City Planning

An abstract I have sent in for a conference in Phnom Penh in January. The conference is called “Living Capital: Sustaining Diversity in Southeast Asian Cities”./ The paper I plan to write for this will cover research I’ve been doing for ages on knowledge culture industry and the like – I published something on this in Mute and a longer version the Nettime Reader way back when. Its time to look at issues behind the gleam once again…:

City Planning – for people, institutions and industry.

The problem with rapid urbanisation is not so much that there are vast numbers of new people in the city, but that public planners, social commentators, journalists and the reading public (readers of journalism, commentary and policy) see these arrivals as a problem. In contemporary cultural studies arguments have been put forward that revolve around the slogan: urbanization causes hybridity – referring to the cultural frisson and mix that is both a resource for a vital creative economy and something in need of an interventionist solution. This smacks of the twin fantasies of exoticization – “ooh, look, cultural differences” – and commodification – “they are differences we can sell”. That the planning and zoning of cities now includes routine acknowledgement of diversity, and embraces institutional forms and supports to mix such diversity with creative industry, is the current benchmark of capitalist development thinking. This thinking has a heritage that reaches back through the past sixty years of social engineering – the examples in this presentation will be the life-world-creative industry mix, showcased in recent so-called “technopolis” projects, such as the MultiMedia Super Corridor in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the digital economy redevelopment of Hyderabad, in India.

[German version of my very old piece on MMC in DE:BuG here]