The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Social Responsibility: M.S.

First Advisor

Ajaykumar Panicker

Second Advisor

Stephen Philion

Third Advisor

Jason Lindsey

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

neoliberalism, urban development, accumulation by dispossession, postwar Colombo


Neoliberal urban development has witnessed tremendous changes in urban landscapes around the world. It has also contributed to increasing inequalities and social injustices in these changing urban landscapes. This study is an attempt to explore how neoliberal urban processes and accumulation by dispossession have shaped the new and rapid urban (re)development drive in Sri Lanka that is dramatically restructuring Colombo’s landscape and the socio-economic positions of its people. The post-war Sri Lankan governments’ initiation of a complete transformation and reinvention of the city’s built environment—through large-scale market-oriented infrastructural developments that would attract financial direct investments and promote public-private partnerships—has also necessitated the removal of ‘slums and shanties’ that are home to Colombo’s poor working class population.

The study assumes significance in the context of a country that is attempting to rebuild itself after a three-decade long civil war that ended in 2009. The state-led accelerated and expansive urban renewal program serves to meet Sri Lanka’s postwar economic and political vision of fully integrating itself into the global economy by transforming Colombo into a ‘world class city’ and ‘modern megapolis’. Framed within a comprehensive theoretical framework and based on an extensive analysis of archival and secondary data, this study maps out the socio-economic, political, and spatial processes that underlie Colombo’s urban renewal agenda and its related class implications. I believe this study has the potential to contribute to the body of knowledge on the social injustices related to neoliberal urban development around the world and to be the basis of further urban sociological research.



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