Reassembling Urban Infrastructure in Late Socialist Vietnam

Authors: Hun Kim*, University of British Columbia
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Asia
Keywords: Urban, Infrastructure, Vietnam, Southeast Asia, Transportation, Planning
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Bayside C, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Urban infrastructure projects in Vietnam’s major cities are often planned as coherent wholes, but must subsequently be disarticulated and disassembled in order to deal with the realities of Vietnam’s decentralized geographies and the plurality of governing logics and regulatory regimes that prevail from the country’s tumultuous history and late-socialist mode of development. Further, infrastructure projects themselves are diverse due to Vietnam’s dependence on foreign investment from a wide range of global sources. Each project is thus conditioned by its source and type of investment and by the contingent arrangements investors forge with government agencies. This results in a plurality of logics of development, legal and regulatory frameworks and principles of planning and growth that inevitably come into conflict in the city under conditions of intense global competition. These conflicts and disassembled plans often result in failed projects, inciting planners to diagnose the country’s late-socialist governing regime and its institutional makeup as corrupt, politically entrenched and backward. These narratives of failure conceal other logics and processes at stake for cities in Vietnam, particularly the rapidly changing makeup of global investors operating in the country and new conditions of global competitiveness in infrastructure development amidst ascendant Asian economies. This talk examines how such processes condition the material outcomes of infrastructure projects by examining contemporary transportation plans and outcomes in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

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