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Counter-hegemonic globalization

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Counter-hegemonic globalization is a social movement based in a perspective of globalization that challenges the contemporary view of globalization; neoliberal globalization. Counter-hegemonic globalization confronts the implicit idea of neoliberal globalization that the system of domination, as a consequence of the development of transnational networks, transportation and communication, is a natural and inevitable course for globalization. It maintains that transnational connections can instead be harnessed as the means to bring about more equitable distribution of wealth, power, and sustainable communities. Counter-hegemonic globalization, unlike neoliberal globalization, uses the assets of globalization to stand against any form of domination by hegemony, operating from a bottom-up process that stresses the empowerment of the local.

Peter B. Evans, a political sociologist renowned for his contributions to the development of this theory, defined counter-hegemonic globalization as “a globally organized effort to replace the neoliberal global regime with one that maximizes democratic political control and makes the equitable development of human capabilities and environment stewardship its priorities.”[1]

In defense to the arbitrary exploitation by neoliberal globalization, the number of advocates of counter-hegemonic globalization seems to have increased. There are already sets of transnational networks and ideological frames imposed by many activists pursuing the perspectives of counter-hegemonic globalization; collectively called the “global justice movement". The number of transnational Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) supporting counter-hegemonic globalization has doubled between 1973 and 1983 and doubled again between 1983 and 1993.[2] Furthermore, with the cultural and ideological diffusion of counter-hegemonic globalization proven significant in the recent Wall Street Protest, the movement is beginning to be regarded as an effective and promising political antidote to the current domination-oriented globalization by many activists and theorists.

While Peter Evans and Boaventura de Sousa Santos remain two prominent theorists who have contributed to the counter-hegemonic globalization theory, classic Marxist socialist ideas are implicated in the theory. For example, Antonio Gramsci asserted that any struggle over globalization must be conducted at the level of the superstructure (culture, institutions, political power structures, roles, rituals, and state), the revolutionary bloc is no longer determined solely by objective and economic factors of class but through subjective factors related to shared perceptions that cut across class lines to include all those individuals and social groups experiencing difficulty in the economic globalization.

