For an Equitable Indonesian City: Reflections on Planning Practice and Education

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New buildings near Kampung Keputran, Surabaya ©Ashok Das

 

Emergent trends of urbanization, growth, and planning

Globally, most people today are urbanites. Asia’s rapid urbanization in recent decades has lifted millions out of poverty. Of late, economists and economic geographers have extolled the virtues of urbanization, especially of denser cities and smarter agglomerations. On the other hand, poverty itself has become urbanized (i.e. more poor people reside in cities), and in Asian cities inequality has grown faster than poverty has fallen. Much scholarly research attributes this surge in inequality to: the growing influence of neoliberalism on public policy—reducing the state’s role as a provider of essential public goods and services to that of a facilitator of the free market (privatization, crudely put); increased commodification and globalization of land and property markets; and exclusionary urban policies owing to poor understanding of urbanization dynamics or populist pandering. Growing peri-urbanization also indicates urban inequality, and compounds urban governance and management challenges. Thus, scholars of the social sciences, planning and policy studies, and the design arts, such as architecture and landscape architecture, are warier and more critical of rapid urbanization’s deleterious impacts—inter alia, environmental depredation, social and spatial inequity, intolerance, erosion of cultural heritage, and the increased vulnerability of the poor, especially their worsening mobility and access to decent housing and jobs.

The World Bank reckons Indonesia’s economy is fast transforming from rural to urban, and its cities are growing faster (about 4% annually) than elsewhere in Asia (World Bank, 2016). A recent Oxfam study[1] found inequality to be egregious—the four richest Indonesians possess more wealth than the poorest 100 million. By 2025, almost seven out of ten Indonesians will be city dwellers. However, compared to, say, China, India, or Thailand, Indonesia’s increase in economic productivity due to urbanization is the least. Infrastructure and services in Indonesian cities, too, lag behind their peers’; sewerage and sanitation, public transportation, public housing, and drinking water supply are especially inadequate. As urbanization intensifies, it is imperative that Indonesian cities develop equitably and sustainably. To that end, urban policymakers, planners, architects, civil society organizations (CSOs), and citizens will have to work together—closely, deliberatively, and collaboratively.

Democratization and decentralization in developing countries, which Indonesia exemplifies, enhance the potential for participatory urban governance and development. By affirming the city as the locus of urban policymaking and planning, decentralization brings the government closer to citizens, and promises transparency and trust. Transparency and accountability are further enhanced when democracy creates a robust and vigilant civil society. Since the fall of Suharto’s New Order, followed by reformasi in 1998, there has been a burgeoning of Indonesian civil society organizations (CSOs)—non-governmental organizations (NGOs), faith based organizations (FBOs), and community based organizations (CBOs). Appreciating their potential and need to contribute as stakeholders in participatory urban governance, planning, and development is essential. Nonetheless, institutional legacies of Indonesia’s protracted, authoritarian past still impede realizing this potential to the fullest. Improving institutional approaches to urban planning, development, and governance will require overhauling the curricula and methods used to train urban professionals.

 

Equitable urban development, and the case of Surabaya

When big capital begins driving large scale real estate development, unfettered, cities struggle to maintain the stock of affordable housing. As the megalopolis of Jakarta embodies, traditional neighborhoods with affordable housing options get redeveloped and gentrified, and undeveloped land is increasingly used for mega shopping malls, hotels, office complexes, and upscale residential gated communities.

By 2014, Jakarta had over 170 large shopping malls and 4 million sq ft of retail space—among the highest anywhere.[2] It is not just that a disproportionately large proportion of urban space is dedicated to something that does not cater to the poor millions, but most often, especially in the heart of Jakarta, the building of these structures has involved the demolition of kampung—Indonesia’s traditional, mixed use, predominantly mixed income, residential neighborhoods; and the extensive displacement of low income kampung dwellers.

