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Revisiting Displacement in Urban Studies

Hosted by the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre

LSE (Room CLM.7.02: Clement House, 7th Floor)


Prof. Hyun Bang Shin

Prof. Hyun Bang Shin

Professor of Geography and Urban Studies and Director of Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre, LSE

SEAC Workshop
Revisiting Displacement in Urban Studies

The Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre, in collaboration with the Urban Salon, will be hosting a roundtable discussion on displacement, incorporating Southeast Asia and beyond. Displacement has been at the core of a number of critical studies that address problems associated with gentrification, infrastructure development, armed conflicts, and so on, which result in socio-spatial restructuring of existing inhabitants. Displacement is not to be confined to last remaining, direct, physical displacement only: it can be further expanded to look at, for example, what Peter Marcuse in Colombia University was trying to say when he refers to chain displacement, displacement pressure or exclusionary displacement. It would also involve what Rowland Atkinson was trying to highlight in his discussion of symbolic displacement, or what Mark Davidson and Loretta Lees were referring to as phenomenological displacement, all of which involve the experience of displacement effect even if you stay put. At the same time, it will be important to understand how displacement itself will be a longitudinal process, begging the questions of when it starts and ends. Displacement may also be thought of in terms of displacement from histories, memories and subjective attachment to one’s affectionate places. The workshop brings together speakers who will offer reflections on the meaning of 'displacement' in their ongoing and past research, helping us to critically revisit what displacement means for urban studies in general.

This event represents the #urbanisation theme, one of SEAC's three key focus areas.

The schedule for the event is as follows:

5.00 – 5.10 pm: Introduction

  • Hyun Bang Shin, Professor of Geography and Urban Studies and Director of Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre, LSE

5.10 – 6.10 pm: Views from Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines)

  • Katherine Brickell (Professor of Human Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London)
    "Cambodia's Vertical Ascent: Viewpoints on Urban Displacement from Phnom Penh"
  • Lisa Tilley (Lecturer in Politics, Birkbeck, University of London)
    "Displacement and the Rationalisation of Urban Life in Jakarta"
    Urban ‘kampung’ communities in Jakarta are constantly subject to evictions and the demolition of their neighbourhoods to make way for various urban projects. This presentation covers how such evictions and the broader social transformations they instigate are historically-informed and gendered processes which are continuous in many ways with past colonial and postcolonial urban rationalisation projects. Looking at the removal of ‘kampung’ communities and the relocation of some residents to public housing blocks, I will focus on the gendered forms of social transformation such displacements bring about. I will also cover how everyday acts of refusal and resistance mean that displacement-induced ‘rationalisation’ is always a negotiated and contingent process.
  • Jordana Ramalho (PhD Candidate, LSE Geography)
    "Displacement and disaster risk governance in Metro Cebu, the Philippines"
    On the theme of ‘Revisiting Displacement in Urban Studies’, in this presentation I discuss how disaster risk governance and aspirations for creating sustainable and resilient cities are implicated in processes of urban dispossession in Metro Cebu. Specifically I reveal how labels of risk and vulnerability are being mobilised to legitimise an urban development agenda that serves elite commercial interests and displaces the urban poor under the auspices of ‘disaster resilience’, ‘climate change adaptation’ and ‘pro-poor development’.

6.10 – 6.25 pm: Break

6.25 – 7.25 pm: Views from outside Southeast Asia (China, Israel and the UK/Europe)

  • Qin Shao (Professor of History, The College of New Jersey)
    “Forced Displacement: An Instrument of Control from Mao to Post-Mao”
    This presentation focuses on institutionally forced displacement as an essential instrument of political and economic control in post-1949 China. It suggests a much broader range of causes and forms of forced internal displacement, from the banishment of millions of Chinese targeted by Mao’s revolution to the Great Famine, job assignment system, and urbanization. The presentation also examines the relationship between forced displacement and democracy.
  • Oren Yiftachel (Professor of Political and Legal Geography, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel)
    "Displaceability: a new foundation of urban citizenship?"
    This talk develops the concept of 'displaceability' as a central, yet often overlooked, dimension of urban citizenship. Displacement denotes the involuntary removal of individuals, communities or large collectivities from their houses, lands, rights and locations, as urban regimes. On the basis of studying urban regions of the global 'southeast'  -- Tallinn, Cape Town, Jerusalem and Colombo -- the lecture advances three key arguments that 1) The degree of displaceability provides a central foundation for understanding contemporary urban citizenship; 2) Displaceability is increasingly related to strategies of urban legal and planning regimes; and 3) Displaceability is on the rise, creating pervasive new urban criminalities, instabilities and conflicts. 
  • Loretta Lees (Professor of Human Geography, University of Leicester)
    "Moving beyond Marcuse: gentrification, displacement and the violence of un-homing"
    I will discuss my forthcoming Progress in Human Geography paper co-authored with Adam Elliot Cooper and Phil Hubbard in which we seek to better define and conceptualise displacement as a process of un-homing, noting that while gentrification can prompt processes of eviction, expulsion and exclusion operating at different scales and speeds, it always ruptures the connection between people and place. On this basis – and recognising displacement as a form of violence – we conclude that the diverse scales and temporalities of displacement need to be better elucidated so that their negative emotional, psychosocial and material impacts can be more fully documented, and resisted.

