsquo;localized citizenship&rsquo; giving <em>local </em>citizens preferential entitlements over non-locals. </p><h3>Discontent in China&rsquo;s &lsquo;urban age'</h3><p> In China, cities are now key sites of accumulation. They denote prosperity, modernisation and development. Party leaders and officials pursue land acquisition, in order to bring in finances for the local state&rsquo;s purse, which may then in turn be used to finance further development projects. Unfortunately, more land means more displacement, and potentially more discontent. For the moment, as explained above, expressions of discontent and in particular protest on the basis of rights awareness tend to focus on distributional justice which, without scaling up to a national level, are isolated and more than often fail to make any marked influence on broader politics. The same can be said of workers&rsquo; protests, which face harsh repression by the state, particularly should workers seek to form cross-class alliances or expand geographically. The ethnic conflicts of the western provinces in Tibet and Xinjiang in similar respects face difficulties in overcoming their isolation from broader struggles. </p><p>Chinese cities are increasingly becoming sites of discontent and polarisation, as the rising affluence enjoyed by some is achieved by the exploitation of the many. The state pursuit of land resources and promotion of investment in fixed assets will continue to bring about radical changes to the ways in which people access and share any accrued wealth in cities. With the majority of the national population now classified as urban as of 2011, China has entered an &lsquo;urban age&rsquo; for the first time in its entire history, the future prospect of China&rsquo;s social, economic and political development will depend on how these rising urban conflicts are addressed. The lonely nail-household is a telling image of how China's isolated protests fail to bring about meaningful change to the lives of those worse effected in the rush to urbanise. </p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For more expanded discussions of the themes covered in this posting, please see the author’s recent papers: ‘<a href="" target="_blank">The right to the city and critical reflections on China’s property rights activism’</a>, Antipode (2013) and <a href="">‘Unequal cities of spectacle and mega-events in China’</a>, City (2012).</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/jonathan-bach/shenzhen-constructing-city-reconstructing-subjects">Shenzhen: constructing the city, reconstructing subjects</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/mary-ann-o%E2%80%99donnell/laying-siege-to-villages-lessons-from-shenzhen">Laying siege to the villages: lessons from Shenzhen</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/liam-powers/beyond-kunming-attack">Beyond the Kunming attack</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> China </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity China Conflict Democracy and government Cities in Conflict Hyun Bang Shin Cities of Exception The Insurgent City Mon, 25 Feb 2013 15:57:17 +0000 Hyun Bang Shin 71059 at The politics of neglect in post-Mubarak Cairo <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The politics of neglect which has long governed Cairo's expansive informal spaces looks set to remain well into the post-Mubarak era.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood backed government of President Mohamed Morsi face a difficult Spring. In the absence of external intervention and financial credit, Egypt&rsquo;s hard currency reserves, necessary to fund essential imports of food and energy, are likely to be exhausted by March/April. While there is no obvious end to the political deadlock between a democratically elected government unable to enforce its authority, and an opposition which refuses to accept the legitimacy of the Islamist-supported government and is unable to constitute a plausible alternative. </p><p> A variety of commentators have noted the paralysis and drift of state institutions, especially the armed forces and elements of the security services which remain on the sidelines in the current stand-off, seeking to consolidate their autonomy from both Egypt&rsquo;s elected leaders and Egyptian society. While the Cairo &ldquo;street&rdquo; has been relatively quiet since the <a href="">Canal Cities protests</a> in late January, a variety of local observers have nonetheless noted fears of growing ungovernability and the possibility of mass protests triggered by deteriorating economic conditions. <a name="art1"></a><a href="#i">[i]</a> </p><p> <img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br /><small>Friday demonstrations in Tahrir Square. WJ Dorman.