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SE A ST 1 - (Week 3) Urbanism

SE A ST 1 - (Week 3) Urbanism - 2 Urbanism in Southeast...

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Unformatted text preview: 2. Urbanism in Southeast Asia The discussion of cities in Southeast Asia faces several puzzling facts. As a whole the region is only slowly urbanizing and the overall degree of urbanization is comparatively low. In most countries the major proportion of the labour force is still employed in agricultural production. The societies appear as predominantly rurally oriented ones in which life in an urban environment is rather an exception. In contrast to the impression of Southeast Asian societies as rurally based or oriented are the big cities with several million inhabitants like Jakarta, Manila and Bangkok." The impression that these big cities are alien to genuine Southeast Asian society is strengthened by the multi-ethnic composition of the population, and the fact that all are recently-founded cities, with the exception of Bangkok, founded by a 1 colonial power as a centre for administration and exploitation.” Jakarta, with Manila the oldest of the present capital cities, was founded under the name Batavia by the Dutch. Rangoon, although founded in 1750 by Alaungpaya after a war against the Mon empire of southern Burma under the name "End of Strife", remained a small town until it became the centre of British colonialism in Burma following the second Anglo-Burmese war in 1852. Singapore was founded in 1819 by Raffles, and Manila in 1571 by the Spanish. Bangkok, “The official number of inhabitants given for these cities is usually misleading. Bangkok for example has officially some 6 million inhabitants. This number includes only those who are officially registered in Bangkok and who reside in the area defined as Bangkok Metropolis. In real terms (including the suburbs which officially belong to other provinces and including those living in Bangkok without official registration) the population is estimated to be at least some 8 to 9 million people. I‘°‘0ther cities already existed prior to colonial penetration. Batavia was founded by the Dutch at a former, unimportant Kratong (Palace), and Rangoon was founded in the seventeenth century by Alaungpaya, following the conquest of the Mon Kingdom, below the sacred Swedagon Pagoda with the name "End of Strife". Singapore had already existed for a long time as a settlement of Chinese traders and fishermen. Even Bangkok and Thonburi are not newly founded cities but already had a long history as minor places in the Ayudhya kingdom. The predeCesaors of the colonial capitals and the current primate cities had, however, only a very limited significance. 26 formerly a village at a bend of the Chao Phraya river opposite the harbour town of Thonburi, was founded in 1782 by Rama I as the new capital of Siam. The overall low degree of urbanization combined with the concentration of the urban population in one heterogeneous, metropolitan and international rather than national primate city, together with the fact that these primate cities are young (hardly older than 200 years) and with the exception of Bangkok, founded by colonial powers, reinforces the impression that urbanism is alien to Southeast Asian culture and society. In this regard McGee (1967) argues that "The Southeast Asian city is a mosaic of cultural and racial worlds each invoking the memory of other lands and people" (McGee 1967:240. Similarly, Ginsburg (1976) describes the big cities of Southeast Asia as "essentially alien to the Southeast Asian landscape" (Ginsburg 19763). Due to their early development and founding as "head-links" or "bridgeheads" of the colonial powers, the big cities are multiethnic, multicultural and metropolitan rather than national, with commercial rather than cultural ties between city and hinterland (Ginsburg 1976:3ft). Comparing Malay and Chinese urbanism, the existing cities in Malaysia and partly Indonesia are based on Indian or Islamic concepts of the city as a centre, while in the Malay context the centre is the palace (Kraton) or the central mosque, but not a city. ' All big cities in Southeast Asia strongly display the features of "primate cities". As Chong (1976) shows, all capital cities in Southeast Asia are by far the biggest city in the country”, with a population of several times the population of the second biggest city, they are all the capital city, the major port, location for the headquarters of business and administration, cultural and social centres and prime location for industrial production (Chong 1976:166ff). The urbanization process is concentrated in these primate cities, in which already up to half of the overall urban population resides, and which still have growth rates exceeding the overall growth rate of the urban population. Rapid urbanization centred in one primate city leads to several problems like congestion, pollution, slums etc. So far all attempts of