Noah Schumer and Nidhi Subramanyam

South Asian urbanity is multi-faceted. However, it has mostly been understood through the lifestyles and challenges of residents in its globally linked mega- cities. Less attention has been paid to the social, political, economic, and cultural conditions in smaller cities, with population thresholds below one million, whichSummer 2018 - Urban South Asia Writ Small house a majority of urban South Asians. What are the various global and regional networks that these small cities and towns are embedded in? What are their growth trajectories and what role can policies play? What form is modernity taking in these smaller places that straddle the global as well as the rural- urban divide differently from the metros? Why do small cities matter?

These were the questions animating the Urban South Asia Writ Small conference, held at Cornell April 20-21, 2018. Organized by the Cornell–Syracuse South Asia Consortium, the conference drew expertise from the fields of anthropology, planning, economics, history, art, and religious studies to investigate urbanization processes in South Asia’s small cities. Academics from several universities across the United States as well as India, Pakistan, France, and the United Kingdom presented their work on small cities.

The keynote presentation by Ann G. Gold (Religion & Anthropology, Syracuse University), “Jahazpur Passages: Thinking Through a Rajasthan Market Town,” described the various disciplinary and methodological lenses or passages through which small towns may be entered, thus setting the stage for the inter-disciplinary conversations that followed over the course of two days. The conference was structured around three panels, which examined the histories of small town urbanism in South Asia, regional linkages and planning practices that shape their development, and socio-cultural transformations effected by globalization.

The conference was jointly organized by Dan Gold and Neema Kudva from Cornell University, and Carol Babiracki and Ann Gold from Syracuse University. It was a collaborative effort between Cornell’s South Asia Program and the Department of City and Regional Planning and was funded by the Mario Einaudi Center for Inter- national Studies and the U.S. Department of Education through a Title VI grant.