Furthermore, the huge, paved footprints of such development, in a city prone to flooding and experiencing land subsidence, have made flash flooding a regular menace that incurs economic losses to the tune of billions of dollars.[3] Jakarta’s notorious traffic congestion, environmental degradation, and soaring land prices are other undesirable consequences of such development. The sobering fact though is that this pattern of development disproportionately burdens the poor, who are pushed to the fringes or packed into slums, thereby rendering them increasingly vulnerable—economically, physically, and socially. As the pace and pattern of Jakarta-style real estate development have been spreading across Indonesia, social, spatial, and environmental injustices are quickly proliferating and intensifying in secondary cities too.

The perils of urban planning’s inability to temper exploitative tendencies of capital intensive, avaracious development are now telltale even in Surabaya—Indonesia’s second largest city, and widely regarded as progressive. As someone who has been researching Surabaya for over a dozen years, I feel Surabaya has indeed been a pioneer: of in situ slum/urban upgrading; in making upgrading a participatory endeavor; and extending participation to community-driven economic development and environmental management.[4] In 1969, alongside a similar effort in Jakarta, the visionary and innovative Johan Silas[5] guided Surabaya to implement its first, homegrown, post-independence slum upgrading program, the Kampung Improvement Program (KIP), to improve the living conditions of the city’s poorest.

The success of the initial KIPs in Surabaya and Jakarta caught the fancy of multilateral donors like the World Bank, and the national government. Along with their financial support, successive mayors of Surabaya sustained various variants of KIP all through the New Order period, and thereafter. KIPs were successfully scaled up and implemented nationwide, and they were instrumental in significantly alleviating urban poverty.

The KIP concept was translated and adapted across the world, and in Surabaya it effectively shaped an urban form and planning ethos that were distinctively pro-poor. Few cities transformed all their kampung through upgrading or preserved most of them in and around prime locations. Consequently, most of Surabaya’s poor, including low income migrants, are still able to access affordable rental housing, well-serviced and stimulating living environments, and jobs near where they live.

This is especially noteworthy because Indonesia never had a clear national housing policy, and nor did KIPs focus on housing, per se. Instead, KIPs’ focus on upgrading community level infrastructure and services stimulated substantial self-improvement of homes—quintessential incremental development.

Surabaya’s upgrading-focused, kampung-centric planning approach was sustained over the decades by a uniquely close, collaborative relationship that evolved between the city’s planning department and the architecture department and the Laboratorium Perumahan dan Permukiman (LPP), a research center founded and led by Johan Silas, at the Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS), the city’s premier technological university.

The long association of ITS and LPP with KIPs, which steadily increased community participation, and other planning interventions afforded ITS students rare exposure to and appreciation of kampung lifeworlds. Over the decades, hundreds of ITS-trained architects and engineers, and lately planners, deeply influenced by Silas’s philosophy, have served in the city’s planning and other service agencies.

The city’s sustained pro-kampung approach and, therefore, the earned trust of local communities have contributed to maintaining kampung environments, even sans formal guidelines or strict regulations. Surabaya’s beloved and internationally renowned incumbent mayor, Mrs. Trirismaharini or Bu Risma, is Silas’s most famous protégé.

For a decade after decentralization, Surabaya implemented the Comprehensive Kampung Improvement Program (CKIP)—a progressive innovation that afforded kampung communities unprecedented decision-making autonomy, with a primary focus on community-managed microfinance for grassroots economic development. My research indicates that, overall, the microfinance component was unsuccessful—mainly due to weak training of CBOs, poor targeting (which excluded migrants from benefiting), and the absence of NGOs and other CSOs for building the capacity of inexperienced CBOs entrusted with managing microfinance.[6] Nevertheless, CKIP’s move to promote community autonomy in decision-making and local economic development inspired other modest, local programs[7] as well as Indonesia’s national shelter approach prepared for Habitat-III, in the lead-up to the New Urban Agenda (NUA) of 2016—UN-Habitat’s new roadmap for sustainable urban development.

