• Workshop

City Theory for the New Millennium


Tuesday, 20 October 2015 to Wednesday, 21 October 2015


Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences


Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS)
7-622 Huaihai Zhong Lu, 200020

Workshop Objectives

The workshop in Shanghai on “City Theory for the New Millennium” is the third and last workshop to be organized in the context of Forum 4 on urban studies.  It follows on two earlier workshops that focused on specific urban challenges: the future of urban planning (New York, August 2014); and the persistence of urban poverty and slums, and with it, forms of resistance to top-down models (Mumbai, December 2014). 

These events are funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (New York) and initiated by the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS, Leiden, the Netherlands). Partner institute and host of the Shanghai workshop is the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS, Shanghai). 

As the last workshop in the Forum 4 series, the focus of the Shanghai event will be our knowledge about cities (research approaches, theories, curricula, literature), specifically cities in Asia. At issue is how urban expertise can be framed in a more integrated fashion, by joining social sciences with humanities-based knowledge, to inform applied expertise, and vice versa.

A second objective (corresponding to the “Rethinking Asian Studies” program objectives) is to explore how these new forms of city knowledge and theory can contribute to re-shaping humanistic higher education including culturally and historically-grounded “regional studies”. Investigations will thus go in two directions: 

  • Knowledge production for cities
  • City theory contributions to (humanistic) knowledge production
  • The main questions the workshop seeks to address are as follows: 

Objective 1: Knowledge production to better understand cities: 

  1. How are Asian cities different from other cities in the world, and what particular knowledge and approaches are needed (if any) to study cities in Asia?
  2. What are the current limitations in urban studies knowledge (theories, curricula, literature) and methodologies (institutional educational models, practical approaches, policies) in Asia, in the West and beyond?

Objective 2: City theory contributions for knowledge production:

  1. How does the study of cities help us to better study Asia (i.e. how can city theories help us improve regional studies)?
  2. How can new forms of knowledge about (Asian) cities enrich the humanities?

Workshop Format

The workshop will take the form of a roundtable, to maximize discussion between participants. There will be no formal (PowerPoint) presentations – only open discussions around guiding questions. A rapporteur (to be identified) will take notes and be responsible for writing a final report summarizing the discussions.

There will be four main sessions in total, spread out over 2 days, consisting of one morning session (before lunch) and one afternoon session (after lunch). Each session will last approximately 2 hours. The discussion in each session will revolve around a number of clear questions. There will be two moderators per session: one of the workshop co-conveners (Paul Rabé or Anupama Rao) joined by one representative of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, as local hosts.