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CSRD organises a seminar by Prof Nihal Perera

CSRD organises a seminar by Prof Nihal Perera

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CSRD organises a seminar by Prof Nihal Perera
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Centre for the Study of Regional Development (CSRD),
School of Social  Sciences (SSS III),
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)


organises a seminar by


Prof Nihal Perera
(Emeritus Professor of Urban Planning at Ball State University, USA) 



From Victims to Agents of Change: How Ordinary People Create “Lived” Spaces


on February 27, 3:30 pm 
at Room no. 134 (Carto Lab), CSRD, SSS III


Space is central to society. Per mainstream discourses, social space is largely produced by the state and capital. Nihal Perera’s work takes issue with this preconception and addresses the colossal gap left by the leaders in the field of social production of space including Henri Lefebvre and David Harvey. As demonstrated in his People’s Spaces (Routledge 2016), the adaptation, interpretation, transformation, and creation of spaces are also carried out by ordinary people. Perera argues that the vast terrain of ordinary actors and spaces which are currently marginalized should be reflected in academic debates and policy decisions and that the local thinking processes that constitute these spaces need to be acknowledged, enabled, and critiqued.


Adopting an inside-out perspective, empathic to the subjects, and using field studies, Professor Perera will demonstrate how subjects reconcile the difference between the intended goals of imposed/provided spaces and ordinary people’s own understandings and expectations of these, creating spaces for their daily activities and cultural practices. At the other end, the spaces ordinary people produce make the state and capital negotiate their needs. He will pay special attention to the need to switch intellectual tools.


Nihal Perera, PhD, is Emeritus Professor of Urban Planning at Ball State University (USA) and the founder and director of CapAsia, immersive-learning semester in Asia (1999-2021). The two-time Fulbright Scholar (China and Myanmar) was also Senior Research Fellow at the National University of Singapore, at King Mongkut Institute of Technology (Thailand), University of Alberta (Canada) and was a Graham Foundation Fellow. He received three Fulbright-Hays awards, scholarships from the European Union and USAID. A primary contributor to the field of “postcolonial urban studies,” and leading scholar of Colombo, his research focuses on how ordinary people negotiate and create (lived) spaces for their daily activities and cultural practices. He has written articles on gender, race, planning, Chandigarh, Dharavi, Yangon, and Gary (USA) and his books include Decolonizing Ceylon, Transforming Asian Cities, and People’s Spaces.

A warm welcome to the modified and updated website of the Centre for East Asian Studies. The East Asian region has been at the forefront of several path-breaking changes since 1970s beginning with the redefining the development architecture with its State-led development model besides emerging as a major region in the global politics and a key hub of the sophisticated technologies. The Centre is one of the thirteen Centres of the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi that provides a holistic understanding of the region.

Initially, established as a Centre for Chinese and Japanese Studies, it subsequently grew to include Korean Studies as well. At present there are eight faculty members in the Centre. Several distinguished faculty who have now retired include the late Prof. Gargi Dutt, Prof. P.A.N. Murthy, Prof. G.P. Deshpande, Dr. Nranarayan Das, Prof. R.R. Krishnan and Prof. K.V. Kesavan. Besides, Dr. Madhu Bhalla served at the Centre in Chinese Studies Programme during 1994-2006. In addition, Ms. Kamlesh Jain and Dr. M. M. Kunju served the Centre as the Documentation Officers in Chinese and Japanese Studies respectively.

The academic curriculum covers both modern and contemporary facets of East Asia as each scholar specializes in an area of his/her interest in the region. The integrated course involves two semesters of classes at the M. Phil programme and a dissertation for the M. Phil and a thesis for Ph. D programme respectively. The central objective is to impart an interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of history, foreign policy, government and politics, society and culture and political economy of the respective areas. Students can explore new and emerging themes such as East Asian regionalism, the evolving East Asian Community, the rise of China, resurgence of Japan and the prospects for reunification of the Korean peninsula. Additionally, the Centre lays great emphasis on the building of language skills. The background of scholars includes mostly from the social science disciplines; History, Political Science, Economics, Sociology, International Relations and language.

Several students of the centre have been recipients of prestigious research fellowships awarded by Japan Foundation, Mombusho (Ministry of Education, Government of Japan), Saburo Okita Memorial Fellowship, Nippon Foundation, Korea Foundation, Nehru Memorial Fellowship, and Fellowship from the Chinese and Taiwanese Governments. Besides, students from Japan receive fellowship from the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.