Conference paper | Benevolent evictions and cooperative housing models in post-Ondoy Manila

2019 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers (AAG), 3-8 April, Washington D.C.

This paper is based on my article for the forthcoming first issue of Radical Housing Journal, which will be launched at the 2019 AAG. It is included in the session, “Introducing the Radical Housing Journal: Launch of Issue 1 and Scholar-Activist Work From Forthcoming Issues (Part II)”, organised by Erin McElroy and Michele Lancione, and featuring AbdouMaliq Simone as discussant.

In this paper, I forward the concept of benevolent evictions to describe a new mode of dispossession, whereby expulsions from the urban core to the periphery are facilitated through the deployment of benevolence as a technology of evictions. Drawing on the experience of a community association in Pasig City in Metro Manila, Philippines, I examine how benevolent evictions, as materialized in The People’s Plan, reconfigured community participation and activist contestations. I distil the politics of participation by troubling practices of inclusion in housing affairs and exclusion in flood control matters; and critically assess the implications of non-transgressive co-production models on organizing for housing justice. While democratizing housing solutions did not necessarily result in the democratization of participation, I argue that the contradictions that emerge present radical possibilities for rewriting the politics of participation toward the transformation of slum-state and citizen-state relations.

Conference paper | Benevolent evictions and resiliency revanchism: Protocols of dispossession, social safeguards, and ‘participatory’ housing solutions

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.

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.