</small></p><p> In this context, a recent Daily Telegraph <a href="">blog post</a> by Richard Spencer, the paper&rsquo;s Cairo correspondent, frames Egypt&rsquo;s present discontent in what he describes as the &ldquo;physical destruction&rdquo; of its cities by &ldquo;50 years of (Nasserist) socialist nationalism.&rdquo; In his view, Cairo&rsquo;s urban pathologies of infrastructure and governance are &ldquo;Soviet,&rdquo; a reflection of Egypt&rsquo;s cold-war alignment with the eastern bloc through the early 1970s. However in the latter stages of his post, Spencer abruptly (and perhaps unwittingly) changes ideological tack, locating Cairo&rsquo;s decline in the excesses of late-Mubarak neo-liberalism: the growth of elite communities on the metropolitan area&rsquo;s desert periphery since the second half of the 1990s. Purportedly manifesting a Pharaonic pattern whereby successive Egyptian dynasties abandon the capitals of their predecessors, this desert development boom reflected an exclusionary and ultimately impractical approach to urban development. </p><h3>Urban interventions</h3><p>Like many accounts of developing world urbanism as impending disaster, Spencer relies on a mix of assertion and association, rather than empirically supported analysis. There is little evidence of Soviet town planning in Cairo. Egypt&rsquo;s elites have historically looked to Paris and Britain &mdash; not Moscow &mdash; for their inspiration. </p><p>To understand Cairo&rsquo;s current problematics of infrastructure, but also its successes, you need also to consider the substantial western presence in urban development since the 1970s: for example, the French-built metro system and the $2.5 billion rehabilitation of the wastewater network by Washington&rsquo;s Agency for International Development (AID), the British Overseas Development Administration (DfID&rsquo;s pre-1995 incarnation) and other European donors. While the luxurious gated communities around the metropolitan area represent a fascinating case study in the politics of elite land speculation, there is little indication that they constitute a genuine alternative to the existing city. They are certainly vulnerable to the same insecurities.<a name="%5Bii%5D"></a><a href="#ii">[ii]</a> </p><p> <img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br /><small>Gated community in Katamaya Heights, New Cairo. <a href="">Geson Rathnow/Flickr</a></small></p><p> But Spencer is very correct in noting that Egypt&rsquo;s elites have pursued an exclusionary approach to urban development, most evident in what he seems to call the &ldquo;huge tumbledown tenements&rdquo; of Cairo&rsquo;s &ldquo;inner suburbs.&rdquo; Such areas are largely informal, established on land not officially sanctioned for urbanization and hence developed outside the umbrella of state regulation, planning and services. </p><h3>Cairo's splinter</h3><p>While the Nasser government&rsquo;s nationalist state-building project is sometimes represented as having returned the capital to its indigenous inhabitants, in fact formal urban development since the 1950s largely benefited regime-linked constituencies. Despite construction of some highly subsidized &lsquo;popular&rsquo; housing and middle- to upper-income sub-divisions, the general expansion of the existing city had largely stopped by the mid 1960s, inflating urban land and thus housing prices. </p><p> Ordinary Cairenes began to homestead in the metropolitan area&rsquo;s agricultural periphery, buying farmland &mdash; relatively cheaper because it was officially protected from urbanization &mdash; for sub-division and development. Such processes of informal urbanization were well underway by the late 1950s, but dramatically accelerated in the 1970s by remittances from Egyptians employed in oil-exporting countries. By the early 1980s, donor-backed examinations of informal Cairo had concluded that such urbanization represented over 80 percent of the metropolitan area&rsquo;s growth. They have absorbed most of Cairo&rsquo;s expansion from a metropolitan area of five million in the early 1960s to over seventeen million today, representing over two thirds of the lived-in city.