The state, market and identity politics : a comparative analysis of urban redevelopment in Singapore and Taipei
Singapore and Taipei both have witnessed the re-orientation of urban redevelopment policy in their historical centres since the mid-1980s. The new planning policy has two important aspects. One is the re-invention and re-interpretation of historical and spatial icons, which are often associated with the ideological construction and moral regulation of the nation-state. The other is the state intervention in the production of the built environment, which involves the rejection of an intensive use of land, and the preference of a controlled-growth in historical urban centres. This alternative paradigm does not only encounter the reclaim of the historical built environment once is neglected, but a legacy of the entire economic, social and symbolic systems that are designed for pursuing growth and development. There is a dilemma which concerns the apparent contradiction between the use of land resources to foster economic growth and the necessity to preserve physical structure for political and symbolic purposes. This thesis attempts to explore the interplay of economic interest, political power and national identity in the transformation of Singapore and Taiwan in the post-1980 era, through analysing policies and consequences of the re-invention and re-investment in historical urban centres. This thesis provides a historic perspective of the structural setting in which the complicated relationship between the nation-state, the economy and society is constructed. It identifies a set of causal relations which have created specific conditions shaping the logic of urban policy, the planning regime, the property market and cultural practice in both countries. This thesis also reveals how the internal dynamics and conflicts of these structural and institutional factors, together with the historical and spatial development of the locality, have produced direct or indirect impacts on the policy decision-making process, the formulation of planning strategies, and the implementation of these strategies. At the end, this thesis suggests that the interplay between economic interest, political power and national identity in this planning process, is a meaningful relationship and not just a historical coincidence. By considering this planning process as the outcome of an endless negotiation between these different and conflicting forces, this thesis sheds light on the nature and the transformation of the nation-building process in two different spatial situations and historical contexts.