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spatial aesthetics of the illicit  (jp)

edom/engelien/wood            05.2016 - 01.2017 


'Spatial Aesthetics of the Illicit: Extra-state Urban Actors in Post 3.11 Japan' is a book chapter authored by John Edom, Margrethe Engelien and Hannah Wood for the upcoming publication 'Corrupt Places: The Illicit in the Governance and Development of Cities and Regions' edited by Francesco Chiodelli, Tim Hall and Ray Hudson (Routledge, January 2018).

The volume offers an innovative and multidisciplinary collection of contributions from across the world that recognise the role of illicit actors in processes and institutions of urban and regional governance and development. Explorations include the symbiotic relationship such actors might develop with the state, infiltration into planning systems, trafficing or other activities which deeply influence the economic and spatial trajectories of many regions in recent decades.

Our article builds on research made in Japan during 2015 and explores the specific contexts of Ishinomaki city and neighbouring
Higashimatsushima (Miyagi prefecture) in the aftermath of the 3.11 Tōhoku disaster in order to examine the potential of a catastrophic event to shake-up the very notion of legitimacy in the rebuilding of the urban landscape.

Our point of departure will be how the categories of illicit and legitimate are construed within Japanese society - the organisational foundations of which were laid down during the Meiji restoration and remain centralised in Tokyo. These notions, inseparable from the political, economic and social processes which make and re-make the city we argue create an arena for the functioning of, and need for, the illicit. 

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