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Good evening, and welcome. Thank you all for coming. Before we start, I think I want to mention-- I'll put in a quick plug for this lecture on Monday, by the Swiss architect Peter Markli. He hasn't really been to the GSD, as far as I can remember, ever before. He will be here on Monday, and it would be great if you could join us. Then on Tuesday, we finally have the opening of the Center for Green Buildings and Cities, which will also host a public symposium here in Piper, at 4:00 PM, related to some of the work of the center-- but also working on issues related to typology, design, and technologies that relate to the HouseZero project. Tonight, after the brief presentation by Reinier de Graaf, we've invited and I'm really happy that Professors Diane Davis and Alex Krieger will be joining Reinier for a discussion. The intention is to have the presentation be shorter than the normal lecture length, so that we can actually have more time for discussion. Reinier is currently teaching an options studio with the same title to the talk tonight, which is Phantom Urbanism. And the studio they've just returned from what seems like a fantastic trip to Angola, and I suspect we'll hear more about that. You probably all know that Reinier is one of the main partners at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture-- OMA is based in Rotterdam. And I think for the longest time, probably he's been the most important member of the office, focusing on the urban design or the architecture of the large-scale component of the office. Apart from some of the work that Rein has been doing, he really has been taking on that work. I was lucky enough to be able to spend a fair bit of time with Reinier when there was a project called Skolkovo that Reinier and OMA were working on. And I had some role there. And, of course, Laura Byrd, who is here visiting, and will be part of the reviews tomorrow, was also, at that time, involved. So it's really a great little reunion of the Skolkovo team. Since that time what is interesting is to see how Reinier has really gone more and more towards the design of large-scale buildings. And buildings that are really, essentially, significant major urban buildings. He's completed a few of those. The Timmerhuis, which is a mixed-use project in Rotterdam, the headquarters for G-Star RAW. And this amazing project-- De Rotterdam-- which I got to see in their office while he was in Angola when I was there, which is really pretty amazing. Recently, Reinier has published this very exciting, very interesting book called Four Walls And a Roof, which is published by Harvard University Press. It's subtitled The Complex Nature Of a Simple Profession. And in it there are really an amazing number of very beautiful, exciting, interesting themes and topics. And hopefully, Reinier will be able to tell us a little bit about the book, but also more about phantom urbanism. Please join me in welcoming Reinier de Graaf. [applause] Hi everybody. Thank you for coming. Thanks Mohsen, for the kind introduction. I have no idea what the normal length of a lecture is. I generally don't make it beyond 40 minutes, and I don't think I will do that today. I think when we first discussed the notion of a talk here, it was meant to be about the book. And in part it is about the book. But the studio that's currently underway is developing very well. And in many ways already considerably more interesting than the book. So I cannot resist the temptation of giving a little bit of a trailer of the studio too. Anyway, a little bit about the book. The book, if I were to summarize it very, very briefly, is a 500-page attempt to hammer away at what I see as the misplaced confidence of the architecture profession. It has 44 essays divided over seven parts, each of which in a way debunks a myth that I think is looming over the architecture profession. There's the myth of authority, the myth of individual inspiration, the myth of good causes, the myth of professionalism, the myth of independence, mastery over the [inaudible],, and finally, progress. These are, of course, in themselves all very admirable and laudable properties, but it is very, very clear that a slight change of context, and a slight difference actually turns these seven virtues potentially into seven cardinal sins. I think that in the context of the transition of the 20th through the 21st century, certain profound changes have happened to the context within which architecture is produced, that, in a way, make it impossible to simply uncritically continue that ethos. And I will try to explain. Essentially, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 20th century ended. The 20th century ended early, and the 21st century begun. This is an argument very eloquently made by Francis Fukuyama, first in an essay, After The Fall of the Wall, which he later expanded into a book-- omitting the question mark behind End of History?-- where actually he argues that with the fall of the wall and with the collapse of the Soviet Union, a world that used to be a world of competing ideologies-- a Western bloc, a communist bloc, and a norm aligned block-- would pretty soon become a homogeneous world, which would collectively embrace Western liberal democracy as the sole and only form of human government. So this was in the 90s. And interestingly, that was also the moment that our office expanded very, very strongly. And I think many firms like us, in a way. The wave of optimism that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall, led to the belief of the fact that you could work anywhere and counter relatively similar conditions. Sorry. Encounter relatively similar conditions to wherever you worked. And at that moment, I think we went from 30 to 300 people. Of course, when you work in the whole world, the whole world ends up working at you. So we have a very interesting office-- 350 people, just under 50 nationalities. It's very interesting that in the Netherlands, the Dutch are a minority-- which is very good. In the New York office, the Americans-- or at least New Yorkers-- are a minority, which is even better. In Hong Kong, the Chinese are a minority, believe it or not. And in Dubai, of course, everybody is a minority. And it's not I'm not saying that to do some sort of united colors of architecture, but I think that the ecology of minorities is a very interesting factor, and maybe the secret of our office-- that when there is only minorities creation becomes a matter of a permanent cultural clash, in which there are very few a prioris, in which there isn't any given truth. Like, we do things this way and you have to integrate. There is just arguments. There is just doubts. There is just a fairly openly professing of not knowing. This is a typical scene in the office. I believe this is ages ago, when essentially our New York partner was an intern. The man you see here is the founder of our office. It's a collectively professed doubt, in which the founder of the office seems overcome by the most extreme doubt. [laughter] And, anyway, that doubt creates a lot of versions, creates a lot of rejected versions, creates a lot of trial-and-error, and occasionally it creates a result. And sometimes a very big result. This is CCTV, completed in 2008 for the Chinese Olympics. Came into the office in 2002. And this is indicative of the world the way it was then. We had the choice to participate in the reconstruction of the World Trade Center, or take part in a competition for the Chinese Television's headquarters. And that was an almost neutral decision at the time. That was essentially a business decision. We knew CCTV would get built because of the Olympics, and we suspected the World Trade Center would become a very long American talk show. So essentially, we chose for CCTV, but purely on the basis of pragmatic arguments. And that is interesting if you think about that now, because it's over 25 years ago that the Berlin Wall fell, and the world supposedly opened up. But meanwhile, other walls are being contemplated. And essentially everywhere-- between political blocs, between religions, between continents, et cetera, et cetera. With a very predictable result in many ways. This is the total number-- it's essentially our project list. This is everything that happens. What is crossed out is everything that doesn't happen. And curiously, probably the projects that get started and never get finished are more telling about the state of the world at present, than the projects that do get finished. And I want to talk a little bit about a number of efforts that never got finished. Another very interesting aspect is the following, of these walls appearing-- This is what Fukuyama predicted-- an on-the-whole Western liberal democratic world. I think crudely, the world today looks something like this, if you have to rate it according to democracy. The blue is democracy. The red is dictatorship. There you don't have elections. And the yellow is a category which is sort of democratic, but not really. You have elections, but you know beforehand who's going to win. And if that doesn't happen, then certain things are done to ensure that he will win, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But it's an increasingly successful category-- a category in which a lot of urbanism, at the moment, takes place. It's a category that presents a very interesting veil to dictatorial regimes to become democratic, but not really. But it also presents a very tempting alternative to countries that were democratic at one point, to slide back into authoritarian rule. So my prediction is that the amount of yellow in this map will grow over time. This is a project in a very straightforward situation. Here you don't have elections. The glorious republic of Kazakhstan-- a former Soviet Republic, with clearly the ills of Sovietism, but also, to some extent, the good things of Sovietism. A very interesting and ambitious public housing program. But after the discovery of oil in Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan joined the ranks of the world. Joining the ranks of the world looks like this. It's a night club in Almaty, which is very appropriately called Petroleum. That leads also to particular views on architecture for some reason. Money based on oil-well leads to a kind of eruption of post-modernism, and [inaudible] for some inexplicable reason. But it's not just here. We're finding this to be somewhat of a pattern. But maybe we can discuss. Anyway, we wouldn't be we if we didn't propose a project based on former constructivist diagrams, assuming there would be an appetite for that. So this was a science campus close to the mountains-- close to the Chinese border-- for which a contractor had been lined up. The contractor that had built the palace of the president, a former Kosovar who turned out was wanted by the Yugoslavia tribunal for smuggling arm. That was the way he made his fortune, and what led him to a second life in Kazakhstan as a contractor. That ultimately didn't materialize. We got another chance in the form of a science city in Russia itself, which had a more solid and firm history of science cities. That's the plan for Skolkovo. This is one that looked like it was on the cards to be won and built for a very long time. We presented it to the then Russian president Medvedev-- who, as we all know, is no longer the President. So to some extent that didn't happen either. That's a very interesting thing, going back to Fukuyama's argument. The argument that is presented is ultimately an economic argument. Democracy is made dependent on economic success. The message, in short, is, if you become