Københavns Universitet
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PhD Workshop: The Asian City

Øvrige — As part of the 11th annual ADI conference a PhD workshop exploring The Asian City will be held. Application deadline 4 March.


Date & Time:

University of Copenhagen, South Campus

Hosted by:
Asian Dynamics Iniatiative


The emergence of mega-cities across Asia is predicated upon entwined processes of rapid industrialization, historic demographic change, accumulation of wealth, and steep economic inequality in the 21st century. The economic, social, political, environmental, and cultural production of the Asian city is entangled with the countryside through modes of circulation of natural resources, labor, people, commodity production, and financial flows. The Asian city is not only a ‘concrete’ manifestation of Asia’s economic prosperity in the form of modern architectural wonders, neon-lit skyscrapers, new spaces of consumption and leisure. It is also a site of dispossession, disadvantage, environmental degradation, resource scarcity, and socio-political struggle. These manifold contradictions and anxieties are shaped along the axes of climate change and sustainability, citizenship and belonging, security and privacy, and pressures upon urban infrastructure and space.

The questions we are interested in concern the Asian city as a speculative site of exploration of urban futures in the 21st century. How might cities be redesigned and retrofitted to meet the basic human needs such as nourishment, transportation, housing, healthcare, and livability? What kind of tensions and politics are being shaped within these old and new contestations over scarce resources, public and private spaces, and the right to inhabit and exploit those spaces? How are cities made “smart”, and what kind of social technologies, cultural practices, and historical memory are required to maintain these urban utopias that function not only by market driven inclusion but also by excluding a vast majority of poor citizens? Put differently, how might the city of the future look like? We propose to examine these theoretically driven enquiries through rich empirical studies from Asia within the trans-disciplinary fields of urban studies, Asian studies, sociology, political science, anthropology, and development studies.

We invite PhD scholars to participate in this exploration and submit their work in the form of case studies, ethnographies, and comparative studies that can situate the debate about the development of the Asian city and its place in national, regional and global processes of mobility, exchange, competition and negotiation. The suggested themes include, but are not limited to,

  • Sustainability, greenness and/or climate change
  • Urban governance transformations
  • Migration, immigration, mobility
  • Labor and precarity
  • Citizenship and belonging
  • The city and social movements
  • The new middle class or changing class structures
  • Security and insecurity
  • Big data and/or smart cities
  • Possession and dispossession
  • Livability

Workshop Format

The goal of the workshop is to provide PhD scholars with focused direct constructive feedback on their work-in-progress. A secondary goal is to expose conference participants to the cutting-edge work being done by emerging scholars.

In order to facilitate these goals we will ask all accepted participants to submit full working draft papers of their projects to the committee in advance. Your paper will be carefully reviewed by (two) faculty members who will provide you with written feedback.


Applicants should send:
Letter of motivation
Short cv
Writing sample drawn from their dissertation (max 3000 words) OR outline of thesis

The application should be sent as one combined PDF to marie.yoshida@nias.ku.dk


Submission of application: 4 March
Notification of acceptance: 25 March
Full draft paper: 1 June

Organizing Committee:

The workshop is part of the 11th annual Asian Dynamics Initiative International Conference. The workshop is organized by:

Ravinder Kaur, Associate Professor, South Asian Studies, Department of Cross-cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen

Sarah Swider, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen

Jørgen Delman, Professor, China Studies, Department of Cross-cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen