Discussion Questions

Section I: Theoretical Lenses on Space in the City
1 Introduction Why has urbanization fallen off the international development agenda? Do we need to get it back on the agenda? How would we frame the issue and urgency into a compelling message?
2 The urban economics lens about urban land and housing

What drives land development and housing conditions according to the urban economics perspective?

Look around the Saigon South development website or another mega-project that you are interested in. What is being advertised as attractive to potential investors in these land development projects? Who are the players that are directly or implicitly participating in these projects? How might we understand their relationship to other members of society — what would be the categories and inter-relationships?

3 Political and sociological lens about urban land and housing

How do the Marxist and critical theory perspectives frame the main drivers of urban land development and housing conditions? Is the neo-Marxist view now outdated?

Read the report from HCMCʼs Peopleʼs Committee, which is the city government. Compare the applicability of the urban economics frame from last week to the critical frame from this week.

4 Legal theory lens about property rights The previous class sessions have alluded to the importance of property rights. What exactly are property rights? Where do they come from?
5 Everyday property practices and public space Are the theories reviewed in the last three class sessions adequate to explain our current urban conditions? What exactly needs better explanations? Does urban landʼs physicality even matter? How might a property rights framework help us understand contemporary urban spatial practices?
6 Critical cartography and the unmasking of spatial relations

There is a long tradition of physical design strategies as a way to improve social conditions in urban planning history and current practices. In what ways is this problematic? And in what ways might urban design practices and our methodologies be more transformative?

In reviewing my critical cartography map primer, can you think of another map idea to try out?

Section II: Property Rights Interventions Mediating the Struggle for Space in the City

Guest speaker: Kanarinka, artist and faculty, RISD

What questions do you have for our guest speaker?
8 Land titling and regularization How has the importance of property rights been conceptualized in the policy literature? What are the potential and limits of rights through titling?
9 Land trusts and affordable housing How did changing property rules contribute to affordable housing in these cases? What did it take to change the property rules? How is it differently possible and challenging to have community ownership in the US versus in Kenya?

Guest speaker: May Louie, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative

What questions do you have for our guest speaker?
11 Land takings and compensation: How to make change, social cognition Most of this weekʼs readings come from a special issue of Urban Studies that I guest edited that will be published in February. The issue came as a result of a symposium held here at MIT where participants presented surprising cases where compensation for land takings had become relatively more equitable in Asian authoritarian contexts. The larger question is what does it take to make institutional change towards equity?

Class Presentations

 No discussion questions.