The essays, articles, and poetry in this anthology reflect the collaboration and exchange of the leading scholars, economists, urban planners, and social scientists selected for the first fellowship program at the India China Institute (ICI) at The New School.
In early 2006, the first cohort of ten fellows, five each from India and China, were joined by six faculty members from The New School, who served as facilitators and provocateurs in the dialogue on Urbanization and Globalization. The Chinese, Indian, and American fellows met with the aim of first agreeing on a set of key questions about the future of their countries. With these questions in place, the fellows could then begin to address them and to devise innovative and creative solutions.
The fellows met four times during the two years of their fellowship at ICI’s intensive residencies in New York, India, and China. The dialogue generated during the residencies traversed disciplines, cultures, and generational differences. Together, the group of fellows developed nuanced and honest insights that ran counter to the patriotic competition between India and China that is often played up in the media.
The genres and languages represented in this anthology reflect the diversity of the authors. Entries range from a cover story for a popular Sunday magazine in India to a policy document to a series of columns for a liberal newspaper in China. Chakrapani Ghanta and Amita Bhide wrote in their native languages of Telugu and Marathi, respectively, while Guo Yukuan and Yao Yang published in Chinese.
The anthology’s title, Parallax Visions, speaks to the deepened understanding the fellows developed as they challenged, explored, and shaped their ideas about each other’s countries. “Parallax” is the apparent change in the direction of an object, as a result of a shift in the observer’s position. The works in this anthology illustrate how the program’s unique three-country conversations allowed the fellows to examine their concepts about India, China, and the United States from a different perspective and to reconsider their ideas about each country’s economy, governance, urbanization, and globalization. In addition, this process provided the fellows with opportunities to grow as public intellectuals, expand their international networks, and solidify their positions in their respective professional fields.
We have divided the essays into four major categories. The first, “Beyond First Impressions,” demonstrates how the fellows are asking familiar questions in a different context. The second category, “Intertwined Development Paths,” delves deeper into the fellows’ particular areas of expertise. The articles in this section offer contrasting approaches and modes of analysis between disciplines in India and China. The third, “Vexing Urbanisms,” focuses on the ever-changing relationship between land and people through economic policies, migration, and social behaviors. The fourth category, “Governance and Democratization,” covers minority rights and their relationship with political ideology.
At ICI, we feel fortunate to participate in this three-way dialogue, and we are confident that this anthology is the beginning of a series of enduring conversations that will continue for many years to come.
India China Institute