ZHGK – Lecture Prof Dr Neloufer de Mel ||| Concrete Utopias: Post-War Urban Development and the Politics of Aesthetics Interventions in Sri Lanka

Dienstag, 7. Nov 2017, 16:00 Uhr bis 17:00 Uhr

Taking postwar developmental blueprints and the violent instrumentalities on which it is reliant as a starting point, the talk examines the “Slum Free Colombo” urban regeneration program of the Urban Development Authority (UDA). Given that the negative impact of this policy including its forced evictions of low-income populations and enforced relocations to apartments in high rise tower blocks
is already known, I highlight an aspect that has hitherto been understudied in the Sri Lankan case: the non-violent instruments that underwrite urban renewal in Sri Lanka and artistic interventions on the post-war urban development project. I therefore discuss the mobilization of desire for bourgeois householdership (Patel 2016) and “the will to improve” (Tania Li) that development is also reliant on,
and the particular forms this mobilization has taken in Sri Lanka. In triangulating urban development, the politics of aesthetic intervention and post-war transitions, the talk plays with the notion of concrete utopias in a double sense: invoking both the literal concrete pillars and scaffolding that constitute the building blocks of the modern city, and Munoz’s reflections on utopias that are both abstract and
valued for its function as critique, and concrete because they are moored to historical consciousness and the materialities of aesthetic production. The talk thereby explores the durability of urban development as a powerful imaginary, its ability to redefine citizenship including access to urban commons, and how we may re-think the relationship of space, art and post-war transformation "insurgent visions" of the city.

MitProf Dr Neloufer de Mel, Department of English, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
Ort Winterthurerstr. 190, 8057 Zürich
Raum: Y 25 H 79
VeranstalterGeography, Political Geography (PGG)
Geography, Economic Geography (WGG)
Geographisches Institut, UZH
Geography, Human Geography (HGG)
KontaktRegina Kohler (Mail)