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Does the culture of property normalise eviction and demolition? The case of Kampung Sungai Baru, Kuala Lumpur

Salleh, Alia (2023) Does the culture of property normalise eviction and demolition? The case of Kampung Sungai Baru, Kuala Lumpur. Southeast Asia Working Paper Series (4). London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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In Kuala Lumpur, the redevelopment of old housing is framed by the state as a ‘residential upgrading’ as it involves rehousing residents to newer apartment complexes. This paper intends to shine a critical relook at rehousing programs’ assumed virtue. To inquire about this, I use the debate around the ‘culture of property’ and its naturalising effect on processes of gentrification as posed by Ley & Teo (2014) in Hong Kong and transport it to a case study of an ongoing eviction in Kampung Sungai Baru, Kuala Lumpur. Guided by a phenomenological approach, I use interviews and focus group discussions to understand residents’ views. I also trace the institutional origin of the ‘culture of property’ through policy document analysis. I argue that the ‘culture of property’ as seen in Kuala Lumpur is shaped by a housing policy that takes a residual approach which then leads to increased financialisation and anxiety over inheritance. However, this does not stop residents from opposing the redevelopment of their kampung. Instead, their knowledge of property ownership, either as homeowners or individual investors, becomes a useful tool to fight against rogue redevelopment. I also find that the demand for compensation is less about seeking ‘residential upgrading’ for social mobility but a matter of reclaiming ‘sweat equity’ and demanding better treatment as a basic right. Finally, I suggest that ‘development’ holds a bigger virtue than property ownership and may motivate residents to support redevelopment programs that they deem beneficial to society.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD100 Land Use
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2023 15:12
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 23:59

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