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Urban aspirations – a laboratory

An international cooperation project will compare post-colonial megacities in Asia, including Mumbai, Singapore and Shanghai, with the non-colonial global city of New York.

In a new research project "Urban Aspirations in Global Cities", headed by Peter van der Veer, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity along with researchers from New York University and scientists from India will look at how the urban community of rapidly growing megacities impacts on the development of religious and ethnic aspirations.

On December 13, 2010, the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, the Indian Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and Partners for Urban Knowledge (PUKAR) will mark the official start of the research work with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding at the TISS Campus in Mumbai. Peter van der Veer, who will head the project, will be working with Indian colleagues Lakshmi Lingam and Anita Patil-Deshmukh.

The scientists chose "Aspiration" as the theme as opposed to "Identity" to emphasise the ideal character of a number of processes which affects both cityscapes and urban movements and developments. This concerns, for example, areas such as town planning and migration, as well as the media and creative occupations. The research team will also look at the paradox of why modernisation in megacities does not automatically generate secularisation.

A Memorandum of Understanding with New York University regarding the research focus on Singapore has already been signed as part of the cooperation project, which will run for five years. "The project underscores once again the close and varied scientific contacts between the Max Planck Society and the emerging research nation India", explains Felix Kahle, the Max Planck Society's representative in India.

The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science has 80 institutes and research facilities with approximately 21,200 employees including 4,900 doctoral students and guest scientists of whom 50% have an international background with more than 600 coming from India. Max Planck institutes conduct basic research into the natural, life and human sciences.

Felix Kahle, Representative of the Max Planck Society in India
c/o German Embassy New Delhi
Tel.: ++91 11 4419-9163
Claudia Kahmen, Press Desk
Max Planck Society
Tel. +49 89 2108-1468

Barbara Abrell | Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
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