On this webpage, you find all the calls for papers for the paper presentation sessions that will be organized on the RC21 2021 conference in Antwerp. The list of call for papers can also be downloaded.

All abstracts for papers need to be submitted through the online abstract submission module on the RC21 Antwerp conference website. Abstracts that are not submitted through our website cannot be selected for presentation at the conference. Please consider that each participant can only present one paper at the conference.

The first call for abstracts ended on 23 March 2020. A second call for abstracts will open 02 November and will close on 04 December 2020. Please note that not all sessions will be re-opened. Session conveners can decide to keep the current accepted abstracts for their session, or they may opt to re-open their session for new abstracts. The selection of the abstracts will be done by the session organisers. They will contact you from 20 January 2021 onwards to let you know whether your abstract is selected or not. Please contact the session organisers directly with queries about the selection of abstracts and other session-related issues. 

Read all the information about the timing in the run up to the conference

Paper presentation sessions

Module 1-10

1. (Dis)Cohesion as sense of urbanity

SESSION NUMBER: 1

(Dis)Cohesion as sense of urbanity

Peter Dirksmeier – Leibniz Universität Hannover

Angelina Göb – Leibniz Universität Hannover

How can social cohesion be experienced in global urbanity? While sensing the city is an everyday urban experience of citizens, it is crucial to look at this mundane engagement as interactions of cohesion (like forms of mutual aid in neighbourhoods, street festivals, demonstrations, or projects by the municipality). Social cohesion, characterized by a set of attitudes and norms that include trust, a sense of belonging, and the willingness to participate and help, is the unifying bond among members of society. Social cohesion arises within frameworks of diversity, intersectionality, and difference, which are permanently negotiated in urban interactions. Depending on differentiating urban settings, cohesion can become either constructive or destructive, conflictual or non-conflictual. In a normative sense, “positive” cohesion leads to feelings of tolerance, responsibility and solidarity, whereas “negative” cohesion leads to emotions of animosity and depression followed by inequality, prejudice, discrimination, and exclusion. Therefore, in our session we ask in which ways people (as a cohesive world society) want to live together and how we might achieve this. Among other things, the conference sub-theme “unequal access to varieties of sensory experiences” refers to social cohesion in urbanity and, thus, aims at researching (in)equality in and through interactions of (dis)cohesion. Our session focusses on specific patterns of socio-spatial and spatio-temporal constructions of cohesion in order to understand and explain processes shaping the city in everyday urban engagement.

For this session we are inviting papers that focus on specific patterns, (cor)relations and constructions of social cohesion. We welcome both quantitative and qualitative papers, as well as theoretical contributions. We are especially looking for empirical examples that put social cohesion in the context of global urbanity and interaction of city life.

 

Among other themes, papers could address the following topics:

  • theoretical conception(s) of cohesion, its normativity and its implication for urbanity
  • research on (in)equality, power relations and actor-space-constellations in and through interactions of (dis)cohesion
  • examples of constructive or destructive, conflictual or non-conflictual social cohesion in different urban settings
  • examples of negotiation processes within frameworks of diversity, intersectionality, and difference
  • presentation of measurable variables as well as performative and embodied practices of sensing that inhibit and/ or promote social cohesion 

2. Proximity, relationality and mediated encounters: co-constituting urban dynamics through the everyday practices of neighbouring

SESSION NUMBER: 2

Proximity, relationality and mediated encounters: co-constituting urban dynamics through the everyday practices of neighbouring

Lynda Cheshire – The University of Queensland

Zheng Wang – Sheffield University

The structures and processes of contemporary urban dynamics are co-constituted through the micro interactions, experiences and encounters of everyday life in cities and neighbourhoods. Not only do the relationalities of micro-social life give effect to the manifestations, experiences and effects of macro-processes of social and urban change, but it is also through everyday life that broader processes such as gentrification, urban inequality, territorial stigma and financialisation are produced. One of the most micro components of urban social life are neighbours: the people who live near us and whose relationship to us is constituted solely in terms of physical proximity. While grand theories of individualization and increased mobility suggest that neighbours are no longer important to us, this simple fact of proximity means that neighbours remain central to our everyday lives even when we do not know them. Neighbours are not only apprehended via face to face interactions, but also through the senses. The everyday sights, smells and sounds that are transmitted between neighbouring dwellings mediate our experiences of people and place, forming the basis of social categories around ‘good’, ‘bad’ or ‘noisy’ neighbours and good or bad neighbourhoods. For some urban dwellers, neighbours are a vital social resource that contributes to the generation of social support, community resilience, place attachment, belonging and collective action. In other cases, their proximity is a disruption to one’s sense of home and place, creating conflict over noise, fences, parking, pets and a host of other everyday material and sensory annoyances.

In understanding how neighbours live and interact in physical proximity, it is worth remembering that perceptions of, and encounters with, neighbours are also mediated through macro- urban structures and processes that spatially sort people and resources across the city in uneven ways. The neighbourhoods in which we live, their geographic location in the hierarchy of urban spaces, their composite population, physical features and institutional mechanisms are manifestations of urban structural processes that shape the relationalities of neighbouring in ways that often reinforce existing divisions along the lines of class, race, religion, ethnicity and a host of other sociological variables. Furthermore, seemingly mundane neighbourly experiences may also have implications for wider urban processes such as the integration or exclusion of minority and marginalised groups, the willingness to engage in community activities and local governance or the ability to mobilise collective demands and resistance amongst others.

The aim of this panel is to initiate an international conversation around neighbouring and how it is being shaped by, but also shaping, wider urban processes. Authors wishing to contribute to this conversation are invited to submit theoretical, empirical or methodological papers that speak to this broad theme.

3. Methods for understanding place-based urban communities as embodied experience and practice

SESSION NUMBER: 3

Methods for understanding place-based urban communities as embodied experience and practice

Alsdair Jones – Department of Methodology, London School of Economics

Zachary Neal – Department of Psychology, Michigan State University

The notion of ‘community’ is an enduring concern both in urban studies and urban planning (Delanty 2010; Crow and Mah 2012), as well as in policy domains (e.g. Wong and Guggenheim 2018), despite numerous critiques of its utility as a social scientific concept (Day 2006).  Questions of identity, inclusion and wellbeing are tied up with concerns about the death or transformation of community life (Jacobs 1961). 

As well as understanding what community is and measuring its signifiers, a pressing concern for policy-makers is how to foster social cohesion and generate social capital to mitigate against contemporary problems such as increased alienation, loneliness, segregation, social cohesion or inequality (Keller and Virág 2019).  In the same vein, evidence is increasingly sought about what sorts of built environments are conducive a strong community sense of place (Ellery and Ellery 2019) and to the formation of social networks through which new ideas and behaviours that can either underpin or undermine cohesive and shared experiences of urban community spread (Rowson, et al. 2010)?

For this session we are interested in papers concerned with place-based urban communities as both a material site and a social experience.  We are interested in papers that adopt mixed-methods approaches as a means to explore place-based (sense of) community as a phenomenon characterised by ‘double-embeddedness’ whereby social relationships are understood to be “embedded in a local structure of other relationships, in turn embedded in geographic space” (Habinek, Martin and Zablocki 2015: 27).   These approaches might combine social network-based measures of community with more spatial (network, mapping, urban design or otherwise) analyses, but they might also employ other (e.g. sensory, mobile, participatory or artistic) methods to as a means to capture the embodied experience of urban community as a socio-material phenomenon.

We hope that papers in this session will suggest, and in some cases deploy, innovative and blended research methodologies that allow deeper insight into a domain that has been under-explored to date, namely the embodied experience of place-based community as a function of both social ties and spatio-material conditions (Bartholomew and Jones [forthcoming]).  They may, for instance, deploy novel multi-level network analysis techniques to understand place-based communities in terms of complex webs of (socio-material) connections (Neal 2013), or use ‘creative methodologies’ (Elliott and Culhane 2018) to better understand the civic role of ‘social infrastructure’ (Klinenberg 2018) or community as urban practice (Blokland 2017).  Alternatively, and in line with the focus of the wider conference on unequal access to varieties of sensory experiences, papers may shed light on the determinants of variation in experiences and practices of community in the same material locales – for example, how do im/mobilities shape experiences and perceptions of community?  And how might we study such relationships?

