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On Cities and Citizenship

08 Jun 2016 - 09 Jun 2016 9.30 AM - 5.30 PM Building 2, Level 5, Lecture Theatre 5, 8 Somapah Road, Singapore 487372



The proposed conference aims to investigate the spatial organisation of the contemporary city in relation to its socio- political dimensions, with a special focus on questions of justice, social mobilisation and citizenship.

Some of the themes we aim to explore are:

  • Why have cities and citizenship traditionally been intimately linked? Is this relationship being undone? What role, if any, does migration play in the shaping of politics in urban spaces?

  • What are the conditions and possibilities of meaningful political activity in the city? To what extent has the city been ‘de-politicized’ with the steady shrinking of public space through PSPOs (Public Space Protection Orders), POPS (Privately Owned Public Spaces), commercialisation, and gentrification?

  • How are we to understand the emerging movement of urban ecology and the new relationship to nature, culture and space it represents?

  • What role does technology play in the changing political landscape of the city? Looking at Singapore’s “Smart Nation” initiative, what political impact can be seen or expected from the systematic public use of technology? Has the invention of the virtual space of the Internet and its opening of other, non-national political horizons, paradoxically contributed to the shrinking of political possibilities within the city?

  • What conception of space is presupposed by urban resistance? What lessons can be derived from movements such as the Occupy movement? What are the political and social implications of urban planning?

  • What role does the magnified scale of social segregation, most visibly in the emergence of mega-slums, play in the change of urban political potential? How can we explain and influence the “politics of forgetting” (the poor, the migrants, the slum-dwellers…)?

  • How do cities today, particularly city-states like Singapore and Hong Kong, compare with the city-states of the 15th and 16thcenturies in terms of their relationship with territory and the globality of their political economies?

  • How has the city been thematised, thought and represented in literature, both as a literary device and as a space of political, intellectual and affective experience?

As Southeast Asia is an important site of several contemporary trends of urbanization, we believe it appropriate to initiate such a dialogue in Singapore, with a special focus on Asian cities as perhaps representing a new model of urbanity.

If you would like to attend this event, please RSVP at hass@sutd.edu.sg
For more information, please click here.