Learning from the Utopian City: An international network on alternative histories of India's urban futures

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Sch of Geography

Abstract

This project interweaves social history, postcolonial and urban studies to learn from alternative histories of the utopian city in order to shape India's urban future. It does this by taking the view that utopias are as much of grassroots articulations of socially inclusive cities and citizenship as they are top-down visions of urban planning. Building upon the strong foundations established through existing partnerships between UK and Indian researchers, this project aims to explore how an alternate history of utopian urban planning can inform the trajectories of future cities and urbanization in India. It is led by urban geographer (Datta) from UK and architect and feminist geographer (Sabhlok) from India. This is supported by UK Co-Is - Indian historian (Gould) and Urban History and development scholar (Madgin). The aim of the network is to uncover parallel histories of the utopian city that have so far been changed, dominated or appropriated by top down visions of Indian urban planning. It will examine urban histories as being made up of a variety of interacting and sometimes competing utopian visions. These visions also define citizenship in differentiated rather than universal ways, strongly linked to context, material conditions and political activism. The network will analyse and share knowledge of these alternate histories through a series of inter-connected city workshops with local academics, urban planners and grassroots organisations in India and an end of project symposium in the UK.

The network aims to answer the following key questions:
- How are urban utopias historically and culturally conditioned in India? The aim here will be to map and analyse how utopian visions of a new kind of social and political order have particular associations with regimes of control and containment. This will examine how utopias envisioned in newly independent India (1950s) are connected to utopian visions of the 1960s or post liberalization India (2000s). We will identify common threads and divergences in city blueprints, the parameters of creating these cities and their current contribution to India's urban future. We will also explore how far urban utopian visions are conditioned by competitive aspirations and developed for external audiences.
- How can the utopian city take account not just of the diversity of its citizens but also the diversity of their visions of the ideal city? This seeks to address the paradoxical nature of the utopian city - as a rule of order and as a productive space of transformation. In other words, we will seek to question how utopias are embodied and engendered by subaltern citizens to sustain as well as challenge political regulation. Drawing upon oral histories, diaries, photographs, letters and other forms of informal artefacts brought to the workshops, this will seek to unsettle the finality of the urban utopia to suggest the continuous mode of becoming of the utopian Indian city.
- How can a history of the utopian city inform the future of India's urbanization? This aims to examine a dual utopian visioning whereby it is only possible to imagine a utopian future by learning from the history of urban utopias. In so doing, we approach India's urban futures as already written through its urban histories and therefore accessible to us only through an understanding of its histories. Moreover, as the future is yet to materialise, we argue that its trajectory can be shifted towards more inclusive outcomes through the inclusion of a history of subaltern utopias.

The further purpose of the meetings is to extend the project to a) other South Asian cities; b) explore the means by which academics working on urban society and culture can interact with planners, third sector organisations and architects; c) explore the possibilities for further projects examining the relationship between urban utopias in the Global South and global north.

Planned Impact

The central thrust of this project is to examine the ways in which urban utopian visions have been conceived and implemented within Indian cities. This is of crucial importance to Indian cities today as 100 cities have recently been designated as Smart Cities along with the reconceptualisation of heritage cities announced in 2014. As such the project lies at the intersection of academia and policy and this is reflected in the ways in which the project has been designed. The network will be of practical relevance to four groups in India.

a) Government departments/agencies particularly the Minorities Commission, National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) and Niti Aayog (erstwhile Planning Commission); Stakeholders in this group often see marginalised citizens as potential recipients of policy rather than active and contributing citizens in shaping the future of their cities. The network will ensure the visibility of the contribution of marginalised citizens to parallel urban histories and grassroots utopias and enable a more nuanced and collaborative approach to including ordinary in India's future urbanization. The network will in particular provide information about the multiple ways that a city can be remembered, experienced and imagined and thus raise consciousness of the presence of alternate utopias among this group of stakeholders. It is expected that their interaction with other stakeholders in the workshops will enable representatives from government to become more receptive to citizen participation in shaping India's future cities.

