Ways of Knowing the Future: Perspectives on Four Asian Cities: Manila, Delhi, Kathmandu and Dhaka

Mr Tanzil Shafique1, Ms. Ishita Chatterjee1, Mr.  Reden Recio1, Mr. Neeraj  Dangol1, Dr. Stephanie Butcher1

1University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Chair: Tanzil Shafique


This panel proposes to look at how the notion of ‘future’ is constructed in three different cities across Asia, namely Manila, Delhi and Kathmandu, with an introductory note on Dhaka. What constitutes as the ‘future’ of these cities, particularly in relation to its informal settlements, is often thrown around in policy documents as well as conversations as a given entity, with a seemingly consensual status of its composition. What we would like to unpack in this panel is how the narratives of futures come to be ‘known’, how often the desires of the certain classes and territories are silenced and desires of entities beyond the cities themselves play a normative role in setting up what is referred to as the ‘future’. It is crucial simply to ask when speaking about ‘future Asias’, whose future are we talking about? What is marginalized and what is treated as the obvious referent when claims are made about the ‘new’ spatio-political-economies? Why do the future of informal settlements determined apriori without involvement from the people themselves? How just are the futures we so fondly claim will be sustainable? Each presenter in this panel will take this larger notion as the point of departure and focus on particular aspects of that ‘future’.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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