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Aihwaong.infoCitizenship Studies,Vol. 11, No. 1, 83–93, February 2007 Please Stay: Pied-a-Terre Subjects in theMegacity AIHWA ONGDepartment of Anthropology, University of California-Berkeley, CA, USA In contrast to the idea of the big city as a denationalized space of human rights, this article proposes an alternate concept of the megacity as a national space that activates “neoliberal”desires for foreign experts, creative know-how, and capital accumulation. In addition, expatriatesadd to and reflect the symbolic values of Asian cities arriving on the global stage. But the limitedcommitments of global professionals, actualized and symbolized by the pied-a-terre, deter andchallenge the deep commitments required by classic citizenship. Is the global nomad a cog ininternational information networks, a figure who expresses the fundamental denationalizedcharacter of capitalism itself? Or is the pied-a-terre the hinge between a global meritocracy and themegacity? The talented expatriate, poised between staying and going, participates in a kind ofdysfunctional marriage with the host city that suspends norms of permanent belonging.
The skylines of Beijing and Shanghai are dominated by soaring skyscrapers that inscribe acalligraphy of global significance. In the midst of Singapore’s dazzling science parks, artdisplays choreograph a dance of the “intellect”. For emerging nations, their key cities aredesigned to be capitals of emerging technologies and diverse cultures that interact in thecreation of material and symbolic values.
There are cyber centers in India, a multimedia corridor in Kuala Lumpur, a digital center in Seoul, media and biomedical towers in Shanghai, and a bio-engineering complex inSingapore. As accumulators and creators of informational assets, the cities endowthemselves with sign values of global emergence. This mix of metropolitan might andmegawatt appeal challenges established thinking about cities and citizenship.
The “mega” in megacity here refers less to the sheer size of the urban population than to the scale of political ambition invested for the urban accumulation of foreign talent andcreative know-how. Leading Asian cities carry the imprint of enormous state investments,and they are increasingly planned as sites for the capture of circulating global values.
These milieus of interdisciplinary cross-fertilization attract mobile managers,professionals, and scientists who can help accelerate the accumulation of material andsymbolic capital. But while nomadic professionals have become crucial to the role andidentity of the megacity, their commitment is delimited in space and time. This position ofbetwixt and between is symbolized by the pied-a-terre in the host city.
Correspondence Address: Aihwa Ong, Professor of Social Cultural Anthropology, Department of Anthropology,Kroeber Hall, University of California–Berkeley, Berkeley, CA. 94720-3710, USA. Email: email@example.com 1362-1025 Print/1469-3593 Online/07/010083-11 q 2007 Taylor & FrancisDOI: 10.1080/13621020601099898 Scholarly discussions of cities tend to downplay the role of the state in shaping the urban territory and field of possibilities for and against citizenship. The tendency has been toconsider the big city as a denationalized space, a site of universal rights for all newcomers.
I propose an alternate concept of the city as a national site that activates neoliberal desiresfor foreign experts whose presence puts into question equality of access to rights andentitlements. As an interstitial space between nation and the world, the megacity becomesa zone of mutating citizenship, as different categories of migrants are differentiatedaccording to the kinds of tangible or intangible assets they bring to the urban economy.
The pied-a-terre is the hinge between a global meritocracy and the megacity. The talentedexpatriate, poised between staying and going, participates in a kind of dysfunctionalmarriage that destabilizes notions of permanent belonging.
A popular view of the city stresses its internationalized role in converting immigrants intocitizens, if not of the country, then of the city itself. Citizenship has been conceptualized interms of resolute oppositions, between top down social engineering and bottom up classstruggles (Turner, 1993), citizens and aliens (Arendt, 1998 ), or social exclusionsand inclusions (Marshall, 1963; Mouffe, 1992; Brysk & Shafir, 2004). Marxian-drivenperspectives on class struggles proceed beyond the factory floor to the space of the city, sothat much attention is given to the laboring poor, migrants, and refugees who struggle forpolitical rights in the metropolitan centers they help build and sustain.
