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South Asia Cityscapes: Social, economic and cultural transformations

SOAS South Asia Institute

Second Annual Graduate Workshop

Call for Papers – Deadline 27th February 2015

Date: 8 June 2015, 9:00am – 6.00pm

Venue: Meet 116, Russell Square Main Building, SOAS, University of London

Urbanising processes are taking place across the South Asian region, the home of more than a fifth of humanity. South Asian cityscapes are consequently playing a significant role in shaping social, economic and cultural formations. Arjun Appadurai’s notion of ‘five scapes’ (or flows) conceptualises the rapid processes by which ideas, information, people, finances, and technologies are constantly shifting, evolving and emerging within the global context. South Asia’s ‘global cities’, such as Mumbai, Karachi, and Dhaka, as Sassen has highlighted, are showing new modes of operation no longer tightly bound to national and regulatory systems. However, as Hansen points out, cities in South Asia have simultaneously not produced the individualised modernities expected of industrial cities but rather urban spaces in which ethnicity, religion, and other aspects of ‘traditional’ life are shaping contemporary urban sociality and the uses of public space.

This one-day workshop intends to bring together research students working on South Asian cities and aspects of urban life in South Asia to address a broad range of questions about how everyday engagements, material conditions, new and evolving imaginaries, cultural production, and the social space of cities are being negotiated within urban and urbanizing South Asia.

PhD students working in the humanities and social sciences whose work is at a sufficiently advanced stage for them to share it with their peers, andpostdocs who were awarded their doctorate no more than one year before the date of the workshop, are invited to send titles and 250-word abstracts. Contributions may be either a draft thesis chapter or a paper written specially for the workshop. Selected contributors will be invited to come to SOAS to present their work in an engaging and supportive forum. Papers may consider the theme in relation to a broad range of areas, including, but not exclusively limited to, the following:

Exclusions and inclusions in the city
Mobility & migrations
Modes and networks of production
Urban imaginaries
Conflicts over spaces
Aspirations and speculations of the city
Social ties & social relations
The built environment
Local, trans-local and global notions of the city
Consumer cultures
Classed lives
Narratives of the city through literature and film
Governance and governmentality
Everyday engagements with the city
Pressure on resources and civic amenities
Gendered experiences of the city
Urban art

500-word abstracts and one-page CVs should be emailed to by the end of Friday 27 February for consideration by a selection panel.

The panel’s decisions will be conveyed to those who have offered papers by 13 March. Papers of 5000-8000 words must be submitted two weeks in advance of the workshop, for circulation to discussants.

A contribution towards costs of travel and accommodation will be provided for students selected to present papers who are registered at British and European universities and who are travelling from outside London. Students from further afield are also welcome to submit abstracts but we cannot undertake to cover their costs.

PhD students wishing to attend only and not to present to the workshop are also welcome to register.

Further info: