Asian Cities in Transit

Asian Cities in Transit

Prof. Dr. Christiane Brosius (16 students)

What does that mean for lives of people across social, cultural, gender and regional strata? How do policy-makers, civil groups, nation-states, cultural brokers or transnational players respond to the accompanying challenges? In this class, students will explore the concepts of “global city” and “inclusive city” as conceptual and empirical tools for engaging in transcultural studies. South Asia will serve as key focal region but we will also include key texts and examples from China, Singapore, for instance. Asian varieties of urbanism have a history and contemporary fabric closely entangled with “Western” urbanisms. But they are also informed by a dense matrix of local everyday lives and policies as well as regional particularities, often referred to as ‘Global South’. The seminar will familiarise students with the rich contributions from the fields of cultural/social anthropology, urban geography, mobilities and migration studies. 

Particular attention will be paid to urban heritage and activism, art and curation as well as urban design and mapping since this class will also prepare students for the DAAD-funded exchange on Urban Transformation in Asia that is organised with the Department of Art and Design at Kathmandu University as well as the Department of Urban Design at Delhi’s well-known School of Planning and Architecture (an excursion to Kathmandu is planned for the summer term of 2021, for which this class is foundational). We will – particularly in the second part of the class – particularly engage with how to study cities in transformation, by using different methods such as walk-along, photography, mapping, archiving and audio-recording. The (post)Covid-19 situation will be challenging in this context as our own entries and meanderings to and through the city will be restricted due to the Pandemic, and because cities themselves undergo enormous transformation because of the changes in everyday lifeworlds. This also offers scope for participants to develop small ‘fieldwork’ exposés. 

In sum, students will learn to critically engage with theory and methods in urbanism, migration, im/mobilities, heritage and cultural politics, among others; reading and discussing literature and develop small project ideas (e.g., for the excursion in Nepal, the term paper, maybe the master thesis); and write the term paper. Since sessions will shift between synchronous and asynchroous modus, assignments will also be asked for, and self-organised group work. A selection of students will get a chance to travel to Kathmandu in the context of the DAAD network intiative (hopefully, if the pandemic situation allows).

Katwaria Sarai, New Delhi