Reference : Between planning and spontaneous order: the 'equifinal' production of urban space in ...
Scientific journals : Article
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Human geography & demography
Arts & humanities : History
Between planning and spontaneous order: the 'equifinal' production of urban space in colonial Phnom Penh (1860s-1930s)
Kolnberger, Thomas mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Identités, Politiques, Sociétés, Espaces (IPSE) >]
Geographische Zeitschrift
Franz Steiner
Yes (verified by ORBilu)
[en] Phnom Penh ; colonial history ; informal settlement ; urban morphology ; production of space
[en] This paper examines the roles of both ‘coloniser’ and ‘colonised’ in the spatial construction of Phnom Penh. This key site of French colonisation in Cambodia was part of a network of French-ruled cities in Indochina, established to steer and enhance the productivity of the colonial society. The production of this particular space in Phnom Penh, however, was at no time simply a top-down process, imposed by the coloniser on the colonised. At the very moment of the foundation of the colonial town, indigenous actors used the city as an opportunity to pursue their own interests. Two contradictory phenomena – the constraints of colonial structures and the agency displayed by individuals – converged to produce a new, ‘equifinal’ urban space. Based on a historical analysis of the expanding urban morphology (in a historico-geographical approach), this article examines the ‘mise-en-valeur’ (capitalistic valorisation) of city space as a bilateral process: com-modification of urban estates and formalisation of planning by the colonial administration with indigenous bandwagoning and – vice versa – freeriding of the colonial state with regard to indigenous common property resources. The supposed opposition between the action of planning and the reaction to being ‘planned’ thus turns out to be a false dichotomy: Phnom Penh’s colonial space emerged as a joint venture in a settlement process that was both formal and informal.
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