Hyun’s research in geography and urban studies has involved the re-thinking of various concepts that are produced out of the development experience of post-industrial/Western cities, and aimed at understanding how the experience of Asian urbanisation propelled by strong states re-writes the social and physical landscape in the context of global uneven development. His research has been structured around three major themes, which exhibit a shared interest in understanding and tackling the rise of inequalities and discontents generated by the uneven urban development processes. These three themes include: (a) ‘gentrification, displacement and dispossession’, which has brought together both theoretical and empirical enquiries into the divergent processes of experiencing gentrification; (b) ‘urban struggles and social injustice’, which has been deeply rooted in his empirical research on the injustice experienced by displacees from redeveloped neighbourhoods in East Asia; (c) ‘urban growth politics and mega-events as urban spectacles’, which has stemmed from his previous work on the socio-spatial impact of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games.
Hyun’s work is set in the context of condensed urbanisation of East and Southeast Asia, where cities have been investing heavily in their immobile assets to attract transnational capital and visitors, and sustain real estate markets that exhibit speculative characteristics. Asian cities provide a useful test-site for unsettling urban theories, which have grown out of predominantly Western notions of urban development and set in the context of the demise of the Keynesian welfare statism, post-industrial transition of cities, and threatened civil society under neoliberalism and market supremacy. In contrast, the proactive organisation of resources by the (post-)developmental state of East Asia, and its mediation of the channelling of surplus capital from the industrial production to the built environment, has arguably characterised the rise of Asian urbanism, which is subject to heated discussions about their influence on urbanisms of the global South as well as the future of the Asian urbanism itself. His recent funded projects are as follows:
The Urban Spectre of Global China: Mechanisms, Consequences, and Alternatives for Urban Futures (in collaboration with Yimin Zhao and Sin Yee Koh), funded by the British Academy for its Tackling the UK’s International Challenges programme.
Outline: The 18-month international collaborative project critically examines the dynamics of urban political economy and contemporary urban living in a rapidly shifting geopolitical setting. By focusing on the local, national and global mechanisms and impacts of Chinese urban spectres, the project aims to deepen our understandings of interrelated urban future issues. Research will be conducted in London, Iskandar Malaysia, Beijing and Foshan. View project web page.
Asian Capital and the Rise of Smart Urbanism, funded by the LSE Middle East Centre and LSE Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre.
Outline: The project aims to analyse and compare how Asian cities have risen to become reference points for the development of cities in the Global South, and examines the experience of building new cities branded as smart cities in Kuwait and the Philippines. View project web page.