DOI: 10.1177/00420980231211814 ISSN: 0042-0980

Analysing a private city being built from scratch through a social and environmental justice framework: A research agenda

Sarah Moser, Nufar Avni
  • Urban Studies
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)

A growing body of scholarship examines new cities being built from scratch that are developed and governed by the private sector. While this scholarship explores discourse and rhetoric, economic objectives, and some social and environmental impacts of new private cities, scholars to date have not taken a social or environmental justice approach to analysing new city projects. In this article we examine Forest City, a private city project being built on artificial islands off the coast of Malaysia by one of China’s largest property development companies, and its unique governance and claims to being ‘eco’, despite the significant environmental damage it has caused. Intended as a lush and exclusive gated enclave for Chinese nationals, Forest City is a productive case study through which to consider the consequences of a private city using the frameworks of social and environmental justice. We suggest more critical research that engages with social and environmental justice is needed on the many emerging projects branded as eco-cities of the future, a troubling claim that signals a growing normalisation of mega-scale privatisation and loose or absent regulations regarding social inclusivity and environmental protection.

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