The December issue of Pacific Affairs is a special issue consisting of six articles and an introduction organized around the theme of “Decentralized Governance and Urban Change in Asia.” The special issue introduction, by guest editors Michelle Ann Miller and Timothy Bunnell, sets the scene for the papers that follow by exploring the intersecting dynamics of decentralized governance and urban transformation in Asia. The overall objective is to increase our understanding of the interplay between decentralized governance and a diversity of urban conditions in Asia, including some of the more unpredictable and unintended consequences of this relationship.
In the following article by Mike Douglass entitled “Decentralizing Governance in a Transborder Urban Age: East Asia and the Busan-Fukuoka ‘Common Living Sphere’,” the author demonstrates how cities are using the devolution of political power to link across national borders to create new economic synergies. The initiatives of the governments of Busan, South Korea, and Fukuoka, Japan, to build a “common living sphere” provide a culturally rich, people-centered example of transborder city region formations that contrasts with the corporate industrial cluster model of development.
Looking at the same region, author Yooil Bae, in his “Decentralized Urban Governance and Environmental Collaboration in South Korea: The Case of Hyundai City,” explores how decentralization in South Korea has created a ‘local political arena’ and been transforming governance in that country’s environmental management sector. He looks at how this governance shift in Ulsan, South Korea’s largest industrial city, has led to successful collaborative environmental change by mobilizing local businesses, civic organizations and general citizens who might otherwise not have been interested in the making of an ‘environment-friendly city.’
In “Highway Urbanization and Land Conflicts: The Challenges to Decentralization in India,” author Sai Balakrishnan looks at how twenty-first century urban growth in developing countries is spilling beyond city boundaries into the villages along highways connecting cities. Her article highlights the institutional challenges posed by these contemporary forms of highway urbanization to decentralization. She then points to the new hybrid regional institutions that are emerging in India to manage contentious land consolidation processes at the highway scale.
The following article, by Diya Mehra, is titled “What Has Urban Decentralization Meant? A Case Study of Delhi.” In her paper, Mehra evaluates Delhi’s Bhagidari, or ‘partnership,’ scheme put into place in 2000 to devolve urban neighbourhood management to resident-run community groups. The paper illustrates the myriad reasons why the scheme has come to be perceived as largely ineffective as a form of decentralized governance by its mainly middle class participants.
In “Decentralization as a Mode of Governing the Urban in China: Reforms in Welfare Provisioning and the Rise of Volunteerism,” author Lisa Hoffman considers what a Foucauldian-informed analysis of decentralization offers through a focus on the decentralization of welfare provisioning in urban China. Based on anthropological research in urban China, it examines a new social practice and subject form that has emerged with new ways of caring for those “in need” in the city—volunteerism. By focusing on this resulting social form, the paper argues, we may better understand how decentralization is not a singular process with multiple outcomes, but rather, a complex assemblage of elements that includes technical questions about how to govern as well as normative practices of subject formation.
Finally, in their collaborative effort entitled “Urban Development in a Decentralized Indonesia: Two Success Stories?” authors Michelle Ann Miller, Timothy Bunnell, Nicholas A. Phelps, and John Taylor examine two cities which have been vaunted as success stories of urban governance in decentralized Indonesia. They argue that while it is problematic to cast either Solo (Surakarta) or Surabaya as success stories, it is possible to identify specific policy initiatives that are socially progressive in both cities. Such initiatives and associated urban sites provide grounds for more positive or hopeful assessment of decentralized governance in Indonesia than is to be found in much of the existing academic literature on the subject.
For additional details we invite you to visit our Current Issue Page.
Pacific Affairs is an interdisciplinary journal committed to advancing empirical and conceptual knowledge in the field of Asia Pacific-focussed area studies. We view area studies as combining serious commitment to original research on specific regions and countries in Asia and the Pacific with insights and analytical rigour derived from multiple disciplines and various theoretical perspectives.
Impact Factor Score: 1.077 (5 out of 65 Area Studies journals) – cites in 2012 to articles published in 2010 and 2011.
5-Year Impact Factor Score: 0.939 (11 out of 65 Area Studies journals) – cites in 2012 to articles published from 2007 to 2011
Immediacy Index Score: 0.080 (24 out of 65 Area Studies journals) – cites in 2012 of articles published in 2012
Article Influence® Score: 0.522 (10 out of 65 Area Studies journals)
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Pacific Affairs is a peer-reviewed, independent, and interdisciplinary scholarly journal focussing on important current political, economic and social issues throughout Asia and the Pacific. Each issue contains approximately five new articles and 40-45 book reviews. Published continuously since 1928 under the same name, Pacific Affairs has been located on the beautiful campus of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, since 1961. The journal is committed to providing to the scholarly community and the world at large high quality research on Asia and the Pacific that takes readers beyond the headlines and across multiple disciplines.
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