<a href="#iii">[iii]</a></p><p> <img src="" alt="" width="420" /><br /><small>Old Cairo. <a href="">Mohammed Shamma/Flickr</a><br /></small></p><h3>A politics of neglect and urban expansion</h3><p> Although its local government system has been aptly described as &ldquo;designed for dictatorship,&rdquo; the Egyptian state seemed unable to halt the informal urbanization process. Indeed, its governance of the capital can be characterized as a &ldquo;politics of neglect&rdquo; in which state resources have been directed largely towards the city&rsquo;s elite neighbourhoods with informality serving as an ersatz means of rationing public services to Cairo&rsquo;s burgeoning subaltern zones. In other words, successive governments effectively tolerated, if not tacitly encouraged, informal Cairo as a cheap means of allowing ordinary Cairenes to house themselves at minimal expense to the state, thus preventing housing from becoming a source of political discontent. </p><p> However such <em>de facto</em> policies of neglect led to the consumption of scarce farmland around Cairo (and other Egyptian cities), profound urban service deficits, extremely densified communities and substantial sectors of the city in which there seemed to be little formal state presence, or where the state co-existed with a variety of semi-autonomous local forces and social formations ruling through clients and proxies. These included Islamist groups who provided social services and mediated with the state. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, militants established themselves in several informal areas, clashing with the Mubarak government after the (somewhat premature) proclamation of an &ldquo;Islamic Republic&rdquo; in one district. </p><p>While such clashes led informal Cairo to be pathologized in Egyptian public discourse as reservoirs of anomie and terrorism, the state response following the suppression of the militants was limited to the extension of security forces and clientelist control as well as a few show-piece upgrading projects. Apart from the small-scale removal of neighbourhoods threatened by rock fall and grandiose (but improbable) schemes such as the &ldquo;Cairo 2050&rdquo; plan &mdash; which threatened to disrupt and displace long-established informal districts and much else &mdash; the state continued to ignore the subaltern city.<a href="#iv">[iv]</a> </p><h3>The failures of western development</h3><p>Perhaps the only serious effort to address Cairo&rsquo;s problematics of growth were undertaken by western and multilateral donors &mdash; concerned with the vulnerability of the Sadat government (then a western ally) to grassroots protest &mdash; from the late 1970s through to the mid-1990s, AID, the World Bank and even the Paris urban-planning agency undertook projects to upgrade informal settlements, manage the metropolitan area&rsquo;s expansion and rehabilitate the city's backbone infrastructure. More generally, donors sought to foster an administratively competent Egypt able to govern and service its capital without continual recourse to international funding. </p><p> However such projects were largely unsuccessful in part because they clashed directly with the &lsquo;politics of neglect&rsquo;. For their part, the Sadat and Mubarak governments were primarily concerned with foreign funding for the (extremely expensive and highly uneconomic) free-standing new desert cities. Donor efforts to rationalize Cairo&rsquo;s expansion into the desert away from arable land were a casualty of the processes of land speculation which ultimately led to the gated community boom.</p><p> More generally, Egyptian state agencies defended the autocratic but disconnected character of state governance, resisting donor attempts to engage them with informal communities and homesteaders in the service of urban development. The salient exception to this record of failure were infrastructure programmes, most notably sewerage, which succeeded in rehabilitating and expanding the metropolitan area&rsquo;s basic services &mdash; but included no mobilization of consumer revenues to pay for their upkeep. Hence their sustainability and expansion remains uncertain. By the late 1990s, western interventions in Cairo had largely shifted to small-scale &ldquo;participatory&rdquo; projects, in which donor aspirations to empower informal communities to mobilize themselves and make bottom-up demands faced the top-down authoritarian political dispensation, but also the clientelistic character of target neighbourhoods.