UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Securitizing spectacle : property, real estate investment trusts, and the financialization of retail space in Singapore Daniels, Joseph A.


In this thesis I explore several intersections of the work on financialization, urbanization, the real estate financial nexus, and spectacle urbanism. Taking the recently formed Singapore real estate investment trust (REIT) market as its case, this thesis contributes to efforts to build out our understanding of the consequences of urban financialization: among them, argued here, being the production of ‘spectacle urbanism’ as an everyday experience in retail spaces. Entangled within state initiatives to develop Singapore as a leading financial center, the REIT market was initiated in 2002 as part of a wider effort to deepen financial markets in the city-state. Its existence has become a current political issue in parliament, manifestly centered upon the politics over claims to property and its seeming capture by financial actors as a “purely financial asset”. And it is here that the thesis begins in Chapter 1 to outline the contemporary relevance of this study. In Chapter 2 I argue that urbanizing financialization—that is to concern ourselves with financialization and urbanization as interdependent processes—is necessary for understanding the spatial dynamics of financialization. The strategic starting point is to focus upon the material and spatial processes that enable property to be treated as a “pure financial asset”. In Chapter 3, drawing upon interviews conducted in the Singaporean REIT market, I demonstrate the material and spatial process that REIT managers concern themselves with to realize property as a ‘pure financial asset’, guided by the notion of producing liquidity or ‘unlocking value’. Chapter 4 considers the effects of these processes and argues that a constructive dialogue is to be had between the work on spectacle urbanism and financialization. I argue that not only does financialization accelerate spectacle urbanism, but that this in turn largely sustains urban financialization in a recursive process. Finally, the thesis concludes with a reflection upon the implications of the empirical chapters and the ‘politics’ of this research—highlighting the urgency of future research on the role of the state in creating these infrastructures of financialization.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada