Organized Panel Session
In recent decades, scholars have explored how urbanization in contemporary India and China is creating new challenges for urban governance and everyday life in the countries that host the world’s largest urban populations. Cities are also increasingly prominent locales of life and work for communities in and from the Himalaya region. Looking across the montane frontier between China, India, and Nepal, this panel adopts an inter-Asia comparative perspective to explore Himalayan urbanization as a political, economic, and social field. Frontier urbanization on the Tibetan Plateau in China as well as in India’s Northeastern states has warranted scholarly investigation (Yeh and Makley 2019; McDuie-Ra and Chettri 2018). However, these considerations have yet to be put into closer conversations with one another, either in comparison or as part of a single process of frontier territorial consolidation between two regional powers. Moving beyond exclusive state-centered frameworks and drawing from global studies and political geographies of urban development and frontier assemblages (Cons and Eilenberg 2018), this panel examines frontier urbanization as an entanglement of global urban idioms, national development projects, and local negotiations with modern state making practices. The papers in this double session explore a range of topics, including gendered experiences of urbanization in Gangtok, Incredible India’s homestay tourism initiatives in Arunachal Pradesh, urban ‘architectural accumulation’ in Srinagar, and asymmetrical development zones across the Nepal-China borderlands as well as city expansion and distributed urbanization through tourism development and school consolidation in Amdo and Kham Tibetan areas of China.