b) Arts and heritage organisations: Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Sangeet Natak Academy (Chandigarh), Budhan Theatre (Ahmedabad). The network will provide information on the disconnect between the utopian blueprint and the intangible heritage vested in urban life at street level; on the relative successes of citizen transformations of the built environment into grassroots utopias; and on how a sensitivity to social differences can sustain or disrupt the utopian city. In particular it will provide an understanding of the meaning and nature of 'heritage' vested in citizenship practices and how these can be incorporated into the heritage of future cities.

c) Built environment professionals such as architects and planners will find the network of relevance since it will provide an arena via the workshops to discuss the design and planning of future cities with potential 'clients' - that is those who might actually inhabit these cities. This is significant in professional practice where architects and planner often have to second guess the requirements of the users and hence produce blueprints that aim to solidify a particular set of universal social relations. Interacting with citizens in the workshops will allow professionals to challenge their own 'expert' knowledge and accommodate a diversity of approaches in future urban planning. this form of knowldge exchange in the long run can displace neoliberal regimes of urbanizaion with more socially just production of grassroots utopian cities.

d) Third Sector organisations: Abhivyakti (Nashik); Chhoti si aasha (Chandigarh), Saksham Trust (Chandigarh), Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolann (BMMA) Mumbai; the network will provide a space for collaboration and knowledge exchange relevant to policy advocacy and citizen participation. It will allow stakeholders in this group to reflect upon teh learning process that shapes active and productive citizenships that can then feed into the making of more inclusive cities of the future.

Publications

10 25 50

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Datta A (2019) Smart cities and the banality of power in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

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Datta A (2018) The digital turn in postcolonial urbanism: Smart citizenship in the making of India's 100 smart cities in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers

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Datta A (2018) Postcolonial urban futures: Imagining and governing India's smart urban age in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

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Datta Ayona (2021) Learning from Small Cities

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Shaban A (2019) Towards "Slow" and "Moderated" Urbanism in Economic and Political Weekly

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
AH/N007395/1 01/12/2015 30/07/2016 £31,800
AH/N007395/2 Transfer AH/N007395/1 31/07/2016 30/07/2017 £3,271
 
Title Learning from Small Cities 
Description 12 Nov-31 Dec 2021 This exhibition presents findings from Learning from Small Cities, an international research collaboration from 2018-2021 that sought to learn how small cities in India undergoing rapid and radical urban transformations, can reimagine and realise new urban futures in a digital age. Moving away from the earlier focuses on metropolitan cities in the global south, it shifts our attention towards the much neglected but dynamic context of 'small cities' that are now the frontiers of planetary scale urbanisation. Learning from Small Cities uses the interconnected lenses of Governing, Imagining and Living with urban futures to present how small cities have become testbeds of state imaginations of India's urban future and how the realities of living with change are complex and contested on the ground. The exhibition showcases how urban authorities translate state imaginations of smart urban futures into 'actually existing' smart cities, how ordinary citizens in these cities live with the dynamics of these changes, how they reimagine 'smart' from the ground up, and how this combined knowledge might be mobilised towards more sustainable smart urban futures. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact Attended physically and virtually by academics and postgraduate students. The exhibition was featured in the London Architecture Diary 'Editor's Choice' for the month: https://london.architecturediary.org/editors-choice/ The Bloomsbury Institute brought in their students to look at the exhibition. Here is what the lecturer, Arif Zaman, emailed: "I attended the excellent Learning from Small Cities conference last week online and am bringing our students in to the see the exhibition this week in small groups of up to about 12 as part of the final year course studies. This is of part of our focus on Urbanisation and Innovation and the impact of technology." 
URL https://www.buildingcentre.co.uk/whats_on/exhibitions/learning-from-small-cities
 
Title Learning from Small Cities 
Description The world is more urban and more connected than ever before. Half of what we know as the 'urban population' of the global south lives in small and medium cities. What can we learn from small cities about how to build sustainable and inclusive urban futures? Conceptualised and written by: Ayona Datta, Sophie Hadfield-Hill, Melissa Butcher. Animator: Stacy Bias Funded by: UKRI ESRC and Newton Fund More information at https://www.smartsmallcity.com/ Twitter: @smartsmallcity 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact Social media engagement with 146 views till date 
URL https://youtu.be/bG-ioT9o_pU
 
