2022 Housing Studies Association Conference, March 28-April 15, Sheffield and virtual

This paper examines the production of an ethics of dispossession in floodproofing Manila via a critical discourse analysis of documents related to the Metro Manila Flood Management Project (MMFMP), the main driver and primary beneficiary of riparian slum removals. Using “benevolent evictions” (Alvarez, 2019) and “dispossession through delivery” (Levenson, 2018) as analytical anchors, I probe the constitution of an assemblage of devices of dispossession that spans techno-scientific logics, welfarist rhetoric, rights-based concessions, and social safeguards. I contextualise the consolidation of these technologies in the political project of flood management, interpret it as an articulation of the revanchist politics of the resilience agenda, and interrogate how it came to signify contestation by the housing precariat. Charting these developments demonstrates how the housing struggle catalysed by the dispossessive responses to the Ondoy flood disaster assembled a framework for ‘just’ evictions. Technologies of expulsion cohered into an ethics of dispossession that legitimised and facilitated slum clearance in littoral landscapes. Crucially, I argue that the production of these devices and the consequences of their consolidation derive from the housing struggle’s engagement with slum removals as an epistemic starting point rather than as a fulcrum of contention, thereby rendering ‘danger zone’ evictions inevitable. I trace this epistemological position to the principles of the MMFMP, specifically to its slum-free urban environmental imaginary of the ‘resilient’ city. In closing, I propose understanding this ethics of dispossession both as a materialisation of revanchism and an expression of the dis- and re-possessive character of the MMFMP’s housing delivery programme.  


Alvarez, M.K. (2019) Benevolent evictions and cooperative housing models in post-Ondoy Manila, Radical Housing Journal, 1(1), pp. 49-68.

Levenson, Z. (2018) The road to TRAs is paved with good intentions: dispossession through delivery in post-apartheid Cape Town, Urban Studies, 55(14), pp. 3218-3233.