May 2020

Gangnam Style – A Symbol of Fast Urban Growth and Deep Inequality

May 22, 2020 // 0 Comments

By Yooil Bae (Fulbright University Vietnam) and Yu-Min Joo (National University of Singapore) | In 2012, South Korean singer Psy’s Gangnam Style became a global sensation, earning three billion views on YouTube. In several interviews, Psy mentioned that the theme of the song was intended to satirize the extravagant and speculative culture of the place (Jung and Li 2014). With his motto to “dance cheesy, dress classy,” the music video showed Gangnam’s trendy and luxurious lifestyle, as well as the high-rise properties of the wealthy. Indeed, Gangnam has become an emblematic and successful example of Korea’s compressed economic development. At the same time, it also began to symbolize deepening urban segregation, as Gangnam is concentrated with the super-middle class with socio-economic, and even political, superiority in South Korea. Similar urban scenes—dubbed as “Gangnam-ization” (Park and Jung 2017)—have also sprouted up in other metropolises of rapidly developing countries, including China and Indonesia. Read More

The City in International Political Conflict

May 15, 2020 // 0 Comments

By Scott A. Bollens (University of California, Irvine) | In this time of increased hostility and competition among groups defined by ethnic, religious, and nationalistic identity, I contribute to our understanding of fractured cities and nations in my UAR article, “National Policy Agendas Encounter the City: Complexities of Political-Spatial Implementation”. In examining two urban areas of enduring and deep inter-group violence, I reveal the contentious relationship that exists between the national political realm of policy agenda setting and the urban realm of implementation. I focus on the city and its role in perpetuating or attenuating inter-group conflict. I concentrate on how urban dynamics are both shaped by national political goals and capable of disrupting the implementation of these national programmes. I investigate two urban settings—Israel’s program aimed at sole sovereign control of Jerusalem and Northern Ireland’s effort to build peace in Belfast. I carried out seven months of in-country research and 122 interviews in 2015 and 2016. Read More

Intermunicipal Cooperation in Metropolitan Regions in Brazil and Mexico: Does Federalism Matter?

May 7, 2020 // 0 Comments

By Oliver D. Meza (CIDE), Eduardo José Grin (Getulio Vargas Foundation), Antônio Sérgio Fernandes (Federal University of Bahia), and Fernando Luiz Abrucio (Fundação Getúlio Vargas) | Metropolises, not states, are the ones capable of saving the world from its most pernicious problems. This common theme is frequently present in the rhetoric of multi-national organizations echoed in newspapers’ headlines. Clearly, cities and metropolitan regions have advantages over other levels of governments in terms of their proximity and policy tools to face problems such as water shortage, waste management, human security, housing, urban mobility, among others. For most countries, especially in the developing world, these topics present formidable challenges into reaching sustainable models of livelihood due to the lack of intermunicipal cooperation. The real question is whether metropolitan regions are actually capable of cooperating to address these and other problems independent to the surrounding institutional context. Metropolitan regions are embodied in a political and administrative context, largely shaped by supra-local levels of government. Read More