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Urban Asias – Essays on Futurity Past and Present

4  Preface This

4  Preface This volume emerges from a research project on “Aspirations, ong>Urbanong> Governance and the Remaking of Asian Cities”. Funded by a grant from the Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE2012-T2ong>–ong>1-153), the “ong>Urbanong> Aspirations” project (for short) concerned the cultural and political dynamics of urban future-making in Asia. We sought to build in particular upon Arjun Appadurai’s influential work on “the capacity to aspire”, 1 examining the aspirations of both “ordinary” city-dwellers and a range of authorities, as well as often contested engagements between them. Between 2013 and 2016, a total of 11 collaborators at the National University of Singapore (NUS) conducted field-based research in cities across 8 Asian countries. Eight of the 26 contributions that are collected here were written by core members of the ong>Urbanong> Aspirations grant team—the essays by Jamie Gillen, Eli Elinoff (now at the University of Wellington), Elaine Ho, Rita Padawangi (now at Singapore University of Social Sciences), Michelle Miller and Vineeta Sinha, as well as our introductory and concluding chapters. Two other contributors, Mike Douglass and Peter van der Veer, were visiting professors in the original research grant (although by the time the grant began, Mike had joined the full-time faculty at NUS). The ong>Urbanong> Aspirations grant also funded international workshops at which many of the other essays were first presented. Indrawan Prabaharyaka was among the presenters at the graduate workshop onong>Urbanong> Aspirations Asia” that was held in August 2015. We are grateful to Ananya Roy (who was also a visiting professor associated with the grant) and Anant Maringanti, both of whom gave plenary addresses at that workshop, and whose insights

5 PREFACE helped to expand our thinking as well as the scope of this volume. Thanks also to Daryl Li for his organizational support for the 2015 event, and for his wider research assistance. The workshop onong>Urbanong> Asia: Futures Past, Present and Yet to Come” the following year was where the framing of this volume first came together. At that event we made a concerted effort to consider aspirations and futurity as being about more than the “yet to come”—as also often involving various kinds of inheritance, memory and even pastness. The following contributors were all invited presenters at the workshop in February 2016: Andre Sorensen, Christina Schwenkel, Pen Sereypagna, Cecilia Chu, Asher Ghertner, Nausheen Anwar, Zane Kripe, Becky Bowers, Mary Ann O’Donnell, and Trevor Hogan. We gratefully acknowledge Till Mostowlansky’s contributions to the workshop as a discussant, and organizational assistance from Huiying Ng and Phoebe Pua. The remaining five essays are by contributors whom we invited to add specific insights and expertise to the volume. Tabassum Zaman was known to both of us as a scholar whose work on Dhaka addresses the role of nostalgia in both critiques of the contemporary megacity and in prospective imaginings. John Taylor, as both a scholar and co-founder of Yayasan Kota Kita, had collaborated in aspects of the ong>Urbanong> Aspirations field research in Central Java, and was uniquely well placed to reflect upon recent ong>Urbanong> Social Forum meetings hosted in a variety of Indonesian cities. Carol Upadhya was just starting exciting work on the capital city of the newly-divided Indian state of Andhra Pradesh at the time when the volume began to take shape, and we are delighted that she was able and willing to come on board at a relatively late stage. Julian Lee’s longstanding more-than-academic collaborations in Kuala Lumpur mean he and his colleagues have important insights into ground-level contestation to hegemonic political economic visions that all-too-often seem to dominate “the future” in Asia (and elsewhere). And last, but certainly not least, the proliferation of work on “planetary urbanization” in international urban and regional studies during the period since we began the wider ong>Urbanong> Aspirations project compelled us to invite Gavin Jones to revisit his 1990s article on the “thoroughgoing urbanization” of Asia. 2 With additional funding from the Cities (now “Global ong>Urbanong> Studies”) research cluster in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at NUS, in March 2015 we were able bring Gavin together with Neil Brenner (who was Lim Chong Yah Visiting Professor in the NUS Department of Geography at that time) for discussion of regional and planetary perspectives on urbanization beyond cities. It was through Neil that we connected with Berlin-based Jovis Verlag who had published his influential volume on Implosions/Explosions: