Internet, Society & Space in Indian Cities

Posted by Pratyush Shankar at Sep 28, 2011 09:15 AM |
The monograph on Internet, Society and Space in Indian Cities, by Pratyush Shankar, is an entry into debates around making of IT Cities and public planning policies that regulate and restructure the city spaces in India with the emergence of Internet technologies. Going beyond the regular debates on the modern urban, the monograph deploys a team of students from the field of architecture and urban design to investigate how city spaces – the material as well as the experiential – are changing under the rubric of digital globalisation. Placing his inquiry in the built form, Shankar manoeuvres discourse from architecture, design, cultural studies and urban geography to look at the notions of cyber-publics, digital spaces, and planning policy in India. The findings show that the relationship between cities and cyberspaces need to be seen as located in a dynamic set of negotiations and not as a mere infrastructure question. It dismantles the presumptions that have informed public and city planning in the country by producing alternative futures of users’ interaction and mapping of the emerging city spaces.


Chapter 1 (City, Technology and Cyberspace) talks about the presence of a new technology of information communication in the society and how it can possibly impact cities in terms of their material production and other cultures. Does the rush of Information Technology in our society and space mark a radical shift in a manner in which cities will develop or is it a part of a larger continuous process that started with the Industrial revolution and reorganization of cities?

Chapter 2 (The Idea of Space) examines that cities not only provide the necessary environment for such a change but also readjust their own spatial configurations. It aims to understand the nature of such transformation both from the perspective of the change in material culture and in imagination of cities due to the advent of Internet related technologies.

Chapter 3 (The Imagination) looks at the fact that city is not only lived in but also imagined. Representation of the city and its part play an important role in shaping the imagination. The imagination is one that often collapses the past with present and future. The perception of the city is as much mediated by the collective imagination (as well as individual interpretation of the same) as by our experience of the space itself.

Chapter 4 (The Transformation) examines the city restructuring process. Cities like nations are now competing for investments from private corporate. The networked cities of India, Bangalore and Gurgaon have been studied further to understand the phenomenon of this IT related restructuring from the point of view of its transformed physical morphology and its repercussion on the nature of its public places.

Pratyush concludes by saying that cities seem to derive their identities with two kinds of imagination structures when it comes to space. First and foremost is the imagination resulting from the meta narratives of mythology, religious belief structure, position of humans in this world. The other imagination structure is the one, which engages with the land, folk and the immediate cultural practices of the community group. He further elaborates that the city restructuring process in India is supposed to symbolize the existence of the information technology but it is really real estate and economic opportunism more than anything else.

Download the monograph: PDF (9.8 MB)



Pratyush Shankar