In City and Citizenship, James Holston and Arjun Appadurai seem to speak from the perspective of agrarian societies where the rural populations have not yet been broughtunder the umbrella of formal citizenship. They note that: If the formal refers to membership in the nation-state and the substantive to the arrayof civil, political, socioeconomic, and cultural rights people possess and exercise,much of the turmoil of citizenship derives from the following problem: although intheory full access to rights depends on membership, in practice that whichconstitutes citizenship substantively is often independent of its formal status.
(Holston & Appadurai, 1999, p. 8) There is a gap between the formal promise of citizenship, and the actual experiences ofpeasant masses and laboring classes who have never tasted the rights of nationalcitizenship. Only by arriving at the urban periphery can the rural majority claim theirsubstantive rights to things like public housing, electricity, and clean water.
For Saskia Sassen, the “global city” has become a site for internalizing global norms and practices associated with human rights agencies. She notes that New York City has anensemble of global institutions including the United Nations that can help immigrantsclaim entitlements as citizens of the city. The paradigmatic global city awards its owncitizenship based on universal entitlements. As a global center of finance andcosmopolitan culture, the city enacts a “denationalization” of the nation, producing acity-derived citizenship that is disarticulated from the home country (Sassen, 1998).
Another perspective also focuses on the access of migrant workers to at least someelements of citizenship in the European context. Turkish guest workers, Yasmin Soysal(1994) has observed, can claim limited benefits and civil rights, a claim that amounts to a “partial” or “postnational” citizenship. Finally, in a sweeping claim about a counter-Empire, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (2000, p. 400) identify the city as a strategicplace where the mobile multitude can assemble to demand “global citizenship” fromcapitalism’s Empire.
Such approaches focus on urban conditions of possibility for the performance of liberal ethics, politics, and action.1 The global city is conceptualized as a special political sitewhere all human beings can congregate to realize universal human rights. But the tendencyseems to be to consider the city as a universal, “placeless” site somehow disarticulatedfrom the nation-state in which the city is embedded. There is also the suggestion that thetransition of migrants in the city from non-citizenship to citizenship status is inevitable. Inthis connection, city authorities are presented as oppressive, incompetent, corrupt, orpliant in the face of demands by immigrants, workers, and international rights agencies.
We should note, however, that in these neoliberal times, the political work of the metropolis has also been about creating and sustaining regimes of universalizationassociated less with human rights than with human capital and its formation, collection,and circulation. Jean Baudrillard (2003) observes that the universal itself “has becomeglobalized, and human rights circulate exactly like other global product (oil or capital forexample)”. While the city continues to be a site for claiming rights, it is also a place thatfavors producers of elite economic and symbolic values. For instance, New York City, thehome of the United Nations, has been promoted by Mayor Bloomberg as “a luxuryproduct” where the affluent are squeezing out the middle classes and young professionals,not to mention everyday workers (Scott, 2006). In Asia’s internationalizing cities,desirable residents are less the rich and famous than the educated and talented, both localand foreign. By creating conditions of possibility for the accumulation of human capital,the megacity is also interrupting the rule of citizenship.
I have argued elsewhere that processes of reterritorialization are linked to the creation ofheterogeneous political spaces within a national territory (Ong, 2006a).
In emerging Asian countries, state power has been rescaled in relation to the challenges of global capitalism, resulting in a variegated patterning of zones I call “graduatedsovereignty”. The re-zoning of national territory into political spaces facilitatesarticulation with global capital, and also enables differential governing of groups andpopulations (Ong, 2006a). For instance, while manufacturing zones are focused on thedisciplining of labor, glamorous urban centers cultivate the national elite and enterprisingexpatriates. By attending to political technologies of scaling, we approach the bigmetropolis as first and foremost, a site for inscribing national significance.
We can say that in Asia, megacities are the most important socio-political scale for effecting state power. My use of “megacity” does not stress absolute spatial ordemographic dimensions,2 nor do I view it in terms of its functional role in the globalcapitalist system (Sassen, 1991). Rather, the megacity is conceptualized as a prominent“state-space” (Brenner, 2004) for articulating and regulating global flows of technology,culture, and actors. As the real estate for the meeting of national and foreign talent, themegacity gives expression to a range of desires involved in the production and circulationof values.
A number of observers have noted that desire, not labor, is the key force in contemporary capitalism (for example, Baudrillard, 1983; Deleuze & Guattari, 1983;Jameson, 1992). I consider the megacity a kind of “desiring machine” (Deleuze &Guattari, 1983, p. 31), a territorial machine slicing into global flows, and thus a nexuswhere desires erupt into the production of flows of material and sign values. As a nationalprime estate, the megacity creates a milieu where different desirable forms (technology,capital, knowledge, actors, citizenship) are re-channeled and recombined to realize aconstellation of ever unfolding knowledge and cultural capital. The metropolis is thereforea space for the actualizing of national desire for global values and prestige, as well as thedesire for the elite stranger, as a producer and enabler of these values. The desire to breakinto the universal flows of knowledge and actors induces a mode of urban governmentalitythat is itself inflected by desire.
As Asian cities gear up to be centers of cybernetics, informatics, and genomics, they viewith each other to pull in brainpower from around the world. The mix of advantages forexpatriates is different in each city, but talented foreigners are welcome with prestigiousjobs, housing perks, maids, and conditions for pursuing an international lifestyle. Theirsocial belonging is given form by their occupations in key industries, and also by their useof the city as a second location. Expatriates can be said to enjoy a pied-a-terre status, onethat identifies the spatial and temporal limits of their link to the city. Despite the turnover,the expatriate community keeps the city in the global game. One may say that a megacityis in part defined by the number of mobile professionals and entrepreneurs who make it along-term stop in their international itineraries.
To be recognized as truly global, Asian cities compete with each other to welcome foreign experts or e´migre´s who have been educated abroad. While the cities would like to call skilledforeigners their own people, there is the recognition that most international professionals andbusinesspeople do not become citizens. A range of work and visiting visas ease the entry, workand travel of expatriates. Other professionals are welcomed as short-term visitors (withmultiple passes). All are encouraged to become permanent residents or citizens. For instance,Shanghai, as China’s leading economic powerhouse, has made itself over as a nationalgateway for international managers and corporate employees of big firms such as BritishPetroleum, Ford, or Proctor and Gamble. Five-year work visas allow foreign talents to staylonger and help the city maintain its lead. In the city of 14 million, there are approximately300,000 expatriates, including family members living in villa compounds.3 Singapore has also adjusted its visa scheme to favor globetrotting executives and knowledge workers. An “employment pass” differentiates between four categories ofprofessionals by their earned income. A special pass allows international businessmenmultiple entrees. A “global investor pass” that allows investors to set up new businesses easilyconverts into permanent residence with an investment of one million.4 In addition, Asian citieshave competed to lower tax rates for expatriates. After Hong Kong lowered the income tax forforeign residents, Singapore whittled down the tax further, making the city one of the mostlucrative bases for the already well-paid expatriate. A city-state of four million people, themetropolis has one million expatriates (permanent residents and non-residents).5 It is important to note that Singapore is a city-state, and that it sees itself as more than a commercial or financial center. The state plays a major role in providing capital to build a “world-class city” and to lure foreign experts and global companies. The most recentmega project is the One-North, a complex of research labs, multimedia centers,restaurants, residential quarters, day care centers, and shops. Thousands of scientists,researchers, and students have been recruited from around the world to staff the researchinstitutes, companies, and universities. Discourses about “quality people”, “techno-preneur” or “bio-preneur” citizenship broadcast the new social values of belongingembodied by expatriates. These foreign residents are called “cosmopolitans”, in contrast tothe “quitters” or the quarter million or so Singaporeans living abroad.
