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Urbanization and The City in Southeast Asia

Cities Main Queer Bangkok icon In Service and Servitude icon Postcolonial Urbanism icon Urbanization, Migration, and Poverty icon

Queer Queer BangkokBangkok: 21st Century Markets, Media, and Rights
by Peter Jackson
Published by Hong Kong University Press, 2011

This book analyses the roles of the market and media — especially cinema and the Internet — in these transformations, and considers the ambiguous consequences that the growing commodification and mediatisation of queer lives have had for LGBT rights in Thailand. A key finding is that in the early 21st Century processes of global queering are leading to a growing Asianisation of Bangkok’s queer cultures. This book traces Bangkok’s emergence as a central focus of an expanding regional network linking gay, lesbian and transgender communities in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines and other rapidly developing East and Southeast Asian societies.

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Postcolonial UrbanismPostcolonial Urbanism: Southeast Asian Cities and Global Processes
Edited by Ryan Bishop, John Phillips, and Wei Wei Yeo
Published by Routledge, 2003

A common assumption about cities throughout the world is tht they are essentially an elaboration of the Euro-American model. Postcolonial Urbanism demonstrates the narrowness of this vision. Cities in the postcolonial world, the book shows, are producing novel forms of urbanism not reducible to Western urbanism. Despite being heavily colonized in the past, Southeast Asia has been largely ignored in discussions about postcolonial theory and in general considerations of global urbanism. An international cast of contributors focuses on the heavily urbanized world region of Southeast Asia to investigate the novel forms of urbanism germinating in postcolonial settings such as Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Hanoi, and the Philippines. Offering a mix of theoretical perspectives and empirical accounts, Postcolonial Urbanism presents a panoramic view of the cultures, societies, and politics of the postcolonial city.

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The Appearances of MemoryThe Appearances of Memory: Mnemonic Practices of Architecture and Urban Form in Indonesia
by Abidin Kusno
Published by Duke University Press Books, 2010

In The Appearances of Memory, the Indonesian architectural and urban historian Abidin Kusno explores the connections between the built environment and political consciousness in Indonesia during the colonial and postcolonial eras. Focusing primarily on Jakarta, he describes how perceptions of the past, anxieties about the rapid pace of change in the present, and hopes for the future have been embodied in architecture and urban space at different historical moments. He argues that the built environment serves as a reminder of the practices of the past and an instantiation of the desire to remake oneself within, as well as beyond, one’s particular time and place.

Addressing developments in Indonesia since the fall of President Suharto’s regime in 1998, Kusno delves into such topics as the domestication of traumatic violence and the restoration of order in the urban space, the intense interest in urban history in contemporary Indonesia, and the implications of “superblocks,” large urban complexes consisting of residences, offices, shops, and entertainment venues. Moving farther back in time, he examines how Indonesian architects reinvented colonial architectural styles to challenge the political culture of the state, how colonial structures such as railway and commercial buildings created a new, politically charged cognitive map of cities in Java in the early twentieth century, and how the Dutch, in attempting to quell dissent, imposed a distinctive urban visual order in the 1930s. Finally, the present and the past meet in his long-term considerations of how Java has responded to the global flow of Islamic architecture, and how the meanings of Indonesian gatehouses have changed and persisted over time. The Appearances of Memory is a pioneering look at the roles of architecture and urban development in Indonesia’s ongoing efforts to move forward.

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In Service and ServitudeIn Service and Servitude: Foreign Female Domestic Workers and the Malaysian “Modernity” Project
by Christine B. N. Chin
Published by Columbia University Press, 1998

In Service and Servitude explores the relationship between contemporary domestic service and the pursuit of the “good life” in an era of global economic transformation. The author offers an interdisciplinary approach to examining the in-migration of foreign domestic workers in Malaysia. The book uses Malaysia as a case study of the role played by foreign domestics in a rapidly industrializing Asian country. Christine Chin discusses how the state elites and the middle classes come to rationalize the demand for-and treatment of-domestic workers while pursuing the country’s modernity project, designed to create a stable, developed, multiethnic society. She shows how different and competing pressures on the regional, national, and household levels leave Filipina and Indonesian domestics open to mistreatment and abuse, most directly by employment agencies and employers. Chin argues that late-twentieth-century efforts to expand open markets and establish global free trade, encourage the exploitation of transnational migrant workers, and that such exploitation should not become an acceptable part of pursuing the “good life.”

“This is an impressive piece of original -and ambitious-analysis. In Service and Servitude makes much clearer than most [scholarship] that a state elite intent upon a neo- liberal strategy of international economic competition relies on particular sorts of relationships between women and men. Chin convincingly demonstrates that the allegedly ‘private’ sphere of domestic work is in reality subject to political manipulations-especially via state labor legislation (or deliberate refusal to include it under its legislative aegis) and via state labor immigration policies.”

(Cynthia Enloe, author of Bananas, Beaches, and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics)

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Urbanization, Migration, and Poverty in a Vietnamese Metropolis- Ho Chi Minh City in Comparative PerspectivesUrbanization, Migration, and Poverty in a Vietnamese Metropolis: Ho Chi Minh City in Comparative Perspectives
by Hy V. Luong
Published by 2009, NUS Press Pte Ltd

With the shift to a market economy, Ho Chi Minh City became a magnet for migrants and experienced rapid growth. Migration provides labor for economic growth in Ho Chi Minh City, and remittances sent by migrants to rural communities help to limit urban-rural inequality. But rural-urban migration creates a heavy burden for the city’s physical and social infrastructure.’Urbanization, Migration, and Poverty in a Vietnamese Metropolis’ presents the results of a major interdisciplinary research project that gathered data on more than one thousand households in Ho Chi Minh City over a three-year period, and on migration flows at the urban destination and in four sending communities in different regions of Vietnam. The study shows that migration to Ho Chi Minh City has been shaped both by urban-rural inequality and by regionally diverse socio-cultural dynamics. It also demonstrates that despite official claims concerning poverty reduction in Ho Chi Minh City, urban poverty rose, particularly among migrants. The research findings indicate that microcredit and other poverty reduction programs had little impact on the socio-economic mobility of households, but that the well-being of many households improved as a result of growth-related economic opportunities as well as the effects of social networks and processes of household formation.

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