the states and municipal administrations to control and reduce the pressure on the primate city has failed (Kasadra, J ., Parnell, A. M. 1993). "It can be argued also that the overwhelming dominance of the primate city inhibits the growth of lesser cities and that the larger cities will expand more rapidly than the lesser ones. There are in effect only a limited number of services to be performed by cities within a predominantly village and folk society, although it may be industrializing l3Of course, these ideas are developed predominantly by urban intellectuals, and the concept of village society tends to be imaginary and does not reflect reality in the rural areas. slowly, and the g: services. Thus, ev functions tend to b cities" (Ginsburg between modern, v to exist. In the co involution, and the type economy. Laq which between 20 of a folk culture wi‘ urban culture. From these points 6 and Westemization already existed in E of these were of q during that time t "Urbanism in Sour towards independe formation and syst- continuation of thi: natives to an alien é Following Werthei differentiated: the ' urbanization are clo I. The city as a cent In this pattern, the 6 way stations of the within the capital ci and the main templu the sacred world. institutions were or danger was that the to gain independenc were integrated. Thi regularly in Southea "Territorial control of Sack, as control over town of the rather as are untied theast "The 1g the .sburg :o the Jrnent 1e big , with .sburg .es in )f the in) or ities". 1r the ion of )n for :s and zation of the rig the IS like ricipa] failed lming [iii the effect hin a rlizing id the 27 slowly, and the great cities continue to posses a Virtual monopoly of these services. Thus, even as a society changes, new and increasingly complex functions tend to be performed by institutions already established in the primate cities" (Ginsburg 19763). But even in these big primate cities, a dualism between modern, westernized institutions and seemingly rural life-styles seems to exist. In the economy, Armstrong and McGee (1980) speak of an urban involution, and the coexistence of a firm-type modern economy with a bazaar- type economy. Laquian (1972) discusses the slums in the big primate cities (in which between 20 to 50 percent of the urban population lives), as continuation of a folk culture within the city, or as link-ages between rural folk culture and the urban culture. From these points of view urbanism appears as alien, as an effect of colonialism and Westernization. This impression is contradicted by the fact that cities have already existed in Southeast Asia for the last twothousand years, and that some of these were of quite a considerable size, larger even than European cities during that time (Wheatley 1983). Thus we certainly find a tradition of "Urbanism in Southeast Asia". This urban tradition did not, however, lead towards independent "bourgeois" cities, but was closely linked with stater formation and systems of domination. In this regard colonialism was both a continuation of this urban tradition and a break in that the elite shifted from natives to an alien elite. Following Wertheim (1980) two main patterns of state formation can be differentiated: the inland states and the harbour principalities. The forms of urbanization are closely related to these patterns of state formation. 1. The city as a centre for territorial control in the context of the inland states:M In this pattern, the capital city is the centre, surrounded by provincial capitals as way stations of the central authority. The elite is defined through its position within the capital city and legitimated by a cosmology in which the capital city, and the main temple, and/or the palace of the king, articulates the secular with the sacred world. This articulation was essential because the religious institutions were one base for territorial control and administration. The main danger was that the provincial cities utilized their power over smaller territories to gain independence in relation to the system of overall control into which they were integrated. This is indicated by the attempts at secessions which happened regularly in Southeast Asia when the centres showed weakness. This type of city “Territorial control does not mean the control of land. Territory is used here in the sense of Sack, as control over everything (land, people, resources etc.) within a given area. 28 emerged in connection with the formation of the "inland states", states based on peasant production. 