This session will bring together urban studies scholars interested in developing innovative methodologies to extend our primarily social network-based understandings of place-based community to include its spatial, material and/or sensory qualities.  Such an endeavour, we argue, is a critical step in responding to pressing calls for increasing attention to the role of space and place in meeting the social policy challenge of urban inequalities (Whitworth [ed.] 2019).

5. Fires and contestations in cities of the Global South

SESSION NUMBER: 5

Fires and contestations in cities of the Global South

Arslan Waheed – Center for Development Research (ZEF), Univeristy of Bonn, Germany

Dima Al Munajed – Center for Development Research (ZEF), Univeristy of Bonn, Germany

Anna Brueckner – Center for Development Research (ZEF), Univeristy of Bonn, Germany

Unlike most cities in the Global North, fires often occur locally in contested spaces, which are categorised as informal. These areas are usually charecterised by high population densities, low quality of building materials and improvised electricity connections, and therefore the residents there are exposed to higher risk of fire. At the same time, these contested spaces are usually not serviced with fire workers. Given the high occurrence of urban land conflicts and low probability to solve them based on formal and legal procedures, there are many rumours about sources of fires including accidents and natural hazards, political neglect and corruption, as well as arson and crime.

Fires with their blazing flames, immediate heat, dense smoke, as well as burnt exhalation activate all senses. Therefore, sensing the city will ultimately change for the residents inhabiting diverse socio-economic and political spaces across the cities. Fires call for immediate action: firefighting and emergency assistance, as well as long term action: fire prevention and reconstruction. Fire, therefore, serves as an important actor that is redefining socio-political practices as well as opening up new avenues of actions, reactions, contestations and powerplay among different actors in the city. As the outbreak of fire is not predictable, so are the new relations of power, sociology of interaction among different actors, as well as new dynamics of politics and policies that emerge after incidences of massive fire outbreaks. We document the scale, chronology of the events, perceptions, media coverage and consequences for different people. It is important to underline that levels of contestation differ greatly. These contestations are not limited to traditional binary of state and society but also within society and state apparatus on different levels and through different actors.  Fires cause panic, trauma, and loss among residents and others who are affected by them. Smoke and burnt down areas may also sensitise and mobilise non-affected urbanites and decision-makers about conflicts within their cities which had been invisible to them or previously ignored. Finally, actors who benefit from fire hazards should not be overlooked.

On a theoretical level, fires are manifestations of urban destruction and renewal. They relate to unequal power relations and riskscapes within the city. Depending on the cultural and political context, fires may symbolise evil as well as purifying forces. The debate on fires and urban development has often looked at historical large-scale fires which led to the reconstruction of cities, e.g. Seng Loh (2013) on the introduction of public housing in Singapore after the Bukit Ho Swee Fire from 1961 or the edition by Meisner Rosen (2008) on reshaping North American cities after fires during the end of the 19th/ early 20th century.

The session organisers invite presentations of empirical data as well as short films about social and political processes which have been triggered by fires in informal and contested parts of cities in Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

6. The Sounds of Urban Multiculture and Social Division

SESSION NUMBER: 6

The Sounds of Urban Multiculture and Social Division

Les Back – Goldsmiths, University of London

Emma Jackson – Goldsmiths, University of London

Agata Lisiak – Bard College Berlin

In the context of the rise of nationalism and increasing inequalities in cities across the world, developing an attentiveness to the sounds of the city can help urban researchers unpack the workings of individual and collective claims to entitlement and belonging. As places of movement, convergence, and friction cities are inherently full of sound. Exclusions and inclusions operate through and outside language, and urban sounds – both verbal and non-verbal – serve as mapping devices that help people make sense of the city and their place in it. ‘Foreign sounds’ defined as being ‘out of place’ provide a clue as to how unwanted physical and social presences in the city are signaled and named. Identifying certain sounds as foreign might include judgments made on the basis of nationality and language spoken, but may also relate to urban processes such as the sounds of regeneration, development, movement. In this session, we seek to discuss how urban sounds can reveal the everyday workings of social divisions and coexistence and how urban change and difference are marked in the definition of ‘foreign sounds’ within everyday life. We invite papers that engage with the relationship between urban linguistic cacophony, musical soundscapes, non-verbal sounds of the city, and attitudes towards accents, tones, and languages. We aim to explore how part of racism’s enduring power is the way it moves beyond language and shapes patterns of aversion, disgust, and hostility. We are particularly interested in analyses of the labeling of certain non-verbal sounds that are identified as ‘foreign’ or threatening and the social and political forces that shape such exclusionary judgments. We welcome submissions that make theoretical and/or ethnographic contributions, as well as those that engage specifically with methodologies for researching urban sounds (including sound walks, sonic mapping and sound diaries).

7. Shaping the City through Migration Industries

SESSION NUMBER: 7

Shaping the City through Migration Industries

Nir Cohen – Bar-Ilan University

Tatiana Fogelman – Roskilde University

Henrik Lebuhn – Humboldt University Berlin)

In this session, we wish to explore how contemporary cities shape – and are being shaped by – actors and actions managing, mitigating and intervening in transnational migration. Aiming to bring migration studies and urban studies into a closer dialogue, this session will focus specifically on urban dimensions and impacts of migration industries.

The concept of migration industries (MI) is now widely recognized as a productive lens through which to theorize an 'ensemble'-creating intertwinement of actors and actions focused on the provision of an increasingly diverse array of migration-related services. Early research addressed the commercialization and privatization of formerly state practices through for-profit providers, like detention of the undocumented or recruitment of the highly skilled. More recent work has broadened its scope to include also, for example, services centered on enticing people into international mobility, or how production of knowledge about migration contributes to the expansion of the industry.

The work of migration industries is varied, ranging from enforcing citizenship laws in border towns, through providing legal assistance to the undocumented in camps located at the edge of metro areas, to motivating and enticing skilled expatriates to settle in quickly developing economic and technological hubs. Importantly for this session, most of this work is done in and through cities. Moreover, contemporary cities and migration industries are becoming increasingly co-constitutive. It is so not only because cities continue to be key nodes of transit for ongoing journeys and the main places of settlement for a majority of international newcomers. Multiple actors engaged in migrationrelated markets and labor likewise actively re-make cities through, for example, the uneven patterns of location and consumption of their services – from legal counsel to hot soup, but also through residential engagement with and resistance towards them. Likewise, it is urban stakeholders – administrators, regulators, and financiers, among others - that constantly (re)form varied migration industries through a range of practices – material and discursive alike.

We seek theoretical and empirical contributions exploring –the ways in which cities shape – and are being shaped through – the work of migration industries. We wish to encourage researchers working in different geographical contexts and employing a wide range of qualitative methodologies to submit papers dealing with issues including – but not limited to – the following:

 

  • MI and the built environment of cities
  • MI and urban segregation
  • The urban politics of MI
  • Regulating MI in/through cities
  • Neo-populist/nationalist (urban) regimes and the delegitimization of MI
  • Digital/smart cities and the MI
  • Transnational urbanism, borders and MI
  • Mitigating/enhancing urban inequalities through MI
  • The urban economic impact of MI
  • Southern urbanism and MI

8. Discrimination and exclusion on the housing market: patterns, mechanisms and counter-strategies

SESSION NUMBER: 8

Discrimination and exclusion on the housing market: patterns, mechanisms and counter-strategies

Jana Verstraete – Department of Architecture, KU Leuven

Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe – Department of Sociology, Vrije Universiteit Brussels

Marjan  Morris – Expeditions

In many European cities, housing markets are under pressure. The demand for decent and affordable housing exceeds the housing stock, leading to high competition among various groups. This imbalance creates unequal power relations between home seekers and providers, which enables the latter to impose strict requirements on (future) residents and to be selective in who to accept in their property.

Vulnerable home-seekers are hence confronted with a number of exclusionary and discriminatory mechanisms. To find accommodation, they are often forced to accept housing of substandard quality and/or face very high housing costs. Moreover, the degree of exclusion might differ between neighborhoods and their sensory characteristics. In addition, exclusion and discrimination might also (re)produce residential segregation. Finally, home-seekers do not passively undergo their disadvantaged position but actively engage in countering exclusion and discrimination, and invent strategies to deal with slumlordism. The sensory elements of segregation patterns in exclusion might even be used to tackle exclusion and discrimination on a more political and collective level.

