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The Production of Urban Space in Vientiane: From Colonial to Neoliberal Times (1893-2020)

DOI: 10.4236/oalib.1106696, PP. 1-18

Subject Areas: Sociology

Keywords: Urban Space, Political Economy, Neoliberalism, Vientiane

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Urban space in Vientiane has been produced and reproduced by different driving forces. Although this space has been examined extensively in academic literature, very few scholars have studied these production processes. The objective of this paper is therefore to: 1) investigate the history of the urban planning and development from the French colonial to the neoliberal periods; 2) analyze vision, policy and the major driving forces in the urban development; and 3) examine the main actors in the implementation of the urban development vision, including an analysis of who benefits from this process. The study uses qualitative and documentary research methodologies, to interview key informants. The result finds that the city has been restructured many times. The urban development vision has been adjusted to global development trends. Neoliberal policy has been applied as the major driving forces in urban development. Many urban projects use private investment and joint ventures between state and private enterprises, and between domestic and foreign companies. Property developers from China and Laos are the main actors in these projects. The projects cause some state agencies and communities are moved to resettle in the outskirts. The movement has both voluntary and involuntary patterns. Involuntary resettlement and its impact have been compensated by the private project developers. Beneficiaries from this process can be summarized as follows: 1) Direct beneficiaries include the state, capitalists and upper-class households; and 2) Local people, especially middle- and lower-classes have benefited indirectly from improved infrastructure services. However, private companies have monopolized their economic interests on public land based on frameworks of concession contracts.

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Keobountham, S. (2020). The Production of Urban Space in Vientiane: From Colonial to Neoliberal Times (1893-2020). Open Access Library Journal, 7, e6696. doi:


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