Unlike most regions in the world, a common underlying theme that permeates through South Asia’s major urban centers including Colombo, Delhi, Dhaka, Karachi, Lahore and Mumbai is a shared colonial past. In each city, post-‐colonial transformation has generated similar socio-economic tendencies, population growth dynamics and migratory trends, albeit different trajectories in political development. South Asia includes some of the largest and fastest-‐growing urban agglomerations in the world today, all of which are growing increasingly interconnected with the larger regional and global economy. Equally relevant is the experience of small and medium-sized cities in each country, and the economic, social and spatial possibilities they encompass.
This shared past, as well as the comparative points of divergence, merits a deeper examination into how we conceptualize, document and conduct practice in South Asian cities. What are the common challenges and opportunities facing urbanization in the region today?
To what extent do local and global innovations in environmental sustainability, building materials and other technologies stand to redefine patterns of development? How have cities in the region remained mindful of the past through conservation and other means in the face of relentless growth? And what are the unique characteristics that define and differentiate the contemporary South Asian city in juxtaposition with other regions in Asia and beyond?
Through a series of conferences to be held both at Harvard University and in South Asia, we hope to generate new knowledge and insight into the driving forces, socioeconomic challenges and political implications facing the contemporary South Asian city.