Call For Papers: Japanese Cities in Global Networks

2012 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers
(AAG) NY, Feb 24-28

Organizers: Carola Hein (Bryn Mawr College), Paul Waley (University of

Leeds) and Cary Karacas (City University New York)

In recent years there has been a revival of interest in and work on comparative urbanism alongside new understandings of the importance of mobility in ideas, policies and practices as they impact on urban environments. Geographers, historians, sociologists and urban studies specialists are increasingly interested in understanding cities and urban life in terms of flows and networks of ideas, technologies and policies. Ironically, however, despite the attempts to move away from an approach centered on the positions of Western social theory, little of this research has of yet focused on East Asia, and while there has been a clear historical focus to the new comparative urbanism literature, recent work on policy mobilities has tended to focus on contemporary conditions.

We invite papers on themes that present Japanese cities in a comparative framework and/or that forefront Japan in discussions of the transfer of urban policies, techniques, forms, and lifestyles between Japan and other parts of East Asia and elsewhere in the world. Papers covering any period from the mid-19th century onwards (including the contemporary period) might:

* Reflect on scalar interactions and urban engagements with global capital and their expression in the built environment.
* Assess the relationship between local actors, histories, technologies, practices and global actors and impacts  — planning theories, practices, financial changes, technological innovations, etc.
* Consider the role of Japanese policies, practices, techniques in reinforcing an identifiable sense of East Asian urbanism.

We welcome papers that use a focus on Japanese cities and Japanese urbanism more broadly to speak to the following range of overlapping themes:

1) Comparative studies of urban policy, practice, and form

— Urban governance: for example, issues of centralization and decentralization
— Urban planning: land readjustment, master planning.
— Waterfront design/ riverfront regeneration
— Transport, infrastructure
— Land reclamation and new town development
— Disaster planning and post-disaster reconstruction

2) Work on networks, mobilities and exchange of techniques

— Exchange of policy ideas and practice through on-site visits, policy tourism, etc.
— Neighbourhood associations and community organization
— Transfers of knowledge, skills, professional techniques
— Foreign aid and investment as tools for the diffusion of “urban techniques and skill”
— Ideas and practices in ecological urbanism
– Japanese construction companies and their global activities

3) Research into the transmission of urban forms, cultures and lifestyles

— Consumption practices and retail spaces in Japanese cities and their regional and global influence
– Urban structures and forms as well as infrastructural design
— Diffusion of urban lifestyle practices through magazines, visual media, tourism
— Transmission of urban imaginaries in manga, film, fiction, etc.
— War and its memorialisation in physical monuments and urban “intangibles”

The above list is intended to be indicative, and papers on related themes are also welcome.

The session will help establish new approaches to comparative studies of Japanese cities in regional and global contexts integrating Japanese urban development into the international context. Beyond that, it will work toward placing Tokyo and other Japanese cities in the context of ongoing discussions on global cities and globalization, contributing thereby to wider debates about comparative urbanism and policy mobilities.

Inquiries can be directed to Carola Hein ( ), Paul Waley ( ) and Cary Karacas

( ). We welcome abstracts of up to 250 words by September 14, 2011.

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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