His presentation, 'Future Cities: palimpsest of the utopic imagination' framed the significance of how cities have been represented through their questioning of reality, reshaping our spatial conceptions or providing rich expressions of alternatives. Indeed, these future cities contribute to our social imaginary and resonate the values of the cultures in which they are produced. Reexamining lost futures enables us to frame critical utopianism and discuss the alternatives we may recuperate and rethink. His talk explored the philosophical values embedded in such representations as a mode of extrapolating forms of future cities as they accumulate within our collective imagination to embody the cities we want, need, desire, fear or dream of.
The conference, Utopian Urban Futures: Histories, imaginations, possibilities sought to interweave postcolonial historiography and critical urban studies to examine the histories, imaginations and possibilities of alternative urban utopias to a neoliberal urban age. As the outcome of an AHRC-ICHR jointly funded network titled ‘Learning from the Utopian City: Alternative histories of India’s urban futures’, it aims to explore how subaltern histories of utopian urban planning can inform the trajectories of future cities and rapid urbanization in the global south and north. It is concerned with what Henri Lefebvre (2005) has called the imagination of the ‘impossible possible’ in the making of socially and spatially just urban futures.