Asian Cities: Colonial to Global (CFP)

We are accepting paper proposals for a seminar, in which we will investigate how networks laid down during the era of Western colonial expansion in Asia have given certain cities a global edge.


31 January 2013

April 2013 (exact day TBA)

IIAS, Leiden, Netherlands

‘Asian Cities: Colonial to Global’ is intended to be a multi-disciplinary seminar. Contributions are welcome from the fields of architecture, urbanism, geography, area studies, history, linguistics, religious studies, social science, anthropology, etc., but please remember that the point of departure will always be the built environment.

Note also that this seminar is not intended to be an investigation into theoretical issues relating to the field of postcolonialism, rather it seeks to investigate more practical issues relating to the more literally ‘post-colonial’ (in the sense of the era following independence from erstwhile colonial or imperial powers), and the effects this has had on the built environment.

Contributions are invited that cover the regions of East, Southeast and South Asia (including countries that were not colonized (such as Japan or Thailand) or were only partially colonized (such as China).

Topics could include (but are not limited to) the following:

1. How colonial networks enabled certain cities to take the lead in the second half of the twentieth century to become global cities.

2. Underlying factors that encouraged colonialism in the first place (for example, geographical: Hong Kong’s natural harbour, Shanghai’s location at the mouth of the Yangtze, or Singapore’s command of the tip of the Malay Peninsula; social: the Dutch use of pre-existing Chinese networks in their colonization of Indonesia; or others: religious, military, access to raw materials, etc.).

3. The move from colonialism to imperialism in the Western empires, and the differences between them.

4. Use of colonial networks or systems (e.g. Singapore’s continued use of its British civil-service apparatus since independence).

5. Architecture’s role in colonial and/or global cities; how it can create identity and ethos, whether this be the colonial-era courthouse or grand hotel or the global era’s skyscraper and shopping centre.

6. Factors that consolidated the colonial hold: e.g. railways, military barracks, law courts and prisons, banking systems, etc.

7. The role of infrastructure, both tangible (such as railways, port facilities, etc.) and intangible (e.g. property rights, the rule of law, use of the English language, or indeed other languages).

8. Use of pre-colonial networks in the region (e.g. Chinese and Indian traders in Southeast Asia before the Dutch and British arrived).

9. Other systems: e.g. religious proselytising (Spain in the Philippines or American Protestant missionaries in China, etc.), local networks (native guilds, etc.), unofficial or illegal networks (triads, etc.).

10. Factors that enabled certain cities (and regions) to make the successful segue from colonial node to global city (or city region) after independence

11. Post-colonial networks.

Abstracts should be submitted to Dr Gregory Bracken at the IIAS:
Deadline: 31 January 2013

Abstracts should consist of:

Subtitle (if required)
Text of approximately 200 words
Contributor’s name
Academic discipline

Please note that neither the IIAS nor TU Delft will be in a position to help fund contributors’ trips to the seminar (if their abstract is selected for full-paper presentation). We do, however, intend to gather a selection of the papers into a book which will be a fully peer-reviewed publication. This may act as encouragement for academic administrators to allow their staff to make the trip. This seminar series has a good track record at converting previous events into peer-reviewed publications:

Seminar number two (Delft 2010) resulted in Aspects of Urbanization in China: Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, published by the University of Amsterdam Press in spring 2012.
Seminar number three (Shanghai 2011) is currently under peer review and is scheduled to be published as a special issue of Footprint journal in spring 2013.

For enquiries about the seminar, please contact Dr Gregory Bracken:

The International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) is a research and exchange platform based in the university city of Leiden, the Netherlands. IIAS encourages the multidisciplinary and comparative study of Asia and promotes national and international co-operation. It acts as an interface between academic and non-academic partners including cultural, social and policy organisations.

Cite this blog post
Bertrand Lefebvre (2012, November 29). Asian Cities: Colonial to Global (CFP). AJEI - Association Jeunes Études Indiennes. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from