The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Will Asia Lead the World? A View from Asian Cities

18 November 2022, 4:00 pm–5:30 pm

View of Indian city skyline


Event Information

Open to



Haim Yacobi


Room 403
Senate House, Malet Street

There is no lack of studies on Asian cities but the majority focuses on financial districts, poverty, the slum, tradition, tourism, and pollution, and use the modern, affluent, and transforming Western city as the reference point. This vast Asian empirical presence is not complemented by a theoretical presence; academic discourses overlook common and basic urban processes, particularly the production of space, place, and identity by ordinary citizens.

 Switching the vantage point to Asian cities and citizens, Professor Nihal Perera will draw the attention to how Asians produce their contemporary urban practices, identities, and spaces as part of resisting, responding to, and avoiding larger global and national processes. Instead of viewing Asian cities in opposition to the Western city and using it as the norm, he opts to provincialize mainstream and traditional knowledge. It argues that the vast terrain of ordinary actors and spaces which are currently left out should be reflected in academic debates and policy decisions, and that the local thinking processes that constitute these spaces need to be acknowledged, enabled, and critiqued. 


Giorgio Talocci


Nihal Perera, PhD, is Professor of Urban Planning at Ball State University (USA) and the founder and director of CapAsia, immersive-semester in Asia. The two-time Fulbright Scholar (China and Myanmar) was also Senior Research Fellow at the National University of Singapore, at KMITL (Thailand), and University of Alberta (Canada). A primary contributor to the field of “postcolonial urban studies,” and leading scholar of Colombo, his research focuses on how ordinary people negotiate (lived) spaces for their daily activities and cultural practices. He has written articles on gender, race, planning, Chandigarh, Dharavi, Yangon, and Gary (USA) and his books include Decolonizing CeylonTransforming Asian Cities, and People’s Spaces.