International Institute for Asian Studies
Asian Cities - With a special eye on contemporary developments, IIAS aims to explore the longstanding Asian urban "tradition", by exploring the origins of urbanism and urban culture in different parts of Asia and linking the various elements of city cultures and societies, from ancient to modern (colonial and post-colonial) times | Read more
Asian Cities close

The "Asian Cities" cluster explores modes of urban development in Asia, and deals with cities and urban cultures with related issues of flows and fluxes, od ideas and goods, cosmopolitism, "métissage", and connectivity at their core, framing the existence of vibrant "civil societies" and political micro-cultures.

Asia is experiencing a process of increasing human concentration built upon ancient urban traditions at a pace never before encountered. This unprecedented rate of change brings with it tremendous transformations framing new expressions of social, cultural and political modernity.

Keeping a close eye on contemporary developments, the cluster seeks to explore the longstanding Asian urban 'tradition', by discussing the origins of urbanism and urban culture in different parts of Asia, and by linking the various elements of city cultures and societies, from ancient to modern (colonial to postcolonial) times.

Through an international knowledge network of experts, research institutes and cities, it aims to create a platform for scholars and urban practitioners focusing on Asian cities 'in context' and beyond traditional western norms of knowledge, with the potential to evolve into a broad multi-disciplinary corpus contributing to the actual development of Asian cities today.

Postcolonial Global City UKNA Macau Winter School Urban Heritage in Taipei

PRCUD Palembang forum

Asian Cities Updates

IIAS Winter School
25 January 2016

Winter School 2016 organised by IIAS and CSEAS, in conjunction with the CSEAS Southeast Asian Seminar

20 October 2015

Third and final workshop in the context of the “Rethinking Asian Studies” program (Forum 4)


Singapore turns fifty this year. After a brief merger with and eventually an unfortunate expulsion from Malaysia, Singapore became an independent nation on 9 August 1965. These fifty years as an island-nation, city-state and ultimately one of the most ‘global’ of cities in the world have been...


‘Mansuh! Mansuh! Akta Hasutan!’ (Repeal! Repeal! The Sedition Act!) chanted the lawyers marching towards the Parliament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 16 October 2014. This protest, organised by the Bar Council, was one of the latest events since the 2007 Bersih rally kick-started a renewed...


Report of training course given in Yangon, 3-14 November 2014.

FROM 3-14 NOVEMBER 2014, a team with members from IIAS, the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education (Delft, the Netherlands), and the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC), jointly organized a tailor-made training course...


On 10-11 December 2014, the Studio-X space of the Columbia University Global Center in the Fort area of Mumbai was the setting for a workshop entitled Urban Democracy: Informality, Precarity and Modes of Survival. This was the second in a series of discussions in the Idea of the City in Asian...


Reviewed publication: Labbé, D. 2014. Land Politics and Livelihoods on the Margins of Hanoi, 1920-2010, Vancouver: UBC Press, ISBN: 9780774826679

Hòa Muc, in the past a small village (203 inhabitants in 1923) in the urban periphery of the Vietnamese capital city...


On 27 and 28 August 2014, Paul Rabé, Coordinator of the Urban Knowledge Network Asia (UKNA) at IIAS, and Anupama Rao, Associate Professor of History at Barnard College/Columbia University, convened a workshop entitled Public City, Private City at the Institute for Public Knowledge, New York...