The Great Transformation: Neoliberalization, the urban commons and socio-spatial justice in Jakarta, Indonesia

February 4, 2014  • Posted in Member Projects  •  0 Comments

Helga Leitner and Eric Sheppard, University of California Los Angeles, Department of Geography

Asian cities long have labored under the shadow of developmentalism, expected to conform to the norms of North Atlantic urbanization. Yet these same cities are characterized by urban morphologies and livelihoods that continue to contest such norms. The end of Indonesia’s New Order regime, in the shadow of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, brought neoliberalization to Jakarta. As elsewhere in Asia, this current great transformation has triggered a financialization of urban real estate, pressure to privatize land tenure and ‘upgrade’ squatter and informal settlements – called Kampungs, a new middle class aspiring to western lifestyles and speculating in land, increasing intra-urban inequality, and the adoption of neoliberal subjectivities in all social strata. Focusing on the frontier where large-scale urban (re)development projects rub up against Kampungs, where the urban majority has carved out a commons of distinctive property relations, built environments and livelihoods, we examine the implications of these encounters for socio-spatial justice, urban sustainability, and the potential for contestations of global norms.

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