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Title: The Speculative City: Cases from Kinshasa and Mumbai.
Authors: De Boeck, Filip ×
Appadurai, Arjun #
Issue Date: 2011
Conference: Cities in Development. Spaces, Conflicts and Agencies edition:2 location:Faculty of Social Sciences, U. of Leuven date:22 November 2011
Abstract: Professor Arjun Appadurai is a widely acclaimed anthropologist and one of the world’s most prominent thinkers on globalization, public culture and urban studies. On Tueday 22 November he joined professor Filip De Boeck for a debate on ‘The speculative city: Cases from Mumbai and Kinshasa’. This debate evening was part of a series on ‘Cities in Development: Spaces, Conflicts and Agency’.

Professor Appadurai unraveled how justice is imagined through various dream factories in the cinematic city of Mumbai. Home to Bollywood, Mumbai is a media-saturated city, whose products have shaped popular dreams, scripts and stars for almost a century. The industries of crime, mass media and justice in this city reflect and refract each other in numerous ways. In his lecture, professor Appadurai focused on a single major case, the story of Sanjay Dutt, a major film-star who was tried for working with terrorists in the famous bombings of 1993 in Mumbai.

The covert violence, the risk, the uncertainty and the possibility of daily life in Kinshasa reside in the gap between official visions and unofficial reality. Using two cases in which water is being turned into land, Filip De Boeck reveals the need to envision a 'near future' that hyphenates dream and reality; a plan predicated on incremental transformation rather than destructive, radical, exclusionary change.


Professor Appadurai is currently Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University in New York City, NY. His major accomplishment has been the construction of anthropological frameworks for the study of global media, consumption, and migration. His current work focuses on poverty, violence, and social inclusion in mega-cities with a special focus on Mumbai (India). He has authored numerous books and scholarly articles including Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger (2006, Duke University Press) and Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, (1996, University of Minnesota Press; 1997, Oxford University Press, Delhi). His previous scholarly publications have covered such topics as religion, cuisine, agriculture and mass culture in India. He is one of the founding editors, along with Carol A. Breckenridge, of the journal Public Culture.
Professor Filip De Boeck is a Professor of Anthropology (Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa, K.U.Leuven) with extensive research experience in rural and urban Central Africa. His current theoretical interests include local subjectivities of crisis, youth and the politics of culture, and the transformation of private and public space in African urban contexts. Filip De Boeck is the author of Kinshasa. Tales of the Invisible City, a joint book project with photographer Marie-Françoise Plissart (Ghent/ Tervuren: Ludion / Royal Museum of Central Africa, 2004), and co-editor of Makers and Breakers. Children and Youth in Postcolonial Africa (Oxford: James Currey, 2005). De Boeck has also been active as curator and film-maker, in an effort to straddle the interdisciplinary divide between the social sciences, architecture and art.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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