2014 Charles H.V. Ebert Lecture

Urban City in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Photo Credit: New York Times

The Great Transformation: Neoliberalization, the urban commons and socio-spatial justice in Jakarta, Indonesia

Professors Helga Leitner & Eric Sheppard, Geography, UCLA

Asian cities long have labored under the shadow of developmentalism, expected to conform to the norms of North Atlantic urbanization. Yet these same cities are characterized by urban morphologies and livelihoods that continue to contest such norms. The end of Indonesia’s New Order regime, in the shadow of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, brought neoliberalization to Jakarta. As elsewhere in Asia, this current great transformation has triggered a financialization of urban real estate, pressure to privatize land tenure and ‘upgrade’ squatter and informal settlements, called Kampungs, a new middle class aspiring to western lifestyles and speculating in land, increasing intra-urban inequality, and the adoption of neoliberal subjectivities in all social strata. Focusing on the frontier where large-scale urban (re)development projects rub up against Kampungs, where the urban majority has carved out a commons of distinctive property relations, built environments and livelihoods, we examine the implications of these encounters for socio-spatial justice, urban sustainability, and the potential for contestations of global norms.

Helga Leitner is a Professor of Geography at UCLA. Her research interests include international migration, urban development & sustainability, and urban social movements.

Eric Sheppard is Humboldt Chair and Professor of Geography at UCLA. His research areas include geographical political economy, trade & uneven development, and global urbanism.

The Lecture is co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology, the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, the Asian Studies Program, and the School of Architecture and Planning.

A College of Arts & Sciences Centennial Event: Celebrating 100 years of excellence in Teaching, Research and Service