Development and Urbanization
Co-Authors: Danielle Labbé - Assistant Professor, University of Montreal; Olivier Jacques - PhD Student, McGill University
In the early 1990s, in the wake of reforms that reoriented Vietnam’s economic system towards a “socialist-oriented market economy,” an urban real estate market reappeared in the major cities. This presentation focuses on Hanoi where the market has been particularly volatile since its re-emergence, marked by successive boom-bust cycles. It is in this context that “ghost” urban areas took form in the late 2000s. Using a political-economy approach, analysis of the emergence of “ghost” urban areas reveals the "real estate turn" taken by the Vietnamese Party-State. This turn has involved the adoption and promotion by the state authorities of a new urban space production model known as "New Urban Areas" in which the commodification and appropriation of land resources by many economic stakeholders (public and private) have been closely connected to political-administrative spheres. The particularity of these “New Urban Areas” is their location at the periphery of the capital city. As this urban development model uses vast areas of land (up to hundreds of hectares), it actively contributes to the extension and diffusion of urban space. However, between the state-led development plan, and the new urban imaginary promoted by developers, lies a complex reality: new areas successfully built and occupied on the one hand, versus areas only partially built and with very low occupancy on the other. This presentation sheds light on how key features of Vietnam's political-economic environment have shaped urban development practices from the early 2000s to the present.