As Asian cities become more exciting places of employment and upscale living, they are managing to reverse the brain drain. There are several programs to tempt Asiane´migre´s to return home. China, India, and Singapore have set up offices in the SiliconValley to lure back scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs. As more e´migre´s educatedoverseas return to Asia, they are eagerly showered with opportunities to work in cuttingedge fields or to lead emerging industries. The metaphor for ethnic Chinese returnees is seaturtles (“hai gui”) that return to nesting sites after sojourning abroad. The idiom of thereturn of the diaspora makes inevitable the assumption that the e´migre´s will eventuallyreturn with their Western knowledge and cultural practices to help modernize Asiannations (for example, Ong, 1999, pp. 43 – 48).
In China, the return of the diaspora is becoming central to the drive for global markets.
Returnee professionals are wooed by well-paid and prestigious jobs, luxurious apartmentsand villas, as well as special “returning entrepreneurial” centers in the cities. Ethnicmigrants who bring expertise and capital to emerging centers in Asia are not of courselimited to Chinese professionals. Their Indian counterparts are called NRIs (Non-ResidentIndians) who enjoy a special perks for investing in New Delhi or setting up companies inHyderabad or Bangalore. One may say as well that the growing number of mobile Asianprofessionals in information and biomedical industries is feeding the growth of Asiancities, and they are rewarded with residence and employment rights that put them into aspecial category of overseas citizens who can take advantage of citizenship regimes in thehomeland as well as abroad (Ong, 2006a).
Among these returnees are scientists and professors trained in the latest fields who are attracted to jobs in the new areas of biotechnology and biomedicine. Singapore has funneledbillions of dollars into science research, and the centerpiece of this endeavor is Biopolis, acenter for stem cell research that has been called a virtual “research nirvana” by visitingscientists. The complex has attracted about 1, 200 scientists, half of them ethnic Chinesetrained overseas. The head of Singapore’s national science research agency remarked that“Some people collect butterflies. I collect scientists” (Traufetter, 2005). The leader of theGenome Institute is Edward Liu, a Hong Kong-born naturalized American who is nowSingapore’s top science hero. Expatriate Chinese professionals are increasingly viewed as akind of deterritorialized nation available for recruitment to augment the urban professionaland economic class in Asian cities. Needless to say, this intermingling of elite citizens withglobal nomads and returning emigres has a destabilizing effect on citizenship itself.
Classic notions of citizenship are based on a system of equivalents; all citizens are equallyvalued, and ideally all newcomers should have claims on citizenship. This view ofuniversal rights is anchored in the modern industrial liberal order, where the state seeks to protect the rights of all citizens through political rights and social entitlements (Marshall,1963). But in an information age driven by innovation and migration, ambitious cities arebecoming spaces of mutating citizenship. Robert Reich notes that “symbol analysts”—many of them immigrants—were essential to the “new economy” of the 1990s (Reich,1991). Another perspective ties the vibrancy of American cities to their capacity to attractand retain a “creative class” of professionals and bohemians in information age industries(Florida, 2002). Others have observed the crucial presence of managers and the superrichin great cities, focusing on functions they play in sustaining the financial networks and thehegemony of a capitalist world system (Short, 2004).
From the view of emerging Asia, the metropolis becomes the strategic site for managing tensions between deterritorialized markets and territorialized nationalisms, and forreaching out to foreign talent while securing national interests. The ambitious city isincreasingly shaped by a milieu where neoliberal norms regulate citizens and strangersalike. Yet, the connection between hypergrowth cities and expatriates remains under-theorized in relation to citizenship.
George Simmel makes two observations that are suggestive for my thinking about cities and foreigners. First, Simmel notes that the metropolis is a site where money and intellect“converge and accumulate” and, through the process of exchange, create a new order ofvalue.6 Second, the stranger in the city is “a person who comes today and stays tomorrow”.
The status of aliens is shaped by nearness and distance, involvement and indifference,belonging and non-belonging to the urban environment. At the same time, this strangenessof strangers produces a reciprocal tension that marks them as members of a social group(Simmel, 1950, pp. 402 – 408).
This axis of belonging and non-belonging characterizes not only the status of the cosmopolitan stranger. The contemporary expatriate also ruptures the fabric of citizenship,inducing a similar ambiguity in the status of the native. The dual process of belonging andnon-belonging has different implications for expatriate and citizen in today’s Asianmegacity, and raises questions as to how they are to be differently governed in a city beingreconfigured as a global space, and how to manage the tension between self-enterprisingstrangers and security-conscious citizens.
