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Topic 3 Urban Experience: Place and Community . Theoretical Perspective. Any city exists within the larger political structures of county, state and nation, and even international political processes that can affect urban life on a local level.

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Topic 3 Urban Experience: Place and Community


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Theoretical Perspective

  • Any city exists within the larger political structures of county, state and nation, and even international political processes that can affect urban life on a local level.

  • Local economies do not operate independently but connect to one another to forge state, national and international networks.


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Theoretical Perspective

  • New breed of social scientists began to discount the notion that "natural processes" shape the physical form and social life in favor of the belief that political and economic institutions, including banks, governments, and international corporations, shape urban life.


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Theoretical Perspective

  • Key role: Who makes decisions that direct a city's economy and community development? And what purposes?

  • Conflict: how conflicts between state and civil society, labor and management, and social classes have shaped the physical and social character of cities.


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David Harvey: the Baltimore Study

  • Harvey illustrates how the capitalist real estate system operated in Baltimore, directly shaping many of the city's problems concerning social inequality.

Baltimore area

David Harvey


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David Harvey: the Baltimore Study

  • He defines a specific category called “class-monopoly rent” as the return on property owned in cities. He said the process of earning money from the second circuit of property is complex and varies from location to location.

  • This profit making pattern in real estate has great implications for people who live in the city.


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David Harvey: the Baltimore Study

  • He divided Baltimore into six real estate submarkets, and each had a distinctive pattern of buying and selling through private loan, bank financing, and government insurance.


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David Harvey: the Baltimore Study

  • The inner city was dominated by cash and private loan transactions with scarcely institutional and government involvement in the used housing market.

  • The while ethnic areas were dominated by homeownership financed mainly by small, community-based savings and loan institutions that operated without a strong profit orientation.

Simple Baltimore housing


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David Harvey: the Baltimore Study

  • The black residential area of West Baltimore was essentially a creation of the 1960s. Low-to moderate-income blacks did not possess local savings and loan associations, were regarded with suspicion by other financial institution. They were also discriminated by the Federal Housing Authority Programs. They had to go through a white middleman to make a “land-installment contract”

West Baltimore building


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David Harvey: the Baltimore Study

  • The areas of high turnover were serviced mainly by a combination of mortgage banker finance and insurance. It is an area of high profit making area to realize a class-monopoly rent.

  • The middle-income submarkets of Northeast and Southwest Baltimore were typically the creation of the Federal Housing Authority Programs of the 30s. By 60s homeownership was being financed conventionally.

Northeast Baltimore house


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David Harvey: the Baltimore Study

  • The more affluent groups made use of savings and commercial banks to a much greater degree and rarely resorted to FHA programs. Such groups usually had the political and economic power to fend off speculative incursions.


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David Harvey: the Baltimore Study

  • The case study supplies details to the economic process of profit making and provide important observations:

    • Urban development is not a monolithic growth process. It occurs unevenly, and is influenced by different factors, profit potential and conflict.


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David Harvey: the Baltimore Study

  • The second circuit of capital consists of a combination of private financial institutions, community banks, and assort government programs that support housing in different ways. Real estate is not a pure case of private enterprise but involves the government in direct ways.


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David Harvey: the Baltimore Study

  • The housing market in the United States discriminates against the poor and the black. Inner city blacks have it the worst. They must finance most of their transactions by cash payment.

  • The discrimination against poor and black people is also revealed in the data on government sponsored insurance. Inner city and ethnic areas cannot obtain such support.


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David Harvey: the Baltimore Study

  • Discrimination by investment capitalists in the housing market affects the dynamic of buying, selling and neighborhood transition.

  • The real estate market acts to reinforce the inequalities and uneven development of the society.


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David Harvey: the Baltimore Study

  • Besides, the role of government in term of renewal/redevelopment programs also affects the pattern of central city decay and suburbanization.

  • Urban change reflects the changing needs of a capitalist economy. Capitalists build a physical city appropriate to the city’s needs at one point only to destroy it later.


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David Harvey: the Baltimore Study

  • Different segments of urban population- investors (finance capital), store owners (commercial capital), manufacturers (industrial capital), and white-or- blue- collar workers- have different priorities and goals.

  • Capitalist interests, motivated by profit-making, and labor, seeking to protect and enhance its standard of living, often engage “in a series of running battles over a variety of issues that relate to the creation, management, and the use of built environment.


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David Harvey: the Baltimore Study

  • Unwilling to risk their profits by granting too much power to workers, the capitalist class seek government intervention to urban development.

  • Finance capital has little reason to invest in poor neighborhoods, preferring instead the greater profits found in high-rent districts.


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David Harvey: the Baltimore Study

  • This reluctance to aid decaying urban areas, claims Harvey, is precisely why government intervention is so important.

  • But public urban renewal projects seem to operate only to restore the area’s profitability in order to attract finance and commercial capital once again, in the process doing little for the poor.


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

  • Diamond Hill was part of the “flatter and more fertile areas” of Kowloon Peninsular, which after 1841 was active in producing crops for HK population, esp. rice, firewood, vegetables and pigs.

  • Tai Hom village had only fifty people.

