Development as Spectacle: Understanding Post-War Urban Development in Colombo, Sri Lanka
The Case of Arcade Independence SquareGeographien Südasiens
This study is looking into the matter of urban development in a post-war setting. Drawing on Guy Debord’s book titled The Society of the Spectacle, it argues that urban governance has become increasingly concerned with transforming the cityscape into a space for consumption tailored to the needs of a post-industrial society. As cities compete for international prominence and business investments, urban planners turn to flagship projects as tools for city branding. In post-war Sri Lanka it is believed that economic progress will remedy grievances and detract from societal issues regarding ethnic segregation, poverty or ethno-nationalism. On the empirical case of Arcade Independence Square, a newly developed high-end shopping mall in Colombo, this study shows how the government aims to draw attention away from such issues by commissioning large-scale infrastructure projects.
Marc Herter has a Master’s degree in Human and Economic Geography from the University of Zurich. He has completed his first research project on post-war urban development in Colombo, Sri Lanka at the Department of Political Geography. He is interested in topics related to political economy, urban development, urban sociology and the interplay between power and architecture.