Christian Obermayr

Cities – Urbanization – Governance – Global South – Housing – Policies – Slums – Informality – Indonesia

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Call – DAAD Summer School for PhD students ‘Urban Transformations to Sustainability in South and Southeast Asia’

  • Date: 17th to 26th of September 2018, University of Cologne/Germany
  • Application: until 31th of March 2018
  • Target Group: PhD and Master Students
  • Funding: available… travel allowance and accomodation

The summer school is steered by Prof. Dr. Frauke Kraas, Dr. Birte Rafflenbeul, Dr. Carsten Butsch, Dr. Mareike Kroll (all four: Institute of Geography, University of Cologne, Germany; and PD Dr. Tabea Bork-Hueffer (Institute of Geography, Innsbruck University, Austria; It is financed by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Focus of the summer school
The summer school targets at facilitating exchange of scientific and methodical knowledge on urban transformation processes (For an overview see e.g. WBGU – German Advisory Council on Global Change (2016): Humanity on the move: Unlocking the transformative power of cities. WBGU: Berlin. Online available: and assemblages in South and Southeast Asia. The social, environmental, economic and political consequences of rapid urban growth in the region are tremendous and often challenge existing governance systems. However, positive and integrative steering of current and future growth will be crucial for urban development, especially in order to achieve the goals of the New Urban Agenda and the SDGs. During the summer school, these global transformation processes and their dynamics as well as theoretical approaches for their understanding will be introduced and possible solutions discussed.

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Participatory Resettlements in Surakarta, Indonesia – Changing Livelihoods for the Better or the Worse?

I am proud to present our new publication in the TRIALOG, a Journal for Planning and Building in a Global Context.

Informal settlements are a key challenge for the growing cities of South-East Asia. In an effort to find efficient instruments of formalization, local governments frequently implement resettlement policies. This was also the case in the Indonesian city Surakarta, where a programme targeting to resettle 1,571 families was realized. Due to its participatory approach this programme has gained international attention and is considered as a role model. In this paper, we analyse the effects of this policy on the livelihoods of the affected residents by developing and applying an ex-post evaluation approach based on the sustainable livelihood framework. The approach was implemented by triangulating qualitative (interviews) and quantitative (mappings and a household survey) methods during field stays in 2011 and 2014, allowing a systematic interpretation. The results show predominantly positive impacts for the affected households, namely improvements in housing quality, access to public services and land tenure. Furthermore, the involved residents were largely satisfied with the implementation of the programme and the possibilities to participate.


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Urban Resilience in Indonesia – publication of results of elective area ‘Development Research’

Urban resilience is a topic of increasing importance in the light of growing urban populations and often high exposure to natural hazards. This is particularly true for cities in developing countries like Indonesia, where a large share of the population is living in areas at risk. These challenges were addressed by ten students of the Master Programme “Global Change – Regional Sustainability”  within the elective area “Development Research” (Institute of Geography, University of Innsbruck). From March 2014 to June 2015 the students evaluated and developed community-based strategies to foster urban resilience in Indonesia, focussing on the case studies of Yogyakarta and Surakarta. Primary data was collected during a field visit in September-October 2014, supervised by AGEF-members Kami Höferl, Simone Sandholz and Christian Obermayr, and kindly supported by colleagues from Universitas Gadjah Mada (Yogyakarta) and Universitas Sebelas Maret (Surakarta).

The results of the elective area are now published in book form within the inngeo series and are available here:

Höferl, K. M. und Sandholz, S. (Hrsg.) (2017): Urban Resilience in Indonesia – Assessing and Evaluating Development Strategies in Yogyakarta and Surakarta. Innsbruck: Innsbrucker Studienkreis für Geographie (Inngeo – Innsbrucker Materialien zur Geographie 17). ISBN 978-3-901182-78-5 (Link)


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CfP until 07 Jan 2017 – 50 Years DGA Conference

50 Years DGA – Conference and Call for Papers

The German Association for Asian Studies (DGA) is turning 50 in 2017 and has published an interesting call for papers.

  • Abstract Submission until 2017-01-07
  • Full Paper Submission until 2017-05-02
  • Conference Date: 2017-05-17 in Hamburg
  • Publication Opportunity in Journal “Asien”

There are five panels on the following topics:

  1. Urbanisation
  2. Digitalisation
  3. Climate Change
  4. Social Equity


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The Great Sea Wall – a massive Development Plan to rebuild Jakarta | Süddeutsche Zeitung

Jakarta is known for its problems with annual flood events. Due to the massive extraction of groundwater for the growing number of more than 10 million inhabitants the built-up area is submerging at high rates. In some areas rates of 10 to 20 cm per year are common and more than half of the city is already located below the sea level. And if that was not bad enough, climate change is causing a slowly rising sea-level threatening to swallow the metropolis sooner or later.

The Great Sea Wall (Foto: KuiperCompagnons)

Now, a massive plan was developed to ‘rescue’ the city. By an investment of an estimated 20 billion US$ the city shall be protected by a great sea wall, 22m in height and 32km in length. Forming a Garuda, a mythical bird-like creature which is frequently used as a national symbol in Indonesia, the wall will be complemented by the creation of a new Jakarta: the ‘Waterfront City”. Glittering skyscrapers, expensive apartment blocks, shopping malls, green areas traversed by clean river channels will create a new city, a new Jakarta.

But whose city will that be? Will there be any housing units for the poor? How many kampungs must be evicted? Do Jakarta’s ordinary residents really profit from this project? Or is it only another fancy scheme to raise the profits of Indonesia’s upper class, international planning consultants and large private construction companies?

What is clear though is that this project will devour Indonesia’s resources for the next 25 years. Funds desperately needed for the improvement of the city’s slum settlements, sewage channels, traffic system etc. etc. will be diverted for a new city, a citadel for the rich. Even if the technical aspect of the project is a success increasing Jakarta’s resilience against flooding, the social costs might be too high resulting in a more fragmented and unequal city than before.

See more @Süddeutsche Zeitung (article in German): Architektur – Gewaltige Mauer im Meer soll Jakarta retten

Projektleiter/in für den Standort Manila, Philippinen ab 30.11.2017

Interessantes Stellenangebot der Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung zur Leitung und Umsetzung des Programms “Dialog und Zusammenarbeit zur globalen sozial-ökologischen Transformation für die Umsetzung von Klimagerechtigkeit auf verschiedenen Politikebenen” für den Standort Manila, Philippinen.

Bewerbungsschluss 30.11.2016

Mehr: RLS – Projektleiter/in für den Standort Manila, Philippinen