2. The city as a centre in trade networks: In this pattern the city, often as independent commercial city or as entrepfit city, was a node of trading routes. Control of trade (regional and long distance trade) through the control of nodes of trading routes, i. e. commercial cities, was the main function of these cities. The weakness derived from either threats from the territorial states or from changes in trading relations. These two pattems did not exist in isolation from each other, but were ' interrelated and connected. Goods for trade and for consumption in the commercial cities were supplied by the territorial states, and the élite of the territorial states needed luxury goods, acquired through long-distance trade, for the expression of their status. An overlapping of both systems existed when the capital of a territorial state was also a node in trading relations, thus providing a resource for power and territorial control, as it was the case of Ayudhya, the former Siamese capital city. If, however, a provincial city was integrated into the trading system, while the centre was not, it gained a resource which allowed an increased independence from the centre, usually leading to a conflict with the centre. Examples of this are the conflicts between Nakorn Sri Thammarat and Ayudhya in Siam, or the conflicts between Pegu and Syriam with the capitals of the Burmese state. These two patterns imply a different focus of development. Territorial control put the main emphasis on the integration of the provinces into one framework, dominated by the élite in the capital city. Interest in trade is limited, as trade could potentially allow the emergence of commercial centres or groups independent of the state and its ruling elite. The history of Burma up to the present is characterized by such an inward orientation, and a continuous conflict with the connnercially oriented cities along the Indian Ocean. Only for a short period during the sixteenth century was the centre of a Burmese state located in the predominantly commercial city of Pegu in southern Burma, which, however. led to severe problems, as ten'itorial control was challenged from upper Burma. For territorial integration the location of the centre in upper Burma was more appropriate. The rise of Rangoon is due to British colonialism. Following independence, again a policy of inward orientation and territorial control was instituted, leading to serious problems with the so-called "ethnic minorities". The states on the peninsula, like Malaysia and Singapore, in contrast, have a history of integration into trading networks rather than the establishment of territorial states. Malaysia was established as a territorial state by colonialism, principalities, which male "nation" ha Initially, th diffusion fi referred to administrati city can be would be in purely as an just applied state format Indianizatio: material con The Develu Urbanfsm at In Southeast can be distin areas, of whi international Angor. Both cities provid provided rice had as centre rituals throng through the tectonic mark the centrality expressed list The inland 8‘: following in concepts. The situation on .‘ and cornmerc (Ava) existed both a trading this gave the l centre, but or 29 which makes the creation of a "national" ideology at present complicated. The "nation" has its "traditional" base in colonialism. Initially, the first cities emerged in connection with state formation based on diffusion from the existing empires and states in China and India, a process referred to as "Indianization". From India the concepts of government and administration of larger regions was adopted, together with the ideas of how a city can be constructed and what has to be built where in the capital cities. It would be misleading though to interpret the rise of the cities and their continuity purely as an effect of intrusion from alien groups. The Indian concepts were not just applied but modified in a specific way. Obviously, the potential for both state formation and urbanization existed in Southeast Asia prior to Indianization. Indianization provided only the concepts and ideas which could be applied to the material conditions existing already. The Development of Urbanism in Southeast Asia Urbanism and State Formation In Southeast Asia two main patterns of urbanism connected to state formation can be distinguished: the commercial cities, predominantly alongside the coastal areas, of which Melaka was the most prOSperous and the most central within the international trading network, and the inland sacred cities of the rulers like Angor. Both were integrated into a division of labour in which the commercial cities provided goods from foreign trade for the elites, and the inland states provided rice and other goods for the commercial cities. While the inland states had as centres of power strong capital cities which were integrated into sacred rituals through which kingship was legitimated, and expressed their centrality through the articulation of heaven, world and underworld by magnificent tectonic marks (namely the chedis and prangs of the main temples and palaces), the centrality of the commercial cities did not need an outer expression, it expressed itself in the success of business. The inland states of mainland Southeast Asia were based on strong capitals, following in their construction Indian and, to a lesser degree, Chinese urban concepts. The capitals of Burma fall into this