8th International THAAP Conference 2017: "The City - An Evolving Organism"

Aabidah  Ali's picture
Call for Papers
May 1, 2017
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Humanities, Public History, Social Sciences, Urban History / Studies

The City: An Evolving Organism

Life on Earth has followed an evolutionary trajectory and its story is one of survival through interaction with nature. This has its various shades of wresting food, contesting space, and the natural selection of genes with the twin results of adaptation and exploitation of nature. Part of the survival methodologies has been the clustering into groups, family, clan and tribe. There may be disagreement on the exact unfolding of the human drama but there has been a convergence towards efforts to sustain, rather than destroy, the nature-habitat. Humans, over millennia, evolved a Mind with a unique consciousness and sense of self and its struggles. Human consciousness has enabled us as a species to recognize the evolutionary process, to understand it, and then to make an effort to move away from a state of unbridled competitive exploitation of nature and towards that of a life incorporating cooperation and compassion. Through human history, developments in science and art, and cities, are a manifestation of this conscious force of the human mind.

The beginnings, growth and future of cities are part of this larger narrative of human evolution, and they continue to grow, change, and develop within that. Cities are the future, and it is for us to understand and mold their growth towards the objectives that we might collectively cherish. The city is both the physical body and the people who inhabit it. Without people a city or town would be a soulless mass of infrastructure and debris. People make a city happen; they bring it forth, give it character, endow it with art and culture, fulfill aspirations and suffer frustrations, they can make it a place of joy, a thing of beauty which in turn gives them a sense of identity and pride. However, when a humane compassionate vision for that city is missing, and it happens all too often, the city generates unacceptable inequity, fierce and singular competition without cooperation, layered exclusivity rather than inclusion, violence in place of peace, and chaos in place of harmony.

Cities grow and unfold through a process that might be called the ‘Interaction of the Social and Built Environment (ISBE)’. Cities are, at once, a physical and a cultural event. People construct cities, and the city, in turn, influences and modulates their living. This is the essence of urbanism.

In the course of evolution, the human mind developed the power of compassion giving us the ability to show a concern for others, especially the less fortunate. Humans developed a sense of altruism, the willingness to sacrifice and share, putting the other before the Self. Seers, sages and prophets pointed out that the better way was one of peace, harmony, and sharing. Selfishness and violence was seen as a poor last resort. Violence and war, while glorified by many, found a number of detractors also.

The selfish side did not entirely disappear but it began to be balanced with an overall understanding of a common, shared and collective destiny of humanity. This seems to have forcefully arisen almost simultaneously in the ancient cultures and religions of China, India, Middle East (Mediterranean) and Central America. It was said that the human destiny is to rise beyond a purely selfish behavior of ruthless competition. Tolerance, civil behavior, respect for the other were the keys to the new code. The City is not simply about building and rebuilding an infrastructure, its primary concern is in fact the state of the people’s lives in the city. The future lies in a compassionate and a humane city with reduced inequities of power and wealth. A new world is taking shape; it may be distant but then as Arundhati Roy says ‘on a quiet day I can hear it breathing.’

Do we have a role in understanding the city, and in furthering the dawn of the new city? This question is proposed as the theme for THAAP Conference 2017.

Suggested areas of research and paper presentation
1. Urbanism and the Intangible Culture – Practice and Heritage
2. Urbanism and People
3. Urbanism and Identity
4. Urbanism and Art
5. Urbanism and Language / Literature
6. Urbanism and Recreation
7. Urbanism and the Festivals
8. Urbanism and the Environment
9. Urbanism and Urbanization
10. Etc…

Email us a 300-word abstract of your proposed paper by MAY 1, 2017 at thaap.conference@gmail.com. A confirmation email will be sent to you when we receive your abstract. If you do not get the confirmation email within a week of sending your abstract, please assume that we have not received your abstract and send us the abstract again.

Proceedings of the Conference will be published in THAAP Journal 2017 after approval from the Peer-Review Board. THAAP Publications has successfully published six THAAP Journals with the 7th being launched in November, 2017.

THAAP Premises, 43-G, Gulberg III, Lahore, Pakistan

Abstract Submission Deadline: 1 May 2017
Notification of Acceptance/Rejection: 29 May, 2017
Final Paper Deadline: 15 September, 2017

Travel costs of selected paper readers (Economy Class Fare from point of origin - national and international - to Lahore, Pakistan and return) and local hospitality during the Conference will be provided.


Contact Info: 
THAAP Secretariat
Aabidah Ali
Secretary to THAAP Conferences/THAAP Publications
Cell: +92-(0)331-0421317