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.

SEANNETIIAS-CSEAS Winter School: Mapping the Aesthetics of Urban Life in Asia: A Dialogue with the ArtsUKNA Macau Winter School Urban Heritage in Taipei

Asian Cities Updates

UKNA - Urban Asia presentation series
23 May 2017

In this presentation, Professor Pralay Kanungo will focus on two slums in the city of Bhubaneswar, once an ancient temple city, today India's top most 'smart city': one tiny, the other a mega slum complex, consisting of a cluster of slums being encircled by rich and posh localities. After discussing the slum's history, planning, economy and politics, Kanungo will highlight how the slum dwellers have successfully resisted state’s agenda to make the city ‘slum free’.

10 May 2017

The ninth annual IIAS-TU Delft Seminar will take place in Leiden on 10-11 May 2017.

Film screening
9 May 2017

Three films about different phenomena associated with Asia's fast growing cities. Followed by discussion and Q&A.
'Home on Display' examines the construction of homes for China’s new rich; 'An Empty Home' focuses on another Chinese phenomenen: city homes that are fully furnished yet are empty most of the year. In the last film 'The Vanishing Village', local rurals and embedded researchers tell about what happened when the encroachment of the city of Hanoi changed the rural life of many in nearby La Tinh.

Call for papers
1 May 2017

We invite the submission of paper abstracts for a two-day symposium on the relationship between rivers and cities. We look forward to receiving proposals from both scholars and practitioners before 1 May 2017.


A four-year regional research programme (2017-2020)


The competition between Asian cities to become the leading global city in the region reshapes the urban fabric in Hong Kong too. Amidst the urban redevelopment and art market hype, artists and urbanites initiate varied forms of urban creativity for local needs. The new agencies and strategies of...


In June 2016, warm ties between the Chinese state and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) were once again reaffirmed. Reportedly, Cambodia demanded ASEAN to tone down its statement on China’s disputed claim over the South China Sea, after which China pledged US$600...


Gentrification involves the conversion of dilapidated residences and areas into refurbished units and locales through an influx of residents with a higher earning power. In some cases, gentrified spaces facilitate the local tourism needs and generate income for local proprietors and businesses....


and after all this
you tell them about the water
how we have seen it rising
flooding across our cemeteries
gushing over our sea walls
and crashing against our homes
tell them what it’s like


President Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’, promising prosperity and progress, is by and large mapped onto the city. In the case of Beijing, this dream can primarily be found within the fifth ring road, with its cultural heritage sites and fancy buildings designed by ‘starchitects’. But what about the...