A typical KIP-upgraded kampung in Rungkut, Surabaya ©Ashok Das

 

Noticing the strong uptick in the construction of hotels, malls, office complexes, and apartment blocks in recent years, keen Surabaya observers feel that its kampung may now be facing an existential threat. Many young Surabayans, who grew up in very central kampung but seek to live independently and raise families, are being pushed to the outskirts or surrounding regencies in search of affordable housing.

Also, although there is still ongoing need in many areas, dedicated upgrading programs ended with CKIP. Any upgrading interventions, say, either through the National Community Empowerment Program (PNPM) or local ones like Kampung Unggulan,[8] are sporadic and miniscule. Instead, Bu Risma’s stance on affordable shelter outrightly favors building public rental flats (rusunawa) because the city only has to provide the land, the national government funds the rest.

Yet, the supply of rusunawa has been limited, most new locations are poorly connected, and most squatters and those without Surabaya resident cards (KTP) are ineligible. The exclusion of squatters and poor migrants without KTP is neither new nor typical of the shelter sector. They have usually been shunned by the city’s pro-poor welfare policies, including, for instance, CKIP’s microfinance.

While Surabaya’s early KIPs did not discriminate and later ones mostly ignored squatter settlements, post-decentralization urban poverty alleviation efforts completely shut out squatters and migrants. Although official figures are unavailable, a leader of Paguyuban Warga Strenkali Surabaya (PWSS), the city’s first squatters’ CSO founded in 2002 to resist evictions, estimates about 200,000 squatters living along the city’s rivers and railway tracks, or hidden away behind boundary walls and under flyovers. Despite having gained much prominence, PWSS’s claims for in situ upgrading and recognition gained little more than a tenuous gesture of non-eviction. Most city planners, public officials, as well as policymakers like Risma, and even advisors like Silas and his mentees at LPP/ITS see little merit in assisting squatters and those without KTP, for they are “illegal”. Their claims are enfeebled by the absence of supportive shelter NGOs or strong civil society voices advocating rights for the marginalized. Lately, concerned intellectuals and young professionals have initiated nascent efforts, such as the C2O library and Orange House Studio, to illuminate and initiate open, public discussion on topics of sustainable and inclusive urban development.

If not an irrational prejudice, then this ambivalence toward NGOs among Indonesia’s policymakers, planners, and common citizens, too, smacks of a lingering legacy of the New Order’s suppression of free civil society freedoms—especially, the cooptation, emasculation, and repression of NGOs. Thus, cities’ bedeviling those who live and work informally is pervasive, whereas instances such as Solo’s embrace of informal vendors and rehabilitation of squatters with tenurial rights, during Jokowi’s mayorship, are recent and quite rare. Surabaya has seldom demonstrated such inclusive gestures. For sustainable and equitable development, contemporary wisdom, from research and practice, clearly stresses “including” marginalized groups, and the informal and nonprofit sectors, as stakeholders in urban governance and planning processes. Yet, even after 20 years of democratization and decentralization, why is such inclusivity elusive in Indonesian cities? The answers lie, at least partly, in the training urban planners receive.

Tailoring as informal sector work. ©Ashok Das

 

The role of education and theory for good urban planning and governance

In Indonesia, like in most developing countries, the practice of urban planning continues to be largely technocratic and top-down. Physical and spatial planning approaches, and computerized modeling and forecasting dominate the field. Albeit essential, these techniques are not sufficient.

Since its inception as a distinct profession in the early 20th century, for several decades, this is how planning was practiced even in western countries. The early planners were mostly architects or engineers, followed by systems modelers adept at using data for myriad ends. Little wonder then that post-colonial governments inherited and propagated similar planning systems. The earliest developing country planners were also trained in western universities during this heyday of rational—physical and technical—planning, an institutional legacy that continues.

