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January 3, 2024

Civic Resilience and the COVID-19 Crisis in Urban Asia

Hou, Jeffrey. 2021. Civic Resilience and the COVID-19 Crisis in Urban Asia. Journal of Geographical Science, 100: 121-136. DOI: 10.6161/jgs.202112_(100).0006

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Civil society responses including self-help and mutual aid have played an important role in addressing the COVID-19 crisis around the world, including Asia. They represent a form of civic resilience, the ability of citizens and communities to cope with and adapt to social, economic, and environmental disturbances. But how exactly did communities and social groups in Asia self-organize to address challenges during the pandemic, particularly those facing the most vulnerable populations in society? What did these cases have in common? What can we learn from these civil society responses for future planning? What were the roles of researchers, spatial planning professionals, and institutions in strengthening community resilience? This article presents outcomes from a two-part webinar titled "Bottom-Up Resilience" that took place in July 2020 featuring activists, organizers, and researchers from Hong Kong, Manila, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, and Tokyo. Preliminary findings include contrasting responses from institutions and civil society actors, how the civil society responses have built upon and expanded trust and empathy in a given place, how civil society responses scale up, and such scalability has depended heavily on solidarity and collaboration. The article further discusses how these efforts represent a form of civic resilience, the continued barriers, and implications for spatial planning practices.