• Forum 4

The Idea of the City in Asian Contexts

The justification of Forum 4, which is focused on urban studies, is that cities constitute distinct domains that are as important to study as conventional geographical areas. Cities, no matter where they are located in the world, often share more characteristics with one another than with the hinterlands of the nation or regions to which they belong.

Our knowledge of cities and their complexities needs to evolve in line with the growing importance of cities worldwide.  This knowledge must not only be top-down but also bottom up. Cities are being re-imagined everyday by their residents, commuters, immigrants, civil society groups, planners, politicians, businesses, investors and visitors—all of whom bring with them their own identities, aspirations and demands on urban resources.  These “ideas of the city” transcend all conventional disciplines and they are shaped and informed by the past as much as the present and future.

The objective of Forum 4 is to rethink current knowledge of cities and conventional urban studies approaches, which are often dominated by the usual disciplinary silos (politics, economics, society, environment, etc.) so as to embrace a multi-disciplinary approach and identify new paradigms in the study of urban areas. This will be done through exploration of two current urban themes: the rise of privately planned cities (workshop 1) and challenges the poor face in claiming their right to the city (workshop 2).  

Paul Rabé and Anupama Rao