Spiriting Away Cambodia’s Homeless
A Talk by Associate Professor Simon Springer from the Department of Geography at the University of Victoria, Canada
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
12:00 – 1:30pm
Tokioka Room, Moore Hall 319
This talk examines the plight of homeless peoples in Phnom Penh, Cambodia as a consequence of their enmeshment in a new logic of urban governance being effected by city officials and municipal planners. The author argues that the widespread adoption of free market economics has produced conditions of globalized urban entrepreneurialism, from which Phnom Penh is clearly not exempt. The (re)production of cultural spectacles, enterprise zones, waterfront development, and privatized forms of local governance all reflect the powerful disciplinary effects of interurban competition as cities aggressively engage in mutually destructive place-marketing policies. In this regard, this talk examines the ongoing pattern of violence utilized by municipal authorities against homeless peoples in Phnom Penh as part of a gentrifying process that the local government has dubbed a ‘beautification’ agenda. Of particular concern is how city officials have begun actively promoting the criminalization of the urban homeless and poor through arbitrary arrests and illegal detention, holding them in ‘re-education’ or ‘rehabilitation’ centres. The author argues that such centers are not what they seem, where such euphemisms attempt to mask the systemic abuse of marginalized peoples who are unwanted on the streets of the capital city as they are deemed to present a negative image for Phnom Penh.
Dr. Simon Springer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Victoria, Canada. Prior to this he worked at the University of Otago and the National University of Singapore. Simon’s research agenda explores the political, social, and geographical exclusions that neoliberalization has engendered in post-transitional Cambodia, emphasizing the spatialities of violence and power. He cultivates a cutting edge theoretical approach to his scholarship by foregrounding both poststructuralist critique and a radical revival of anarchist philosophy. Simon has published extensively in a number of top-ranking journals.
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