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Workshop Directors

John Friedmann
Honorary Professor, School of Community and Regional Planning
University of British Columbia
Professor Emeritus, School of Public Policy and Social Research
University of California Los Angeles

Erik Harms
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and International & Area Studies
Yale University

Workshop Participants

Lisa Björkman, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity
“Watering the World Class City: ‘Islands of luxury’ and networked infrastructures in Mumbai”

Ryan Centner, Lecturer, Urban Geography, London School of Economics
“Neo-Ottomanism Out of the Ashes: Contentions of Cosmopolitan Rebuilding in Beirut & Beyond”

Gökçe Günel, ACLS New Faculty Fellow, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University
“Authoritarian Governance and Iconic Infrastructures in Inter-Asian Cities”

Max Hirsh, Postdoctoral Researcher, Architecture, ETH Zurich, Future Cities Laboratory
“A Home Away From Home: Ascott and the Development of the Asian Serviced Apartment Industry”

Laavanya Kathiravelu, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity
“Looking over the walls: aspiration & sociality in enclaved communities in Singapore and Dubai”

Danielle Labbé, Assistant Professor, Urban Planning, University of Montreal and Julie-Anne Boudreau (in absentia), The Urbanisation, Culture, Société Research Centre
“Exploring Local Integration Experiments in the New Urban Areas of Hanoi: A New Form of Asian Urbanism?”

Michael Leaf, Associate Professor, School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia
“Exporting Indonesian Urbanism: Ciputra and the Developmental Vision of Market Modernism”

Rohit Mujumdar, PhD Student, School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia
“Made in U.S.A.: Worlding on Mumbai’s Periphery”

Christina Schwenkel, Associate Professor, Anthropology and Southeast Asian Studies Department, University of California, Riverside
“Reclaiming Rights to the Post/Socialist City: Bureaucratic Artifacts and the Affective Appeal of Petitions”

AbdouMaliq Simone, Research Professor at the University of South Australia, Bob Hawke Research Centre
“What you see is not always what you know: struggles against re-containment and the capacities to remake urban life in Jakarta’s majority world”

Call for Workshop Papers

Over the past two decades, strikingly similar master-planned, mixed-used residential projects have emerged across Asia—from South Korea and China to the Middle East and Turkey. These projects, built to serve a rising middle class of consumers, are often advertised as exclusive, self-contained bubbles. Yet their seemingly rigid boundaries are in fact porous and can be seen as key nodes of horizontal and vertical integration across Asia. Horizontally, they are financed through familiar and well-studied circuits of global capital that criss-cross and connect Asian economies. Visually similar in conceptions of space and style, their master plans tend to bear the familiar logos of a handful of global firms that often come from within Asia itself. These projects also facilitate horizontal Inter-Asian connections in more intimate ways: for instance, Asian business elites or members of the new middle class increasingly establish their home away from home in these spaces, while Southeast Asian domestic workers live in them as well (albeit with severely restricted rights). A new kind of urban landscape is thus taking shape in and among these spaces, the habitat of an identifiable social life of Inter-Asian capital.

This emerging horizontal Inter-Asian fellowship of elite and middle class urban living is founded on a familiar and oft-repeated set of vertical connections and disjunctures. We seek to compare and contrast the conflicts and class tensions between residential communities that depend upon yet actively endeavor to remove from their sight the popular classes who continue to live beyond their walls and whose work is essential to support their way of life. The social life of Inter-Asian capital is not only about lifestyles that often mimic an imagined West but also about the relations of production, new service economies, class conflicts, and accompanying policing and control of the city that surrounds them. Zones of “majority” urbanism typically emerge alongside and in interaction with the very processes that produce the master-planned residential projects for the new middle class and political elites.

For a rounded view of urban social life, Inter-Asian connections must thus be studied along both the globalizing circuits of capital & labor, commodities & ideas, and their grounded intersections with specific places. We seek contributions that make both horizontal and vertical connections, showing how different levels of capital and life intersect within and across major Asian cities, how high-level capital connects with micro-capital, and how back-alley production links with elite housing and global markets.

We seek papers from scholars in the social-sciences and humanities at different stages in their careers and with in-depth experience in at least one Asian city between Seoul and Istanbul. Contributions should take master-planned residential projects as their point of reference without being confined to them. The range of papers might include, but should not be limited to, the following topics:

  • Social life within, among, and around middle class and elite residential complexes in Asia
  • “Global Householding” and Inter-Asian household formation
  • Connections between back-alley production, local housing enclaves, and Inter-Asian trade
  • Inter-Asian circulations of capital and ideas (e.g. remittances; real estate capital, finance, and land speculation; expertise, architecture, & design)
  • Vertical and horizontal mobilities in and among Asian residential communities (e.g., movements between and among these places, social life and livelihood of Inter-Asian migrant workers)
  • Vertical connections and conflicts between urban elites, middle classes, and popular classes