democratic, you become prosperous, you become wealthy. It's your quickest ticket to wealth. But meanwhile, if we look at the global economy, and the way it's developing, an interesting thing is emerging. These are the sovereign wealth funds of various nations. And if you make an addition, to some extent you see that apparently non-democracies have the largest capital at their disposal to participate in the global market. You see this everywhere, with Emirate Airlines and all kinds of things, where they simply have a head start because the state participates in economic entrepreneurship. So this was Dubai in 1990. Sheikh Zayed Road-- the main road. This is a public housing program on the side. This is that same road 25 years later. This is that same public housing project here. But clearly an eruption of a city in a very, very short time, where nothing in this picture is older than 15 years. The city, in a way, celebrates a perpetual tomorrow on real estate fairs, on big sales events of ever more extreme and extravagant towers. In a way, the future of the city, the city of tomorrow, is the decorum for the life and the city of today. And interestingly, also its aerial map that you see on Google Earth, which is constantly presented in the city as the Dubai of today, is actually the Dubai of tomorrow. So if you look at this, this isn't there. Or at least, it was there, but I think it's meanwhile under water. This was planned, but it isn't there. This isn't there, and that isn't there. Which means, that about 50% of what is presented in this photograph as reality, in all the promotion of the city, actually doesn't exist yet and perhaps never will. The city is like a collection of individual theme parks, which happily, in a way, compete with each other for attention, to attract populations. It's a city with about 85% expats. It's a city with a very small indigenous population. And here, the function of urbanism is, in a way, not to house people that are there, but it's to attract people in order to come. So there is a very interesting reversal in this kind of urbanism, where it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, with a lot of these massive planning operations. You ask the people in charge, who is this for? The answer is invariably, they will come. And they will come as long as they can buy a part. But they don't come, they buy real estate. And they will continue to buy real estate when they can sell that real estate, a few years later, for more money then they bought it. But it's a very different role. If you think of urbanism in the 50s and the 60s-- which, in a way, addressed the housing shortage, addressed a demographic need-- this is simply urbanism as a form of wishful thinking. When you see this-- endless billboards along the road with developments announced-- you think you are looking at a landscape of free enterprise. That isn't true. This is all the property developers responsible for this stuff. If you look at their annual accounts, they invariably belong to three holdings, which invariably are majority owned by the royal family. So what you have here is a landscape of free enterprise urbanism, which is actually a disguised monopoly. A very interesting contradiction. The man who owns it. The administrative structure of the city looks suspiciously like the administrative structure of any city-- of Amsterdam, or London. But it's the populating of this diagram that is the interesting thing. This is the public sector, this is the private sector. And it is not because of local dress that people look the same, it's simply because they are the same people. [laughter] Where in any Western democracy, taking up public office means you have to relinquish your business interests, here, business interests are a prerequisite to take up public office in the first place-- to the point that you don't know whether you are looking at a city, at a state, or simply a large corporation that happily competes with other corporations when it needs to. This is the largest property developers of Dubai, and this is where they work. They meanwhile straddle a territory which runs from Algeria, all the way to the Philippines and Indonesia. It's a model. Their rapid urbanism is actually being exported all across the world, operating along very similar lines. And export it as a form of knowledge. Something which we've seen before in Singapore, which essentially exports the notion of the place as a form of expertise to build stuff in China. Here. Here. Here. Now, this is a strange thing I found on one of the real estate markets in Dubai. The extremely confident predicament-- one day all cities will be built like this. And it's a curious quote, because it almost echoes the confidence that was at one time embedded in the modern movement of architecture. I mean it's something that [inaudible] could have said in French. Manifestos are written in architecture, but if you put these manifestos in a time line, something very, very strange presents itself. Almost at the time that Fukuyama wrote his book-- when the world would be one, no more need for ideologies, that is also, curiously, the time that actually the production of meaningful manifestos stopped in architecture. That is at the same time-- round about, let's say, 1990-- that is at the same time that large parts of the world went through the most aggressive urbanization in history. So largely, in a theoretical vacuum of the profession, which leads to a very strange situation, if this is the city of the future-- in 1925, the Plan Voisin by Le Corbusier-- disparaged, dismissed over, it is still somehow that model that seems to be the only model available, and the prevailing model. According to which, essentially these waves of urbanization-- there's a button called "danger" on this thing, which-- [laughter] Sorry. Which leads to a rather clumsy-- Anyway, in which these urbanization waves continue to happen. It's very interesting. Urbanization, also in Asia, has a very curious role. The average city-dweller represents five times the economic value of a rural-dweller. So if an enormous amount of people become urbanites, the country gets five times as rich. At least, that's the reality on paper. To the point that it leads to almost all propaganda in China being heavily infected with real estate. To the point that you don't know whether the strong increase in capita is the urban population growing, or whether there is actually a real economic growth. To the point that cause and effect get confused. I mean, do we urbanize because we get richer? Or do we get richer because we urbanize? And this strange confusion emerges. And in the wake of that confusion, an interesting other phenomenon emerges. This is the city of Ordos in China. An enormously rapidly constructed city, which is entirely empty. Owned completely, but empty. Something similar. Another one-- Zhengdon New Area-- a completely empty city. Tianducheng here-- lonely man on a bike looking at a replica of Paris. Also sold, but completely empty and uninhabited. Meixi Lake City, an empty lake surrounded by empty buildings. And for a long time, a lot has been written about this stuff. And for a long time we thought it was a very Chinese phenomena-- simply a phenomena of the planned economy that could afford to build and wait. Meanwhile, that is no longer the case. This is, by now, a global phenomenon. Our studio has developed a Top 100 of ghost cities around the world. And it is really a very, very prolific phenomenon. Particularly, after the financial crisis of 2008, and the subsequent recovery, when the house-price index went sharply up. Incidentally, also after the manifesto, you get this kind of stuff. This is in Spain. Optimistic, advertisements of real estate that meanwhile, for a considerable length of time, stands empty. Empty. Another city-- Valdeluz in Spain. Empty. That's a very, very big quarter. Roads and everything built. Only partially built, and whatever is built there stands empty. Empty roads, completely designed, planted, but without buildings. To the point that the name sign is the biggest masterpiece in the city. This is another example in Morocco-- completely empty. Another ghost town that has been abandoned. Something that has been built within the last five years, and never inhabited. The most striking example that can be found online, is the city of Kilamba in Angola. Conflicting reports on the internet, whether it's empty or whether it's not empty. And so we decided to go and see for ourselves. That city is a consequence of a very confident announcement of then-time president dos Santos in 2008, when the price of oil was sky high. The city-- a Chinese master plan. And a city were largely oil served as collateral for a credit line to build the city, but being built by Chinese companies. This is a man named Pierre Falcone, a French arms dealer, who used to trade arms for oil. And after peace broke out, he traded concrete for oil. Different product, similar action. Here, somebody who was also very enwrapped with the son of Francois Mitterand, in what is termed to be Angolagate. Anyway he brokered a deal with the Chinese. Welcome, here, the site of the city. Sino-Angolan partnership at work. This is part of a promotion film for the city. With the president's personal involvement. Chinese officials. President dos Santos. The President being personally involved, here, in a model. A city for the young, as well as the old. A city without barriers. A city with all modern convenience. What is wrong with this image? [laughter] Anyway 2012, four years later, the price of oil plummeted. The Angolan middle class, which was expected on the basis of oil, never emerged. This is the price that apartments went for. This is what 2/3 of Angolans live on-- less than $2 a day. A big scandal Al Jazeera, then the BBC, and then CNN, all visited the site and reported on the exported Chinese ghost towns. They unmasked the people in the promotional film as actors, and showed empty footage of endless rows of empty, empty, empty, buildings. And essentially, a city for half a million people that stood empty. We decided to go and see for ourselves, as I said. Our studio is called Phantom Urbanism. If that's like written on your forehead, nobody really wants to talk to you. So for the duration of the field trip, we had the Harvard website changed in Rapid Urbanism, and from very strongly critical individuals, we became temporary admirers of the phenomenon, but entirely for fact-finding purposes. [laughter] So the journey. From the airport, this was the first face you see-- Viva Fidel! The typical, in a way, African condition, on our long way into the airport. And once you reach the center of Angola, an entirely different city presents itself. Two very contrasting reality. Interestingly, Angola is one of the poorest countries in the world. But on the Mercer, Luanda is the most expensive city in the world. Very, very curious contrast. But it's a contrast that by and large, in a way, determines the face of the city-- the almost schizophrenic face of the city. So we first went into the poor half. Sorry. [laughter] And then we continued our trip. Our trip to the supposed large ghost town in the middle of Angola. Here we were on the edge. And there we visited, in a way, the headquarters of the group that was structured around the former arms dealer, who had a project management consultancy, who had brokered the deal with the Chinese. And we were given a royal welcome. We were met by three employees. [laughter] Two men from Israel, and an Angolan guy who was called Israel. I mean, I-- [laughter] I struggle to this day, what that means. Very big meeting with the Angolan and Chinese flag on the table, where we could ask anything, where they had-- I have to say-- very plausible answer. I mean, clearly, every painful question had been asked at least one time before we showed up, so. It was a big charm offensive. They spent a full day with us. They showed us the city, which meanwhile, indeed, was inhabited. They also educated us. So this curious detail, when you zoom out, is actually simply there to hold the air conditioner unit, and the real balcony is there, and actually quite generous. So that shows the bias not just of the media, but, I guess, also of us. Anyway, the visit to the mayor of the city. His assistant, and the group Israeli. Goodbye. And then we continued our journey to the headquarters of CITIC, which is the Chinese investment trust that is responsible for nearly all of the cities in Angola. A hall with a giant model of the city, also announcing further phases to the city. That was the same model around which, essentially, the Angolan-Chinese partnership was agreed. I wonder whether who laughs and who doesn't is, in a way, indicative of the story to some point. Also where essentially the deal was signed. Within the background the arms trader, the French-- And essentially that model, as I said, announcing further construction activity. A very confident thing. In the middle of it, a new convention center personally selected by the previous President. A sort of parametric semiology in the context of or rather mundane housing. So that's what we saw. And, in a way, what was supposed to have been an encounter with a failure, was actually a rather convincing story. But we had more days. So this is day 2. Another town, a little bit further away. The town of Zango. Actually, another [inaudible] builds. These buildings are completely empty. This is the people on $2 a day. They were supposed to have become middle class, live there. This is empty. Shantytowns are appearing at the foot. And empty street buildings, meanwhile, disconnected from water, and standing there like huge, empty carcasses. This is still relatively central, and then there are suburbs to the suburb. This a location further away. Decent looking stuff standing there, but also completely empty. Almost like a beautiful Dechirico painting, but built for real. There. There. And another one further away. An endless city. So again, completely empty, pristine buildings. Very recently finished. Empty interiors. What do I do to make the video run? Ah. OK. [CRICKETS CHIRPING AND WIND BLOWING] The wind and the crickets. Anyway, the empty street. And the same thing further out-- an empty street to a suburban development. Luxury housing. Another luxury resort by the sea. Also completely uninhabited, but this one is sold. Another development. This time not in Africa, but in Lebanon. And I've used this example to, in a way, show that we can think about this stuff as very far away-- very far removed from our profession. Stuff we wouldn't get our hands in. But this is Herzog & de Meuron with the building The Terraces in Beirut. It's very interesting. This is two buildings of the same size. Both are of white concrete. Both have 90 degree corners. Both are modern. The emptiness in this building is a trauma. It's a hotel that was fought over room by room, never inhabited, and left like a scar in the city. This building is the same size. It's also empty, but the emptiness is completely not a problem, because all the apartments have been sold at record prices in Beirut meanwhile booming real estate market. And I guess you could say stylistically there is a resonance. Nevertheless, if you see, one is a symptom of the 20th, and the other one of the modernism of the 21st century. An acute difference presents itself. A difference of a completely different role of modernism in the economic system. That building is celebrated very, very loudly in the real estate press, but at the same time in the daily newspapers of Beirut, the building is vilified, and actually named and shamed. And for me-- and that is the core of where I wanted to get to-- it illustrates a difference between the two centuries. The century that started with, in a way, modern architecture as a promise of liberation, only to end up physically triumphant-- build everywhere. But this is something taken off a Greek real estate website, that shows how many tax breaks you can get when you leave the structure unfinished. And it's almost a live version of the domino house, where the physical triumph somehow equals the ideological bankruptcy. And this is the point, I think, where the virtues become sins-- where the house that at one point was meant to be available to all, stands empty in a remote suburb. And it's perhaps a reason to write a sequel to the book. Thank you. [applause] Yes. The instructions that we received from our dean was to engage you in discussion about urban design, at which point you said you don't know anything about it, when we talked briefly beforehand, which I am sure is very modest and untrue statement. So I would like to ask you, I'd like to ask a question, which you don't need to answer immediately, but think about. It's a naive question, but it's in the mind of virtually every urban design student in the building, probably for the past 60 years since the program was invented. What's the difference between architecture and urban design? But don't answer that question, because I just want to say something else about what you just showed. But don't answer it immediately. There are different kinds of emptiness. You talked about some of them. I'd like to ask you about what you think about the emptiness of Detroit or Baltimore. Equally empty, but for entirely different reason. Right? Also becoming a 21st century emptiness. So say something about the emptiness that you discover in Detroit, and what the relationship to either the 20th or 21st century might be? Well, I'm not per se interested in the emptiness of Detroit, because it's a little off-topic. I mean, there's plenty examples of ghost towns that were at one point inhabited and thriving, and where people have gone away and now they're empty. The thing that I tried to show-- and that's the bizarre things-- is that all of these things are new, and they were abandoned before they were even populated. Which is a kind of weird form of [inaudible],, I guess you could name it. And I would cite Detroit, in a way, possibly a little bit the same way that I cited the Holiday Inn in Beirut. It's an emptiness which has at least absorbed history-- and the other emptiness defies history. And on the difference between architecture and urbanism, I don't know. For me, it is very strange to see how much of these Chinese cities, if you look through the hairs of your eyes, how much they actually look like modern paradigms developed in the early 20th century, which are then constructed. And maybe even constructed with the best intention, whether it's a global economic system that simply doesn't endure the same type of utopianism anymore. That still doesn't answer your question, but-- Well, I'll ask it again, but I don't want to get you off the hook too easily about Detroit. Because, yes, you might say it's an entirely different phenomena in one way. In another way, it is actually not a different phenomena, because both are a product of misplaced affluence in a way. Right? The reason for Detroit emptiness has all kinds of social and political implications, but it's also the capacity to start again and to build anew, rather to invest in the existing. And in that way, it's not quite so different. There's this phenomenon, which I think is shared across the political-cultural context, where we now have the capacity for whatever reason, to simply start over. As opposed to, I suppose, in the good old days-- whenever they were-- several centuries ago, one didn't have that capacity. One had to improve what was there. Yeah. I think starting over is a central element of modernism. And in that sense, you are right, because that's also what they're doing in Angola. I mean, they're starting over in a place where there is nothing. And then they start over, and then there's still nothing. I mean, it's quite interesting. We spoke to a lot of people, and the prime reason for many people not to move is not even the cost of the apartments, but the fact that there is simply nothing there, and that they would then still have to come back to the place where they are currently living to do their job. So the slightly more luxurious apartment would give them the inconvenience of a lengthy commute. And I think you can only start over if you fully start over. And I think a lot of what you see-- and you see this, of course, also in Europe, where we have the phenomena of new towns-- but as long as there are old towns to steal the limelight, the prevalence of the old makes the starting over always a half-hearted attempt. And I think therefore cities where there is absolutely nothing-- so if you don't start over, but you start-- then it has a certain amount of chance. But a lot of the other stuff remains stuck in a kind of half-heartedness. Yeah. And do you want to-- I'm going to get back to the difference between architecture and design, and actually refer to a question to something you said towards the end of your book, which I wonder whether you said ironically or positively. But Diane-- Right? Yeah. Well, I'm going to let you get back to that conversation, because I'm not sure that I'm the person to be involved in that conversation. But I wanted to make a few comments about the really stimulating presentation. I work on the developing world, so the kind of story you're telling is something that I've seen and experienced. I work mostly in Latin America, not Africa, but the question of the building of these big multi-complexes for houses is all over Latin America as well. And many of them are abandoned, but they're partially occupied, and partially abandoned, which creates a whole set of-- This was almost aesthetically acceptable-- the fact that you have these open, empty places. But in Latin America, and outside of Latin American cities, you have those housing complexes which have drugs, and violence, and people occupying who don't own those places, because they've been abandoned by the speculators that lived in them. But I guess I wanted to just say, share a couple of comments, with maybe a question, or just more a clarification. So I liked very much the situating the phenomena in time-- not just architectural time-- but, of course, the political economy of time after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and putting on the table regime type, and the kinds of politics that are behind the contracts for architects around the world, whether it's in China or Africa, et cetera. I think that's really important, and something that we have to think about, and be really critical. Most of the big projects that employ architects are these types of projects that you're mentioning there. So it's something to think about the profession. But I also want to underscore the fact that that historical moment-- that break of the 90s-- is also a moment of economic globalization. So it's not just changing the politics-- the democracy-- the changing number of countries that go from to democratic, and then later to authoritarian. It's also a moment of economic globalization, where real estate development and investment in property is the general driving force of the global economy and many nations. And in fact, in that sense, the question about Detroit is super interesting, because these are related phenomena. The fact that Detroit is abandoned is because we've moved from industrial economies to service and real estate economies-- even though I agree with you