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Urban Transformation Urban transformation and placemaking

Learning from South Asia and Germany (2020-23)

Cities reflect and stimulate cultural, social, economic and political lifeworlds across time and space. Paying attention to this demographic condition, but going deeper and beyond quantitative dimensions, this subject-related partnership will jointly explore how institutions of Higher Education can respond to the ways in which cities in South Asia and Germany transform and what can be learnt from their often substantial changes. The aim is to train young generations of students in the Humanities and Social Sciences as well as Art and Design, to shape socially responsible and sustainable career paths by means of handling future-oriented questions and methodological challenges related to the ‘Urban Age’.

For this, the partners will
1) proliferate inter- and transdisciplinary teaching and training for their respective established and new combined/interconnected cur­ricula,
2) increase the international visibility of all partners involved through its unique thematic, multi-methodological and multidisciplinary character, and
3) strengthen the Higher Education infrastructure in their institutions and beyond by collaboratively building an open access online archive located at Kathmandu University.

The network proposed pays particular attention to the study of urban responses to the inter­connectivity of natural and man-made crises in cities, e.g., earthquakes, climate change, mi­gration, endangered heritage and cultural diversity. A focus on placemaking, that is, how peo­ple shape their urban habitats and everyday worlds in cities, is especially promising for such an approach. To explore this in a multidisciplinary, comparative and connective way is a major goal of this triangular partnership. Thematically seen, the comparative lens on Delhi and Kath­mandu contributes to better understanding of intra-Asian urban transformation without reduc­ing the cities to the often attributed stereotypical ‘chaos’. Delhi and Kathmandu are melting pots of a wide range of communities from varying ethnic and geographic origins. Along with this, the mobile population of migrants and visitors, both domestic and foreign, makes these cities receptacles of cultural and social diversity. Across the wide spread of these metropolises, the multi-layered physical and social fabric of the city is characterized by distinctive zones of concentrations of urban life and heritage, e.g., mansions (havelis) in the historic town of Shahjahanabad in Delhi or Buddhist compounds (bāhāḥ, bahi) and arcaded rest houses (pati) in the royal quarters in Patan, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu. Each of these identifiable zones with their local histories has shaped multiple identities that these historic cities unfold. Through this, both in Delhi and the Kathmandu valley, many of the erstwhile traditional neighbourhoods have been steadily giving way to new public spaces, gentrification and ‘modernisation’, the idea of neighbourhood, the design of her­itage areas, suburban areas and even slums. In such areas, as the old diminishes in terms of its apparent relevance and usefulness, new populations (in Kathmandu from the hills and plains, in Delhi from the country-side and other towns) bring in new aspirations, sensibilities, living narratives and practices of placemaking.

With respect to this subject-related partnership, the following questions are then relevant: how do cities in South Asia change and how can we learn from them in comparison Such a multilateral network of learning from S Asia and Germany does not exist so far and will be the DNA of our respective curricula and jointly developed modules.

Structurally and methodologically, the three partners have been carefully selected not only to strengthen each other’s position in their national context but also to sharpen their educational profile and cooperation internationally. Each partner brings a particular regional and discipli­nary expertise and a bridging element by means of a curriculum that invites collaboration and exchange:
· School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Delhi: urban design and mapping methods for people-oriented ‘open cities’, questions of ownership of and belonging to the city;
· Kathmandu University (KU): cultural heritage, community and memory as resources for urban sustainability, the training of art practice and curation as a socially responsible and responsive practice,
· Heidelberg University (HeiU): the participatory study of everyday lifeworlds and endan­gered heritage through ethnographic fieldwork as source of method development.

In the combination of these strengths, a comprehensive approach for the study of urban spaces and practices in different habitats can be developed (Robinson and Roy 2015). The theme of urban transformation and placemaking is an ideal lens and study field to join perspectives from local contexts with knowledge of global mobilities and connections. Such a comparative approach is needed today, and yet rare in Higher Education curricula development. Especially innovative is the trilateral approach that goes beyond the usual East-West dichotomy and in­cludes aspects of South-South-West relationships and collaboration.


Heidelberg Centre of Transcultural Studies at Heidelberg University (HCTS)

Founded in April 2013, the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS) is a central institute of Heidelberg University (Germany), situated at the Karl Jaspers Centre. It is home to outstanding…

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School of Planning and Architecture (SPA)

The School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi is an “Institute of National Importance” under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. From a modest beginning in 1941…

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Department of Art and Design at Kathmandu University (KU)

The Department of Art and Design at Kathmandu University (KUart) was established in 2003 under its School of Arts to address the dearth of art and design education in Nepal.…

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Team

Prof. Dr. Christiane Brosius
Heidelberg University

Christiane Brosius teaches Visual and Media Anthropology at the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS). Her main research fields are urban transformation in South Asia (mainly Delhi and Kathmandu), cultural…


Dr Arunava Dasgupta
School of Planning and Architecture

Arunava Dasgupta is an architect and urban designer currently engaged as Head of the urban design program in the Department of Urban Design at School of Planning and Architecture, New…


Sujan Chitrakar
Kathmandu University

Sujan Chitrakar is associated with KU Art+Design since the time of its inception in 2003. He led the Department from 2005 to  2019. Prior to this, he served as an…


Admin

Frederic Link
Resident Representative, South Asia Institute in Nepal of Heidelberg University

Frederic Link studied Geography, Anthropology and Modern Indology in Heidelberg and New Delhi and finished his studies in October 2014 with the thesis "Hum kya chahte? Azadi! (T)räume der Freiheit…


Faculty Members

Roshan Mishra
Kathmandu University

Roshan is the Director at Taragaon Museum and a visual artist based in Kathmandu. He also manages the Nepal Architecture Archive (NAA), which is run by the Saraf Foundation for Himalayan…


Pranab Man Singh
Kathmandu University

Pranab Man Singh is a writer, editor, and translator. He currently works at Quixote’s Coveand Satori Centre for the Arts, both companies work to support the creation of art and literature. He…


Student Assistant

Sumana Shakya
Kathmandu University

Born in Lalitpur, Sumana Shakya grew up in the midst of traditional practices that have been alive for many years. She has always been delighted to see paubha paintings hung in the…