Tai Hom Village


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

  • A genealogy of the Chus of Tai Hom: the apical ancestor of this lineage lived in Kwangsi province in the late Ming dynasty, but moved to Waizhou in Guangdong province, north of Hong Kong. A fifteen generation descendant born in 1723 moved to Shek Tong Tsui. He later moved to Kowloon, and again to HK Island.


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

  • One of his sons (1771-1841) moved first to Kowloon City, and then to Diamond Hill. He was said to have become wealthy in quarrying and construction, and acquired many new houses and new farmland.

  • In Tai Hom, Chus formed three fong (lineage segments) deriving from each of sons. In 80s there were fourteen households within these fong.


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

Diamond Hill from 1898 to 1941

  • The development of the Diamond Hill area was completely transformed by the leasing of the New Territories in 1898.

  • Wherever possible, New Kowloon was treated like the ceded part of the colony and distinguished from the rest of the NT.


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

Diamond Hill from 1898 to 1941

  • There was widespread speculation in land in New Kowloon even before the Land Court had assessed claims.

  • The label “squatter” is not only applied to those who encroach upon Crown land or other people’s land, but is applied more generally to those who have no legal authority to construct or live in a structure, even if the structure is on their own private agricultural land.


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

Diamond Hill from 1898 to 1941

  • An overall town plan for New Kowloon was developed in 1922. The early 1920s were also a period when large private development schemes were launched in the vicinity of Diamond Hill. The Kai Tack Land Company planned to reclaim 230 acres to build 6000 houses.

  • Until 1941, the Diamond Hill area remained a primarily agricultural area, unaffected by large development schemes, although many occurred in thenear area.


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

The War and the Period of Reconstruction

  • According to a village leader, whose family have been in Diamond Hill for over 200 years, there were six or seven hundred inhabitants in a village in Diamond Hill, in 1941.

  • The Japanese Occupation from 1941 to 1945 devastated the village. Between one and two hundred villagers were killed by the Japanese for not being cooperative enough or for suspicion of engaging in resistance activities.


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

The War and the Period of Reconstruction

  • Immediately south of Diamond Hill, much land was seized by the Japanese to extend the airfield. The HK Govt. benefited from this and continued the work after the war.

  • The paying of cash compensation only, based on pre-war land values, aroused considerable protest from those affected.


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

The War and the Period of Reconstruction

  • The disruption of the village organization, and the depopulation of the area during the Occupation, combined with commonly delayed returns from China, massive refugee influxes and extreme demand for housing set the scene for the transformation of Diamond Hill in the early post-war period.

Village Welfare organization Logo


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

The War and the Period of Reconstruction

  • In 50s Diamond Hill gradually became a site of illegal housing. Many residents returned from China to find that their fields had been encroached upon. Often this situation was “regularized” by the squatters paying rent to the owner of the land. Sometimes the residents themselves rented or sold out the land, to relatives or strangers. A cubicle of 40 sq. ft. renting for $20 a month.


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

The War and the Period of Reconstruction

  • An unusual feature of Diamond Hill was that many well constructed houses were built of permanent materials for the more affluent refugees from China, including a number of Shanghainese. But they were still illegal.

Tai Hom Village


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

Diamond Hill as Squatter Area

Reasons:

  • rapid expansion of population and urban development

  • government launched no plans for development

  • no incentive for resident to request development because of compensation as agricultural land

  • great number of migrant Chinese from Mainland


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

Re-presentation of Tai Hom Village in local movie “Hollywood*Hong Kong”


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

Diamond Hill as Squatter Area

  • The most affluent families left and subdivided their dwellings into rooms which were sold or rented to newcomers.

  • Many “new villages” set up in late 50s and early 60s. Such as Tai Hom Wor, Diamond Hill New Village and Tai Koon New Village.


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

Diamond Hill as Squatter Area

  • The estimated population of Diamond Hill was 55,000 in 1968.

  • Government-provided services were poor in this period. The first public standpipe was not provided until 1962, and in 1968 there were only seven water stations for the whole population. Most of the families had electricity illegally. Educational and health services were provided, to some degree, by the Kaifong Associations or by voluntary organizations such as churches.


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

Diamond Hill as Squatter Area

  • There were 320 industrial structures in 1968: 91 were metallurgical workshops, 70 in textiles, 50 in furniture or wood products and 46 in plastics.

  • Industry was attracted to Diamond Hill not just for cheap land, but also because of its excellent location.

Conditions in an abandoned restaurant


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

Diamond Hill as Squatter Area

  • In the late 80s there were over 800 squatter factories in Diamond Hill. Not all of these factories are illegal; many of the largest have leases or temporary permits

  • Squatter life was fraught with dangers arising from fire, floods, typhoons, landslips and similar natural disasters. As many local people said, "In dry weather we're afraid of fire, and in wet weather we dread flooding."


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

Diamond Hill as Squatter Area

  • Squatter fire was our childhood memory. Squatter fires were frequent in Hong Kong up till the 80s.

Areas which had been burned out

Dark and dingy alley ways


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The Hong Kong Case: Diamond Hill

Diamond Hill as Squatter Area

  • Squatting thus was one of the most important community and residential experiences in Hong Kong, and Diamond Hill was the typical case.

Protesting the "unjust" expulsion

Old lady resident - waiting to be taken to her new home


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