Reinier that the consequences of it, and what it means in the city are very different, but they're two ends of the same global capitalist system. So I guess the question then becomes, to me, for all of us, is, is there any role at all for architecture, urban design, or even planning in a problem that really is a manifestation of how money moves around the world, and uses space for exchange value not use value anymore? So those places are not being built from the perspective of what it would be like to live in those places-- they're purely speculative projects. So that's one question. And the second one we can maybe talk about also is, I am super interested in the fact that you guys were in Angola. So the role of the Chinese in Africa is very different. I mean, they're still the larger political economy, but it's more the exporting of the Chinese economy into Africa. So we could ask the question, why do Africans allow Chinese to come in here and build those things? There's probably an exchange of goods. There's probably corruption, but there's also natural resource exchange. There's a large economic transaction, of which that's one small part. But it's happening in Latin America. Not built by the Chinese, but built by US mass producers, domestic developers. So we see the same phenomena in two very different political places, which makes me think that it really is about how capital works on a global scale. So to repeat my question-- What can we do? What is the role of our professions? How much room for maneuver is there if that's really what's driving the building project? [inaudible] I think clearly, if we remain unaware of the role of capital and how capital plays, then there is no role. That's my theory. If we build up an awareness of how things work, there is perhaps hope for some role. But I wouldn't go much further than that. What changes in a building when you make it to be used, or when you make it to be sold? Does anything change? Because the use is still an alibi for the selling, but it's very interesting that what is the underlying motive becomes the ulterior motive, and becomes such a driver that-- Could the whole phenomenon-- And I think that you see that in Dubai. And I think Star architecture is a very big part of that-- that to some extent, the postures of extravagance in which architecture is forced in order to draw the attention to keep creating the sales value, is, I think, a product of the economic system. I think post-modernism, and everything that has happened since, ultimately owes its existence to an economic explanation, and not to a stylistic change within the architectural profession. I think the big change after Fukuyama is not even that the political system dictatorship is anything. It's the fact that the global market opens up, and cities are forced to compete. And cities are forced to compete with each other on a scale that they never competed before. Cities are built with the hope to attract a small group of people that cities all over the world compete for. So what applies to architecture, a form of extravagance applies to cities as well. And that then leads back to the question, I think-- it's also the moment that any traditional distinction between architecture and urbanism becomes extremely problematic, because they are both parts of the same stake. Whereas before you could see urbanism as the planning around a set of predictable parameters, and you had limited time to answer them. And then architecture as the expression of that. Here, they really become part of the same model in a joint pact. I mean, the key word in anything-- If you saw that Eck project show. There's always one word. And we use a lot of words as architects to explain our work, and the word is "wow". That applies to cities, it applies to architecture as well. And I think in that little word, the triumph of the exchange value over the use value is incredibly manifest. I mean, I thought-- stupidly, but I did think it-- that little air conditioning railing was a balcony, and that one of the effects of an architecture which was simply built for exchange value, was that people didn't know how to make balconies anymore, because there were no inhabitants anyway, so why get on a balcony? Something just had to look as a balcony. Which I thought was a super nice story, until, of course, you go there and you find out it's an air conditioning holder. But that doesn't take from the fact that things like that-- take this one step further-- things like that could happen. That at a certain point ingredients of buildings are made to look a certain way to suggest a certain thing, and that there's already the knowledge that they may never be used that way. Of course, it's a relatively young phenomenon, and I don't think we have actually seen the end of that development. The thing here? I'm sorry. You said something about the distinction between architecture and urbanism. Right? And I'm not going to talk about architecture too much, but I do want to say that I think it's important-- what your presentation and some of the work that I'm doing on these types of places in Mexico, suggests to me that it's very important to distinguish between-- it's not just the exchange versus use value, the unit of analysis that you're building for. So is the thing is the physical building, is it the house, or is it the person? So where do people come into this picture? Because this is, of course, a stereotype of what I like to think that what we do in an urban planning program-- urban planning and design-- but in other words, you're building for human life. Right? And sometimes, you want to make sure that in the architecture, that sense of the entire array of activities that create the quotidian urban experience, that's what I call urbanism. And I see think of that as different than architecture. Which isn't to say that architecture doesn't contribute to urbanism, but these are projects where-- And it's not even that you can blame the architect. It was probably a machine, or some mass produced model-- but there is no thought at all about the urban experience. Even the location of them as you said people don't go out there because it has nothing to do with what makes life meaningful. There's no transport. There's no shops. Maybe they have public space-- which is this big empty lot in between the towers-- but there is really no attempt to think about urbanism as creating the conditions of social interaction and meaning. And I think that's what we would like to be able to do, by introducing the kind of discourses of planning, urban design, and architecture together in the same set of-- working together to create those spaces. And the models that we're seeing around the world, do not have that mindset. They're just about the building and its exchange value. Yeah, although the one example that we did find to be inhabited-- I mean, the one ghost city that wasn't a ghost city-- it did have shops, it did have public space, it did have interaction. It seemed a relatively happy place. And it was not that dissimilar from the other ones. It was just inhabited. I was born in an area which was also mass produced, prefabricated, and probably with none of the noble considerations you're listing ever on the mind of the designers. Nevertheless, I remember that as a place with a lot of social interaction, and a warm place as well, even though it was an industrially produced thing. So I think that is a very complex thing. I just think it's a matter of timing. It's interesting, you say, what makes this happen? Why did the Chinese do that in Angola? Because Angola wants to reconstruct. It wants to get a loan off the IMF, or the World Bank. And they say, no, because you are a corrupt country. We won't get our money back. What happens then? Then there is a power in the East, who has to do virtually nothing. It just has to wait until all the discarded, rejected countries by the international financial institutions just line up, come to them. They essentially trade oil for concrete. They even avoid a monetary component to it. They completely loot the financial system. They don't play by the rules. And that's also a very different world from the world of Fukuyama. Yes, it's a global economy, but it's with three or four different sets of rule. And nobody's strong enough to enforce one of these sets as the law for all. So I think what we are very much witnessing is not the end of globalization, but a breakup of globalization in compartments. And the jury is out which will be victorious. Because also in Angola you get a lot of people from the West. And they produce big books-- brochures. They analyze patterns of slums as interestingly humane things, but they do nothing. Essentially, the Chinese build. That stands empty. So it's a very curious mix between, let's say, Western highbrow impotence, and Chinese can-do. And either of them seem extraneous to the place. [laughter] And that there's that gap-- but I'm serious-- it's that gap that I find extremely interesting to explore, and that I also don't explicitly have an answer to. I mean-- sorry, you want to talk about Detroit again? [laughter] I actually think that Detroit is equally fascinating, but I'll move on. But I don't really want to talk about it. But I do appreciate that that is all you want to talk about. I actually want to get back distinctions between architecture and urban design, which is actually an extension of what Diane was starting to say. Again, in an earlier conversation, you said something about, OK, so when you go to Angola right now, what does the architect do? The answer is not an additional building. There's no need for an additional building. Not in the context of this stuff. That's right. OK. So here's a distinction for me between architecture and design. I think that urban design may be less complicit in this phenomenon that you were just describing, because buildings are not our only technique. If you, as an architect, well, you either build that building whether its necessary or not, or I don't know what you'll do. But the possibility of an urban design discipline-- and obviously to the extent that there is an earlier planning and even landscape architecture, which we haven't discussed at all-- is that there are other techniques available which may be a form of resistance to this phenomenon that you're so sure is happening around the globe, but doesn't really, again, encompass the entirety of urbanization around the globe. So is that an actual distinction, in your mind, between the role of the architect versus the role-- let's call it an urbanist-- whether they can call an urban designer a planner, or actually kind of a sociologist-oriented urbanist, or a landscape architect, who actually thinks a heck of a lot more about things than buildings. So is the architectural professional limited in a way-- limiting itself in this era-- because their only technique is to build. Whereas the needs-- whether it's in Angola, or for that matter, in Detroit-- is to produce something other than additional buildings. Perhaps, but, I don't know, the distinction simply doesn't exist to the same degree in my mind. I'm sorry. It's something that I never really think about. Because I do projects on either side of the spectrum. Small buildings, and large buildings, and even projects where we take away buildings as an urbanist. And I regard all of that architecture, and you could call all of it urbanism. But the point of the subject-- and particularly, the point of the subject in an academic context, but also in our profession at large-- is, of course, precisely that. It's to derail the traditional reflex that the solution to any problem is a building. Because that is what