The social and political upheaval in western Europe and North America during the late 1960s, a time when environmental science was also on the ascendance, also inspired radical introspection and critiques of planning practice and, arguably, saw the emergence of planning theory as a distinct area of intellectual inquiry. The new planning theorists were rallying against several ills of modernistic, deterministic, and almost wholly spatial and technical planning that were rudely apparent: social inequity, political exclusion, and spatial segregation, based on race, ethnicity, gender, and, later, sexuality; environmental degradation; spatial concentration of poverty; and, particularly in the US, the erosion of livable mixed-use neighborhoods, cultural heritage, and vernacular architecture by modernist monotony, urban renewal, mass public housing, and sprawling development fueled by auto-oriented, segregated land use planning. Various concepts, such as incremental planning, advocacy planning, and radical planning were among the early theoretical propositions to remedy the damage from decades of rational, technocratic planning.

In the 1980s, communicative planning[9] quashed and replaced the notion of role of the planner as “expert” with those of “listener” and “facilitator.” For empowering the marginalized, and more efficient and equitable distribution of resources, planning was further transformed by discourses on deepening grassroots democracy, participation (by communities and non-state actors), collective action, and co-production.

SUB musrenbang meeting_city hall

Musrenbang meeting at Surabaya City Hall ©Ashok Das

In recent decades, substantial empirical research on civil society, the third sector, and social capital has generated sophisticated theories to understand and leverage their potential for development. At the same time, neoliberalism and globalization have caused major economic and social restructuring in developed and developing cities. Cities in advanced countries face new political and economic challenges, such as growing intolerance from increased inequality, immigration, and the precariousness of labor. Increased migration into developing country cities due to urbanization, uneven regional development, and climate change are fomenting similar angst in developing country cities.

Responding to these turmoils, western scholars have argued for cities to be more just, inclusive, and equitable by theorizing about environmental, social, and spatial justice. To prepare planners to better manage the complex challenges of evolving cities, with sensitivity and creativity, progressive planning programs’ core planning theory courses now emphasize understanding theories of justice as well as appreciating alternative epistemologies.

Until now most Indonesian planners, who generally serve in government agencies, are trained as architects. Architecture curricula in Indonesia, and elsewhere too, continue to overwhelmingly stress design and graphic communications skills, and, to a lesser degree, structure mechanics and building construction.

Students also learn about histories of architecture and human settlements, and maybe vernacular architecture, where applicable and offered. However, formal exposure to rudimentary social sciences fundamentals of economics, politics, sociology, anthropology, and relevant sub-fields of geography (cultural, economic, etc.), or law and gender studies, and even systematic qualitative and quantitative research methods, is negligible or superficial. Likewise, although architectural design operates within parameters established by planning, the understanding of the histories and basic principles of planning, such as zoning, land use, or economic incentives is near non-existent.

Furthermore, university curricula in Indonesia and other developing countries are usually rigid, packed with core courses. If there exists room for a few electives, rarely are any from another discipline allowed. The aforementioned is true even of ITS’s architecture program—among the country’s topmost. It is uncommon for departments and/or certain faculty, such as ITS under the influence of Johan Silas and some colleagues, to adopt and sustain an enduring mission of exposing students to poor communities, affordable shelter, and low-cost infrastructure innovations—efforts that inculcate an appreciation of some social, cultural, and economic dynamics of the urban poor. Petra Christian University’s architecture department, which is nearly as old as ITS’s, is a case in point. Until just some years ago, when a couple of Petra’s architecture faculty began volunteering in a squatter community with PWSS, the department had seen few academic or research projects about kampung. In fact, few Petra students, who usually are from privileged backgrounds, have ever ventured inside a kampung. This is surprising because kampung have dominated the city’s spatial form, consciousness, culture, and governance, and kampung upgrading is what has brought Surabaya continued international recognition.

Until the early 1990s, the Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB) was almost Indonesia’s only university that offered specific academic concentration in urban planning, and it instituted the first graduate program in urban and regional planning (PWK) in 1982.