The urban quest for global actors shows up the limits of a notion of citizenship as a set of stabilized political elements. In the urban assemblage formed by markets, politics andsecurity, citizenship as a fixed set of political rights and duties is destabilized, as marketcriteria come to modify the claims of nationality (Ong, 2006b). While the rest of thecountry may be still governed according to strict laws of citizenship, the would-be globalcity breaks with the norms of citizenship in its strategic search for values in a global fieldof migratory talent and limited commitments.
Part of the urban claim to global rank rests on an image of multiculturalism. But Shanghai,Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Singapore, with their long-term multicultural residents, havedeveloped careful distinctions among different categories of migrants and aliens. Thepreference is for “expatriates”, a code for skilled foreigners, and to exclude “migrantworkers”, or aliens who engage in low skill or menial labor. The discourse of multiculturalismis dominated by the claims of elite foreigners than those of migrant workers. For instance,when Indian professionals demanded respectful treatment from Chinese-bias institutions in Hong Kong, their complaints stirred a debate over whether the city’s “world-class” ambitioncan afford to offend expatriates. Meanwhile, the street gatherings of Filipina maids havealways been perceived as damaging to the glamorous image of the city. Similarly, inmulticultural Singapore, foreign domestic workers brought in under time-limited contractsare not permitted to become permanent residents or citizens (Ong, 2006a). In China, thehousehold registration system treats rural migrants in cities as non-citizens. Thus, nursemaidsand construction workers in Shanghai have no residential rights outside the places ofemployment. In other words, low skill aliens whose labor power are essential to the livingstandards of great cities have very limited claims on respect, residence, and rights. In contrast,these cities are united by their eagerness to attract foreign professionals who are warmlywelcomed and induced to take up pied-a-terre status indefinitely.
Like the circulation of values, expatriates are time-limited residents in big Asian cities.
Professionals footloose in international labor markets are increasingly shopping for the“best” job platforms now emerging in Asia. Maintaining a secondary urban residence isafter all a regular feature of expatriate careers.
There is a case to be made for pied-a-terre status as a political position between different regimes of citizenship. As flows of global capital, knowledge, and actors becometerritorialized in dominant cities, the interstitial positioning of expatriates is key towardmaintaining circulations in the global system of production. Think of the bank commercialfor an earlier decade: “Our Man in London/New York/Tokyo”. Professional nomads are atonce situated and circulating, and they embody a kind of market citizenship—occupation-driven, mobile, temporary residence, here today, gone next year—bodies that express thesign value of the extraterritorial reach of the global city itself. The pied-a-terre subject is asocial form through which global capital inserts itself into the matrix of the national state,by establishing a residential presence in key urban nodes of global systems.
From the perspective of the emerging nation, the most prominent city is a national hub for selectively culling and combining actors both local and global in the interests ofnational development. As a Singapore technocrat remarks, encouraging the “movement ofgoods and people is the only way to stay global”. Furthermore, “outside judgment andexpertise are important” for raising the profile of emerging cities.7 As a haven for thetalented and creative, the Asian metropolis seeks to accumulate global expertise fromsuccessive weaves of foreign experts and returnees. The spatial and occupational captureof world-class experts is so valuable that their pied-a-terre needs are willinglyaccommodated. The host city makes a fine point about citizenship only at their own peril.
In the majority of situations, the citizenship of expatriates is besides the point, though theirlocalized professions and perks impinge on the living conditions of local citizens.
The visiting expert is attracted not only by job perks and tax breaks, but also by the creation of global lifestyle conditions in the Asian megacity. There is a building spree ofoffice towers, convention centers, and international hotels in Asian capitals. In addition,foreigners are gaining ownership of choicest neighborhoods where so-called “modernluxury condos” have been built to resemble chic pieds-a-terre in Manhattan. In Shanghai,there is a gold rush of foreigners buying up residential and office space in Putong, manytimes the size of Manhattan. Expatriate communities—Japanese, European, American,Indian, South American—are ensconced in gated neighborhoods with names like Bellagioand Santa Monica. Even mid-range foreign managers and teachers can enjoy prettyluxurious lifestyles in Chinese cities. By comparison, the vast majority of urban Chinesecitizens cannot afford access to such lifestyles.