architects-- Any client comes in. He may have all sorts of problems, but an architect will always tell you, you need a building. Why do they say that? Well, it's obvious why they say that. And what I find fascinating about this thing is that the evidence that you shouldn't add another building is so abundant, and so in your face, that even the staunchest, stubborn, blinkers-on architect will not remain immune to the devastation that actually building can cause. So I think, in a way, by showing so many buildings and so much architecture, I might have unwittingly made your point. So, thank you. [laughter] You're welcome. So what might that have to do with, say, the way that the next generation of architects-- or planners, for that matter, or urbanists, if they might call themselves such-- how should they be trained? Should there be some adjustment in the way in which we grow up to be architects, or-- Maybe. Maybe not. I think one of the key things-- The solution to any problem begins with a frank acknowledgment that there is a problem. And I think that's almost the stage we are in. I think a lot of architectural education would benefit immensely, if it simply understood more of the context in which it operates, so that it can at least prevent becoming complicit in a number of things, that where it thinks it's doing good, it's actually doing wrong. But beyond that, I guess it's quite OK for the training of an architect is to momentarily pause the reflex to learn how to design buildings, and simply study this stuff for a while, and come what may. We should probably try to engage the audience, too, if there are questions. Which I'm sure there are. But I didn't want to-- Well, I'll just say one more thing about the question about how we should be training our students and ourselves to deal with these problems. And I just-- this is going to be so obvious, but-- I just want to make a plea for thinking about the multiplicity of activities that occur in the site, and at different sites, that create what I call "everyday urbanism", is so much more than just the building, and the techniques of the building. And one of the things, also-- a problem that I'm seeing-- it's the complicity of the government and the developers-- whether it's in Angola or in Latin America, or whatever-- is this idea of the focus on housing. The house. That somehow if you have a house, you're creating the foundation for urbanism. And I take seriously your comment that people can make a place lively even if it's mass produced. So human interaction can overcome the the trauma of a terrible mass-produced design. But I do think that we want to be designing for those places from the get-go. Not making sure that people just have to remake them to correct the errors of the designs that are focused on the building, and don't think about the liveliness of the urban experience. So I think that we have classes that focus on that here, but we could do more to teach our students about the multiplicity of environments that create the experiences of urbanism seen from the perspective of human beings that are going to be in the buildings that we're designing for them. But, I know. Other people want to-- You may not need the answer the question. Yes. So Michael, there was a young man who raised his hand first, and perhaps you can follow. Hi, Reinier. Hi. You mentioned the cities nowadays are competing with each other to attract people, but I was looking at the news about Kilamba, and I saw a lot of titles. It's like, The 10 Coolest Ghost Towns In the World. The Five Ghost Hot Spot. 20 Things You Have To Know Before You Go to Angola. So the phenomenon of problem become a phenomenon of amusement. Yeah. And the empty cities' inability to attract people to live there become the reason to attract international visitors. So how do you think of that paradox? Inasmuch as extravagance is an essential ingredient of competition, of course, extravagance can work in any direction. What you see very much is that in the competing for attention in modern media and in general, it's that almost any extreme becomes newsworthy, whether its good or bad. You get a situation of a kind of Nietzschian beyond good and evil in the face of extreme, in that the extremity defies the value judgment. And that's also where the interesting relation to human use comes in. Because it's a very weird situation where you have criminals in talk shows, because that attracts people. You have the most weird phenomena. Just as long as they're unusual they're extreme, they have some sort of marketing value. And indeed Kilamba was one of those things, too. At least, in the media it's been portrayed as such. Almost to the point that when you find it inhabited-- and that's good-- it becomes a disappointment. And it's a very perverse twist. There's actually an odd relationship back to Detroit, where there's a kind of a-- [laughter] -- There's actually a term-- ruin porn. Right? Yeah. Ruin porn, yeah. Ruin porn. And there's dozens of publications, and, in fact, a tourism little system by which you visit Detroit or Baltimore, to see the decline of American civilization, or whatever. But Michael. Right? Yeah. Well, I want to come back, just for a moment, to the balcony that looks like a balcony, and meant not to be occupied. And you thought you were mistaken, but I wonder if the Herzog & de Meuron Terraces aren't exactly that in this sense. Our students have a-- it's almost like a new, what Beaux-Arts called the [inaudible],, which our students call the trebiated stack. And what that means-- and the Dutch started it, but I wish you would have said, perfected it-- Because this elegantly thin slab, with a highly variable edge that changes as you go up, which solves their problem that they don't always know how to wrap-- It solves the problem of figuring out the facade, because doesn't really have one. It looks great in a study model, and it actually looks great unoccupied. And I'm thinking of the Miami parking lot. It is a fabulous empty building, that occupying it distracts from it. So I wonder if capital has found a new kind of typology that exactly satisfies the unoccupied building. Yeah. Because you don't need lights. You don't need curtains. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah and the inhabitant becomes an intruder. I think that was a highbrow moment of impotence. Yeah-- [laughter] So Reinier, I just want to ask you about Detroit. [laughter] No. Just joking. So it seems, of course, that much of what you're talking about has to do with the rise to hegemony of finance capitalism-- a particular modality of capitalism. And so and then housing within finance capitalism becoming more and more primarily-- or leaning towards it-- operating as a financial instrument. So we could call it-- as I think you have in various ways-- a post-bodily version of housing, or a post-shelter version of housing. And then maybe we could say it's a post-human form of housing. And I'm kind of curious in this thinking of post-humanism is in relation to this phantomness-- and if we think of it as an avatar of post-humanism-- how you might speculate or make connections to other avatars of post-humanism? The data center-- Yeah. Although that is a different thing. Because the role of a data center isn't necessarily a speculative object for finance. It really is a house for machines. And of course there's a long tradition in architecture of building buildings for machines, sometimes very, very beautifully. But the comparison that springs to mind-- At one point, a stash of gold at Fort Knox was the counterbalance of the financial system. Those days are over. But currently, it is the collective real estate property value that acts as a balance to the financial system. But it's about as functional as a pile of gold. So it's like a piggy bank. What was gold was concrete. In that sense, it's becoming manifest to the point that human use almost becomes incidental to the object. I think that's-- yeah. That's precisely. I'm not sure that's a creation entirely of the last 20 years. I think that there are-- not as extensive, but there are examples of this across history. Yeah, I think you're right. I mean the [inaudible] of architecture has functioned as a financial space since the beginning of architecture. But I think Reinier has a point in its increased emphasis, let's say. Yeah. Yeah. And the scale of it has certainly become much more prevalent. There must be-- Right there. Yes. All right. Reinier, when you put up your graphics showing which countries are democracies and markets and all that. I wonder how old that graphic is-- That's outdated by-and-large. OK. But it's indicative of the fact that there are three systems. Well, not even systems. It's indicative of the status of elections. OK. Either you leave them to chance-- which is what a Western democracy is, and you end up with weird presidents sometimes-- or you don't have them, or countries where you have them, and you know the outcome in advance. That is simply all that thing says. And that changes. We would have called turkey a democracy 20 years ago. Not anymore. Hungary, Poland, respectable members of the European Union, are sliding in a similar direction. It's certainly not a static map. In as much as it is wrong, I apologize. But the point of the map is the three-way system and that yellow is on the increase, which I would stand by. Did you have a question about-- Yeah? Well, I noticed that Nigeria is marked as a pseudo-democracy, and I do know that for the first time since their independence in 1960, they had a transition in power where the incumbent actually lost an election, which was a huge deal to them. And so, when I saw that, I think that they would say that they're solidly a democracy now. And the democracy, while it's pretty young, that it's growing from strength to strength. So I just wanted to point that out. That's very helpful. We'll change that in the next iteration. There's probably a level-- There's probably shades of yellow, obviously. If you really wanted to get-- They have shades of blue, too. And shades of red, too. Yes exactly. That's right. Yeah. But if you make too much nuance, you can't hold a lecture. [laughter] Whoever has the mic can speak. I just wanted to pick up on the idea that are these things really differences in kind? Or are they differences in scale, or in degree? Because, for example, street car suburbs in the US sometimes took 30 to 50 years to actually fill in. And on the converse, some of the stories in major news outlets about the Chinese "ghost cities" have had to be retracted or updated because some of them have turned out to be untrue. So I wonder, are these real estate speculations as flimsy as they appear? Or in 50 years will we see that, although some of them are failures, maybe the phenomenon is more rational and predictable than it appears? Well we came across this clearly when we started to study the phenomenon. And we set certain parameters to define yes or no. But anything built in the last 10 years, of which more than 50% stood empty for more than a year, qualifies one way or another to be on this list. Particularly because the pressure on real estate to be inhabited or sold from the get-go is only increasing. I mean things are sold off the drawing. Things are sold off sketches. So in terms of sales pressure, is enormous. Which means that when a building stands empty even for a month after completion, the economic loss that it represents is enormous. And it would be very interesting to make a calculation of the volume of emptiness that we will find globally. Take the amount of money missed out on-- because they are all calculated to hit the ground running, to make money from day one. So