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Speculative Histories: Photo essay

  • KAVITA PHILIP (a1)
Extract

History and Speculation, Past and Future, are not as separate as they once were in our disciplinary imaginations. Science fiction has emerged as one of many new speculative frequencies in today's scholarly spectrum. Visual representation is an older mode that brings thought and feeling, analytics and prediction together. It pre-dates both historical and fictional narrative forms. Shaped by long histories of artistic and critical conversations, images today are being used in ways that extend and complicate our interdisciplinary scholarly methods. Here, they are put to work in order to pose different questions and suggest alternative analyses of the histories and futures of Asia's changing landscapes.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.
References
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1 Photo captions were provided by artists Lam and Desai. Quotations were selected from national founder theorists Mao and Nehru; from critical theorist Walter Benjamin on history writing; from recent theorists of development Deborah Cowen, Kalyan Sanyal and their collaborators; and from the celebrated proto-fictional city narrative, Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities.

2 Mao Tse-tung, Selected Works, vol. 3, London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1954, p. 194.

3 Jawaharlal Nehru, ‘Tryst with destiny’, speech, 14 August 1947.

4 Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978, p. 44.

5 Calvino, op. cit. (4), p. 98.

6 Mao, op. cit. (2), p. 194.

7 Bhattacharya, Rajesh and Sanyal, Kalyan, ‘Bypassing the squalor: new towns, immaterial labour and exclusion in post-colonial urbanisation’, Economic & Political Weekly (30 July 2011) 46(31), pp. 4148, 42.

8 Parlette, Vanessa and Cowen, Deborah, ‘Dead malls: suburban activism, local spaces, global logistics’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (2011) 35, pp. 794811.

9 Walter Benjamin, ‘Paralipomena to “On the concept of history”’, in Benjamin, Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, vol. 4: 1938–1940, ed. Howard Elland and Michael W. Jennings, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006, pp. 401–411, 402.

10 Walter Benjamin, ‘On the concept of history’, in Benjamin, Selected Writings, op. cit. (9), pp. 389–400, 392.

11 Benjamin, op. cit. (9), p. 405.

12 Le Corbusier, Radiant City 1935, cited in Jacques Guiton (ed.), The Ideas of Le Corbusier on Architecture and Urban Planning, translated by Margaret Guiton, New York: G. Braziller, 1981.

13 Calvino, op. cit. (4), p. 29.

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