In Singapore, branded hotels (such as St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton) provide upscale facilities for international businessmen and professionals. Less exalted foreigners canpurchase condos in gated villa compounds. The Biopolis is complemented by specialvillages within landscaped gardens and parks. The foreign director of a leading biomedicalinstitute was recently rewarded with a penthouse in the Four Seasons hotel. Expatriatefamilies are served by international schools, day care centers, and supermarkets. Theavailability of luxurious conditions for work and pleasure is central to the city image as anaspirational real estate. These urban accouterments for the global nomad attest to theirstrategic importance as pied-a-terre subjects, that is, urban residents major cities cannotafford to ignore.
Foreign wealth and talent help the emerging city to realize its self-image as a center of cultural capital and vibrancy. In China, the growing presence of foreign actors andcompanies has inspired a thrust toward more global cultural presentations. Opera houses,museums, malls and restaurants display fusions of Chinese cultural heritage with Westernelements. Expatriates and visitors are induced to acquire Chinese antiques and paintingsby contemporary Chinese artists. A cultural cluster in Xuanwu district of Beijing andMoganshan Road in Shanghai are vibrant Sohos that have drawn critical internationalinvestment and collection. The Xinxiandi complex of shops and restaurants built around ahistorical building that was the early meeting place of the Communist Chinese Party hasconverted some of the city’s most significant places into a space of global consumption.
A critical mass of global nomads stimulates citizens to be self-enterprising actors in theglobalized urban space.
In Singapore, the stress is on foreign experts’ transfer of cutting edge knowledge and intellectual practice to citizens. Foreign professors are hired in the universities to convertthe city into “a global schoolhouse” (Olds & Thrift, 2005). Scientists at the Biopolismentor researchers and students, among other things, in order to help develop a scientificculture. Next door, a new multimedia center, the Fusionpolis, will draw thousands ofoverseas experts to develop a workforce focused on entertainment media and artisticexperimentations that cut across disciplines. The premise of such urban clusters is thatorchestrated encounters and exchanges foster a geometric growth in innovation andcreativity. In short, these cities see themselves as experimental systems, enrolling foreigntalent to nurture different strands of value production and creative ferment.
Experts and expatriates alike are now coded as values in their own right. Their pied-a- terre location adds speculative value to the Asian metropolis, helping to shape an economyof symbolic real estate. The city as a spectacle of globality—international residents,cutting edge industries, stunning skyscrapers—draws its aspirational value from theconcentrated presence of expatriates. Developers, entrepreneurs, and professionalsdirectly and indirectly represent the city’s stock of economic and cultural worth. Foreignhabitue´s contribute to the international chatter about the future movement of prices acrossworld cities. Thus, an ensemble of affluent and educated people both local and foreign isitself a branding mechanism for the host city.
The stress on cultural consumption and style is so prevalent in Asian cities that many foreigners have flocked there to give them new architectural profiles. The famous architectRem Koolhaas designed the CCTV monument (with a cutout) in Beijing, next to a stadium(shaped like a Chinese basket), both in time for the International Olympics in 2008. He hasalso been invited to stage Shanghai as the site of an International Expot in 2010. In bothcities, these global events—relayed by electronic media around the world—attest to their arrival on the global stage. Cultural lessons are vamped up so that Chinese citizens will bewelcoming to the flood of foreign visitors. Taxi drivers are putting on uniforms andlearning English. The presence of a significant number of foreign actors is a symbolicimage of the city itself, as a participant in the creation and exchange of global signs andvalues.