the economic loss, or the economic burden of this thing, to assess that per country or perhaps globally, would be a very interesting thing to do. Because yes, they get populated, but when they get populated even a day, or a week too late, the economic costs of that are enormous. May I-- I don't know hardly anything about Angola, but I-- I know nothing about Detroit, so-- [laughter] And I won't ask any more questions about Detroit. But to respond to a point that you made. If you were to visit Washington DC, in around 1825, you would see gigantic wide streets with trees along them, and not a building in sight, except for a capitol building. Actually under fire at some point the 20s, because-- And so the notion that some things get finished after a while, again, it's not simply a product of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Too many things seem to be the product of the Berlin Wall, and I'm not sure I subscribe to quite that condition. But secondly, in China, the race will be between how soon these things will be occupied, versus how quickly they will degrade. Because the construction of these things is fairly shoddy, and the longer they stay uninhabited, the quicker they will begin to decline. It's clear to me most of them will be filled, because the demand is great, and the rise of the middle class continues, at least for a while, in China. But the problem will be if some stay too long, they'll become uninhabitable, as opposed to simply empty. Right. Yes? So we were briefly talking earlier about there's ingredients in urban condition that we should be thinking about more broadly. I find the project to be a unique opportunity to start to qualify the importance of these ingredients, because you have an instance where one of these ghost or phantom cities, ended up being inhabited-- the one that you went there for. Does it have anything that another one does not? Is it a distance from a place? When do people start to find the balance and invest in inhabiting the place? When does it become more optimal to live, and do the commute? Well, it was very important that that thing became a success. So I think after the Chinese made their money, I think there were a number of measurements taken on behalf of the Angolan government, which was, in a way, reduce house prices very, very strongly, set up a mortgage system where I think you can pay off your mortgage in 100 years, which means you get a manageable monthly payment. So they made the adjustment to make the thing affordable for them. And they did that because that was a highly-publicized project and needed to be a success. Whether they can do that for every single one of these developments without bankrupting their country, remains to be seen. This is also a product largely of an accident. In China, there is a middle class based on a gradual steady growth of the economy. This is an economy dependent on oil 100%. They've sold even their fishing rights to the Russians. They're dependent on selling oil. The refined oil is being important in Angola, because they haven't even got the industry to refine their own oil. So it's purely what's in the land that is being-- Which means that the moment the price of oil drops, they are so deeply screwed that a perspective middle class-- a prospective demographic, which would inhabit these things-- simply doesn't exist. The currency is one-on-one correlated to the price of oil. So it secures real estate. And that's, of course, interesting. Because when real estate becomes a prediction, which is my argument that after the Berlin Wall, it has once again maybe become. If real estate is a prediction, and then planning is very, very difficult. And also the notion of a traditional urbanism, which is a very strong planning ethos, because-- It becomes a prediction. And the essence of a prediction is that it can be wrong, and that 50% of the time it is wrong. And then urbanism happens on a vast scale. So it's a gamble with a huge risk. Because when the gamble goes wrong, you get a frightening numbers of these empty things. Yeah. Yes. Please. So, to me, seeing that image of those slums next to these apartment buildings, that just hurts. I see that. I'm like, wow. And to me, I'm very practical. Of course, you want to come up with some sort of a solution to provide a long-term structural solution that this doesn't happen anymore, hopefully-- that we are going to build more for the people instead of for investments. So that requires a lot of thinking in a very deep level. On the other hand, I was just wondering to what extent did the students in the studio project or the office think about solutions-- practical solutions-- but also not only from a top-down perspective, but perhaps from more of a bottom-up community perspective? Do you think about that? What are the leads that you think might be the way to go, to solve this? You sound Dutch. Is that correct? That's very correct. Well, that's not up to me. We are half-way in the studio, and another half is coming. So I think there'll be leads from many directions, but it's early to say. This is, in a way, what I've presented to the-- an enhanced studio brief. And the report of a field trip, which, in a way, makes that studio brief acquire even more scary dimensions. And the whole point is that this thing is meant to unsettle the traditional reflex of an architect, which I think it does. And that's also essentially the whole point of the talk. And leads will follow with time. By the way, it's also, as you said, one of the points of your book-- which I highly recommend, by the way. I will do a little bit of shilling on your behalf, and even ask a question about it. Because I think that you uncover not simply with too much building, but you uncover other dilemmas that are a consequence of either too much or too little power in the hands of the architect. Maybe there will be time for a couple more questions, but let me ask you, one of the things that fascinates young people today is a potential utopia, which is often described as the smart city. Or rather, forgetting the term smart, now, the notion that through research and through data, and through our ability to collect enormous amounts of data, a certain set of new-- not intuitive, but more objective-- ways to understand the world might emerge. You wrote a very skeptical essay about smart cities. It was one of my favorite essays in the whole book. But say something about this. Right? I know I'm throwing you off guard each time, but the the role of the moderator. It's fine. It's fine. I'm thinking which essay. You attended a conference-- Oh, yeah. I object to the term smart city, particularly by people who haven't been occupying themselves with the city for very long. Because whenever they use the term smart city, they imply that everybody else is dumb. That we've been dealing with the dumb cities. That is objectionable. But I think there's a number of things to be said here. It's an initiative on behalf of private companies-- mainly tech giants. The ulterior motive there is invariably to sell more of their technology-- to sell more of their stuff, to sell more of their sensors. And they pose as urbanists. And we've dealt with quite a few of them. And once you scratch the surface, and you're behind the front door, you find out that there is nothing there. Yet there is rhetoric-- almost biblical, evangelical rhetoric-- about the level of redemption they can offer to prevailing crises, that almost echoes the same hubris as the modernists had in the 1930s. And just as they found their Waterloo, I'm sure the smart city people will find their Waterloo. I think it's very important to acknowledge that the technology is agnostic. The internet brings more freedom, but in a different political context, the internet brings more surveillance. And so the whole thing is doubly etched. And I think to talk about the smart city outside a political framework is almost meaningless. Because it is, in the end, the political framework that will decide if those things are useful or not. And it's typically very much an extremely technocratic discussion at the moment, with generally too much optimism. Absolutely. As have been prior utopias, of course. I just want to say quickly, before the next question, that that description of what you think about the smart technology-- these are technology firms masquerading as urbanist-- you could have said it exactly about the presentation you gave tonight. That those builders-- you can do the exact same critique. Slightly different. They're not doing it just with technology. But these are speculators mass-produced builders that are masquerading as urbanists. Well, they bypass architects just as much as the smart city bypasses architects. I mean, that's just very true. I thought you were talking about me for a moment. [laughter] Speaking of the political context, it seems to me that the role of private property structures the entire conversation. And it might even be the answer to the division between an architect and an urban designer, because an architect designs a place that's privately for someone, and an urban designer is at least supposed to-- in principle-- design a space that's for a lot of people. And everything you showed was just obviously-- since it's for an individual's profit-- the only thing that is keeping the people from moving in there is that there's a fence, and that they don't legally own it. So I'm wondering if, as you said, some of our fellow architecture students here need to study that sort of political context, and what your guys' thoughts are on the role of private property in the various problems you're talking about. Yeah. I don't think we have-- [laughter] I've got all night. We want to go for a drink. [laughter] I live here. [laughter] Congratulations. Private property is a very ambiguous thing. And that's why I ask how long do we have. I somehow have an ethical problem with the idea of owning things that you don't use. And I sometimes wonder whether a lot of the conflict, injustice, unfairness, et cetera, in the world, is simply because that is the one ethic that the very many religious books that different parts of the world abide by, chose to neglect. So that's my view on private property. Maybe one or two questions before we-- I actually have one. Oh. We're talking about this new capitalist, empty housing typology, and I was wondering what your thoughts are on the examples of the contrary, where, for example, in Caracas, the Torre de David, which was left half built was actually filled in. And this also happened in a hospital in Buenos Aires. And how this is like a contrasting thing, and is that-- One of the things I-- and don't know whether it's the efficiency of security firms that parade around these things. I mean, they were certainly very efficient when we were there. But I don't know whether it's there-- I'm from Amsterdam, and there we have a massive squatting movement in the 1970s, when there was a vast speculation with real estate. People just building going to rot, they collected rent, and rent, and rent. And it was a big squatting movement, and I simply wonder, why-- in a context like this-- that doesn't happen. Because you could even live in them without the thing being connected to electricity and water. They're still some way inhabitable. And that is maybe even an interesting model. A kind of mass organized squatters' movement, that would simply cut off that type of development by the path. Maybe a final question? If not, I think we should go on with our evenings, or drinks, or work. One place that's never empty, by the way, is Gunn Hall, as you might realize. So I think we should-- Thank you very much for participating. [applause]



