Organised by Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.
A/P BUNNELL Tim, Dr LAI Chee Kien and Dr POW Choon Piew.
By almost all conventional measures, Asia is the urban centre of the world. While there are other regions which have higher proportions of urban population, almost as many people live in urban areas in Asia as in the rest of the world combined, and the current total is projected to double over the course of the next generation. In addition, more than half of the world’s most populous cities and urban regions are found in Asia. To what extent does such continental significance find expression in urban theory and planning practice, or even in cultural imaginings of the leading edge of an urbanizing world? The ‘centre’ is still often imagined to reside elsewhere, such that the high-rise skyline of Hong Kong makes it ‘the Manhattan of Asia’, while urban sprawl in Kuala Lumpur or Jakarta sees those cities likened to Los Angeles. Framing Asia as a global urban frontier means thinking critically about the impulse to refer back to imagined antecedents in Europe or North America. The agenda is not to develop some unifying theory of the Asian city – the wide range of urban forms and experiences in Asia clearly precludes any such generalization – but to take Asia’s urban diversity as a resource for pushing towards less Euro-American-centred assumptions, theories, practices and narratives. As part of a couplet of proposed workshops involving collaboration between ARI’s Asian Urbanisms cluster and urbanists at University College London, this workshop will contribute to wider efforts to ‘post-colonialize’ (Robinson, 2006) urban theory and planning practice.
Examining Asia as a region of urban innovation and theoretical possibility means extending the frontiers of area studies knowledge. All-too-often research on regions beyond the Euro-American heartlands of academic knowledge production has been understood as amassing local empirical detail rather than possessing any wider theoretical purchase. Yet area knowledge is not irredeemably localized or regionally-bound in this way. It is perhaps most clearly in regard to the study of cities and their extensive constitutive networks that any such provincialization becomes untenable. This workshop will foreground ways in which Asian urbanisms ‘travel’ as part of the wider diffusion of urban typologies, aspirations and strategies that have conventionally been transfixed by western models and origins. As such, it will consider ways in which cities in Asia shape – while also being shaped by – other cities ‘within’ and beyond the region. Cast as a global urban frontier, Asia becomes a site of urban developments which are of more-than-regional scope, interest or application.
The invite proposals for papers relating (but not restricted) to:
* The more-than-regional significance of Asian cities and urbanization
*The dominance of western models and concepts and their diffusion to Asia in planning practice and education
*The emergence of Asian models or centres for emulation
*The ‘travel’ of Asian cities (both intra and extra-regional) in theory, planning and cultural imaginings
* The city and/in area studies
* Theorizing ‘the city’ or ‘urban’ from Asia
* Methodological practices: researching Asia’s urban diversity
* Relational forms of comparative urbanism
We are particularly keen to receive submissions from scholars based at institutions in the region.
Participants should submit a 250-word abstract and a short paragraph of personal self description by 26 March 2010. Please go to the webpage to download the Paper Proposal Form.
Please submit and address all applications to Miss Sharon Ong (firstname.lastname@example.org) of the Asia Research Institute.
Successful applicants will be notified by 9 April 2010.
Full Papers are due on 31 July 2010.
A/P Tim Bunnell
Asia Research Institute & Department of Geography, NUS
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