The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU Working Paper - No. 192

The informal city and rights in South East Asian Cities: the cases of Kampung Improvement Programme and Baan Mankong

working paper 192

3 November 2017

By David Sweeting

Asia is home to the largest population of people living in informal settlements and slums. Its southern and eastern sub regions house over 80% of slum dwellers in the entire region. The most notable success stories in Asia, in terms of decreasing slum growth significantly, have occurred in South-East Asia, where policies implemented between the 1970’s to early 2000’s have strongly impacted the growth of slums in major cities. This paper explores rights, citizenship and spaces of negotiation in relation to innovative approaches to slum upgrading and low-income housing improvement programs, in two South East Asian cities: Bangkok, Thailand and Jakarta, Indonesia.

Using intersecting ideas between informality developed by Ananya Roy; the state of exception by Giorgio Agamben; theories on rights to the city by David Harvey and Henri Lefebvre; and insurgent citizenship by James Holston, the paper offers a critical analysis of pro-poor and self-help housing policy and programs in Bangkok and Jakarta. The paper aims to examine housing policy in each case study through a socio-political and historical lens; and understand the extent and ambiguities of opening spaces for negotiation in the process of slum upgrading.

The paper concludes by offering potential trajectories for insurgent citizenship and spaces for negotiation in expanding notions of rights for the urban poor in Bangkok and Jakarta.

The paper can be downloaded here: