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The politics of the possible: Making urban life in Phnom Penh

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Phnom Penh, ‘re-entering’ urban history as it did just some three decades ago becomes an important arena in which to focus on the intensifying contestation of rights, practices and development trajectories related to city making. Far from being comprehensively marginalized by emerging urban economies, residents with limited economic means, through their configurations of space, social relations and infrastructure continuously attempt to construct the conditions that enable the city to act as a flexible resource for the viable organization of their everyday lives. These issues are taken up in an analysis of some of the ways in which residents of a large low income housing tract, popularly dubbed ‘Building’, in the Bassac River neighbourhood collaborate to maximize their access to resources and opportunity.

Keywords: Asian urbanization; city development; livelihood formation; political practice; spatial organization; urban culture

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2008


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