Points of persuasion: Truth spots in future city development

Geographers and historians have contributed to a well-established literature on how places become repositories of inherited meanings and contested memories. Much less attention has been afforded to space and place as future-making resources. In this article, we consider how extant places feature in the imagination, planning and development of ex novo cities. Focusing on three new administrative capitals in Southeast Asia – Putrajaya (in Malaysia), Naypyidaw (in Myanmar) and Nusantara (in Indonesia) – we show how places have been mobilized as points of persuasion, or what sociologist Thomas Gieryn has termed “truth spots”. Drawing and building upon Gieryn’s work, we identify three heuristic types of truth spots: aspirational truth spots that demonstrate progressive developmental possibilities for emulation; antithetical truth spots signaling past failures to avoid in planning and developing the future city; and anticipatory truth spots that articulate future expectations, justifying forms of (in)action in the present. While existing work on truth spots emphasizes powers of persuasion associated with physical, in-person experiences of place, our emphasis and contribution centres on the narrative mobilization of place references.

more articles from

Volume 40 Issue 6

Explore our Topics

Though not an exhaustive list, these are many of the main areas we cover.