Development and Urbanization
Economic growth in emerging countries in Asia is closely linked to industrialization and a progressive opening to international markets. In spatial terms, this growth is often associated with metropolitan cities and mega urban regions, but peri-urban spaces, second-tier cities and even rural areas are also sites of investment and export-oriented production. Even though such areas have experienced international exchanges in the past, the pace and extent of change in the last two decades is unrivaled. Indeed, labour-intensive industrialization, including within global production chains, and service subcontracting have fueled rapid urbanization and put pressure on resources and the environment. With the broadening of public policy targets from pure GDP growth to human development indicators in the 2000s, new concerns have emerged with regard to the side-effects of industrialization, especially when it is accompanied by rapid urbanization, which include rising social inequalities and environmental degradation.
India, Indonesia and Vietnam are newcomers of importance in the global economy. They have all adopted sets of reforms aimed at decentralizing, liberalizing and internationalizing their economic development. These reforms have fuelled economic restructuring and the emergence of new industrial geographies in both periurban areas and so-called ‘subaltern’ urban settlements, leading to wide range of responses. All cases analysed in this panel deal with peripheral or suburban areas that have experienced fast industrialization and urbanization, as well as increasing engagement with the global economy. The panel will focus discussion on about how these places and the social groups enrolled in these processes have reacted and adapted to constraints and opportunities produced by such change, be it economic, environmental, or social.
The papers in the panel will ask: Do current policies promoting industrial development result in less socially sustainable forms of urban growth? To what extent are new economic geographies linked to state restructuring in different cases? Are subnational scales becoming more relevant for economic policy-making across Asia and if so, what are the social and environmental implications associated with these re-scaling processes?
The diversity of speakers will allow us to understand the respective roles played by various state scales, local business communities, and labour. They will also examine the way production units juggle with local assets and constraints, and introduce the central issue of resilient development in a context of global competition.