category. There, similarly to the situation on Java, 3 conflicting interdependence between coastal principalities and commercial centres (Pegu, Syriam), and the upper Burman political centre (Ava) existed. A special case is Ayudhya, the former Siamese capital. It was both a trading city and the capital of a powerful inland state. On the one hand, this gave the strength to Ayudhya and reenforced its position as the indisputable centre, but on the other hand, the conflicts between inland states and harbour principalities, a conflict between distinct states in Java, was a conflict within the 30 elite itself in Ayudhya's history is characterized by shifts between elite factions and policies related to foreign trade.15 . The cities can roughly be differentiated into three main categories: 1. The commercial cities as nodes in trading relations Melaka was for a long time the undisputed centre of international and regional trade in Southeast Asia. First of all, Melaka was a place where traders met and made their deals, and where ships could anchor and be repaired. In these cities cosmology, religion and ideology were less important than commerce. As the population was multiethnic, the cities were necessarily heterogenetie. The stability of trading routes and of commerce was most important for the success of these cities. 2. The sacred cities as centres of inland empires The empires of mainland Southeast Asia depended on definable centres of power. Centrality was defined through kingship, and accordingly, "centre" implied the location of the palace and the king as articulator between heaven and earth. In this concept only one centre could exist. Additional nuclei in the form of provincial capitals were subordinate to the capital, and were defined as way stations of the central power. Ideally, the provincial capitals were to be like planets surrounding the sun. In the cities, cosmology, ideology and religion were closely interwoven with the legitimization of rule. 3. The smaller intermediate cities Besides the nodes of international trade and the sacred centres, there were numerous small cities of local importance. On the one hand, these were nodes of regional and local trading networks, on the other hand the smaller cities were provincial capitals of the inland empires. In both cases these cities were way stations of a central authority, be it as a commercial centre, or the centre of an empire. The main function of these cities was to serve-the centre. Particularly in these smaller cities a combination between trade and provincial control could lead to a challenge of the respective centre. Pegu and Syriam in Burma were a potential and often a real challenge to centralized rule in Burma. In Java, we find an interdependency between the many port cities along the northern coast and the inland States centreed around a Kratong. The relation was uneasy most of the 15After regaining independence, following the first fall of Ayudhya the integration into the trading networks was strongly sponsored. Ayudhya dominated the western and eastern part of the peninsula. Ayudhya's position in the long distance trade is indicated as well by the quarters of the different ethnic groups in the south of the city. A shift took place following the reign of King Narai. In the subsequent period Ayudhya lost its control of the western part of the peninsula and trade meant primarily the junk trade with China. time as the i were the pr Tharmnarat, challenging Accordingly exemplary c centres coex Secondly, a nodality in politically a1 trading netw With the inv the commeru intention of and dominar establishing territorial co' the fortified having a na‘ They could s The inland S relevant for Europeans ft the “Spice is strong militz Instead of or changed fror. territories, th The Colonic. Initially, colc with an adja competing or limited for ' monopolize Southeast As fabric of the in the reahns of large seal Asian societi ll'lS rial nd ies the he ess of H 1nd .rm ray ike we cm s of etc vay :‘ an r in mid re a find and ' the nto tern the the l of 31 time as the inland states were not strong encugh to subjugate the port cities, nor were the port cities able to subjugate the inland states. Pattani, Nakom Sri Thammarat, Korat and Phitsanulok can be cited as examples of provincial cities challenging the central authority in Siam. Accordingly in Southeast Asia we find firstly a figuration of sacred cities as exemplary centres of empires (Ava, Mandalay, Ayudhya later Bangkok). These centres coexisted for most of the time, and shifts were due to military conquest. Secondly, a system of commercial cities in which centrality derived from nodality in trading relations, and thirdly, a system of provincial capitals ' politically and ideologically defined by the sacred centre or their position in the trading network. With the involvement of the Europeans in the Southeast Asian world economy, the commercial cities were the easiest prey. ...
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