In the 1990s, Universitas Diponegoro (UNDIP) in Semarang and Universitas Gaja Madah (UGM) in Yogyakarta were the only other two PWK departments. Decentralization abruptly transformed urban planning and development into core responsibilities of local government, and unleashed an unprecedented, nationwide demand for trained urban planners. PWK departments soon sprouted elsewhere on Java (ITS in 2001, and Universitas Brawijaya in Malang in 2005) and later on other islands too; today, the country has at least 39 PWK departments (the majority in private universities). Of these, the National Higher Education Accreditation Board gives only the three oldest and Brawijaya’s an ‘A’ rating; the top B-rated department is ITS’s.

The curricula of these elite PWK programs are similar. Courses on technical analyses, non-qualitative methods, and studio-based design/planning dominate, far outweighing those about history, theory, and criticism.

Each program has a core course on planning theory, but, counterintuitively, none requires it in the first semester. Critical courses on urban history, politics, social issues or civil society, or the third sector’s role in development are few, especially outside of the top schools. Given how the Indonesian university structure situates and treats planning as an intellectual pursuit, this ought not be surprising.

Aside from ITB’s department, which is under a school of architecture, planning, and policy, almost all other departments of PWK belong to the faculty of engineering. As planning education has evolved, worldwide (including in developing countries), it is now unusual for urban planning departments to be housed in faculties of engineering. Besides their evolutionary kinship to architecture and design schools, contemporary urban planning programs’ increasing affiliation with schools of public policy or social sciences underscores what critical research and advances in planning theory have laid bare—that treating planning as a standardized, positivist, technocratic, or deterministic imperative is fallacious.

The post-decentralization blooming of planning schools in fast urbanizing Indonesia is reassuring. Yet, notwithstanding its quantitative expansion, planning education still begs qualitative infusion and introspection. This is of particular salience in democratized and decentralized locales, where planning’s effectiveness on the ground tends to be not just about resources. It also demands being sensitive to and critical of the histories, constraints, and potentials posed by local institutions—governmental, non-governmental, political, cultural, and social; and being innovative and creative in catalyzing their inclusion as collaborating planning stakeholders to mitigate the perennial debilitations of state and market failures.

Good theory is deemed such for its simplicity and broad applicability. For a profession like planning, which constantly seeks to ameliorate the status quo, effective theorizing clarifies the pathways that led to the present from the past, and illuminates actions and directions toward better futures. Sound planning theory emerges from practice to improve practice. Its empirical underpinnings and exegeses, therefore, are vital for theory’s validation and acceptance.

As someone who has for a while taught planning theory to graduate students from different countries, I see why it is undervalued by students, in general, and why more so in developing countries. Several of the seminal theoretical ideas of planning mentioned earlier emerged from ruminations about and reflections on, say, moments or phases of crises, structural imbalances, and lingering contestations and conflicts in western societies. A few such essential works, and some others, tend to populate the syllabi of the still nascent academic curricula of urban planning in developing countries. The alienness of the contexts or crises discussed in such works (say, impacts of racism on planning outcomes in 1960s’ America, or the disappearance of manufacturing jobs, or urban citizenship rights irrespective of sexual orientation) likely prevents the majority of Indonesian planning students from deeply relating to the issue in question, fully comprehending the wider import of the discourse, or, most lamentably, failing to value their relevance in critically introspecting one’s own society.

Furthermore, for usually appearing dense and abstruse, most theoretical writing distances practitioners. Thus, if forced to read original English versions in a society where the language’s usage is limited, most students miss nuances or find them esoteric. In a country like Indonesia, for a small academic field like planning, translations of seminal planning theory works are unlikely to be plentiful or published without substantial lag. Only the planning theory syllabi from Indonesia’s top two or three programs may reflect the cutting-edge of planning’s theoretical literature—yet, mostly works by western scholars, not others.

Compared to Indonesian scholars who write about, say, architecture, urbanism, or urban social issues, the published scholarship of their planning peers is largely empirical in nature, hardly critical or theoretical. Internationally visible research on planning and planning related topics about Indonesia that engages somewhat deeply with theoretical frames undergirding extant discourses—i.e. draws from, applies, or critiques them—is mostly produced by scholars from outside Indonesia.

