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Postcolonial Asian Cities (2013 – 2018)


Lead Investigator: Christian Hess (03-3238-4047;


Faculty Members:

James Farrer (, David Wank (, Sven Saaler, Bettina Gramlich-Oka (

Further members include Linda Grove, Jon Howlett (Univeristy of York, UK), Toby Lincoln (University of Leicester, UK), Jeff Wasserstrom (University of California, Irvine), Liu Haiyan (Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences), Wang Min (Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences)

This project aims to create an interdisciplinary network of scholars researching the topic of postcolonial Asian cities.  Specifically we are interested in exploring the ways in which colonial and imperial pasts are used to justify or challenge urban development schemes, heritage politics, and issues of urban identity in the growing urban centers of Asia.  Globalization and the city in Asia is fast becoming an established scholarly sub field, and we would be interested in refining this scholarship by examining the extent to which a city’s colonial past aids or hampers its global aspirations.   At the heart of such inquiry is a more nuanced picture of the complex relationship between global forces, nation-states, and local society in an era of rapid urbanization.


One of the most exciting aspects of this subfield is its interdisciplinary potential.  Real opportunity exists for meaningful intellectual dialog between historians, sociologists, anthropologists, geographers and urban studies specialists.  The project will contribute to this growing interdisciplinary scholarship by including participants from various fields and working at institutions in Japan, China, US, UK and Australia.  The initial activity will focus largely on Chinese cities (including Hong Kong) with the aim of bringing in more comparative cases from Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and the Philippines in subsequent years.







Image from Pexels by Dylan

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