Finally, the question is whether we can consider the pied-a-terre subject a simulation ofcitizenship, or a figure who expresses the fundamentally denationalized character of fast-moving capitalism itself. Or do the elite occupations, economic benefits, and socialprivileges attached to the mobile professional add up to some kind of hyper city status thatsidesteps citizenship? How do we reconcile the tension between figures in an international system of symbolic signification on the one hand, and actual citizenship in the great metropolis? Cityauthorities desire global nomads to stay on but their very modus operandi is to move on.
I view the global nomad as an ultimate “city-resident”, a betwixt and between figure whose role is central to the emergence of the new techno-metropolis. The pied-a-terrestatus is more a state of political liminality than of citizen simulation. During his passagethrough the city, the expatriate is temporarily released from the social norms ofcitizenship, and his political origins are muted. As a resident in the megacity, the globalnomad is in a space of innovation configured by multinational and denationalizedinteractions and encounters, the very conditions favored by global capitalism. The veryambiguity of status releases creative thinking and practices that contribute to the formationof new values desired by the information economy. For the globetrotting professional, theinterstitial phase in a particular city is necessary step to the next occupational rung,perhaps back in the West. The megacity’s desire to prolong or stabilize her presence mayeven be read as a form of self-critique of the limits citizenship imposes on theaccumulation of fast-moving capital and innovation.
We should remember that the idiom of global talent articulates not only global markets, but also the security of actual citizens. As Asian political discourse makes clear, foreignexperts are needed for building the economic power of the nation, but we cannot thereforeassume that the urban capture of foreign experts is a process of “denationalization” byglobal capital. The urban desire for global expertise is rather part of the larger politicaldesign for national emergence. Governing practices scaled at the level of the megacitymust attend to the ambivalence of citizens as it becomes a talent market and playgroundfor international actors. Citizens question why foreigners should be showered with taxbreaks, the best jobs, and best housing, while their loyalty to the nation-state is uncertain.
Unfortunately, while these are vital questions by citizens, the megacity, in its desire toaccumulate global values, is increasingly less relevant as a site for distinguishing betweenthe rights of citizens and those of talented outsiders. After all, the amassing of foreignintellectual capital underpins the global citizenship of Asian cities, and by extension theirhomelands.
This symbiotic relationship between the megacity and migratory talent crystallizes conditions not for the simulation but the suspension of citizenship. Like serial monogamy,ephemeral liaisons between global nomads and particular cities are successiveengagements that seldom stabilize into permanent arrangements. Such occupational habits deter and challenge the deep commitments required by classic citizenship, to saynothing of the universal ideal of human rights. In short, the megacity is the Las Vegas ofglobetrotting professionals, for whom the pied-a-terre is a temporary location for stagingthe next placement in the career trajectory.
Megacities generate great inequality, sharpening and concentrating divisions between the highly educated and the less so, between global managers and migrant maids,professors and janitors, human capital and manual labor. While the cosmopolitan mirageof megacities projects a multicultural globality, the urban condition is shaped bydivisibility and even incommensurability of human worthiness rather than by a fusion ofmulticultural horizons that consolidates our common humanity. The great city today is asite where national citizenship is pried open for a contingent citizenship based onmeritocracy. It compels ordinary citizens to increase their brainpower as a condition ofmore secure attachment to the metropolitan motherland.
1 For a contemporary discussion of citizenship as a tension between public virtue and private interests, 2 The “megalopolis” has been defined entirely in terms of size, that is, eight million. It is predicted that by 2015, 19 of the 33 megalopolises will be in Asia. See Koolhaas (2003, pp. 4, 6).
3 Xinhua News Agency, 25 September 2004.
4 http://www.contactsingapore.org.sg/moving_visas_Employment.shtml5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Singapore6 Simmel (1990, pp. 505–506).
7 Interview with top scientist administrator, 6 June 2006, Singapore.
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La recherche en Santé Publique & en Sciences de l’Homme et de la Société sur le VIH/sida et les hépatites B et C en France L’ANRS Une Agence publique dédiée depuis 1988 au financement et au pilotage de la recherche sur le VIH et les hépatites B et C Budget annuel : 50 Millions euros (130 millions euros en comptant les salaires des chercheurs) Les source