This session seeks to bring together work concerned with how vulnerable social groups do (not) find access to the primary and secondary housing markets in urban areas. We wish to shed light on the role of housing providers in shaping the city. In regulating access to housing they contribute to the spatial distribution of different social groups. Further, we wish to discuss the exclusionary and discriminatory experiences of unprivileged groups on the housing market (such as migrants, households in poverty, single parents, people with disabilities, …). Finally, we encourage contributions  on how multi-sensory and embodied accounts of the city can help to make tangible precarious housing situations and their consequences.

We welcome papers that might include (but are not limited to) theoretical, empirical and methodological engagements with

  • Exclusionary mechanisms on the housing market and their residential patterns
  • Experiences of discrimination and non-selection and their residential patterns
  • Strategies to combat housing exclusion and discrimination
  • Strategies to fuel public debates on housing exclusion, discrimination and substandard quality housing
  • Policies to enhance housing accessibility
  • Policies to trace and tackle housing discrimination
  • Inventive ways to make housing deprivation tangible to a wider audience
  • Consequences of living in substandard quality housing

9. Linked urban (mis)fortunes: The social-spatial contract

SESSION NUMBER: 9

Linked urban (mis)fortunes: The social-spatial contract

Rowland Atkinson – University of Sheffield

Emma Morales – Iberoamericana University Puebla

Observations of changing patterns of segregation and urban inequalities have become a central aspect of urban analysis today. Yet such outcomes are not simply unfortunate elements or by-products of city life. In most cases we can see how the many problems and position of poorer citizens and urban Others are linked by the choices, actions and lifestyles of middle-class, high income and super-rich urbanites. The innovation and rationale underlying this call is the need to see rich and poor urbanites as conditions and inequalities that are linked, mediated and potentially amplified by spatial, social, infrastructural, political and economic mechanisms. Examples of such links can be found in the retreat to gated communities, displacement of crime and residualizing effect on remaining neighbourhoods in many Latin American metropolises and other urban contexts around the world. They can also be seen in processes of poorer households displaced from gentrifying neighbourhoods touched by capital reinvestment and wealthier household in-migration. Similarly we can identify negative consequences for less articulate or engaged communities as high-income residents lobby to ensure provision for core resources or security. Finally, we might consider forms of expulsion through demolitions or public housing management regimes seeking easier to manage or more ‘diverse’ resident profiles by market-oriented local authorities and the engagement of the interests of real estate.

Contributions are sought based around conceptual and/or empirical work offering examples, insights and reflections on how phenomena including segregation, gating, privatisation, splintering, ghettoization and related urban phenomena are rooted in complex systems that are generative of these forms of inequality, and which articulate connections to wealthier, more privileged and higher status groups and urban communities. We invite contributions on the following and any related topics including:

  1. the role of high-cost new housing and its role in displacing or pricing-out adjacent communities
  2. pollution overspills and spatial inequalities generated by mobilities
  3. the crowding-out and hoarding of public resources by the wealthy and their effect on poorer residents
  4. the dismantling of urban housing, welfare and other core resource provisions by elites
  5. community and resource security and the related desecuring of entitlements by poorer urbanites
  6. the erosion of security for poorer urbanites as a result of the boundaries and security measures installed by affluent homeowners

 

Format

The panel/s will consist of 6 speakers, each offering short interventions on the theme of urban wealth and poverty. Each presenter will have a maximum of 10 minutes to present. Our experience is that this offers a dynamic format, we can cover more ground and have substantial time for discussion. We anticipate the pre-circulation of draft papers to assist the discussion and enable momentum with the preparation of a journal special issue proposal. Each presenter should structure their paper and presentation according to the following provocations and lines of enquiry:

  1. How are the groups and/or spaces you have been researching connected?
  2. What advances in the area of policy, methodology or theorisation stem from this work?
  3. What do you see as the key frontiers for urban research in this area in the future?

10. The 'European City' in the early 21st Century

SESSION NUMBER: 10

The ‘European City’ in the early 21st Century

Wouter van Gent – Universiteit van Amsterdam

Willem Boterman – Universiteit van Amsterdam

Marco Bontje – Universiteit van Amsterdam

By the end of the twentieth century, after long histories of inequality, poor housing and limited infrastructure, the European City had emerged as an exemplary type of city. Its effective municipal governance, the broad provision of infrastructure, housing and welfare services, and its public spaces have led to attractive cities with a high quality of life. High levels of social redistribution and well-funded public housing schemes have resulted in low levels of poverty and segregation and broad access to decent housing, at least in many North-western cities (Musterd and Ostendorf 1998; Le Galès 2002; Kazepov 2005; Van Kempen and Murie 2009). For some, the European City is as a socially just urban model that is also generating economic and cultural dynamism (Clark 2009). However, both Europe’s distinctiveness (its wealth and institutions) and its recent history, bring such assumptions into question.

More generally, the significance and utility of the European City as meaningful concept to understand the sub-continent’s urban geographies has been a matter of debate as Europe’s urban history is marked by its regional variation, often leading to re-theorizing its context for various regions (e.g. Le Galès, 2002; Mingione 2004; Gentile et al. 2012; Arbaci 2019). In addition to regional variations and issues of typology, the notion of the European city is strongly predicated on the foundation of strong economies, as well as the presence of redistributive public institutions and socially-minded planning and governance. Yet, by the turn of the twentieth century, it was clear that neo-liberal politics, entailing rescaling of state power and welfare state reform presented major challenges to the model (Musterd and Ostendorf 1998; Kazepov 2005). In the past decades these processes of neo-liberalisation have deepened, particularly after the financial and debt crises of 2008-2010 (Brenner et al. 2010; Aalbers 2013; Fainstein 2016). In many countries, changing institutional and political frameworks have led to the reduction or demise of social housing, the financialisation of urban development, real estate and mortgage markets, and the erosion of housing rights; in other places, many of these entitlements remain intact and in some, notably Southern European contexts, key welfare state arrangements have never been present (Esping-Andersen 1990; Arbaci, 2019). Meanwhile, the continuing restructuring of the labour market and welfare state arrangements have made work more precarious and benefits more stringent. For many cities, these structural shifts have exacerbated issues of housing affordability, and marginalization, and are producing new patterns of gentrification and segregation (Cassiers & Kesteloot, 2012; Musterd et al. 2017; Aalbers 2019). The rise of urban tourism and associated short-term rentals in many attractive cities has put further pressure on housing markets and raised new questions of belonging and citizenship. As cities continue to gentrify and as immigration and demographic transitions unfold, the populations of large cities are becoming more affluent (although also more unequal) and ethnically diverse and, as such, more singular within their national contexts. Conversely, many mid-sized cities are seeing demographic shrinkage an economic decline. These trends further diversify the idea of a “European” city.

So, this session seeks to address the question as to whether the idea of the ‘social’ European city, redistributive, relatively egalitarian and politically inclusive (Le Galès, 2002; Musterd and Ostendorf 1998), retains its relevance today. More importantly, we wish to consider how we may think of the European City in relation to the wider global context, and a diversity of urban social configurations. The session seeks to interrogate this, using the ‘comparative gesture’ at various scales (Robinson 2011) to address the concept of the European city as part of a wider world of urban experiences – how are these cities drawn into (and productive of) wider globalising processes, such as financialisation and neoliberalisation, which are shaping many cities across the world; might we better understand European cities by drawing on theoretical resources from other urban contexts?

This session calls for papers that seek to engage with the (re)conceptualisation of the European City. Such papers may be theoretical but they may also do this based on empirical investigations of (changing) social or political conditions. We particularly welcome comparative studies (within Europe or global), or single cases that reflect on context from theoretical resources from elsewhere.

Module 11-20

11. Politics & Aesthetics of Common Space Navigating the Gaze of the City, the State, the Market

SESSION NUMBER: 11

The Politics & Aesthetics of the Urban Commons: Navigating the Gaze of the City, the State, the Market

Louis Volont – University of Antwerp

Peer Smets – Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

This session explores the much-debated relationship between the commons on the one hand and cities, states and markets on the other.

