The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Development with People: From Mahaweli to CapAsia

25 January 2018, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm

Nihal Perera

Event Information

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The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU 101, 34 Tavistock Square, WC1H 9EZ

It is 70 years since economic growth came to represent development and it became a deliverable provided by outsiders rather than an achievement produced by communities.  This growth model has been heavily questioned and the discourse of “development” has dramatically changed: Amartya Sen proposed the Nobel Prize winning notion of Development as Freedom and the king of Bhutan adopted happiness over money.  In this Dialogues in Development session, Professor Nihal Perera will discuss his own journey in this field beginning from realising the shortfalls of rational planning to developing means and methods to enable people’s processes.  He will then focus on his recent book, People’s Spaces, that addresses how ordinary people negotiate and create spaces for their daily activities and cultural practices in Asian cities.

Speaker Bio:

Nihal Perera is Chair and Professor of Urban Planning at Ball State University and the founder and Director of CapAsia, an immersive learning-by-doing semester in Asia, based on collaborative projects with Asian universities.  In addition to the USA, he has taught in Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. A two-time Fulbright Scholar awardee – to China (2006–07) and Myanmar (2015-16) – Dr. Perera was also Senior Research Fellow at the National University of Singapore (2010) and Melting Pot Fellow at KMITL, Bangkok. He is the recipient of three Fulbright-Hays awards and a Graham Foundation award, and  his research focuses on how ordinary people create/ negotiate (lived) spaces for their daily activities and cultural practices.  Dr Perera’s publications include articles on Feminizing the City, competing modernities in Chandigarh, competing visions for Dharavi, and books entitled Decolonizing Ceylon, Transforming Asian Cities, and People’s Spaces. His most recent publication is a special issue of Bhumi on development.