For an Equitable Indonesian City: Reflections on Planning Practice and Education
Dr. Ashok Das of the UH Mānoa Department of Urban and Regional Planning, CSEAS faculty specialist, recently wrote on urban planning in Surabaya. An excerpt:
Globally, most people today are urbanites. Asia’s rapid urbanization in recent decades has lifted millions out of poverty. Of late, economists and economic geographers have extolled the virtues of urbanization, especially of denser cities and smarter agglomerations. On the other hand, poverty itself has become urbanized (i.e. more poor people reside in cities), and in Asian cities inequality has grown faster than poverty has fallen. Much scholarly research attributes this surge in inequality to: the growing influence of neoliberalism on public policy—reducing the state’s role as a provider of essential public goods and services to that of a facilitator of the free market (privatization, crudely put); increased commodification and globalization of land and property markets; and exclusionary urban policies owing to poor understanding of urbanization dynamics or populist pandering. Growing peri-urbanization also indicates urban inequality, and compounds urban governance and management challenges. Thus, scholars of the social sciences, planning and policy studies, and the design arts, such as architecture and landscape architecture, are warier and more critical of rapid urbanization’s deleterious impacts—inter alia, environmental depredation, social and spatial inequity, intolerance, erosion of cultural heritage, and the increased vulnerability of the poor, especially their worsening mobility and access to decent housing and jobs.
Dr. Das’ research interests revolve broadly around issues of urban poverty in developing countries, primarily in South and Southeast Asia. Community participation and empowerment, slum upgrading and low-income housing, decentralization and local governance, and the role of civil society in development are certain key interests.