The Right to the City: Indigenous Settlers in Taipei, Taiwan

Colloquium | April 3 | 4-6 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Jin-Yung Wu, Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley, National Taiwan University

 You-tien Hsing, Professor, Department of Geography, UC Berkeley

 Center for Chinese Studies (CCS), Center of Global Metropolitan Studies

In this talk Jin-Yung Wu will review a 12 years-long project that has transformed an illegal squatter settlement built by indigenous Amis people from east coast Taiwan into a legal and permanent housing complex in the metropolitan center of Taipei where the housing price had skyrocketed beyond the reach of most young urban middle class in the last two decades. Wearing the hats of urban activist, community planner, and social researcher, the team observed the strategies that the indigenous settlers adopted to weather the floods that regularly destroyed their homes built on the flood plain. They also worked with the tribe and facilitated the negotiation between the tribe and the city government that had attempted to demolish the illegal homes and relocate the settlers. After years of struggle, the well-organized tribal community succeeded in winning their right to live in the city legally, and found financial supports to build permanent housing on the same site, only at a higher attitude above the annual flooding zone. The team then initiated a lengthy, yet most inspiring process of participatory design to work with the tribe collectively and with individual families to design and build their homes. Given the fact that most of the settlers worked as construction workers in the city, they were hired at a fair pay by the project. Now, as the project is close to completion, and the families are getting ready to move into the houses they designed and built, Wu will reflect on the lessons they have learned from this unusually successful fight for the right to the city.