07 NOV 2019 (THU) 14:00-14:45 | 15:15-16:00 | 16:30-17:15

Human Geography

Map Library, Rm10.10, 10/F, The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU



Dr Creighton Paul CONNOLLY Lecturer, Development Studies and the Global South, School of Geography, University of Lincoln in UK

Worlding Cities Through Transportation Infrastructure


This presentation focuses on large-scale infrastructure (re)development in Penang, Malaysia, known as the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), which is envisioned to modernise Penang’s infrastructure and boost economic growth. In doing so, it analyses the ways in which mid-sized cities attempt to ‘globalize’ through the redevelopment of urban infrastructure, particularly transpor-tation infrastructure. However, the PTMP has been highly controversial given its significant socio-environmental impacts and its alleged incompatibility with the city’s unique heritage landscapes. The presentation analyses the Penang State Government’s vision for the PTMP, before turning to an alternative strategy and critique of this plan put forth by local civil society organisations, which they have called ‘Better, Cheaper, Faster’. As I demonstrate, both plans make use of worlding strategies in ‘selling’ their particular vision for the city’s future, but the ways they do so are marked-ly different. In reviewing this case, the presentation challenges the conceptualisation of inter-referencing and urban modelling practices as currently documented in the literature on worlding. What is novel in Penang is the way local stakeholders identify comparable cities outside of the Global North as models to follow, rather than established mega- or ‘world’ cities, which act as more realistic reference points. In doing so, the paper highlights key technologies of governance that are being used to counter the neoliberal worlding strategies put forth by city managers. Subsequently, I will outline how I intend to develop this research further through future research on large-scale in-frastructure projects in Melaka and Southeast Asia through China’s Belt and Road Initiative.



Dr Ben GERLOFS Postdoctoral Research Associate, Princeton University, USA

Comparative Urbanism and Conceptual Chimaeras: Ethnographic Evidence from Mexico City on the Prospects of Global Juxtapositions


This presentation draws on several years of ongoing ethnographic research in Mexico City to articulate a novel conceptual apparatus for understanding neighborhood change, known locally as blanqueamiento (‘whitening’). In contradistinction to the imported global language of ‘gentrification’, organizing residents from certain rapidly changing neighborhoods and their intellectual and political allies have fashioned this tool to collectively better address the intertwined morphologies of the political, financial, demographic, socio-cultural, and aesthetic changes with which they now contend in their daily lives. In this presentation, I will outline the contours of this concept and some of the changes it is used to describe, placing this intervention on academic and political languages within a broader set of contemporary debates about comparative urbanism, academic hegemony, and the limits and potential of global approaches to urban form and process. I will also briefly introduce a methodological framework keenly attentive to the difference that place can make in these debates, and a novel set of inter