7.25 – 8.00 pm: (Informal) Reception





The Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre (SEAC) is a cross-disciplinary, regionally-focused academic centre within the Institute of Global Affairs at LSE.



Twitter hashtag for this event: #LSEDisplacement


Speaker bios:

Katherine Brickell is Professor of Human Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL). She is Director of the Geopolitics, Development, Security, and Justice Research Group at RHUL; editor of the journal Gender, Place and Culture; and has led two ESRC-DFID funded grants on human rights issues in Cambodia (for the most recent see www.projectbloodbricks.org). Her monograph Home SOS: Gender, Violence and Survival in Crisis Ordinary Cambodia (Wiley RGS-IBG Series) will be published in 2019 and focuses on domestic violence and forced eviction. Other books she has co-edited, particularly relevant to displacement, include Translocal Geographies (2011); Geographies of Forced Eviction (2017); and The Handbook of Displacement (in preparation). Most recently Katherine has undertaken new research in London and Dublin on homelessness and modular housing 'solutions'. For her research excellence she has been awarded the Royal Geographical Society Gill Memorial Award (2014) and Philip Leverhulme Prize (2016). 

Loretta Lees (FAcSS, FRSA, FHEA) is Professor and Chair in Human Geography at the University of Leicester. She is an urban geographer who is internationally known for her research on gentrification/urban regeneration, global urbanism, urban policy, urban public space, architecture and urban social theory. Since 2009 she has co-organised The Urban Salon:A London forum for architecture, cities and international urbanism (see http://www.theurbansalon.org/) and since 2016 the Leicester Urban Observatory (www.leicesterurbanobservatorywordpress.com/). She has been identified as the 17th most referenced author in urban geography worldwide (Urban Studies, 2017) and the only woman in the top 20.

Jordana Ramalho is a PhD Candidate in Human Geography and Urban Studies at LSE. She completed her MSc in Urbanisation and Development (LSE, distinction) and also holds a BSc in Environmental Sciences (University of Guelph, honours). Her current research explores the gendered dimensions of risk and insecurity facing urban poor communities in Metro Cebu, the Philippines, focusing on the perspectives and responses of informal settlers living in 'danger zones', as well on governance approaches to disaster risk reduction and urban 'resilience' building relevant to the urban poor.

Qin Shao is Professor of History at The College of New Jersey and a former research fellow at Harvard University and other institutes in Berlin, Germany and Singapore. Shao’s publications include Shanghai Gone: Domicide and Defiance in a Chinese Megacity, Culturing Modernity: the Nantong Model, 1890-1930, and articles in international scholarly journals. She is a Global Scholar and Collaborator, Human Cities Initiative at Stanford University and on the Global Advisory Board of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies. Shao currently studies forced displacement in Mao and Post-Mao China.

Lisa Tilley is Lecturer in Politics and Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London. She is also co-convenor of the Colonial, Postcolonial, Decolonial Working Group of the British International Studies Association (CPD-BISA); co-founder of the collaborative research project Raced Markets; and Associate Editor of the pedagogical resource Global Social Theory. Her work draws on various theoretical approaches to ‘the colonial question’ in analyses of processes of accumulation and expropriation, especially along urban and rural extractive frontiers in Indonesia.

Oren Yiftachel is Professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, teaching political and legal geography, urban and regional planning and public policy. He is one of the main critical geographers and social scientists working in Israel/Palestine. He has worked on critical theories of space and power; minorities and public policy; 'ethnocratic' and settler colonial societies, indigenous rights, as well as on urban and land regimes, urban migration and housing and models of the 'just city'.


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