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“Spaces in-between: from non-place to shared space in developmental cities”

Date: 19-23 October 2010
Venue: Goethe-Institute Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi
Convener: Project group B11 “Difference, Danger and New Urban Imaginaries of the Public in Asia and Europe”


Schedule

Programme

Abstracts

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Spaces of civilisation. Photo: Tina Schilbach
Spaces of civilisation. Photo: Tina Schilbach

The Research group of “Difference, Danger and New Urban Imaginaries of the Public in Asia and Europe” (B11) convened its 2010 Annual Workshop in New Delhi. It took us into the world of gated communities, coffeehouses, spas and public parks where we explored how emerging transnational class spaces in Shanghai and New Delhi were not only consumed but were also lived, sensed and shared as “in-between” place of gentrification. The event brought together the core members of the group, along with invited international guest experts. It was convened as a forum for academic discussion, as a public roundtable on comparative urbanism, and as an opportunity to experience the sites of New Delhi’s changing public spheres in a series of walks and tours around the city. A public keynote was delivered by China specialist Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom. In his talk on colonial cities, Professor Wasserstrom discussed Shanghai’s globalisation from the viewpoint of entertainment and leisure venues, and explored the global encounters which these spaces have encouraged, barred or regulated over the course of the city’s rich history. The workshop was organised in cooperation with Goethe-Institute Max Mueller Bhavan and the Sarai network / Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi. 

Apartment windows at night. Photo: Sebastian Nikoloff
Apartment windows at night. Photo: Sebastian Nikoloff

Participants

Amita Baviskar (Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi)
Christiane Brosius (University of Heidelberg)
Melissa Butcher (Open University)
Anindita Datta (Delhi School of Economics)
Arunava Dasgupta (School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi)
Christian Henriot (Université Lumière Lyon 2)
Pallavi Mahajan (University of Heidelberg)
A G Krishna Menon (Architect, Urban planner and Conservation consultant, New Delhi)
Marie Sander (University of Heidelberg)
Tina Schilbach (University of Heidelberg)
Mitu Sengupta (Ryerson University)
Awadhendra Sharan (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi)
Ravikant Sharma (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi)
Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom (University of California, Irvine)

Consuming the city. Photo: Tina Schilbach
Consuming the city. Photo: Tina Schilbach

Theme of the Workshop:

Spaces in-between: from non-place to shared space in developmental cities

Cities, as constituted in time, encapsulate several different modes of dwelling. These may speak to a wide range of practices, from spatial organisation to dress and bodily comportment, from modes to speech to that of travel. To dwell in the city, we may argue, is to always be in the process of becoming urban. Ideas of the “desirable” urban form, of aesthetics and beauty, possibilities of ethical life, discipline and urban governmentality too have a situated character, in their borrowings, adaptations and circulation, such that no urban form is simply the copy of another, even when they share a common vocabulary about some of these practices.

Emerging suburbia in Songjiang, Shanghai. Photo: Tina Schilbach
Emerging suburbia in Songjiang, Shanghai. Photo: Tina Schilbach

For this workshop, we chose to interrogate Marc Augé’s concept of “non-places” in the context of the developmental dynamics in Asia’s global/globalising cities. While “non-place” provided important analytical tools for understanding mechanisms of displacement, alienation and loneliness, the spatial and social pluralisation in New Delhi and Shanghai provided the impetus for shifting our perspective a little further. Acknowledging changing modes of community life, sensory experience and social interaction, we wanted to use this workshop for enquiring into the idea of “spaces in-between”, and took it as a point of entry into shifting transnational practices and encounters. Sites for exploring such spaces might include gated communities, shopping centres, fitness studios, clubs, parks, cafés, universities or office environments and might also express themselves in changing notions of suburbia. In this, we were particularly interested in the visual and sensual language these spaces spoke to the various groups of people who inhabited or traversed the city, and we encouraged a variety of disciplinary approaches that helped building a more rigorous analysis of how divisions of the public and private, common and exclusive, intimate and trivial, authentic and replicate, or creative and banal, work in these transitioning urban landscapes.  

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