<a href="#v">[v]</a> </p><h3>Informal Cairo and revolution</h3><p>While the role of informal Cairo in the 2011 Mubarak overthrow is sometimes contested, the &lsquo;revolution&rsquo; indisputably led to its increased expansion especially in largely unserviced peri-urban areas some distance from the historic centre. Unlike some of the other city cases and urban phenomena addressed in this series, Cairo&rsquo;s particular problems are not fundamentally those of neo-liberalism but rather of a neglectful and autocratic political order. However, the continuities between the Mubarak and post-Mubarak eras are striking.</p><p> During the caretaker transition governments, ministers announced plans for a highly subsidized $5 billion housing programme to be funded by foreign donors &mdash; none of whom were forthcoming. The Cairo 2050 plan was not abandoned, and indeed shows signs of being resurrected by the Morsi government. The new constitution &mdash; passed in last year&rsquo;s highly polarizing referendum &mdash; puts off local government reform. Parasitical ancien regime officials remain on the ground, now joined by the Muslim Brotherhood&rsquo;s Freedom and Justice party cadres seeking to penetrate local government and society in the manner of the Mubarak-era National Democratic party. </p><p> While the revolution triggered a wave of urban activism in Egyptian civil society and a host of interesting grass-roots initiatives, sadly the state and political order remain largely impermeable, reinforcing the frequently expressed sense of disappointment that the Mubarak overthrow has done so little for ordinary Egyptians. Neither the Morsi government nor any other political actors are likely to take up substantive issues of Cairo&rsquo;s governance while struggles for control of the state and political authority are ongoing.<a href="#vi">[vi]</a> </p> <hr /><p> <a name="i"></a><a href="#art1">[i]</a><small> Issandr El Amrani (2013), <a href="">&lsquo;The US Ambassador&rsquo;s Speech&rsquo;</a>; Issandr El Amrani (2013), <a href="">&lsquo;The Brotherhood in Power, cont.&rsquo;</a> ;Ursula Lindsey (2013),<a href="">, LRB blog </a>; Steve Negus (2013), <a href="">&lsquo;Two Years of a Shrunken State,&rdquo;</a>; Elijah Zarwan (2013), <a href=""> &rsquo;Back Street&rsquo;s Back'</a>.</small></p><p> <a name="ii"></a><a href="#%5Bii%5D">[ii]</a><small> Concerning the gated communities boom, see Eric Denis, 2006. &lsquo;Cairo as Neoliberal Capital?&rsquo; in Diane Singerman &amp; Paul Amar, eds. Cairo cosmopolitan: politics, culture, and urban space in the globalized Middle East. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, pp. 47&ndash;71.</small></p><p> <a name="iii"><href>[iii]</href></a><small>W. Judson Dorman, 2007. The politics of neglect: the Egyptian State in Cairo, 1974-1998. Unpublished PhD thesis. London: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; David Sims, 2011. Understanding Cairo: The Logic of a City Out of Control, Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.</small></p><p> <a name="iv"><href>[iv]</href></a><small>Amnesty International (2011). &ldquo;We Are Not Dirt&rdquo;: Forced Evictions in Egypt&rsquo;s Informal Settlements, London; Agnes Deboulet (2011) &lsquo;Urban Discontents&rsquo;, RC 21 Conference&#8239;: the struggle to belong - Dealing with diversity in 21st century urban settings. Amsterdam; WJ Dorman, 2009. &lsquo;Informal Cairo: Between Islamist Insurgency and the Neglectful State?&rsquo; Security Dialogue, 40(4-5), pp.419&ndash;441; Mohamed Elshahed (2011), <a href="">&lsquo;Egypt&rsquo;s government: designed for dictatorship&rsquo;</a></small></p><p> <a name="v"><href>[v]</href></a><small>Dorman (2007)</small></p><p> <a name="vi"><href>[vi]</href></a><small>Frederick Deknatel (2012). <a href=""> &lsquo;The Revolution Added Two Years: On Cairo&rsquo;</a>; Elshahed (2011); Hazem Kandil (2011) <a href=",%20">Revolt in Egypt.</a> New Left Review, (68).</small> </p> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Cairo </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Cairo Egypt Conflict Democracy and government Cities in Conflict WJ Dorman Cities of Exception Splintering Cities The Insurgent City Mon, 25 Feb 2013 13:58:07 +0000 WJ Dorman 71125 at