Neighborhood Transformation in East Asian Cities: Is "Gentrification" the Right Frame of Reference?
In this symposium, we are interested in the following question: Is "gentrification" the best concept with which to describe what is going on in Asian cities, or do we need other—or additional—frames to understand the Asian context at the neighborhood level?
Gentrification is the process by which urban neighborhoods, usually the home of low and lower-middle-income residents, become the focus of reinvestment and settlement by middle classes. The rapid urbanization process puts Asian megacities at the center of gentrification studies. In terms of its scale, speed, and the stakeholders involved, gentrification in Asian cities looks entirely different from the process in cities in Europe and the United States, where the term gentrification first started to be coined starting in the 1960s. When it comes to non-Western cities, scholars consider gentrification as a broader political and economic process. This process includes the unequal and uneven production of urbanizing space, entailing power struggles between haves and have-nots as well as disputes over the upgrading of small neighborhoods or more significant clashes related to social displacement experienced at the metropolitan or even regional scale.
The concept of gentrification is difficult to translate into language worlds that are distant from English. However, scholars working on cities in Asia keep using this concept due to hegemonic theories written in the English language and propagated by scholars working on Western cities.
Symposium objectives and scope
In this symposium, we are interested in the following question: Is "gentrification" the best concept with which to describe what is going on in Asian cities, or do we need other—or additional—frames to understand the Asian context at the neighborhood level? Our goals in this symposium are to 1) understand what is going on at the neighborhood level in Asia; and 2) identify more appropriate terms and lenses with which to describe transformations in Asian cities, using locally-specific language and frameworks.
The geographical scope of the symposium is East Asia, including Northeast Asia and the ASEAN countries in Southeast Asia. Contributions may be in the form of individual case studies or comparative work involving multiple cities in the region. Selected papers presented at the symposium will be published together as an edited volume or a special journal issue, depending on the strength and coherence of the contributions.
Institute of Developing Economies (IDE), Japan External Trade Organization
Urban Knowledge Network Asia, International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Leiden, The Netherlands
Nanjing University, China
Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A): Informalizing Asia, Saitama University, Japan
The symposium will be held at the Institute of Developing Economies in Chiba, Japan, from August 30 to September 1, 2021.
Given the ongoing uncertainties arising from Covid-19, this will be a blended event with participants (both panelists and audience members) having the option to join the panel proceedings online if travel to Chiba is not possible, or if they prefer to participate online.
 Shin, H. B., & López-Morales, E. (2018). Beyond Anglo-American gentrification theory. In Handbook of gentrification studies. Edward Elgar Publishing.
 Waley, P. (2016). Speaking gentrification in the languages of the Global East. Urban Studies, 53(3), 615-625.