As the references of the world-class city pivot from traditional centers of finance in the West to include an ascendant Asia, cities dependent on foreign investment must modulate their governance to capture these flows of capital and urban development expertise. This article examines how institutions and individuals in Ho Chi Minh City, more commonly known as Saigon, deploy different modes of law and regulation to accommodate a diverse array of foreign capital producing the city. I offer two modes of governance: opacity and transparency. The first mode, opacity, affords government agencies and local developers flexibility to pursue new circuits of East and Southeast Asian foreign investment. These regulatory flexibilities are often framed and read as corruption under what I argue is another mode of urban development, transparency. Transparency is championed by international development institutions like the Asian Development Bank and World Bank that likewise produce urban infrastructure and urban development projects in the city. I argue that these flexible modes of city making are a way for state agencies to speculate on multiple and contradicting visions of the world-class city utilizing techniques of governance, law, and regulation.
Hun Kim; Capturing World-Class Urbanism through Modal Governance in Saigon. positions 1 November 2017; 25 (4): 669–692. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-4188362
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