The concept of the commons and its spatial derivate of ‘common space’ (Stavrides, 2015) has seen revived attention in urban contexts. Through for example autonomous neighborhoods, urban occupations, CLTs and grassroot artistic experimentation, urbanites in both the Global North and South set out to reassert participatory control over the urban commonwealth. Common space enacts a ‘third way’ beyond the neoliberal marriage between Privatization and Government Control. According to Chatterton et al. (2012), the spatiality of the commons enacts “a political imaginary which can be ‘anti (against), despite (in) and post (beyond) capitalist”.

However, it is precisely the relation between the commons and capitalist cities, states and markets that proffers debate in urban studies. Space-commoning becomes complex once the commoners involved have to collaborate with partners. Such co-creation asks for bridging the mindset of the commoner with that of cities, states and markets. Some examples may clarify the issue.

On the one hand, common space unfolds as governments transpose the management of physical resources to citizen groups (Italy’s Bologna Regulation, the UK’s Localism Act). As such, common space exists as an addition to city/state/market-led urban development: it’s a partnership arrangement. But there is a critique to be looked at. To use the words of De Angelis (2012), we encounter a ‘commons fix’: as the neoliberal devastation continues, citizens are forced to step in where states and markets fail. On the other hand, common space may also unfold from the bottom-up: Mexico’s Zapatistas, Spain’s M15 movement and the occupations at the Taksim, Gezi and Tahrir Square are a case in point. In this vein, common space exists as a friction with city/state/market-led urban development schemes. But here, too, a critique emerges: can common space ever take root sustainably without a helping hand from the city, the state or the market?

This session explores the various cross-fertilizations (poisonous or not) between the commons and their surrounding spheres of cities, states and markets. Such differences may lead to clashes, or merge into new, not yet theorized forms of commoning. We are mainly interested in political and aesthetic forms of commoning. We understand politics as the struggle of an unrecognized party (the commoner) for equal participation in an established order. Aesthetics, too, feed into this, because the struggle for common space takes place over the image of society – what is doable and thinkable within the city’s/the state’s/the market’s distribution of the sensible?

Papers from around the globe are welcome. We receive, ideally, contributions with a comparative perspective of cities or between urban areas. We will work with paper presentations and seek case-studies that explicitly engage with the concepts of commons / common space / urban commons. We are also interested in combinations of social science and artistic approaches to identify the strong and weak points of the operation of commons. Papers may relate to the following (non-exhaustive) list of questions:

  • Which aesthetic and/or political tactics do space-commoners deploy in order to escape the gaze of cities, states or markets?
  • Which aesthetic and/or political tactics do space-commoners deploy in order to engage with, hack or subvert the gaze of cities, states or markets?
  • How is the critique of the ‘commons fix’ (De Angelis) interpreted, experienced or renegotiated by space-commoners themselves?
  • How do space-commoners balance or combine the dimensions of partnership and friction with cities, states and markets? What are advantages and disadvantages of each?
  • Which aesthetic and/or political strategies do cities, states and markets deploy in order to put the commons on their agenda?
  • How do cities, states and/or markets interpret, mobilize or co-opt the potentialities of space-commoning?
  • How does space-commoning relate to the disembedding and re-embedding of social ties?
  • How do inclusion and exclusion mechanisms relate to operations of commoning?

12. Privileged Mobilities and Urban Transformation

SESSION NUMBER: 12

Privileged Mobilities and Urban Transformation

Eve Bantman - Lisst-Cieu Toulouse

Christine Barwick - Centre Marc Bloch

Hila Zaban - Kinneret Academic College

This session looks at privileged mobilities and urban transformation. We are interested in the pathways of incorporation of mobile groups and how they lead to urban change.

Recent studies have focused on the role played by mobile actors—intra-EU migrants, lifestyle migrants, and tourists—in processes of neighbourhood transformation globally (see Hayes & Zaban’s forthcoming special issue in Urban Studies). Simultaneously, urban sociologists have refuted the claim that mobile people are free-floating, no longer in need of a ‘home’. They found that mobile individuals still engage in the city or neighbourhood. Mobile people are thus not the ‘new barbarians’. At the same time, members of the (upper) middle classes also have strategies to dis-engage or exit from the neighbourhood or city. To illustrate, when it comes to the education of their children, they might opt to stay in a mixed neighbourhood but partially exit it to send their children to a private school. At the same time, they might use public services and have a local network.

At a theoretical level, our primary focus is on issues of class and ethnicity, and the extent to which short- to long-term mobilities may help redefine these key terms. To give but one example, lifestyle migrants are often regarded, including by local authorities in destination countries, as capital bearers. Yet, research has shown that many are working class or lower middle class. However, their position in the global economy—the fact that they are from developed countries and hold top passport—gives them an advantage and positions them as privileged. Notwithstanding, they often choose to immigrate for economic reasons. What’s more, lifestyle, as Benson wrote, characterises many migrants, not just lifestyle migrants. From the perspective of diverse, fast changing neighbourhoods where mobile people settle, privilege, we argue, should be considered in more nuanced ways.

Looking at residents, migrants and tourists simultaneously invites a different perspective on mobilities, migration, and processes of urban transformation in the city or neighbourhood of destination. This calls for a different approach to the notion of privilege, attached to mobile individuals and fundamental in the study of urban transformation. Importantly, new research should question the role of policymakers or institutional players in favouring one mobile group over another, thereby defining who is privileged and who is not. Recent research has produced evidence of differentiated migration regimes that affect processes of urban change. Do these political representations and imaginings affect neighbourhood change? This is all the more interesting to investigate since many supposedly privileged migrants are former economic migrants too, as well as minority members (Hispanic and African American migrants from the US or French Arabs to North Africa, for example).

While we focus on middle class mobile persons, their nationality and ethnic, racial or religious background might well influence arrival and settling in the new place. The ‘prestige’ associated to different groups differs between countries and is oftentimes highly political.

We encourage papers that address urban transformation caused by privileged mobile people, such as intra-EU migrants, short- and long-term lifestyle migrants or tourists. We welcome papers that adopt an intersectional perspective and ask, for example, how dimensions such as social class, gender, religion, ethnicity and race influence a mobile person’s experience of arriving and settling in a new place, and the power and possibilities to shape a city or neighbourhood. To what extent do political definitions of privilege shape urban change? To what extent do ideas on privilege and ethnicity affect the sense and essence of communities? In which ways do mobile people affect local places and transform them?

Our regional focus extends to any world region that is transformed by privileged mobility. We welcome theoretical or empirical papers, including papers that adopt different methodological perspectives such as visual methods or network analysis.

13. Manufacturing in the contemporary city

SESSION NUMBER: 13

Manufacturing in the contemporary city

Marianna D'Ovidio – University of Milan-Bicocca

Valentina Pacetti – University of Milan-Bicocca

The transition from industrial to so-called “post-industrial” economies has deeply affected cities and the way they are sensed by citizens and city users.

A long process of deindustrialisation has been shaping the cities in the world following different patterns: the processes of delocalization, fragmentations, tertiarization in old industrial regions have been extensively studied. However, deindustrialisation has been largely acknowledged as a global phenomenon as shown, for instance, by the debate on premature deindustrialization.

In many regions, factories have abandoned the urban space, often creating large urban voids which have been representing both problems and opportunities for cities, and which have been shaping the urban agenda for a long time now.

Urban voids make deindustrialization clearly perceivable, but even in the strongest of “post-industrial” evolutions, fragments of manufacturing remain embedded in the urban thread. Moreover, along with interesting cases of reshoring, new forms of manufacturing, based on new digital technologies, have recently begun to emerge and are gradually regaining the urban space.

The availability of tools like additive manufacturing (3D printing), big data analytics and advanced algorithms, Internet of Things (IoT) platforms, and, in general, digital technologies, has created new possibilities for manufacturing and has reshaped the relationship with the cities: while the old factories challenged the cities with noise, smog and pollution, the new ones are clean, small and noiseless. They are both sustainable and potentially invisible. They are more integrated with cultural and service economies, and often lead to an increasing blurring of sectoral boundaries. They are embedded in the urban structure from an economic, social and morphological point of view: urban manufacturing may involve craft activities, industrial prototyping, art and design activities as well as the so-called digital manufacturing. All address “urban” market niches and use urban spaces in a new way.

