After the Urban Event: Delhi and Shanghai, 2010
CSDS, 29 Rajpur Road, Delhi (Metro: Civil Lines)
Date: Monday, 18th October, 2010
In a few weeks, two large urban events, the Shanghai Expo and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi will come to a close. Spectacular events such as these are occasions for local and national elites to mobilise vast resources around massive urban transformations, they also make a case for global citizenship and recognition. Examples include the Durbar of 1911, which proclaimed Delhi as the capital city of the British empire, to the recent Expo which sought to announce Shanghai’s arrival in global capitalism. Urban events concentrate energies around the production of spectacular sites, hoping to mobilise city and national pride for a brief period of time. In turn, urban events also become sites for violent displacements of the poor, surveillance of migrant populations, and accumulation of local elites through massive infrastructure expansions. Equally events may produce images of chaos, greed and urban disasters like the Delhi Games, puncturing the spectacle before its commencement. A surplus of memories linger on in the city after the event, pride, shame, anger, laughter, pain.
We will meet on 18th October to reflect on the urban event in today’s Asia, placing the Shanghai and Delhi events in a long term comparative grid.
Jeffrey Wasserstorm is a Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine, and the author of Global Shanghai, 1850-2010 (2009). most recently, China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know (2010). He is also the editor of the Journal of Asian Studies.
Rana Dasgupta is an author and essayist. His books include the recent Solo, and Tokyo Cancelled (2005). Solo won the 2010 Commonwealth Writers Prize.
Ravi Sundaram is one of the initiators of Sarai, and a Fellow at CSDS. He recently published Pirate Modernity, Delhi’s Media Urbanism.
Photo credit: Priya Sen/’Mathura Road, Reprise, 2010′