Panel 3: Urbanization

Christian Lund, University of Copenhagen, (chair)

Abstract: Another Fine Mess. Urban Property in Medan, Indonesia

Documents of registration represent rights and social contracts. However, in contexts of rapid change, such as urban expansion in developing societies, they can be difficult to obtain in a legal way by ordinary people. People, therefore improvise and produce representations of rights to solicit recognition of their claims to what they believe is rightfully theirs. Two cases from Medan in Indonesia show aspects of this. First, government registered land for redistribution can be made to represent a much larger space than what is registered. And second, legalisation of development depends on a workable consensus about the validity of the representations of property.

Paola Ledo, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences,

Abstract: Peri-urbanization in Sacaba. Challenges and opportunities for sustainable development.

In Latin America around 25% of the population live in unplanned peri-urban areas (Muggah, 2018), characterized by informal settlements, poor urban infrastructure, and negative environmental impacts (Garcia‐Ayllon, 2016; UN, 2014). Unfortunately, rural and urban development are still considered separate systems, and the effects of peri-urbanization are not addressed (Madaleno & Gurovich, 2004). The success in achieving sustainable development will be deeply influenced by the degree to which the challenges of peri-urbanization are understood and overcome (UN, 2017). The paper intends to contribute by exploring how and why peri-urban areas represent a challenge to local sustainable urban planning. The case study is the municipality of Sacaba, the fastest growing city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. The methodology includes quantitative and qualitative analysis of data collected from archival records, surveys questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and workshops with actors from the peri-urban areas. Findings show that the public investment priorities and dynamics drove the urban sprawl to grow rapidly, informally and freely in extensively disperse settlements that took over agricultural land at the city outskirts. The peri-urban areas are characterized for: colliding a diversity of worldviews and interests, reproducing a self-helped consolidation pattern, and embedding informal poverty; all in a complex, interrelated and dynamic system of multiple challenges that cannot be approached in isolation. Moreover,strengths and potentialities were identified within the peri-urban area that emerged because of its critical situation. These represent opportunities to embrace to rethink the local planning strategies in relation to social integration, rural reactivation, poverty and inequality reduction, and environmental protection. From the findings, the author argues the need to implement a holistic and collaborative planning approach to address the peri-urban system, and to contribute to the discussion about sustainable urbanization of the Global South. 

Konchok Gelek, University of Zurich,

Abstract: The Re-classification of the Political Entity Enhance Governance Capacity

This PhD project studies urbanization on the Tibetan plateau that affects the political economy of agricultural land in the urban fringe against the background theme of an unprecedented urbanization process throughout China. This paper is a chapter of the project which aims to understand planning and practice of an administrative system of a newly created city of Yushu, which was re-constructed out of an earthquake ruined county town of Jyekundo. This re-classification of the political entity was designed to enhance governance capacity through administrative structural changes, creation of new apparatus such as UGMM, converting collective owned agricultural land to urban land, the property relationship, demarcating urban space, and requiring residential registration etc. This chapter of the PhD project aims to show the effects of this re-classification in terms of state capacity in the urban fringes. These effects are studied combining different sources of data, from narrative accounts of resident, farmers, government officials, and traders, to field observation, mapping, government documents, and literature reviews. Through this data, I will show how the re-classification of political entities leads to an expansion of the state apparatus and increases control of the state over citizens in the urban margins. I identify three mechanisms through which the state’s capacities are expanded: first, upgrading administration increases governance capacity to implement plan and policy, to monitor temporal migrants and permanent residents. Second, re-classification of political entity provides easy access to administrative service, but it strengthens state control over citizens. Finally, the City health standard is propagated by the government as a key instrument to develop Yushu city as a “civilized”, a “patriotic” and an “eco-friendly” city and serves to “discipline” inhabitants at the urban fringes into “modern citizens”. 

 Francesca Chiu, Universities of East Anglia and Copenhagen

Abstract: What happened after resettlement? Land and precarity at the outskirts of Mandalay, Myanmar

This paper presents an ongoing and preliminary ethnographic study of land and precarity in a resettlement ward in Mandalay, Myanmar. When the military government expanded the city in the 1980s-1990s, it turned vacant land at what was then the city’s margins into ‘land under government’s disposal’, and allocated vast amount of the new land to people who were involuntarily relocated due to slum evictions and government projects. Such acts created a frontier at the city outskirts where new rules on granting of land ownership was implemented by the government. These rules have acted as a double edged sword: while some residents followed the new rules for land ownership application, many bypassed and have continued to live on the land without a legal title. This has restricted the government’s authority over their land but at the same time exposed residents to ‘live at the government’s disposal’. I examine how and why residents of the resettlement ward have used a hybrid of formal and informal methods to patch together their claims to land ownership. I argue that the resettlement ward has become a frontier space where state authority is limited by the people when they do not strictly follow the rules and instead create their own routines to follow. And despite the lack of any physical government violence in the resettlement ward, the residents still experience institutional insecurity. Their precarity does not derive from lacking legal ownership of their land, but from the norms of minimalist citizenship, especially after decades of living under military rule.