Within the urban studies, the link between the city and its productive plants has been largely investigated in the past, when manufacturing production was a key economic driver for the urban society; this session focuses on the field of urban manufacturing within the contemporary “post-industrial” society, a topic that the urban studies research has not discussed very much. Not only is the empirical knowledge about it scarce (with notable exception), but also the analytical categories used in the past are no longer (or not always) useful to grasp the mechanisms at play (for instance, the relation between manufacturing activities and local employment rate is certainly different from the past).

In this session, we want to collect both theoretical and empirical contributions shedding light to the relation between manufacturing and the urban space. We are interested in the different facets of such relation, ranging from detailed descriptions of the phenomenon to theoretical discussions aiming at providing analytical tools for exploring it. The session will welcome papers discussing, for example (but not limited to), the following topics:

What has changed: which manufacturing activities have left the city? Which have stayed? Which are the new ones? Why? What are the prospects for those who are located within the urban landscape? What are the risks? What are the opportunities?

A focus on the productive and organisational aspects of the urban manufacturing: how “new” is the new urban manufacturing? Does it exploit new technologies? New organisational structures? Or are they “low-tech”, more traditional craft manufacturing industries?

The relation with the urban environment: How do these firms connect with the urban space? Do they integrate with it (acting also as agents of urban requalification), or, conversely, do they represent, as often in the past, an abrupt break in the urban tissue? How is urban manufacturing sensed in the urban space? How much noise, smell, image of the factories is perceived in the city?

How do cities (their governments, but also any other institutions, lobbies, stakeholders, …) respond to the changing industrial dynamics? Does the deindustrialisation narrative inform local development strategies, or are local governments developing specific policies in order to strengthen the urban manufacturing? What kind of idea of urban manufacturing circulates within local policies?

Which effects on the urban social structure does contemporary urban manufacturing bring about? Is it reinforcing inequalities, does it generate new ones? Or does it rather represent a tool able to reconnect the working and middle classes with the urban society?

14. Organizing the Arts: Ownership and Labor

SESSION NUMBER: 14

Organizing the Arts: Ownership and Labor

Bas van Heur – Vrije Universiteit Brussels

The important but also contested position of arts and culture in urban spaces is well-known. The arts and cultural industries constitute key sites for the production of critical and public knowledge and are substantive economic sectors in their own right, especially but not only in global cities. At the same time, arts and culture are also part of wider dynamics of gentrification, urban development projects, the cultural branding of cities and city districts and are populated by a polarized mix of high-earning ‘stars’ but also precarious workers. The literature on this is by now well-established and ranges across the disciplines of sociology, cultural policy, human geography, urban studies and cultural studies (see Oakley and O’Connor 2015 for a multidisciplinary overview of the debate).

In line with the RC21 2020 conference theme, this session proposal raises the question how the arts – as condensed sites of sensory experience – are governed and how this results in unequal access to the arts, but above all how the arts constitute sites for the experimentation with and realization of more democratic and public forms of collective organization. In doing so, the session also engages with the conference’s interest in the intersection of ‘bottom-up’ practices and ‘top-down’ strategies of states, specifically relevant in era of right-wing populist politics with many states pursuing revanchist policies towards a cultural sector deemed too liberal and cosmopolitan (Chan and Lütticken 2011). The session specifically invites papers that tackle this problematic from one of the following two angles.

First, the role of collective modes of labour organization in arts and culture. Much political and research attention has been paid to the precarity of project-based and flexible creative labour (e.g. Gill and Prat 2008), but it’s only recently that researchers have started investigating and theorizing strategies that contest this precarisation and that propose more sustainable modes of labour organization (Sandoval 2016). The session invites papers that for example address labour unions’ engagement with artists and cultural workers or that investigate worker co-operatives in the creative and cultural industries, focusing in particular on the urban dimensions of labour struggle (de Peuter and Cohen 2015). Second, the position of ownership within arts and culture. There is hardly any academic research on this dimension, even though recent policy-oriented work has started addressing ownership questions (e.g. City of Vancouver 2019). Contributions are welcome that analyse the ownership of cultural spaces and infrastructure, focusing on government strategies (subsidies for rentals below market price, lease-to-buy policies, cultural land trust initiatives), private initiatives (philanthropy, tax deduction schemes) or private-public-partnerships.

15. Governing Urban Marginality

SESSION NUMBER: 15

Governing Urban Marginality

Andrew Clarke – The University of Queensland

Daniel Kudla – Memorial University

Lutfun Nahar Lata – The University of Queensland

This paper presentation session examines contemporary forms and dynamics of the governance of urban marginality from a global perspective. For many urban scholars, the 21st century has seen the deepening of the ‘punitive turn’ in urban governance that began in the 1990s. This work highlights the tendency of urban authorities and elites to brand marginalised groups—such as the homeless, drug users, street vendors, migrants, slum-dwellers or minority groups—as irresponsible, antisocial and/or dangerous, and to subject them to forms of discipline and control that serve to deepen their marginalisation. Such ideas have been advanced in a range of influential theories of contemporary urbanism, including Neil Smith’s ‘revanchist city’, Don Mitchell’s ‘post-justice city’, Mike Davis’ ‘punitive city’ and Wacquant’s ‘centaur state’. In each case, the punitive turn is linked to the neoliberalisation of urban spaces, imaginaries and governing institutions, and the concomitant pressure on the city-cum-enterprise to revitalise itself and improve its competitive standing in the global economy. The view is that local and regional governments, private industry, and not-for-profit organisations have formed an urban governance model that enacts top-down spatial tactics which manage the visibility of marginalsied groups and inhibit their ability to occupy, experience and sense cities.

Such ideas have been incredibly influential, and have engendered a wealth of valuable scholarship into the governance of marginality in both the Global North and South. However, they have also been challenged by various scholars who claim that the emphasis on neoliberalism and its punitive consequences has obscured the existence of a more varied, ambiguous, and complex geography of urban marginality, support and control. Urban scholars such as Geoff DeVerteuil, Andrew Williams, Stacey Murphy, Jon May, Paul Cloke, and David Featherstone, among others, have started to rethink all-encompassing conceptualisations of neoliberalism's punitive tendencies by highlighting new and persistent forms of ‘care’ that operate alongside punitive practices in the governance of marginalised groups. Such practices range from the provision of sustenance, sanctuary and moral support (e.g. soup kitchens, community spaces), to more fundamental efforts to end the marginalisation of certain groups (e.g. through the provision of stable housing). This has sparked a new set of empirical studies in the Global North that examine the nuanced ways marginalised groups are actually managed ‘on the ground’ in particular urban spaces. There is also growing awareness of social service workers and non-profit organisations resisting and modifying top-down neoliberal imperatives. Simply put, more emphasis has been placed on the bottom-up practices that complicate or exceed processes of neoliberalistion in order to understand how urban governance and social control is experienced and reproduced. However, to our knowledge, there are few studies in the Global South that have employed the ‘care’ logic to explore the role of social service workers, non-profit organisations or other actors resisting or mutating the neoliberal governance approach. Thus, this session also provides an opportunity for Global South scholars to contribute to this debate.

In short, this session explores new trends and directions in the governance of urban marginality around the globe. We aim to foster debate regarding the extent to which governing marginality has changed from earlier conceptualisations of the ‘punitive turn’ towards more recent discussions about the varied, ambiguous, and complex geographies of urban marginality and social control. We invite submissions that address the following questions, or other issues pertinent to contemporary governance of urban marginality:

  • Do ideas like the ‘punitive turn’, ‘urban revanchism’ and ‘neoliberal urbanism’ adequately explain contemporary modes of governing urban marginality? To what extent do modes of governance exist outside of these conceptualisations? 
  • What role do caring and supportive practices play in governing marginality, and what relationship do these have to enduring punitive practices (e.g. relationships of resistance, mutuality or complicity)?
  • What role do sensory interventions play in governing marginality, and how are governmental interventions guided by sensory considerations such as the visibility/invisibility of particular marginalised populations?
  • How are contemporary modes of governing marginality experienced and responded to (e.g. utilised, modified, resisted, avoided) by their target populations? What kinds of sensorial experiences do they give rise to? And how do marginalised subjects render themselves visible or invisible in response to governmental interventions?
  • What consequences do contemporary modes of governing marginality have for marginalised urban dwellers? Do they continue to deepen people’s marginality or are there signs that (at least some) people’s lives are improved by them?  
  • What geographic variations and similarities exist in how the governance of marginality plays out (particularly between cities in the Global North and those in the Global South)?
  • How do ideas, policies, practices or actors circulate between cities (both within and between nations), and how has this shaped the governance of marginality in particular cities?

