The blame game : how colonial legacies in Hong Kong shape street vendor and public space policies
Author(s)Cheng, Andrea Kyna Chiu-wai
How colonial legacies in Hong Kong shape street vendor and public space policies
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
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Hong Kong has seen several social movements emerge since 2003 that have focused on saving quotidian public spaces, such as traditional shopping streets and markets, from redevelopment. This thesis explores how the most important form of public space in Hong Kong, streets and sidewalks, has been shaped by the regulatory framework for street vendors and markets, which in turn bears the imprint of Hong Kong's colonial heritage. I seek to identify contradictions between the ways society currently uses space and the original intent of the regulations, and establish if these can explain current frictions over public space expressed as protests. In turn, I also argue that locating the contradictions helps to identify alternative approaches to mediating conflicting claims on space, which thus far have been analyzed through a "right to the city" perspective. This paper utilizes informal economy analysis and studies of colonial urbanism as additional lenses through which to interpret past policy choices. A case study applies this approach to analyze government responses to the deaths of nine people in fatal fire in a tenement building on Fa Yuen Street, which plays host to a lively street market in Mongkok, a bustling lower--income district in the heart of Hong Kong. Narratives about the causes of the fire assign blame to the street vendors rather than building owners whose renovations left fire escapes blocked and inaccessible. This narrative fits a pattern of associating vendors with public health or safety risks. While this characterization is common world--wide, in Hong Kong it is exacerbated by its colonial legacy of combining laissez--faire governance and paternalism. The dialectic between laissez--faire and paternalism can be recognized as playing a role shaping street vendor policies.
Thesis (M.C.P.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2012.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Cataloged from student submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 118-127).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.