ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Politics of Urban Transformation in Post-War Colombo

Cementing Hegemony

Urban renewal in post-war Colombo is not only transforming the city's physical but also its political landscape. A visual landscape marked by aesthetic enhancement, "world-class" spaces and cleanliness is normalising militarisation, social exclusion, ethno-nationalism and erosion of democracy. The sight of the military rather than the municipality at work is now part of the city's (and the country's) new visual, spatial and political order. Market-friendly militarisation is driving Colombo's development and beautifi cation leading to segregation, rapid financialisation of land, and forced displacement.

Urban renewal in post-war Colombo is not only transforming the city’s physical but also its political landscape. A visual landscape marked by aesthetic enhancement, “world-class” spaces and cleanliness is normalising militarisation, social exclusion, ethno-nationalism and erosion of democracy. The sight of the military rather than the municipality at work is now part of the city’s (and the country’s) new visual, spatial and political order. Market-friendly militarisation is driving Colombo’s development and beautification leading to segregation, rapid financialisation of land, and forced displacement.

Since the end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka in 2009, Colombo, its urbis prima, has witnessed significant changes. The most visible signs include road improvements, flood control measures, development of new parks, the launch of several high-value commercial and residential real-estate developments, and redevelopment of “heritage” spaces including colonial era public buildings. Presiding over this is Gotabhaya Rajapakse, presidential sibling and secretary, Defence and Urban Development – the Urban Development Authority (UDA) was brought under the Ministry of Defence (MoD) shortly after the war.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top