Title Learning from Small Cities - Jalandhar 
Description Speed has become a mantra of urban development that demands the fast movement of labour and capital to generate urban prosperity. This is ingrained in the imagination of the smart city where people, information and infrastructure can be efficiently managed, never slowing or stopping. But in this city of speed, what happens to pedestrians, vendors, hawkers, and those who make a living off busy streets? What is lost in the need for speed? Conceptualised and written by: Varun Patil, Ayona Datta, Sophie Hadfield-Hill, Melissa Butcher. Animator: Stacy Bias Funded by: UKRI ESRC and Newton Fund More information at https://www.smartsmallcity.com/ Twitter: @smartsmallcity 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact Social Media engagement with 109 views 
URL https://youtu.be/vwmzJmHIZN4
 
Title Photography Exhibition on Utopian Cities in India: Jan Bella and Tim Smith 
Description Between 12 June and 5 July 2016, our project resulted in a photography exhibition around the cities of Mumbai and Varanasi - two of the key cities explored in the project. The exhibition showcased the work of Tim Smith and Jan Bella and was held at The Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre, Leeds. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact This exhibition led on to further commissions and work for Jan Bella and has reinforced the collaboration between Tim Smith and the University of Leeds, building on his application for an Artist in Residence at the University. 
URL https://utopiancities.wordpress.com/photo-exhibition/
 
Description We have developed an approach to understanding urban futures through a consideration of the past. Taking the hypothesis that 'future is a cultural fact' (Appadurai 2015) we have examined the histories, imaginations and possibilities of alternative urban utopias ina neoliberal urban age. As the outcome of an AHRC-ICHR jointly funded network titled 'Learning from the Utopian City: Alternative histories of India's urban futures', we have explored how subaltern histories of utopian urban planning can inform the trajectories of future cities and rapid urbanization in the global south and north.

We have connected this approach specifically to visions, policies and practices around the idea of the Smart City in India, and have found a number of important connections, in ideas of utopian urban planning, between our main cities of analysis. There are some common patterns, for example, in the forms of subaltern expression and organization in response to urban planning overall. Many of these responses draw upon historical ideas about the importance of particular spaces in the city, land ownership or control and the relationship between citizens' movement and urban governance.
Exploitation Route We have built and developed relations with strategic organisations by providing a research and discussion arena between academics, policymakers and third sector/practitioners.
We used the city workshops to map and visualise the utopian city in history and its future trajectories. This was documented in our website and blog contributions from stakeholders. We are further exploring policy implications and their practical applications for all stakeholders in our project report and joint edited volume.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other

URL https://utopiancities.wordpress.com/blog-posts/
 
Description The findings are already beginning to make an impact in the policy arena. Datta was invited as a speaker in the UNCTAD CSTD 19 annual meeting in Geneva, where she delivered findings from the project to an audience comprised largely of high-level country representatives and policy makers in the UN. Datta's work was cited in the UN World Cities Report in 2016 as well as highlighted as an agenda contributor to the World Economic Forum. Datta's work has also been used and informally circulated in the IT industry, leading to an invitation to deliver a keynote in the (1400 strong) employee away day of an IT company named Thoughtworks in Hyderabad, India. Gould's work on corruption and anti-corruption movements in urban contexts has led to his being invited on an expert's panel at the Cabinet Office, UK, advising on anti-corruption in the Commonwealth (19 August 2016).
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Agenda contributor World Economic Forum
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact Article written in the ConversationUK was cited in the World Economic Forum which was part of several citations to improve and direct policymaking for smart cities.
URL https://www.weforum.org/agenda/authors/ayona-datta
 
Description Citation in the UN World Cities Report 2016
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact Highlighted that the article had contributed to our understanding often role of rapid urbanisation on growing income and wealth inequality
URL http://wcr.unhabitat.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2016/05/WCR-%20Full-Report-2016.pdf
 
Description Invitation to Cabinet Office Round Table on Corruption in Global South
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description British Academy GCRF 'Cities and Infrastructure' Programme
Amount £280,000 (GBP)
Funding ID CI170047 
Organisation The British Academy 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 01/2019
 
Description ERC Advanced Grant
Amount € 2,490,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country Belgium
Start 01/2022 
End 12/2026
 
Description ESRC-ICSSR Urban transformations in India (Newton call)
Amount £464,000 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/R006857/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 04/2020
 
