Symposium on "Cities and Citizenship: Interrogating Urbanism in Contemporary South Asia"
February 14, 2008
University of California, Berkeley
Sponsored by the Center for South Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Call for Papers:
The history of cities has long favored the West as the center of urbanization, thus casting the cities of the Global South in the rhetoric of delayed development and borrowed modernities. Indeed, the postcolonial condition of South Asian cities has been continually rendered as the shadow of former colonial cities struggling to cope with inefficiencies of the postcolonial state in managing urbanization and more recently with pressures of globalization and transnational forces. In order to move beyond a dialogue which frames the cities of the developing world as derivative of a Euro-Ameri-centric core we propose an interrogation of South Asian cities through the theoretical lens of citizenship.
The evolving definition of citizenship—originally a product of the urban enclave (as in the medieval bastide or the polis) to a right defined by a larger national political community—is being recalibrated once again as cities around the world become the salient units of economic and political change. The notion of republican citizenship, as premised on an idea of universal liberalism, has most strenuously been challenged in the urban sphere, be it through the ghettoization of minorities or the growing enclaves of the wealthy. At the same time, diverse initiatives and grassroots mobilizations have emerged to counter old and new urban inequalities and spatial exclusions. Although the re-scripting of urban space in cities across the world is thus producing new notions of citizenship, both restrictive and expansive, the modalities through which these are produced remain contingent upon historical and geographical specificities.
South Asian cities have recently come center-stage through innovative explorations in fiction, photography, and documentary film. This one-day symposium will provide a forum for cross-disciplinary dialogue which brings these perspectives from the humanities in conversation with those in the social sciences in order to investigate the urban realm. We encourage submissions that deal with cities in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka as a means to expand the discussion of South Asian urbanism beyond the case-study of India.
We invite papers that speak to the issues outlined in the following three themes:
Propertied Citizenship and Landscapes of Consumption
Following market liberalization, South Asian cities have witnessed a rapid integration into global consumer markets and commodity networks, fostering new and more aggressive consumption practices. With the re-ordering of urban space in a global economic context in which cities compete for capital, jobs, and tourists, property has also become an increasingly significant register through which elite groups pressure the state to “clean up” cities in order to privilege their own needs and sensibilities. These shifts are reflected in new urban phenomena such as the mushrooming of shopping malls and gated communities and the proliferation of technology parks. We invite papers which focus on the city as a nexus of global networks, local vectors of management and reform, and consumption practices.
Recalibrating Urban Governmentality
Following neo-liberal reforms in recent decades, South Asian cities have played a crucial role in the rescaling of the state and the decentralization of government apparatuses. For example, the pressures of globalization on labor coupled with efforts to ensure a city’s position in the new global economy has led to the creation of extra-governmental spaces of production, such as Special Economic Zones. The rise of civil-society movements and non-governmental organizations has also led to a significant recalibration of urban governmentality. Notwithstanding these new modalities of governmentality which involve a constellation of non-state actors, the right to land and resources made by an individual or community continues to engage the state and political actors at various scales, often mobilizing informal practices such as squatting and land-grabbing which involve highly politicized negotiations. We invite papers that examine the role of the state in the contemporary urban realm and that speak to various agents and processes that challenge the managerial sovereignty of the state therein.
Re-scripting Identity through Urban Space
The diversity within South Asian societies, the historical legacies of colonialism, and most recently the processes of globalization have continually brought forth challenges to the modern nation-state and democracy in the region. Many of these challenges are articulated and played out in the urban arena, through an assemblage of spatial practices. For example, the occupation of the city through religious processions, the construction of violent spatial imaginaries that pit religious groups against each other, and the redefinition of the urban subject through hegemonic constructions of masculinity or femininity, appropriate the city as a site of contestation over the nation and the state. We invite papers that focus on the re-scripting of ethnic, racial, class, and gendered identities in/through urban space and which explore this through different media such as art, film, literature, performance and so forth.
Paper abstracts will be accepted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org through September 15, 2007. Abstracts should be 400-500 words in length and authors should attach the abstract as a Word document as well as include the text of the abstract in the body of the message. Please be sure to include the following information in the e-mail as well: Full name, departmental affiliation, degree program, and the title of your abstract.
Accepted authors will receive e-mail notification no later than October 15, 2007. Accepted authors will be expected to submit a draft working paper by January 10, 2008.
For additional information, you may also contact the symposium coordinators at: Romola Sanyal (email@example.com) or Renu Desai (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Renu Desai & Romola Sanyal
Department of Architecture
370 Wurster Hall
College of Environmental Design
University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720
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