The project of counter-hegemonic globalization emerged mainly as a result of neoliberal policies and Structural Adjustment Programs in Latin America in the 1980s. The fundamental base for counter-hegemonic globalization movement has been the long history of labor unions struggle for better work environments and equitable distribution of welfare against the dominating authority. Currently, local and transnational trade unions play majors parts in the counter-hegemonic globalization movement.

For example, the South-based World Social Forum (WSF) was organized as a joint venture between ATTAC and the Brazilian Workers Party to counter the World Economic Forum. It first began with the mission of rescuing classic social democratic agendas of social protection in danger of disappearing under neoliberal globalization and is now the representative organization that supports counter-hegemonic globalization.

A global social movement

Originating from the worker's movement, the counter-hegemonic globalization movement has expanded to various different fields of social movements. Three primary pillars constitute counter-hegemonic globalization: the labor, women's, and environmental movements, respectively.[3] The success of each of these three global social movements depends on being able to complement each other and generate broad alliances among them.

Labor movement

Under the influence of neoliberal globalization, labor was systematically reconstructed into a spot market rather than a social contract between employer and employee. Employment was outsourced and informalized throughout different countries and labor was bought and sold with minimum expectations regarding employment contract. Such security-threatening phenomenon triggered powerful global labor solidarity; various NGOs and activists unified to fight for labor security against abrupt and powerful hegemonies sweeping across the globe.

Teamsters UPS strike

The 1997 UPS strike by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) is recognized as one of the most triumphant moments in the history of counter-hegemonic globalization movements; for it has perfectly demonstrated the nature of counter-hegemonic globalization. The Teamsters Union went on strike against the UPS because UPS was "seen as representing the intrusion of the "American Model" of aggressive anti-union behavior, coupled with the expansion of part-time and temporary jobs with low pay and benefits and the use of subcontracting".

The first victory was in how IBT took advantage of a previously underexploited global organization — The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF). Through ITF, a World Council of UPS union was created. It started a "World Action Day" which mounted 150 jobs actions and demonstrators around the world. This action taken by ITF helped the workers win the strike, and also showed how international organizations, a product of hegemonic globalization, could be successfully used as a tool to fight against hegemonic globalization. The second victory came when numbers of European unions took action in support of US strikers.

Women's movement

Due to this new form of globalization, the transnational women's movement has been brought to the forefront of transnational social movement. Until the emergence of such revolutionary transformation of gender roles came into places, the disadvantages of inequitable allocation of resources derived from neoliberal globalism fell heavily on women. According to Peter Evans, the "structural adjustment" and many of neoliberal strategies for global governance of feminism is embedded in gender bias. Consequently, transnational women's movements now account for many of the leading roles in counter-hegemonic movements.[4]

While the women's movement has been quite like the labor movement, in working with the issue of human rights, it also has more difficulty with the "contradictions of building politics around the universalistic language of rights." Evans points out that feminists have the advantage of universal recognition of "women's rights are human rights," and have been benefiting from globalization in helping and empowering oppressed women across the world. However, he also suggests that feminist movements are still confronted with the challenge of "one size fits all" global feminist agendas implemented by neoliberal globalization. For example, the critics of the 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women argue that international organizations were "perpetuating colonialist power relations under the guise of transnational unity."

However, despite many of the challenges, feminists movement started to recognize the significance of more complex and efficient global agenda with the tide of counter-hegemonic movements. The adoption of CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) by the UN is considered equivalent of the victory in the Kyoto Accord on global warming. In addition, the development of a new organization in places such as India, South Africa, Turkey, and other countries in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America, called the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) has become an intricate part of many cultures and governments.[5][self-published source?] Due to the fact that this organization incorporates informal sector employment, consisting of the least privileged women of the global South, SEWA is considered the leading transnational organization to adopt "feminism without borders" agenda.[6]

Environmental movement

Global environment movements are usually considered the most successful of counter-hegemonic social movements.From environment movement's success, we see many advantageous correlations with the other two movements: labor movements and women's movements. Firstly, Just like the other two movements, political clout for environmental movements depend on the diffusion of universal ideology such as "saving the planet" as of "human rights" and "democracy" for women's movement and labor movement respectively. Secondly, the possibility of using governance structures empowered by hegemonic globalization also applies to the case of environment movement. UN system had been proved extremely valuable and effective in supporting and empowering transnational environmental movement. UN helps to organize international conferences, and to solidify transnational networks.From environment movement, we see counter-hegemonic movements, once again, leveraging the ideas and organizational structures implemented by hegemonic globalization.

However, the obstacles for environment movement still remains. The formidable gap separating the South's "environmentalism of the poor" and the "conservationist" of traditional Northern environmental groups still restrict many possible transnational environmental activities. In addition, building a global organization that can effectively integrate international interest of environment rather than focusing on nations' self-interest still remain as a challenge as well.

Narmada Valley Project

The Narmada Valley Project includes the Sardar Sarovar Dam, one of the most controversial projects in India. The communities of India protested against destroying prime agricultural land, large tracts of forests, rich horticulture, and hilly as well as densely populated habitats through lop-sided development, displacement and disparity growing with the presently imposed growth-centric paradigm of development for dominating corporate.

See also



  1. ^ Evans, Peter (June 2008). "Is an alternative globalization possible?" (PDF). Politics & Society. 36 (2): 271–305. doi:10.1177/0032329208316570.
  2. ^ Evans 2005, p. 665
  3. ^ Evans 2005
  4. ^ Evans 2005, p. 667
  5. ^ Modahl, Sara (2 February 2009). "Counterhegemonic globalization". Masks in Mexico. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  6. ^ Evans 2005, p. 668


  • Balakrishnan, Rajagopal (October 2005). "The role of law in counter-hegemonic globalization and global legal pluralism: Lessons from the Narmada Valley struggle in India". Leiden Journal of International Law. 18 (3): 345–387. doi:10.1017/s0922156505002797.
  • Evans, Peter (2005). "Counterhegemonic globalization: transnational social movements in the contemporary global political economy". In Janoski, Thomas; Alfrod, Robert; Hicks, Alexander; Schwartz, Mildred A. (eds.). The Handbook of Political Sociology: States, Civil Societies, and Globalization. Cambridge University Press. pp. 655–670. ISBN 978-0-521-52620-3.
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