Description Research Networks Highlight notice on International development
Amount £5,167,700 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/R003866/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2018 
End 01/2020
 
Description SNF-RCUK Money follows Cooperation
Amount CHF 624,000 (CHF)
Funding ID 10001AM_173332/1 
Organisation Swiss National Science Foundation 
Sector Public
Country Switzerland
Start 01/2018 
End 12/2020
 
Description Organisation of Stakeholder workshop in Chandigarh 
Organisation Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We provided overall intellectual direction and advice on smart cities. We also participated in the workshop discussions and presentations.
Collaborator Contribution The workshop in Chandigarh brought together multiple stakeholders in the city. It was planned to foster conversation between academics, bureaucrats, NGOs and activists on the contested histories and imagined futures for Chandigarh. In that sense, the discussion revealed the connections between the past, present and futures - the spatial and temporal linkages showed how the plan for Chandigarh as a smart city reimagined, challenged and/or reproduced the ideas of Chandigarh as 'City Beautiful' and 'Heritage City.' The workshop brought to the fore cracks that lie between the planners' vision and the experiences of cities' diverse populations. The partners provided the intellectual leadership in the workshop, inviting participants, managing the content and organising the programme.
Impact Resulted in a workshop report available in https://utopiancities.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/learning-from-the-utopian-city-chandigarh-workshop-report/
Start Year 2016
 
Description Organisation of a city workshop in Varanasi 
Organisation Banaras Hindu University
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We provided overall intellectual direction and advice on smart cities. We also participated in the workshop discussions and presentations.
Collaborator Contribution This was the first of the four city workshops organised in partnership with Benares Hindu University. The Utopian Cities project was introduced by Drs Ayona Datta and Anu Sabhlok by firstly explaining the overall rationale for the project as a whole and secondly by looking at what would come up for the second workshop in Chandigarh. Utopian Cities involves the setting up of four city workshops in locations that have been identified as 'Smart Cities' but which cover a range of possible urban futures, from those focussing on infrastructural development to heritage cities - Chandigarh and Navi Mumbai representing the first group and Varanasi and Nashik the second. The format of the meetings closely follows the overall rationale of the project in examining the relationship between 'top down' visions of the city, compared to 'grassroots' utopian visions. However, the meetings are also an opportunity for us to explore new ideas about urban utopias as they emerge in each specific place. William Gould also explained the roots of the project, how the collaboration came about and the relationship between the AHRC and the ICHR. The final discussions picked up on different presentations and posed the following questions: a) how do we combine the need to maintain and sustain the tangible and intangible heritage of the city with the requirements that rapid urbanisation raise?; b) what kinds of leverage can the city's poor exercise in relation to local government and planning policy? What support can they expect and from what kinds of organisations? c) To what extent are the problems created by rapid urbanisation experienced in different ways by different groups in the city?
Impact Resulted in a workshop report available at https://utopiancities.wordpress.com/2016/03/26/learning-from-the-utopian-city-varanasi-workshop-report/
Start Year 2016
 
Description Organisation of city workshop in Nashik 
Organisation Moolbhoot Hakka Andolan (MHA)
Country India 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We provided overall intellectual direction and advice on smart cities. We also participated in the workshop discussions and presentations.
Collaborator Contribution The fourth and final workshop in our city workshop series was held in Nashik, Maharashtra from 30-31 May 2016. The workshop was organised by our partner, a local NGO - Moolbhoot Hakka Andolan (MHA) with the support of Shilpa Dahake (PhD student in IISER, Mohali). The workshop was organised under several themes relevant to Nashik - Smart city, housing and urban space, water and waste management, cultural heritage and education and health issue. These were organised over a day and half of intense workshops that included locally elected representatives, municipal officials, planners, architects, business, journalists, and several representatives of grassroots organisations. The one and half days of workshop were stimulating lively and animated at several times. The key issues that emerged from the workshop was that there is a high disjuncture between the aims of the smart city proposals and the actually existing needs and demands from Nashik's urban citizens, particularly those historically, culturally and legally disenfranchised. We discussed ways in which the smart city rhetoric could be used to forward these claims from the grassroots or whether there was a need for an alternative rhetoric and practice that would articulate citizens' needs more appropriately. We concluded that Nashik is unique in the strong presence and activism of civil society groups which produced spaces and visions of hope for a progressive urban future. The partners brought together a range of participants from grassroots, academia, government, business and third sector to debate and discuss the transformation of Nashik into a smart heritage city.
Impact Resulted in a project report available on https://utopiancities.wordpress.com/2016/06/23/learning-from-nashik-workshop-report/
Start Year 2016
 
