ASIAN CITIES IN A GLOBALISING SOUTH: COMPARATIVE LESSONS FROM INDIA AND CHINA
Course convenor: Dr. Pushpa Arabindoo
Unit value: 0.5 Year: 3 Term: 2
Assessment: 100% coursework
The World Urbanization Report published by the UN observes that at the turn of the twentieth century, even though Asia is one of the least urbanised region in the world (48 percent), it accounts for the maximum number of urban dwellers, 1.4 billion, more than the combined number in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Northern America and Oceania (1.2 billion). As the world takes an increasingly urban turn, nearly 60 percent of this growth will take place in Asia, mostly in India and China. More importantly, 22 of the 39 mega-cities (5 million plus) will be in Asia. Given the context of these significant statistics, it is imperative to examine the context of Asian urbanisation in qualitative detail extending beyond these quantitative preoccupations. In order to establish the complexity of its urbanisation process and the specificity of its urbanism, this course will adopt a comparative focus on Indian and Chinese cities, developing a unique and richly informed theoretical as well as empirical understanding of a significant twenty-first century phenomenon.
This course by adopting a comparative examination of Indian and Chinese cities traces the evolution of the Asian city in the context of a globalising South, amidst conditions that are unique to urbanisation in Asia. Following Dick and Rimmer’s (1998) recent arguments challenging the applicability of the Third World city model to the Southeast Asian city, this course extends this question to Asian cities in general. While acknowledging that these cities are far from becoming global cities but can no longer be assumed to be still Third World cities, this course uses the contemporary challenges of globalisation and neoliberalisation to outline the emerging urban morphology of the Asian city as the aspirations of a globalising city overlaps with the persistent problems of a developing city.
The aim of this course is to introduce the students to a theoretically and empirically informed understanding of Asian cities, complementing the current offer in the department in the realm of similar area-based studies. Given the diversity of the Asian region, this course recognises that it is impossible to develop a discourse of a paradigmatic Asian city. Instead, what it aims for is a comparative approach to understand emerging urbanisation issues in two of Asia’s largest countries, India and China.
The course is structured in two parts. The first part will essentially explore the conceptual model that can be used to understanding emerging aspects of urbanisation in Asian cities asking whether paradigms such as Third World cities, global cities, globalising cities or even ordinary cities are useful ways of understanding their transformation. The second part will focus more on general portrayals of Asian urbanisation as being essentially unsustainable. In this context, it will seek to go beyond the general environmental concerns associated with urbanisation trends in Asia, asking whether contemporary social, economic, political and cultural changes play a role as well. This will include the rise of the new middle class, urban infrastructure policies, local governance, natural disasters, and climate change discourses.
Pre-requisites for the course:
The course builds on GEOG2014 Development Geography and GEOG 2023 Urban Geography.
Recommended key readings:
Chapman, G. P., Dutt, A. K., & Bradnock, R. W. (Eds.). (1999). Urban growth and development in Asia. Aldershot and Brookfield: Ashgate.
Costa, F. J. (Ed.). (1989). Urbanization in Asia: Spatial dimensions and policy issues. Honolulu: Hawaii University Press.
Costa, F. J., Dutta, A. K., Ma, L. J., & Noble, A. G. (Eds.). (1988). Asian urbanization: Problems and processes. Berlin: Gebruder Borntraeger.
Dutt, A. K., Costa, F. J., Aggarwal, S., & Noble, A. G. (Eds.). (1994). The Asian city: Processes of development, characteristics, and planning. Dordecht and London: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Gurung, A., McGrath, B., & Zha, J. (Eds.). (2010). Growing cities in a shrinking world:
The challenges in India and China. New Delhi: Macmillan Publishers India.
Mahadevia, D. (Ed.). (2008). Inside the transforming urban Asia: Processes, policies, and
public actions. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company.
Perera, N., & Tang,W.-S. (Eds.). (2007). The transforming Asian city: Innovative urban
and planning practices. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Baptist University.
Roy, A., & Ong, A. (Eds.). (2011). Worlding cities: Asian experiments and the art of being global. Oxford:
In addition, every lecture will identify a set of essential and recommended readings relevant to its particular theme.