The Infrastructures, Regions and Urbanizations of Malay Liverpool: A Relational Geohistory

Plenary Lecture “The Infrastructures, Regions and Urbanizations of Malay Liverpool: A Relational Geohistory” with Tim Bunnell (National University of Singapore) with a following discussion by Jane M. Jacobs, Julia Lossau and Chitra Venkataramani. The event was held in the framework of the Transregional Academy “Infrastructures, Regions and Urbanizations” in Singapore (29 September – 7 October 2018).

It was jointly organized by the Forum Transregionale Studien, Max Weber Stiftung, Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien, National University Singapore, Max Weber Foundation Research Group on Borders, Mobility and New Infrastructures and the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore.

Hosted at the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore, the Transregional Academy explored, from a comparative and global perspective, questions of material and immaterial infrastructures, regions and urbanization in past and present societies in diverse contexts.

In his abstract Tim Bunnell describes his presentation as following: “I use relational historical geographies of Malay Liverpool to engage with the three key terms that frame this Transregional Academy: infrastructures, regions and urbanizations. First, I map the rantau of seafaring Malays not as a really-delimited “region” but as a globally-dispersed and interconnected sailortown. Second, I examine seafaring labour as a constituent part of global sailortown – Malay sailors contributing to but also exceeding commercial infrastructures of connectivity. Third, I consider the extent to which such infrastructures may be cast as evidence of extended urbanization.”

Tim Bunnell is Professor in the Department of Geography and Chair of the Global Urban Studies cluster in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at NUS. Professor Bunnell’s research centres upon issues of urban development in Southeast Asia, and that region’s global connections.

Jane M. Jacobs is Professor of Urban Studies at Yale-NUS College, Singapore.  Before joining Yale-NUS she taught at The University of Melbourne and University of Edinburgh. Her current research is a socio-technical history design innovation in Singapore’s large-scale housing provision system, 1960-1995.

Julia Lossau is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Bremen. The special focus of her professorship is urban geography, but she is also interested in cultural and political geographical approaches.

Chitra Venkataramani is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the National University of Singapore. Chitra obtained her PhD in anthropology from Johns Hopkins University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard University. Her work intersects urban studies, visual culture, ecology, and science and technology studies.


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