Reconfiguring Manila: Displacement, Resettlement, and the Productivity of Urban Divides

Steffen Jensen, Karl Hapal, Salome Quijano

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


As one of the densest cities in the world, Manila suffers from constant population
overflow. Hardly any spot in the urban landscape is unpopulated. Successive governments argue that the population overflow has crippled or arrested the potential of Metro Manila. In response, governments have resorted to resettlement, displacing urban poor populations and emplacing them often in far-flung and desolate sites. While the justifications for resettlement projects have gradually changed in the past half-century, we argue that its practice constitutes certain continuities—the conscious and constant attempt to establish and maintain urban divides around binary notions of order/disorder, purity/danger, and wealth/poverty. While resettlement projects often fail to produce the desired outcomes, they still have effects. In the paper, we hone in on different scales of effects, namely the transformation of progressive politics; reconfigured class relations in Manila as well as in the resettlement sites; and the transformation of spatial-temporal configurations and modes of belonging.
Original languageEnglish
JournalUrban Forum
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)389-407
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • urban violence
  • human rights
  • Resettlement
  • Metro Manila
  • Urban poor
  • Urban divides
  • Displacement

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