Description Organisation of city workshop in Navi Mumbai 
Organisation Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Department School of Habitat Studies
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We provided overall intellectual direction and advise on themes. We also participated in the workshop discussions and presentations.
Collaborator Contribution The third workshop in our series was on Navi Mumbai's urban future. This workshop was held from 27-28 May 2016 and was locally organised by Dr Ratoola Kundu, from the School of Habitat Studies in Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai. Through the two days of workshop, we brought together a range of scholars, urban activists, practitioners, citizens, elected representatives, bureaucrats and others to debate and discuss the urbanisation trajectories (past, present and future) of Navi Mumbai. In particular we drew from narratives, reports, experiences, projects and proposals - incorporating both top-down and bottom-up, formal and informal, documented and undocumented realms of urban imaginations for a 'city built from scratch' at a significant moment of India's liberalisation in the 1990s. The two days of workshops were organised under several themes - histories of urbanisation, the land question, governance, housing and infrastructure and grassroots voices. On the first day, after the opening of the workshop and introduction to the key themes of the project from Ayona Datta, Anu Sabhlok and Ratoola Kundu, the first session explored the histories of Navi Mumbai's urban trajectory. The partners, Tata Institute of Social Sciences organised the city workshop in Mumbai bringing together a range of stakeholders from grassroots, government, policy making, business and academia. They also donated the venue and remuneration for speakers.
Impact Resulted in a report and several guest blogs on our project website. www.utopiancities.com
Start Year 2016
 
Description 10th Feb 2016, Quoted in LA Times " Can U.S. businesses help India's chaotic cities become 'smart?" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Datta (PI) was quoted in Los Angeles Times article - Can U.S. businesses help India's chaotic cities become 'smart'?
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-india-smart-cities-20160210-story.html
 
Description 28th Jan 2016 Quoted in the Guardian. 'Where are the world's newest cities and why do they all look the same?' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Datta (PI) was quoted in article in the Guardian 'Where are the world's newest cities and why do they all look the same?'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/jan/28/where-world-newest-cities-look-same
 
Description April 2016 - three paper presentations in Association of American Geographers annual meeting, San Francisco, USA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Datta (PI) presented three papers in three different sessions at the AAG annual meeting. The papers were all based on the findings of the project.
Titles:
1. The Art of Utopia: Visual power in the making of India's smart citizens
2. Smart fictions: Cities and citizenship in India's urban age
3. India's 'first' smart city: The urbanisation of dispossession
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.aag.org
 
Description Article in the ConversationUK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Published article in the ConversationUK titled - Will India's experiment with smart cities tackle poverty or make it worse? The article was tweeted 182 times on Twitter, shared 92 times on facebook and read by over 19,000 readers internationally.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://theconversation.com/will-indias-experiment-with-smart-cities-tackle-poverty-or-make-it-worse...
 
Description Article in the ConversationUK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Wrote an article in the ConversationUK titled - Three big challenges for smart cities and how to solve them. The article had over 19,000 readers, 155 tweets, and 101 shares on facebook. I received several invitation thereafter to engage with policy audiences.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://theconversation.com/three-big-challenges-for-smart-cities-and-how-to-solve-them-59191
 
Description Bartlett, UCL Workshop on Smart Cities 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited to present in a panel in a Bartlett, UCL workshop on smart cities organised by Mike Batty
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description British Academy film 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In conversation with Mathew Gandy and Simon Marvin on 'Habitat and Living in Plural Cities' British Academy film.
The film was intended to discuss the challenges of living in plural cities and possible urban futures in the global south. The film is embedded in the British Academy website, and part of their urban futures research activity. It has an international audience and has been viewed 677 times so far on youtube
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IK7ndXv4RM
 
Description Datta, A (27 January 2016) Will India's experiment with smart cities tackle poverty or make it worse? The ConversationUK. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Datta (PI) wrote an article in The Conversation UK outlining India's smart city activities. The article gave a round up of India's smart cities activities, including Modi's 100 cities mission, and explained why it's a focus. Then the body of the article concentrated on explaining the issues around land use and social inclusion which such projects have raised, providing a few examples.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://theconversation.com/will-indias-experiment-with-smart-cities-tackle-poverty-or-make-it-worse...
 