16. Rent-seeking: the new game in town. The legacy of Anne Haila (1953-2019)

SESSION NUMBER: 16

Rent-seeking: the new game in town. The legacy of Anne Haila (1953-2019)

Barbara Pizzo  – Sapienza Università di Roma

Serena Vicari Haddock – University of Milano Bicocca

Marisol Garcia – Universitat de Barcelona

Following the sub-prime crisis of 2007-2008 (the peak of the economic transformation that linked real estate to finance in an unprecedented manner), a renewed interest in urban rent began to emerge - after having been effectively ignored for some decades. 

Urban rent is often considered as a main explanans of real estate investment that has become progressively detached from actual demand, and more and more intertwined with financial circuits at different scales. But urban rent is also an explanandum, for the specific historic and geographic determinants of its actual materialization and for the meaning it assumes in different contexts.

Anne Haila (1953-2019) devoted her life as a researcher to this subject, even when it had barely been mentioned as a question. She studied and wrote relentlessly on urban rent even at a time when almost no one seemed to be interested in it - it was considered a fact or a given, a known term, no longer worthy of discussion: she worked on urban rent obstinately, notwithstanding «the invariable bemusement of the uncommitted» (Haila 1990: 275). 

The fact that this person was a woman is not of secondary importance and the reasons for focusing on her work are manifold. We want to focus on some of the main ones, which we propose as a call for contributions, namely:

  1. Land as a financial asset. In her article with the same title (Haila 1988), the relationship between urban rent and financialization has been introduced, underlining the «integration of previously separate investment markets and the emergence of a new kind of real estate market». Moreover, she reveals a very relevant and timely focus on the actors and agents of urban rent and specifically on: «the appearance of rationally maximizing landowners», but also «the increased role of public authorities and finance capital in developing urban space and in land-use allocation» (ibid: 96, and also Haila 2015). This topic generated further research inquiring «Who or what are its agents, what are their behavioral patterns and mutual social relations, for example, who receives rent? » (Haila 1990: 276).
  2. Urban rent and its ‘social nature’ (Haila 1990) has long been underestimated (in terms of meaning and implications for policies and planning) while « Quite paradoxically, the inception of these debates has always been closely connected with urgent social issues». (Haila 1990, p. 275).

The chameleonic adaptive capacity of urban rent and its peculiar contribution to the restructuring of capitalist economy in its different phases emerges from her work. Thus, not surprisingly, she was a pioneer in relating urban rent and financialization, the transformation of the actors able to extract urban rent, and states as key players in the financialized urban economy. Moreover, she was able to keep together the different aspects of the question: space, society and the economy. Her background in real estate allowed her special insight into the spatial impact of rent in cities. Although she opted for a nomothetic line of thought, she grounded her research in in-depth field work and always accompanied her theorizing with strong empirical evidence.

We will welcome contributions that resonate with the above themes and/or that tackle one or more of these points:

  • Urban rent as a socio-spatial question and in its socio-spatial meaning and implications;
  • ‘Spatializing’ and ‘socializing’ urban rent: research design and methods;
  • Urban rent as an explanans and as an explanandum;
  • Towards a new urban rent theory?

19. Housing Evictions: Hidden expressions of extreme housing precarity

SESSION NUMBER: 19

Housing Evictions: Hidden expressions of extreme housing precarity

Eva Swyngedouw – Vrije Universiteit Brussels

Mathieu Van Criekingen – Université Libre de Bruxelles

This session invites papers that deal with the social consequences of housing evictions for the housing precariat within cities. In the wake of the global sub-prime mortgage crisis, high rates of evictions in American cities attracted the international spotlight of media commentators and politicians alike. The ensuing global financial crisis caused a wave of evictions to hit the European continent as well, such as in cities in Spain and Greece. To this very day, many cities are grappling with a severe lack of affordable housing, staggering social housing shortages and rising homelessness rates. Eviction can be regarded as extreme cases of housing deprivation, poverty and social exclusion. It is therefore a particularly interesting cases to develop our understanding of the housing conditions at the bottom of the income ladder. This extreme case can shed some light on the functioning of the current welfare state and its market excesses or as Sassen (2014) would call it the ‘systemic edge’ of our current capitalist system. This edge is hard to grasp by the standard measures by experts, and governments and therefore becomes conceptually and analytically invisible.

Although eviction is often a traumatic experience associated with loss and dispossession (Lancione 2017), eviction remains an understudied aspect of the lives of the urban poor (Purser 2016). Whereas housing and the housing crisis affects everyone in a certain way, the families with the lowest income typically experience the biggest disadvantage in the housing market (Dessouroux et al. 2016). These renters are disproportionally prone to forced relocations (Purser 2016; Desmond et al. 2015). Nevertheless, the rather one-sided focus on macro-economic changes and institutional and housing policy agendas in urban studies (Aalbers 2009) has prevented scholars from documenting and theorizing the link between economic changes and the embodied processes that enroll citizens in speculative global financial practices through mortgage and rent contracts (Garcia-Lamarca and Kaika 2016). Moreover, housing policy and innovative government sponsored initiatives such as housing first, community land trusts and solidary residential projects have relatively received more attention than the housing struggles the poor are confronted with in the everyday (De Decker et al. 2015; Collectif Rosa Bonheur 2019).

The bias towards institutional mechanisms and policies in the literature on housing and financialization can be corrected by documenting the everyday processes of being indebted and living with evictions (also see Lazzarato 2012). Indeed, fine-grained qualitative research on housing dynamics can provide a vivid image of how poor residents survive and manage their housing situation up close and help explain how housing is implicated in the reproduction of poverty. In this session we therefore invite papers that make the hidden expression of extreme housing precarity and evictions visible using different types of qualitative research methods ranging from survey-based research, to policy- and discourse analysis, and archival data research, to qualitative interviewing and ethnography. Theoretically speaking, the aim of this session is to gain a better understanding of the underlying processes and mechanisms related to housing deprivation within cities.

20. The role of sound in the construction of boundaries, identities and senses of belonging in the city

SESSION NUMBER: 20

The role of sound in the construction of boundaries, identities and senses of belonging in the city

Ana Aceska – Wageningen University

Karolina Doughty – Wageningen University

The sounds we hear in the city contribute to our senses of belonging and identity. Through sound and sonic experiences cities offer ground for boundary work along lines of religion, class, ethnicity, gender and other categories of difference. The sounds in the city and how we perceive them are mediated through cultural, political and economic relations and they are implicated in ordering and bordering things, ideas, people, identities, places and landscapes. In contested spaces, for example, sounds of other ethnic and religious communities may generate feelings such as fear or intolerance. Some sounds might function as markers of territory or they might inspire an ad hoc classification of others. Sounds govern, include or exclude through a wide range of technologies and media in the city and may be associated with material structures that facilitate the boundary-work, such as places of worship or border check points. Sounds can also challenge dualistic conceptions that divide “us” from “them”, the rural from the urban, humans from non-humans. Sound, as leaky and diffuse, highlight the sensorial porosity of bodies and materials. By virtue of sound’s acousmatic and atmospheric qualities, as Steven Connor (1997, p.206) points out, ‘the most distinguishing feature of auditory experience [is] its capacity to disintegrate and reconfigure space’. Thus, by paying attention to the creation and/or experience of sound in cities, we reveal alternative ways of reading urban relations. Sonic processes and practices, in their capacity to affect, have ‘the potential to reconfigure listeners’ relationships to place, to open up new modes of attention and movement, and in so doing to rework places’ (Gallagher 2015, p.468).

In this panel we ask how sound, in its capacity as a ‘sensory-spatial process of interaction’ (Hagood, 2019: 28), works to build, cross, negotiate or change boundaries, identities and senses of belonging. How do individuals create communities of shared affect through sound? How are differences enacted or contested through sound and sonic practices? How do particular city soundscapes function as part of the broader landscape? What does the conception of certain sounds as ‘noise’ reveal about the social?

How are boundaries affected by and resultant in unequal access to varieties of sonic experiences? How do forms of exclusion affect who has access to what kinds of sounds in our cities? These are just some of the questions that surface when we begin to explore the city through sound.

The ways in which boundaries are created, enforced, transgressed or dismantled in the city have been of interest to urban scholars for decades. We invite scholars to reflect on what attention to sound may bring to analyzes of embodied and felt experiences in the constitution of boundaries, identities and senses of belonging. Contributions can be theoretical, empirical, inter/cross/multi-disciplinary, or methodological.

We invite papers that explore sound in relation to topics including, but not limited to:

  • boundary-making, senses of belonging and identity-formation
  • shaping ‘affective economies’ (Ahmed 2004) through which specific communities of shared emotions and attitudes are formed
  • sonic events that shape urban soundscapes, such as church bell ringing, calls to prayer, street performers etc.
  • the conception and/or the experience of ‘noise’
  • how certain groups (religious, ethnic, poor) enter the spaces of others through sound
  • how citizens experience the fragmentary realities of the city through sound
  • how certain groups use sound to show their presence in the city
  • sound as an instrument to convey ideological values
  • how different types of audio technologies are embedded into processes of boundary making
  • the role of sound in processes or experiences of commodification / touristification / regeneration / gentrification of urban spaces
  • new/emerging methods to research the role of sound in urban settings
  • relations between sound, sonic practices and material infrastructures

Module 21-30

21. Making Sense of the City: a pedagogical encounter?

SESSION NUMBER: 21

Making Sense of the City: a pedagogical encounter?

Daniel Gutiérrez-Ujaque – University of Lleida

Monica Degen – Brunel University London

Urban experiences have come to the forefront of critical urban research. Spearheaded by the ‘urban renaissance’ in Western cities since the 1990s; the rise of an experience economy which has driven cities to compete for global investment and tourism; and interest by policymakers and developers driven by ‘placemaking’ efforts and urban branding campaigns – making sense of urban experience matters.  Critical urban work has highlighted that the senses are political and that a focus on sensorial and experiential parameters links the personal lives of the city’s diverse users with broader structural changes in the city’s politics and economics (Law, 2001; Degen, 2008; Degen & Lewis 2019).

However, this sensory landscape is not set in stone but is constantly fluctuating and transforming through the myriads of bodies, spatial practices and uses of those living in the city. The senses link the physical constitution of the city, its streets and buildings, with a living social landscape. This ephemerality and fluid nature of sensory-experiential geography brings with it some challenges. Firstly, finding ways for academic research to represent or ‘translate’ to a general public and policymakers the importance of the sensory geography in framing inequalities in the city. Secondly, how to generate pedagogical contexts that can apprehend the importance of these more visceral, carnal, corporeal and emotional qualities that shape the urban life especially in the context of Higher Education. The difficulty lies not so much in how to communicate sensory, visceral experiences verbally but, more importantly, in how to ‘translate’ these non-linear and non-narrative moments of experiencing and being-in-the-world meaningfully to non-academic audiences and students (Boyd & Edwardes, 2019).

The aims of this session are twofold. Firstly, we would like to invite to our session academics from a range of disciplines to share different approaches through which they make research on sensory cities available. And secondly, we aim to interrogate how to approach pedagogically the sensory city in higher education or other cultural institutions to concretize reflexive, critical, creative and inclusive learning situations (Gutiérrez-Ujaque, 2019). In both cases, we are looking for critical pedagogies (Giroux, 2018), toolkits, and inclusive practices in academia which show how the sensory geographies of cities can throw light on the power relations of cities and generate new inclusive pedagogical situations though the geography of what happens (Thrift, 2008). 

Some of the questions we propose are:

  • How can academic investigation raise awareness amongst the general public, policymakers, or students on how sensory perceptions stratify and modulate power relations in urban life and across urban space?
  • How can pedagogic practices, in academia, take the body and sensory engagement at its center enhance critical understandings of the development of cities, urban life and the politics of space?
  • How can the senses help explore a diversity of ideological frameworks that shape urban spaces? To what extent can academic approaches to experiential urbanism support urban professionals, academics or artists with their professional practices?
  • How can sensory research capture these evasive experiences that move beyond the remits of representation and translate these in approachable ways? In what ways does a sensory education foster new understandings of the complexities of the urban?

22. Smart city backlash: resistances, insistences and divergence

SESSION NUMBER: 22

Smart city backlash: resistances, insistences and divergence

Carina  Listerborn – Malmö University

Lorena  Melgaço – Malmö University

Stimulated by the challenges the smart city poses on imagining the future (rather than imagining the future of the smart city), we invite artists, researchers, practitioners to engage in a dialogue around views, practices, approaches and critical perspective regarding smart urbanism.

During the last two decades, Smarter Cities Campaigns have been promoted by tech companies, nation states and supranational organizations like EU. In 2009 IBM set their mission to create smart cities as a “comprehensive approach to helping cities run more efficiently, save money and resources, and improve the quality of life for citizens” (Better World 2016). Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, a more hesitant approach to the digital solutions has emerged, with Amnesty international (2019) also warning about the threats of harvesting of data by giants like Facebook and Google to human rights, for example.

Beyond data gathering, the critique of smart cities interrogates the growing interest of tech companies in the urban. When Torontonians organized themselves in the #BlockSidewalk campaign, the spokeswomen Bianca Wylie argued that “The biggest issue with the Sidewalk Toronto [sister company to Google] deal is the threat it poses to democracy. This is about power and control writ large — corporate capture of governance.” Similar critiques and protests have been raised in Berlin “Against Google, Displacement and Tech Dominance”. Datta and Odendaal (2019) urge us to understand how the smart city produces and engages power, unveiling structural and social violence that underlies urban transformation worldwide.

For this session, we take inspiration from Flusser (198X) and Lefebvre (1989), who already in the 1980’s exposed the biases of technological development in the alienation of the citizens. While Lefebvre argued that advances in information technology grant the citizen the right to consume, rather than to produce information; Flusser argued that creativity and labour, necessary for envisioning the future, are now on the hands of technicians, who focus on the ‘how’, rather than on the ‘what fors’ or ‘whys’ technology should be produced. For him, every technology we produce has an inevitable backlash which dimensions need to be considered: “when designing the intelligent tools for the future, we will have to know how we want them to beat back upon us, and this implies that we will have to know how we want to change the future”, and this requires, the philosopher argues, some sort of vision of what this future should be.

Nevertheless, to even glimpse the future, such a vision needs to be built through the creative and ample exercise of dissensus, as a political way to challenge such heteronomous form of thinking and producing space. Different forms of tactics, with different levels of formal organisation and geographical and social scopes may be used in order to achieve that. This session invites papers that address the following tactics and beyond from different geographical locations, socio-spatial contexts and with different scales:

  • Resistances: Organised groups who are actively disengaged from decision processes through technocratic decisions are openly resisting the less than transparent ways smart strategies are being implemented in cities around the world such as San Francisco, Queens, San Jose, Rennes, Guadalajara, Stockholm.
  • Insistences: Other less confrontational approaches are also in the making, ones that reflect what Castelfranchi and Fernandes (2015) call insistence practices, by using tactics that aim at a rupture on the political order from the inside, by insisting and existing as a concrete social action and assuming that technology is not extrinsic from it. As such, they may invent, from within the system, actions that may reformat it.
  • Divergences: Lastly, either from a resistant or insistent position, technologies may swerve toward unintended goals, through disruptive actions, such as hacking or repurposing, as temporary responses to threats to citizenship in the context of the smart.

