CFP | Speculative Climate Urbanism and the Sea: The Inequalities of Building and Living on Water in Southeast Asia

Valerie Yeo Announcement
Subject Fields
Area Studies, Environmental History / Studies, Geography, Urban Design and Planning, Urban History / Studies


Speculative Climate Urbanism and the Sea: The Inequalities of Building and Living on Water in Southeast Asia
23-24 October 2023 | National University of Singapore

This workshop aims to explore the various dimensions of land reclamation projects in Southeast Asia in relation to speculative climate urbanism, with a particular focus on inequality.

In recent years, many cities have started pivoting to carbon management and investments in climate-resilient infrastructures to deal with the urgency of climate emergencies. At the same time, the United Nations have also started prioritising climate financing, which benefits from the more quantifiable nature of carbon management and investments. The shift from the three sustainability pillars (social, economy, environment) as guiding principles, to these more quantifiable measures has however left climate urbanism prone to be captured by neoliberal planning (Long & Rice, 2019). Neoliberal tendencies to prioritise growth, coupled with quantifiable climate-proofing measures and climate financing, have paved the path for more speculative urbanisms, where the process of urbanization is mostly driven by real estate capital flows (Goldman, 2011). At the intersection of climate and speculative urbanisms lie coastal land reclamation – at once a legitimate method of climate adaptation while at the same time a lucrative land-banking exercise for real estate accumulation. Existing inequalities are further deepened as interventions favour the securitization of the privileged, at the expense of the marginalised (Garcia-Lamarca et al., 2021). Specifically, this workshop focuses on the following questions:

  • How and what reclamation projects are being carried out in the region? At what scale are they happening? Who and what are the drivers behind reclaiming land and advancing societies seaward? Is there a limit to land reclamation?
  • How are these projects mapped onto sustainability frameworks and concepts such as green growth and resilience? What is sustainable or resilient about these projects, and who benefits the most from these constructs? To what extent is future risk, whether climate change or disasters, being invoked in reclaiming land?
  • How do people identify with reclaimed land? What are the social, economic, and cultural implications of these projects? Who gets to have access to its purported benefits and who are excluded from it? Are issues of inequality, inequity, and injustice amplified or attenuated by land reclamation and how are these manifested?
  • What kinds of urban futures are projected in these visions, and to what extent are the local contexts taken into consideration?

The workshop invites emerging scholars with cutting-edge empirical material about reclamation in Southeast Asia and whose work is able to speak to a wider theoretical literature, particularly bridging different disciplines together, are encouraged to submit draft papers. The workshop will provide the opportunity to engage with invited experts to discuss the different dimensions of reclamation. Accepted exceptional papers from emerging scholars working on Southeast Asia, defined as those who are in their last year of their PhD program and up to 5 years removed from obtaining the doctorate degree, are eligible for accommodation and partial subsidies to airfare.


Paper proposals should include a title, an abstract (300 words maximum), and a brief personal biography of 150 words for submission by 1 June 2023. Please also include a statement confirming that your paper has not been published or committed elsewhere, and that you are willing to revise your paper for potential inclusion in an edited journal publication (in collaboration with the workshop organizers and other participants).

Please submit your proposal to Successful applicants will be notified by mid-July. Panel presenters will be required to submit drafts of papers (4,000-6,000) words by 1 October 2023. These drafts will be circulated to fellow panelists and discussants in advance. Drafts need not be fully polished. Indeed, we expect that presenters will be open to feedback from fellow participants.

The event will be held in person at the National University of Singapore. The Asia Research Institute would be able to provide overseas participants with full or partial airfare as well as three nights of accommodation. Please indicate in the proposal form if you require funding support.


Dr Nurul Azreen Azlan | Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
Dr Ven Paolo B. Valenzuela | Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

Contact Information

Valerie Yeo
Asia Research Institute
National University of Singapore

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