Select Page

Special Event

In collaboration with the upcoming “Megacities Asia” exhibition on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from April 3 to July 17, 2016, this event will bring together artists and academics to examine contemporary Asian megacities including Beijing, Delhi, Mumbai, Shanghai, and Tokyo. Discussions will focus on the built environment in these cities, how we think about concepts of modern versus vernacular, formal versus informal, and the impact  of rapid urbanization on inhabitants of cities from Mumbai to Shanghai.

Sponsored by the Harvard South Asia Institute and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Cosponsored by Harvard’s Asia Center, Department of Art and Architecture, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Korea Institute, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, and Weatherhead Center for International Affairs


5:30 – 6 pm      Megacities Asia

Introduction: Tarun KhannaDirector, Harvard South Asia Institute; Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School

Al Miner, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Laura Weinstein, Ananda Coomaraswamy Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

With towering masses of stainless steel vessels, vast quantities of colorful plastic wares, crowded arrangements of discarded architectural elements, and other such accumulations, artists in Megacities Asia including Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Delhi, and Mumbai are creating work that reflects the unprecedented wave of urbanization that has swept the region over the last fifty years.

6 – 7 pm           Modern – Vernacular, City – Nature: Imaginations of the New India

Anu Ramaswami, Charles M. Denny, Jr., Chair of Science, Technology, and Public Policy, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota; Professor, College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Sciences, University of Minnesota

Chitra Venkataramani, South Asian Studies Fellow, Harvard South Asia Institute

Asim Waqif, Artist and Architect

Chair: Sai Balakrishnan, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Responding to the examples in the Megacities Asia exhibit, this conversation will focus on the politics and pluralities of architecture and urban planning in Delhi and Mumbai


7 – 7:15 pm     Break

7:15 – 8:30 pm Inhabiting Asian Cities

Theodore C. Bestor, Reischauer Institute Professor of Social Anthropology, Director, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University

Martha Chen, Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, Affiliated Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, International Coordinator of the global research-policy-action network Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)

Hu Xiangcheng, Artist

Chair: Laura WeinsteinAnanda Coomaraswamy Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

This panel will explore the dynamism of urban life in Asia, both its material and immaterial aspects, in comparative perspective. Panelists will discuss urban planning in relation to the lives and livelihoods of city dwellers in South Asia, China, and Japan