Description Datta, A (9 June 2016) Three big challenges for smart cities and how to solve them. published in The ConversationUK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Datta (PI) wrote an article in The Conversation UK outlining the problems with the way smart city sites are chosen, discussing issues about rights to land and livelihoods with the reflections on small/poor towns missing out on top-down investment. The article explained how smart city policies fear to tread within the domestic sphere, and what role they could play in reducing gender inequalities. Finally it explored the legal ambiguity in national laws relating to open data, privacy and mass surveillance.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://theconversation.com/three-big-challenges-for-smart-cities-and-how-to-solve-them-59191
 
Description European Association of Urban Historians 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact "Myth Making in the City: Mythologies, Memories and Meaning in Comparative Context, August 2016, Helsinki. Professor William Gould and Dr Rebecca Madgin co-organised a session examining urban myths.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description European Urban History Association conference "Myth Making in the City: Mythologies, Memories and Meaning in Comparative Context, August 2016, Helsinki 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact European Urban History Association conference entitled "Myth Making in the City: Mythologies, Memories and Meaning in Comparative Context, August 2016, Helsinki. We organised a multiple panel at the conference which covered a wide range of approaches to the idea of the myth of the city.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description March 2016 - invited by ESRC to UK/India Urban Transformations Research Workshop, Jaipur 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Datta (PI) was invited to be part of an expert panel in a workshop run by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) and India's National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) held from 2nd-3rd March 2016 in Jaipur, India on Urban Transformations. Datta was identified as one of 15 UK experts who could help identify key priorities for joint activities in this field and help shape a possible funding call involving the host agencies.

The overarching objectives of the workshop were to:
· identify common interests and complementary areas of urban expertise in the UK and India;
· raise awareness of urban research communities and current activities in the UK and India;
· build relationships and networks in this field, and
· identify priority themes for urban transformations in India to inform potential future collaboration and potential research calls.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Nov 2016 - Public Lecture in University of Newcastle 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Datta (PI) delivered a public lecture as part of The School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape's Public Lecture Series, which showcases inspiring speakers currently researching, writing or practicing within the built environment and related fields.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.ncl.ac.uk/apl/events/public-lectures/
 
Description Oct 2016 - Lecture in India Institute, King's College London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Datta (PI) participated in a panel discussion on sustainability and smart cities as part of a twelve-week Chevening Gurukul Leadership Programme hosted by the India Institute at King's College London. This year, The Gurukul Fellows devoted a week to the module entitled 'Beyond Smart Cities'. The module focused on shared challenges between India and the UK in urban issues - from infrastructure to sustainable solutions to community cohesion. The Programme is part of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office's flagship fellowship scheme for India aimed at early to mid-career young professionals from diverse backgrounds with a strong and demonstrable leadership potential. The course is designed to introduce the Fellows to a variety of themes of pressing global concern and of vital interest in the developing strategic partnership between the UK and India.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.chevening.org/programme/gurukul
 
Description Oct 2016 - public seminar in London School of Economics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The Dept of Geography in LSE hosts Research Seminars in Urbanisation, Planning & Development as a series of expert-led discussions. Datta (PI) delivered a seminar in this series titled "Winners and Losers: 'Good Governance' and Hashtag Citizenships in the making of India's 100 Smart Cities Challenge"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.lse.ac.uk/geographyAndEnvironment/Events/Urbanisation,-Planning-&-Development-Seminars.as...
 
