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The Asian Urbanisms cluster explores Asia’s diverse urban experiences historically, contemporaneously, and toward the future.  It seeks to contribute to theory and applied research on the reflexivity of society-space relationships in the built environment and city life from local to global scales, in diverse contexts in Asia, and through comparative studies with other world regions.  The orientation of the cluster is towards research that speaks in transformative ways to urban-related theories, debates and public policy issues in and beyond Asia.  Avenues for research include (but are not limited to): livable cities past, present and future with regard to vernacular urban heritages, modernization and globalization; urban discontents, insurgencies in cities and through social media, and spaces of hope through participatory city-making; and disaster governance in an age of urban transitions and global climate change. AUC is developing three themes that will serve to organize research, grant proposals, workshops and conferences, publications, and related events and activities. The three themes are:

Disaster Governance.  The intention is to bring social sciences, arts and humanities, and physical/technology sciences together to make Singapore a hub in Asia for research and training on disaster prevention, adaptation and humanitarian assistance.  The term “governance” is adopted to give emphasis to public involvement in all aspects of research and practice related to natural disasters.  With its rich history of transdisciplinary research on key dimensions of disaster governance in Southeast Asia, ARI is well position to be the center of this activity.  Asia’s urban transition that is focusing on very large urban regions, most of which are located in disaster-prone coastal regions, brings to the fore the Importance of AUC research on disaster governance.

Urban Heritage and the Vernacular City.  This theme brings AUC together with other NUS programs such as SDE that are concerned with culture-built environment interdependencies in cities.  The term vernacular city is used to direct attention to both historically inherited urban structures and living culture as they are expressed through place-making and local production of urban spaces by people who reside in the city.  This research theme seeks to make international linkages with organizations in and beyond Singapore that are doing similar research, such as the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS).

Spaces of Hope. This theme covers a wide range of research on social mobilization, the rise of civil society, discontents, and insurgencies.  It also includes cyber-activism.  Most of these activities take place in cities and can be seen emerging with the rise of urban middle and working classes, communications technologies, and political change.  It reaches beyond protest to consider projects to create alternative urban spaces.  It also links with such issues as citizenship, transnational migration, multicultural societies, liveable cities, and the right to the city.

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