Spiriting Away the Homeless: Cambodia's Urban Apocalypse

Spiriting Away the Homeless: Cambodia's Urban Apocalypse
February 3, 2014 - 12:30pm - 1:30pm
David Strong Building Rm C130
Victoria BC

This talk by Simon Springer (Department of Geography, UVic) examines the plight of homeless peoples in Phnom Penh, Cambodia as a consequence of their enmeshment in a new logic of urban governance being effected by city officials and municipal planners. In this talk he will argue that the widespread adoption of free market economics has produced conditions of globalized urban entrepreneurialism from which Phnom Penh is clearly not exempt. The (re)production of cultural spectacles, enterprise zones, waterfront development, and privatized forms of local governance all reflect the powerful disciplinary effects of interurban competition as cities aggressively engage in mutually destructive place-marketing policies. In this regard, Springer will examine the ongoing pattern of violence utilized by municipal authorities against homeless peoples in Phnom Penh as part of a gentrifying process that the local government has dubbed a ‘beautification’ agenda. A particular concern is how city officials have begun actively promoting the criminalization of the urban homeless and poor through arbitrary arrests and illegal detention, holding them in ‘re-education’ or ‘rehabilitation’ centres. He will argue that such centers are not what they seem, and are effectively contemporary concentration camps for marginalized peoples who are unwanted on the streets of the capital city as they are deemed to present a negative image for Phnom Penh.