2018 Philippine Studies Conference in Japan (PSCJ), 17-18 November, Hiroshima University, Higashi-Hiroshima City, Japan
This paper is part of the session, “Philippine Urbanisation Post-EDSA and Beyond”, organised by Arnisson Andre Ortega (University of Glasgow).
This paper forwards the concept of benevolent evictions to describe a new mode of dispossession whereby expulsions from the urban core to the peri-urban fringe are facilitated through the deployment of benevolence in the form of developmentalist and humanitarian rationales (climate change and ‘resilience’), welfarist rhetoric (‘saving lives’), liberal concessions (rights and entitlements), and social safeguards (eviction protocols). It proposes this term as an analytical category for understanding the expulsion of territorially stigmatized geographies of urban marginality in the name of safety and resilience. Using Pasig City, one of the sixteen cities comprising Metro Manila, as a case study of ‘vulnerable’ and ‘at-risk’ Southern cities, this paper argues that as a technology of ‘danger zone’ evictions, a technique of disaster governance, and the unique language of a new genre of urban dispossession, benevolence is instrumental in the systematic eviction of large swathes of undesirable and ungovernable populations, particularly informal settler families (ISF) in ‘danger zones’. Drawing on a critical discourse analysis of policy documents and in-depth key informant interviews, I synthesize how the discourse of eviction as ‘saving lives’ was produced. I then examine how rights and entitlements were used as liberal concessions, and how social safeguards were mobilized to produce an ethics of eviction that legitimized and facilitated the expulsion of undesired bodies and landscapes. Lastly, I consider how these practices reconfigured community housing struggles, particularly by troubling the contradictions of popular participation in democratizing eviction and resettlement, and reflecting on their implications for radical housing politics.