International Development Planning Review

Geographies of everywhere and nowhere: Place-(un)making in a world city

International Development Planning Review (2008), 30, (3), 227–247.

Abstract

World cities are often distinguished by amenities and attractions which rival the best of what other cities have to offer. The quest to be 'best in the world', however, often militates against cities being 'unique in the world'. Our study of Singapore's waterfront offers a cautionary tale of how a 'geography of everywhere', encapsulating what other cities have to offer, may result in a 'geography of nowhere': an urban environment that looks like anywhere else on earth. A cultural economy approach is introduced as we examine urban transformations resulting from globalisation. In particular, we explain and apply Terkenli's (2002) concepts of 'transworldment', 'enworldment', 'deworldment' and 'unworldment' to explain the tensions between marketing a world city and place-making in Singapore. This will be elaborated over two empirical sections: the Singapore government's ideologies and justification for creating worldly landscapes, and how the private sector has responded in material/spatial forms. The Singapore River is intended to be a showcase of the city's global aspiration, but it is also a site of local culture, history and tradition. However, not all of its heritage has survived in the public and private sector's rush towards worldly transformation.

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Author details

Chang, T.

Huang, Shirlena