Forthcoming Issue

December 2017

Special Section

Integrated Mega-Casinos and Speculative Urbanism in Southeast Asia

Guest Editor Juan Zhang

Introduction: Integrated Mega-Casinos and Speculative Urbanism in Southeast Asia

Juan Zhang, The University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia

Keywords: Casino, gambling, Integrated Resorts, neoliberal urbanism, Southeast Asia, speculation, urban development


In the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, luxurious mega-casino resorts became spectacles of economic growth across diverse destinations in Asia. Built in the form of large-scale Integrated Resorts (IR), the casino and leisure industry has been regarded as hopeful sites of economic rejuvenation even when they remain dubious spaces of moral corruption. Integrated mega-casinos are ambiguous projects of development, driving the speculative processes of place making for accumulation, social control, and global competition. This editorial introduction focuses on three main themes. First, mega-IR projects show the historical and complicated relations between state power and the gambling economy. Second, these projects show different experimentation with speculative urbanism. Third, casino-as-development consolidates the differentiated treatment of citizen subjects and gives legitimacy to the biopolitical governance of citizen practices, claims and urban participation.

The State of Fun? Exclusive Casino Urbanism and Its Biopolitical Borders in Singapore

Juan Zhang, The University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia

Brenda S.A. Yeoh, National University of Singapore, Kent Ridge, Singapore

Keywords: Casino, Fun, Discipline, Urbanism, Biopolitical borders, Singapore


This paper interrogates the exclusionary politics of casino urbanism in Singapore, especially in terms of how this particular brand of urbanism reproduces disciplinary regimes through the uneven consumption of fun and leisure. Singapore’s vision of becoming a world-class “state of fun” is accompanied by increasingly sophisticated measures of boundary making between global leisure citizens and the excluded others, often the working class and those deemed to be at risk or lacking self-control and responsibility. The evolving biopoltical borders coincide with the multiple borders set up around Singapore’s casino space, ensuring the exclusive consumption of Singapore’s casino urbanism by the wealthy few. The fun regimes working through casinos help to normalize social exclusion, moralize disciplinary control, and give legitimacy to the new class of global consumers under the operations of the state-capital apparatus. This paper argues that exclusive casino urbanism has broader social and political implications on issues of equality, accessibility, and urban participation. Chinese Translation of Abstract – 摘要

Gambling on the Future: Casino Enclaves, Development, and Poverty Alleviation in Laos

Kearrin Sims, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia

Keywords: Laos, casino, expulsion, Chinese tourism, special economic zone, Greater Mekong Subregion


Following the extraordinary wealth generation of casinos in Macau and Singapore, governments and non-state actors across Southeast Asia have developed gambling establishments as a means to fast-track economic growth and stimulate national development.  Yet, here and elsewhere, casinos have been heavily criticized for their association with immoral behaviour, problem gambling, corruption and organized crime. In this article I focus on two casinos in northern Laos to address two research questions. First, I consider how casinos have come to exist within the remote border regions of one of Asia’s least developed countries. Here, I discuss vice economies within the Golden Triangle region, multi-actor aspirations to boost transnational connectivity within continental Southeast Asia, strengthening political-economic relationships between Laos and China, and Government of Laos efforts to use foreign investment as a mechanism for increasing governance capacities in borderlands. Following this, I critically analyse how, in what ways, and for whom, casinos have brought development to Laos. Here, I focus specifically on the multifarious effects of casinos on the lives and livelihoods of local communities to argue that casino development has been informed by logics of expulsion and the establishment of new predatory formations. To make this argument, the article draws on four fieldwork visits to each of the casino sites between 2011 and 2015, desk-based research, and interviews with local residents, casino staff and members of the Government of Laos. Chinese Translation of Abstract – 摘要

Review Essay

“We as Peoples have the Right to Exist”: Threatened Nations and Climate Justice

Milla Emilia Vaha, University of Turku, Turku, Finland

CLIMATE JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS. By Tracey Skillington. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. vii, 287 pp. US$129.00, cloth. ISBN 978-1-137-02280-6.

DISAPPEARING ISLAND STATES. By Jenny Grote Stoutenburg. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2015. xvi, 486 pp. (Illustrations.) US$240.00, cloth. ISBN 978-90-04-30300-3.

THREATENED ISLAND NATIONS: Legal Implications of Rising Seas and a Changing Climate. By Michael B. Gerrard, Gregory E. Wannier. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. xix, 639 pp. (Table, illustrations.) US$160.00, paper. ISBN 978-1-107-02576-9.

Keywords: Climate change; climate justice; international law; Small Island States. 


Climate change currently affects several states and their citizens around the globe. As sea-level-rise is threatening to make some states completely uninhabitable, Small Island States serve as examples of states at the greatest risk. This review essay analyses three recent contributions to the literature on climate change and the future of endangered populations. These books offer timely contributions to the thinking about the prospects of not only threatened nations but also about the shape and content of global governance in the era of Anthropocene. The authors of the reviewed work suggest some interesting and novel innovations, particularly for updating the international legislation surrounding climate governance. At the same time, given how unpredictable process climate change is, the imaginaries aiming to tackle future developments should perhaps be even bolder.

More articles to be announced

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