Dialogic Conference on Global Insurgencies: (re)making the Public City in Asia

On 3 and 4 December we are running our long-planned dialogic conference on Global Insurgencies – Remaking the Public City in Asia.

Brief description:

In Asia and beyond, we are witnessing a sea change of the idea of the city that is fundamentally altering prospects for a shared urban future. In contrast to the long held idea of the city as a form of collective social life with governance for the common good and industries and markets in service of social needs, we now see the city portrayed as an “urban sector” that is an “engine of growth” with government in service of a corporate economy as maker of wealth that is highly uneven in its distribution of income and assets. Driven by corporate interests, governments around the world are willingly or unwittingly propagating this narrative and its urban intentions by selling off vital public spaces and facilitating the construction of ever larger privatized zones for business complexes, exclusionary living and consumption. Vernacular architecture, historic sites, lower and middle-class neighbourhoods and local commercial spaces are lost in this corporatization process.

This dialogic conference aims to bring together new and established scholars to discuss and integrate empirical findings and conceptual understandings of the ways in which corporatization and insurgencies invoke the remaking of the public city. These invocations go in two main directions, and we welcome papers that—while remaining sensitive to emplaced specificities in Asia—speak to at least one of these two key issues:

1) Corporate Capture and Undermining of the Public City

How does the corporate economy appropriate, control and alter urban space? How does the privatization of urban public space affect civil society across Asia in general, and the social construction of insurgent spaces in particular? What does this mean for conceptualizations of social learning or collective action for socio-political or institutional change?

2) Projects to Remake the Public City

How do diverse civil society groupings across Asia respond to the intersections of corporate and government power as they are manifested in the production and control of urban space? What kinds of alternative projects are appearing from the grassroots to counter the hegemony of the corporatization of city life and economy? How do these projects claim public spaces and re-image life spaces and the meaning of place? How do we discover and analyze such alternative “spaces of hope”? As they tend to be small-scale, are they destined to be ephemeral or can they scale up to larger and sustainable contributions to remaking the public city?

As we live in a world in which physical space and cyberspace have become interdependent and inseparable dimensions of political consciousness and activity, we encourage participants to reflect on how various actors utilize the Internet and social media to propel – or hinder – the remaking of the public city through the production of urban spaces as well as bringing forth contributions to participatory governance. We also invite elaborations on how diversely originated, often small-scale and local aspirations, initiatives, movements, or institutions might inform urban planning, policy, and governance.

CONTACT DETAILS

Conference Convenors:

Prof Mike Douglass
Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

Dr Peter Marolt
Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

Dr Rita Padawangi
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

The programme is available here.

This Dialogic Conference is co-organized by the Asia Research Institute and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, NUS.

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