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Chapter 3 Encountering Kuala Lumpur through the “Travel” of UMPs

Urban Megaprojects: A Worldwide View

ISBN: 978-1-78190-593-7, eISBN: 978-1-78190-594-4

Publication date: 16 May 2013


This chapter considers the ways in which city images “travel” and are consumed at a distance. A significant body of existing research has examined UMPs in terms of attempts to produce particular images of cities for global circulation. Much less attention has been paid to assessing the “success” of imaging strategies – the means by (and extent to) which city images actually circulate and are consumed. Focusing on the travel of UMPs constructed in and around the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur (KL) in the 1990s, the chapter seeks to provide a corrective to the production-centeredness of existing scholarship. Extending fieldwork-based research carried out in Malaysia in the 1990s, the chapter focuses on a series of accidental “encounters” with KL's UMPs outside Malaysia. Part of the aim of the chapter is precisely to begin to think about how the “consumption” side of UMPs, and associated effects, could be examined in more systematic ways in the future. Extra-Malaysian encounters with KL-sited UMPs such as the Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC) project are examined in terms of a range of means through which city images circulate: in film and TV performances, as tourist souvenirs and planning models, in building height charts and commercial advertising, and even through academic practices. Most instances in which UMPs are “consumed” at a distance might be banal and seemingly unworthy of study but, collectively, they can serve to forge new imaginings which, in turn, can have profound material implications for the cities concerned.



Bunnell, T. (2013), "Chapter 3 Encountering Kuala Lumpur through the “Travel” of UMPs", del Cerro Santamaría, G. (Ed.) Urban Megaprojects: A Worldwide View (Research in Urban Sociology, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 61-79.



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