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Moving the mountain and greening the sea: The micropolitics of speculative green urbanism at Forest City, Iskandar Malaysia



Yimin Zhao, Assistant Professor, School of Public Administration and Policy, RUC


Sin Yee Koh, Yimin Zhao, Hyun Bang Shin


Urban Geography


While green urbanism has been discussed extensively in the urban studies literature, less attention has been paid to the micropolitics of its cross-border transplantation. Using the case of Forest City, a mainland Chinese developer-led mega-project in the Iskandar Malaysia, we analyze the different ways green urbanism has been deployed in speculative city-making. The state seeks to position Iskandar Malaysia as greener than its global competitors, while the developer consolidates its brand image and marketing aesthetics with selective “green and smart” techniques, yet at the cost of local residents’ habitat. In moving mountains to green the sea, the logic of speculative urbanization prevails and presides over sustainable and equitable green urbanism. Further attention to the complex local power nexus and the micropolitics of speculative green urbanism contextualizes different stakeholders’ rationales and practices, and contributes to critical reflections on the entanglement of green urbanism and speculative urbanization.

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