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Fire, Arson and Control of Urban Space in Contemporary Jakarta

Abstract : Fires are part of everyday city life in Jakarta. Striking on an average of almost three times a day (700 to 900 fires a year), it is in the poorer, densely populated neighbourhoods that fires take the largest scale. They raise the question of poor infrastructures, ranging from dangerous electricity connections, the use of wooden materials in houses, to the lack of access for fire fighters. Embedded in the realms of order and disorder, fire is thus a reflection of urban structure and policy. In Jakarta, they are often seen as a calamity against which the inhabitants are powerless. But they are also tools for urban planning, evictions, and can thus be seen as the signs of power struggles and conflict between different actors in the control and use of urban space. Focusing on fires in residential districts, this article assesses the role of fire in urban transformation in a major Asian metropolis. From the immediate responses to major fires in residential areas to the transformations of urban space, they are reflections of how the city is dealt with. They involve actors ranging from the government, the inhabitants and less formal intermediaries. This article maps fire and arson in Jakarta, showing the policy implications of the fires, from prevention to city planning and their use as a means of urban transformation. City management thus appears as the result of an equilibrium, not only between official institutions and the population, but also between formal, legal practices and more informal ones.
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Contributor : Jérôme Tadié <>
Submitted on : Monday, February 6, 2017 - 3:41:15 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 3:17:10 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-01453110, version 1



Jérôme Tadié. Fire, Arson and Control of Urban Space in Contemporary Jakarta. TRIALOG, 2006, pp.43-48. ⟨halshs-01453110⟩



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