PWK departments and faculty in Indonesia should actively expand the emphases on history, theory, and criticism, for both planning teaching and research. Focused collaborations with practitioners and activists, including NGOs, CBOs, and FBOs; research think tanks; scholars of other social sciences disciplines; and international planning scholars who research Indonesia will help to refine and adapt existing theories to the Indonesian context, as well as germinate new theoretical and critical perspectives with local and broader relevance. Endeavors of this nature, which have emanated from sustained participation among sectors (public, nonprofit, and private), and dispersed widely, have yielded progressive, pro-poor planning and development interventions in, inter alia, Brazil, South Africa, Kenya, India, Bangladesh, Philippines, and Thailand. Examples include innovations or refinements such as participatory budgeting, participatory in situ slum upgrading, land readjustment for upgrading, slum redevelopment using inclusionary zoning and transfer of development rights, community mapping, and community-managed microfinance.

The creation of new PWK programs and their acknowledgement of the ‘core’ role of theory in planning education is welcome. In recent years, the need for planners has multiplied rapidly due to decentralization, but also, for example, from the creation of Indonesia’s new disaster management apparatus.

Disaster management is a growing specialization within planning. Aside from some technical expertise (in the hands of geologists, volcanologists, hydrologists, geospatial analysts, etc.), effective disaster response and risk reduction efforts, especially for routine hazards, like flooding, involve working with communities, private sector actors, and CSOs. These necessarily require soft skills of negotiation, facilitation, and conflict resolution (more than the routinized ‘socialization’ common in Indonesia), which presuppose familiarity with economic, political, historical, social, and cultural tenets. Recruiting staff with requisite knowledge is a challenge for Indonesia’s newly formed local agencies for disaster management; so they often draw personnel from other agencies with little relevant qualifications.[10]

Multiple Indonesian schools’ PWK and disaster management programs now offer joint or dual degrees with western universities.[11] The foreign partner is more likely to provide training in planning history, theory, social sciences concepts, and other non-technical subjects. However, as discussed earlier, it is uncertain how the sudden and condensed initiation into theoretical and social sciences concepts, based mostly on alien settings, impacts how students perceive themselves as future practitioners in Indonesia.

Reacting to the tremendous urban transformations underway in the developing world, scholars of urban studies and planning are exhorting planning practitioners and researchers to treat planning practice in the global South as not just the application of extant ideas, but to acknowledge the value of its diversity for new knowledge creation, to inform more apposite theoretical conceptualizations.[12]

On bridging the clichéd gap between theory and practice in the global South, the editors of a new book, The Routledge Companion to Planning in the Global South, eloquently posit that “…practice benefits from concepts and ideas (and critique) and that theory can more usefully draw on the dynamics of context and ‘place’, rather than placeless abstractions…” and call for “…a much more productive knowledge relation that seeks to theorise from and for practice…” [italicized emphasis by author].[13]

Indonesian planners’ exposure to and understanding of the city, and its failings, have traditionally been shaped by field-based studio courses, observations, and experiential learning. While invaluable for gaining micro-level insights, such learning, in itself, does not sufficiently develop nuanced, critical perspectives that connect to and question larger historical factors and structural forces that imprudently keep urban society inequitable. Observational and experiential learning that is informed by foundational knowledge of apt theoretical frameworks and arguments about urbanization and urban dynamics will lead to institutional planning responses that are effective, for being more sensitive, inclusive, and progressive.

Indonesia’s ongoing urbanization holds strong potential for robust development. Less of that potential will be squandered if planning transcends rational planning, confined by largely physical, spatial, and technological interventions. Espousing a broader range of stakeholders, especially the hitherto marginalized or distanced, to pursue the social and cultural imperatives of planning—equity, diversity, and sensitivity—through more inclusive, collaborative, and deliberative approaches is essential to that end. That, in turn, requires a planning education whose relationship to practice is appropriately theory-based, critical, and reflexive.

 

 

Footnotes:

[1] Gibson, 2017.

[2] Kasdiono, 2014.

