The papers and commentaries constituting this special issue offer new insights into speculative urbanism from the perspective of two southern metropolises. Based on an international and interdisciplinary collaboration comparing speculative urbanism in central and peri-urban Jakarta (Indonesia) and Bengaluru (India), and interrogating the literature triggered by a seminal 2011 paper by Michal Goldman, this issue extends existing speculative urbanism scholarship in four ways. First, the papers in this special issue take a multi-scalar approach, placing speculative urban practices within the broader spatio-temporal conjunctural contexts shaping their emergence. Second, extending currently economistic framings, they show how speculation also is socio-cultural. The diverse actors engaged in speculative urbanism do not simply seek to accumulate wealth; they do so with aspirations in mind for differentially imagined, but yet-to-be-realized, urban/peri-urban futures. Third, they highlight how speculative urbanism involves a broader range of actors than the usual suspects (developers and financial institutions), including land brokers, individual landlords, the state and its actors, and residents displaced from informal settlements. Fourth, they draw attention to diverse objects of urban speculation; not only land and property, but also more-than-human phenomena such as urban socio-ecologies and socio-technical networks.
This content will become publicly available on July 1, 2023
- Award ID(s):
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
Under the designation “platform urbanism,” there is growing scholarly recognition that platform intermediaries are reconfiguring urban industries, processes, and relationships through the collection and manipulation of big data. Central to realizing this economic project is financial speculation on platforms’ ability to coordinate network effects—a phenomenon in which the more users there are in a networked system, the more valuable and useful it becomes. In this paper, I argue that while the existing literature recognizes the importance of network effects, it has also adopted a limited conceptualization that understands platform firms as the primary agents generating and capturing the economic benefits of network effects. Drawing on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Greater Jakarta, Indonesia, I work to expand this understanding through attention to the social lives of network effects—the ways in which platform architectures are always embedded in social relations created and sustained in everyday urban life. I show how ride-hailing drivers have attempted to mitigate the risks of their work through building socio-technical networks of their own, for their own purposes. Doing so reveals that it is not only platform firms and venture capital that speculate on network effects; rather, a range of actors in the city-region seek tomore »
Peri-urbanization is transforming the urban-rural interface of metropolitan areas across the global south. Large-scale planned developments and infrastructure projects result in the widespread displacement of residents and the disappearance of agricultural fields, vegetable plots, and small enterprises. Through multi-year fieldwork in eastern peri-urban Jakarta, we shift the optic from the large players driving these transformations—developers, land brokers, and investors—to examine how residents of peri-urban settlements (kampungs) respond to unexpected developments and manage the uncertainties associated with market-induced displacement. We conceptualize their practices as everyday speculation, extending speculation beyond its financial meaning to include social and cultural aspects. Both displacees in relocation kampungs and holdouts in kampungs subject to displacement make the most of emergent spatiotemporal rent gaps to devise ways to improve their livelihoods and accumulate wealth, but they also attempt to realize their social and cultural aspirations of reproducing kampung ways of life characterized by dense social networks and commoning practices such as mutual aid. Speculation reinforces pre-existing economic inequalities among kampung residents but is not obliterating social and cultural values that contest the norms of neoliberal global urbanism. Scaling up from everyday speculation by individual households, we identify three paths of kampung transformation that are concatenating across amore »
Landscapes of Rizq: Islam, Masculinity, and Speculative Real Estate in Lahore The city of Lahore, Pakistan has expanded by 20% in the past 20 years alone. Lahore’s exponential growth is fueled by a financialized real estate market that facilitates speculative trading of plots of land rather than constructed buildings. At the city’s ever-expanding periphery, real estate developers armed with drones and legal teams scout for cheap land while agricultural landowners collaborate to resist these efforts by refusing to sell or inflating prices. In WhatsApp groups, local and overseas Pakistani investors carefully monitor these events by sharing rumors, leaked documents, Google satellite images, and personal photos and videos in order to make their own assessments about the value of land. In the struggle to keep, buy, and sell land, several different approaches to placemaking collide—land as generational wealth; land as expansion of the modern city; land as entry to the middle class; and land as return to the homeland. Meanwhile, the financialization of land has taken a devastating toll on urban development, leading to the displacement of tenant farmers, unprecedented deforestation, and Lahore becoming the second most polluted city in the world. At the same time, speculative real estate in Lahoremore »
Articulation work: Value chains of land assembly and real estate development on a peri-urban frontier
If the entanglements of real estate and finance capital are pivotal in ongoing urban transformations in cities of the global south, then a less visible but equally vital dimension is the process of land assembly on which residential and commercial real estate speculation and development are premised. This paper pries open the value chain of land assembly that underlies these transformations in a rapidly expanding peri-urban frontier of Bengaluru, India. Drawing on detailed interviews with land market intermediaries, operating across different scales, who were instrumental in assembling agricultural land for a large apartment complex, the paper shows how existing forms of social power and local knowledge are harnessed to create inter-scalar linkages that enable the creation and extraction of value in Indian real estate. It makes the case for understanding the economic and cultural work of intermediaries in animating land's value chain as ‘articulation work’. Finally, the paper assesses the varying forms and quantum of value that are generated and captured by different actors in the value chain, which stretches from the landowning farmer up to a major real estate company, to reflect on the micro-dynamics of speculative urbanism and agrarian urbanization.