Asian Cities

River Cities in Asia. Waterways in Urban Development and History

Rita PadawangiPaul RabéAdrian Perkasa

River Cities in Asia uncovers the intimate relationship between rivers and cities in Asia from a multi-disciplinary perspective in the humanities and the social sciences.


As rivers have shaped human settlement patterns, economies, culture and rituals, so too have humans impacted the flow and health of rivers. In Asia, the sheer scale of urbanization increases the urgency of addressing challenges facing urban rivers, leading to the importance of historically, socially, and culturally relevant solutions. However, cities are also uneven landscapes of power, affecting chances to achieve holistic ecological approaches. The central premise of River Cities in Asia is that a “river city” is one where proximity between a river and a city exists across time and space, natural and social dimensions. Recognition of these deep connections can help to better contextualize policy solutions aimed at rivers and their ecologies, including human life.



Rita Padawangi is Associate Professor (Sociology) at Singapore University of Social Sciences. She is Coordinator of the Southeast Asia Neighborhoods Network (SEANNET).

Paul Rabé is Coordinator of the Urban Knowledge Network Asia (UKNA) based at the International Institute for Asian Studies based in Leiden, and Editor of the Asian Cities Series. He is also Lead Expert in Urban Land Governance at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (HIS) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Adrian Perkasa is a PhD candidate at Leiden University, and a lecturer in the Department of History, Faculty of Humanities, Universitas Airlangga in Indonesia.