[3] http://www.jakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/business/commercial-centers-jakarta-water-billion-rupiah-losses/

[4] Das, 2015b, 2018.

[5] Johan Silas is an architect, planner, urban researcher, and educator, who jointly, with his colleagues, established the first three architecture departments in Surabaya, including the ones housed today at ITS and Petra Christian University. He has been continuously involved in guiding Surabaya’s planning and development for over fifty years, and is still very much active.

[6] Das, 2015a.

[7] For instance, the Rehabilitasi Sosial Daerah Kumuh (RSDK) and Kampung Unggulan.

[8] A city initiative for developing specific enterprises, implemented in 10 kecamatan yet.

[9] Inspired by Jürgen Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action.

[10] Das and Luthfi (2017).

[11] For example, the graduate dual degree program between the Civil Engineering department at the Islamic University of Indonesia (UII) in Yogyakarta, and the Department of Urban Planning at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM).

[12] For instance, see Bhan, Srinivas and Watson (2018); Miraftab and Kudva (2015); Robinson and Roy (2015).

[13] Bhan et al. (2015, p.15).

 

 

References

Bhan, Gautam, Smita Srinivas, and Vanessa Watson, eds. 2018. The Routledge Companion to Planning in the Global South. Routledge Companions. London ; New York, NY: Routledge.

Das, Ashok. 2015a. “Slum Upgrading with Community-Managed Microfinance: Towards Progressive Planning in Indonesia.” Habitat International 47 (June): 256–66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.habitatint.2015.01.004.

Das, Ashok. 2015b. “Autonomous but Constrained: CBOs and Urban Upgrading in Indonesia.” Cities 48 (November): 8–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2015.05.009.

Das, Ashok. 2018. “Is Innovative Also Effective? A Critique of Pro-Poor Shelter in South-East Asia.” International Journal of Housing Policy 18 (2): 233–65. https://doi.org/10.1080/14616718.2016.1248606.

Das, Ashok, and Asrizal Luthfi. 2017. “Disaster Risk Reduction in Post-Decentralisation Indonesia: Institutional Arrangements and Changes.” In Disaster Risk Reduction in Indonesia, edited by Riyanti Djalante, Matthias Garschagen, Frank Thomalla, and Rajib Shaw, 85–125. Disaster Risk Reduction. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-54466-3_4.

Gibson, Luke. 2017. “Towards a More Equal Indonesia: How the Government Can Take Action to Close the Gap between the Richest and the Rest.” Briefing paper. Oxford, UK: Oxfam GB. https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/bp-towards-more-equal-indonesia-230217-en_0.pdf.

Kasdiono, Eddy. 2014. “Jakarta, a City with Many Shopping Centers.” The Jakarta Post, October 31, 2014. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2014/10/31/jakarta-a-city-with-many-shopping-centers.html.

Miraftab, Faranak, and Neema Kudva. 2015. Cities of the Global South Reader. http://www.tandfebooks.com/isbn/9781315758640.

Robinson, Jennifer, and Ananya Roy. 2015. “Global Urbanisms and the Nature of Urban Theory.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, December, n/a-n/a. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2427.12272.

Ashok Das
Trained as an urban planner and an architect, Ashok Das received his Ph.D. in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); M.Arch. and M.A. (in Environmental Planning & Management) from Kansas State University; and B. Arch. from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. Prior to coming to University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Honolulu (UHM), he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, San Francisco State University. He has worked as an architecture and planning consultant in the United States and India.
Broadly, Ashok’s research explores institutional challenges to and innovations in ameliorating urban poverty in developing countries; for over a dozen years his research has focused on Indonesia. Community participation and empowerment, slum upgrading, decentralization and local governance, and the role of civil society in fostering equitable development and inclusive urbanization are among his key interests. His recent work has focused on community-managed integrated microfinance for urban poverty alleviation, disaster risk reduction, and pro-poor shelter policies. He has offered expert advice to nonprofit international development/research agencies, such as the Ford Foundation and the World Resources Institute.