Description October 2016 - Public lecture in Somerville College, University of Oxford 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Datta (PI) presented her work from the AHRC project. The title of her lecture was 'Skills, Scale and Speed: Topographies of India's Urban Age'. This was part of a public seminar series organised by the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development at Somerville College. Broadly themed around 'Urbanization: ecologies, politics, challenges', it focuses on key questions pertaining to urbanization, nature and governance in India (and beyond).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Organisation of international Conference in Leeds. Title 'Utopian Urban Futures: Histories, Imaginations, Possibilities 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The final conference in our Utopian Urban Futures project was held in Leeds from 27-28 June 2016. The conference was held at the Headingly Arts and Enterprise Centre (HEART) and was well attended by academics from a number of different countries including the UK, America and India. Over the two days, four themes: Histories of the Future City, Imaginations, Possibilities, and Comparative Utopias guided the discussion. The four panels comprised of two plenary speakers per session plus 3-4 shorter, 15 minute papers and the conference was concluded with a roundtable by the academic organisers, Ayona Datta, Will Gould, Rebecca Madgin and Anu Sabhlok.

The conference brought to light a number of issues related to utopian urban futures, including the role of history, and the construction of power but over the course of the conference it became apparent that there needs to be much more of a focus on the role of the citizen within their local context. A number of speakers had considered this issue throughout the Leeds conference but we left asking the question whether those durable elements of the local environment identified by local citizens who are embedded in the everyday routines of cities are actually the real versions of utopian cities. If so the challenge appears to be narrowing the gap between this everyday experience and the imagined desires of urban professionals and national governments.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2016
URL https://utopiancities.wordpress.com/2016/07/17/utopian-urban-futures-conference-report/
 
Description Paper presentation in Royal Geographical Society annual meeting 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Part of panel on 'Decolonising Urban Geographies' organised by Jennifer Robinson
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Podcast with Royal Geographical Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Was featured in a 23 min long podcast series called #AsktheGeographer hosted by the Royal Geographical Society
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/ask-the-geographer/id1196746426?mt=2&utm_source=Twitter&utm_medi...
 
Description Public lecture in University of Cardiff 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact About 30 Academics and post graduate students attended the seminar, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards. This contributed to the University's engagement with and interest in Urban geography related activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/events/view/governing-urban-futures-smart-cities-and-postcolonial-urbanis...
 
Description Research Seminar, University of Stockholm 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited to present a Research Seminar in Department of Social Anthropology
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.socant.su.se/english/about-us/events/research-seminar-ayona-datta-1.312331
 
Description Sept 2016 - Smart Cities workshop, National University of Ireland, Maynooth. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Datta (PI) was invited to present a paper in a two day workshop on the creation of smart cities organised as part of he ERC funded Programmable City project at National University of Ireland Maynooth (http://www.maynoothuniversity.ie/progcity). The workshop focused in particular on their co-design and co-production and identifying and addressing citizenship and governance issues. It was an invite only event and included about 35-50 participants.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://progcity.maynoothuniversity.ie/about/
 
Description Twitter handle @TheUtopianCity 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The twitter handle was used to disseminate and publicise the findings from our project. It was particularly effective in publicising events such as the city workshops and conference call for papers, as well as to circulate the reports and blog posts that emerged from the workshops. It generated about 134 followers, and announcements from this handle were circulated widely on social media.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://twitter.com/TheUtopianCity
 
Description UN-Habitat World Urban Forum 10 in Abu Dhabi. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Datta was invited by UN-Habitat to speak at their Dialogues plenary session in the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi (10-13 February 2020).
She was also invited to speak at two other networking sessions organised by UK GCRF and New York based global consultancy IHC.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://wuf.unhabitat.org/wuf10-programme/speakers/prof-ayona-datta
 
Description Urban History Association Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Urban History Association 8th Biannual Conference, "Working Across Borders and Cultures in Urban and Planning History", Chicago, October 2016. Talk about the need for both spatial and temporal dimensions of urbanism and utopias.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Utopian Cities Website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The blog has received over 1000 hits since its inception in 2016. It has facilitated knowledge exchange and continuing engagement with the practitioner and professional community as well as policymakers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.utopiancities.wordpress.com
 
Description Working on and in the City. 4 November 2016, University of Leeds 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This event involved a dual presentation by Profs W Gould and M Chase around research methods and approaches in urban contexts. The presentation drew significantly on the research from Utopian Cities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Workshop in City University of Hong Kong 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited to participate in a closed workshop in City University of Hong Kong on SMART CITIES, SMART CITIZENS? POWER AND PARTICIPATION IN THE DIGITAL CITY
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://smartcitiespol.wordpress.com