23. Contested Territories – epistemological and methodological approaches

SESSION NUMBER 23:

Contested Territories – epistemological and methodological approaches

Michael Lukas – Universidad de Chile

Philipp Horn – University of Sheffield

Michael Janoschka – Universität Leipzig

Contested Territories is a conceptual notion that aims at focusing on the production, appropriation and sensing of space and knowledge(s) in and through often overlapping cultural, economic, environmental, political and spatial conflicts occurring at multiple sites, places and scales. It has the scope to de-centre traditional Anglophone discourses about territory, the city and the urban, by including critical dialogues between different sets of understandings, worldviews and alternative knowledge. While initially rooted in political and social practices emerging in and from Latin America, the expanding conceptual and empirical body of literature on contested territories has the potential to further spread to other geographical settings thus building bridges between discourses in the Global North and the Global South. This would include epistemological, methodological and empirical approaches from territorial settings and struggles from around the Globe.

It has become evident that the hegemony of neoliberal and neo-colonial forms of territorialisation is being contested and broken up in a wide array of very different socio-political and territorial contexts. This includes the myriad of social uprisings, grassroots movements and territorial struggles that confront the exploitation of populations and nature, call for a reduction of inequalities, and promote development alternatives framed around practices of commoning, the right to the city, degrowth, feminist and afro-descendent thought, as well as indigenous cosmovisions. Such alternatives have the potential to provide innovative approaches to territory production and associated human-environment relations, values and knowledges. Importantly, they also identify ways that historically marginalized communities, through their day-to-day practices, negotiate uneven development to imagine and create alternative futures frequently ignored by dominant worldviews. However, knowledge about these diverse and situated alternatives remains partial and fragmented.

In this session, then, we invite contributions that respond to and advance critical reflection on one or several of the following key questions:

  • In how far do the practices of territorial contestation and conflict differ across different geographical and cultural contexts? What new forms of territorial contestation can be observed and how are they conceptually framed? How are both ‘territory’ and ‘contestation’ understood in different world regions and epistemic communities and how can different epistemological traditions inform and cross-fertilize each other? How, for example, can the Latin American tradition of territory inform European and Anglosaxon scholarship?

 

  • How do we understand the production and contestation of territories around the world from different epistemological traditions? More particularly, how can post- and decolonial approaches be combined with neo-marxist and political economic thought? How do these relate to feminist scholarship when it comes to territorial contestation?

 

  • What methodological approaches best help to understand and visibilize territorial contestation? What epistemological, theoretical and methodological approaches are required to make visible bottom-up models of scientific, cultural, political and economic innovation framed around contested territories? How can more long-standing relationships between academia and communities of territorial contestation be constructed and maintained?

24. Sensing Urban Violence, Conflict and Insecurity

SESSION NUMBER: 24

Sensing Urban Violence, Conflict and Insecurity

Rivke Jaffe – University of Amsterdam

Alana Osbourne – KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies

Urban sociologists, anthropologists and geographers have increasingly turned to the senses as a lens through which to investigate city dwellers’ embodied experiences of urban social relations, environments and politics. As emphasized by the emergent literature on ‘sensory urbanisms’, we apprehend the city and processes of urbanization in a corporeal, intersensorial and affective fashion. It is also through the body that we grapple with various forms of urban violence, conflict and (in)security. Yet the sensory dimensions of violent conflict remain under-theorised within urban studies. This panel explores the potentialities of the sensorial, broadly understood, as an entry point into urban violence, conflict and insecurity. In many urban contexts, fear – of crime, political violence or less violent forms of conflict – plays a large role in residents’ experience of their city. Such fears involve embodied experiences that are connected to sensory perception and atmospheric attunement, including the ability to recognize sights and sounds that mark a place as dangerous. What combinations of sight, sound, smell, taste etc. work as the spatial and material signifiers of danger? Conversely, what do peace, safety and security feel like? Through which methods – ethnographic and otherwise – can we understand the sensorial cityscapes through which violence and insecurity are experienced, governed and contested?

We are interested in how differently situated urban subjects sense and rework urban violence, conflict and insecurity. However, we also recognize that these sensorial realms emerge from the relations and interactions between spaces, objects and other material forms, in conjuncture with human and non-human bodies. Incorporating the more-than-human turn within the social sciences and humanities, this panel is also interested in exploring the role of non-human entities – from specific forms of architecture or technology to non-human animals – in producing sensorial landscapes of violence, conflict and insecurity. How are our bodily sensations of danger mediated by defensive architecture, alarm systems or security dogs? How do these material, technological and animal forms of sensorial mediation shape the policing of human interactions and conflicts, resulting in more or less violent outcomes? This more-than-human approach to urban insecurity, then, seeks to expand our notions of the sensorial – and more broadly our understanding of urban dwelling – to include considerations of multispecies sensing, and of materially or technologically mediated forms of embodied perception. Attending to the entanglement of human and non-human bodies with a range of urban objects can provide new insights into the everyday perception, construction and negotiation of dangerous cityscapes. We invite contributions that focus on sharpening existing theoretical approaches to the questions introduced here, and ethnographic explorations of the sensorial dimensions of urban violence, conflict and insecurity. We welcome academic paper presentations as well as less text-based forms of presentations.

25. Fuzzy boundary making – from social practices to (urban) spatial practices

SESSION NUMBER: 25

Fuzzy boundary making – from social practices to (urban) spatial practices

Anna Steigemann – Technische Universität Berlin

Nihad El-Kayed – Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

Christian Haid – Technische Universität Berlin

Many actors as well as research approaches conceptualize urban spaces as clearly demarcated. However, in the wake of state rescaling, globalization, and migration urban spaces increasingly need to be described as porous and interconnected, with blurred social, physical, political, and symbolical boundaries as the result of diversifying and overlapping everyday spatial practices. Planners, politicians, and administrations, for instance, often envision spaces as clearly bounded and concrete, while at the same time contributing to the informalization and fuzziness of spaces through ambiguous (state) practices.

Because of such ambivalence, we look at this fuzzy boundary making with a practice-theory approach. This allows to shift the focus from diverse sets of actors to diverse sets of practices, also revealing insights about the carriers’ manifold and eventually conflicting ideas about space and its production, ownership and use, about their ideas of future (public) space (s) – thereby often stimulating imaginaries, sensory experiences and usages that are highly ambiguous. While many sociological studies have already examined practices of urban everyday life through a lens on social practice, architecture and planning studies mostly focus on such practices as producing space and urban life. Moving beyond this disciplinary and analytical differentiation, we like to discuss how we can conceive of social practices as spatial practices, combining (social) practice theory with spatial theories and thereby contributing to earlier debates in geography and critical urban studies that address the spatialization of practice theory. One challenge therein lies in conceptualizing social practices and social boundaries as spatial and material practices, while on the other hand keeping their blurriness and fuzziness in focus.

Thus, we seek to discuss modes of spatial production that result in porous, indeterminable and ‘grey’ spaces – spatialities produced and enacted by informal and ambiguous practices, navigating hazy legal frameworks, fuzzy regulations, or unanticipated state actions.

In this session we aim to consider these interstitial and grey spaces as results of spatial practices rather than simply in the context of territorialities. At the same time, we are interested in the demarcation of social, symbolic, physical, and material boundaries that shape hierarchical configurations of class, ethnicity, and gender and their intersections in the city. This boundary work can, for example, take place in urban public spaces, in urban commercial practices or in policy areas that affect recent migrants’ access to housing, social rights, participation, and urban social life.

We invite papers from all contexts of the globe that theoretically advance and/or empirically investigate one or more of the following issues:

  • socio-spatial practices that result in more or less blurry boundary making related to categories of class, ethnicity, gender, and their intersections.
  • power relations involved in urban spatial practices and (new) modes of in- and exclusion that fuzzy boundaries produce: top-down practices of instrumentalization, exploitation, sanctioning; as well as practices from the bottom up such as practices of empowerment, encroachment, and resistance.
  • the ways in which different actors interpret and use their room to maneuver in order to shape urban space.
  • challenges and/or opportunities that practices of grey spacing and blurring of boundaries present for planning, governing, as well as co-producing urban spaces, including their transformational potential for shaping the city towards more sustainability and inclusion. 

26. The urban technopolitics of security and contested sovereignty

SESSION NUMBER: 26

The urban technopolitics of security and contested sovereignty

Frank Müller – Technical University of Dresden

A growing body of literature has explored the ways in which states and large corporations have sought to harness developments in security technologies and protocols to control urban space, predict security threats and respond rapidly to disruptive events (eg. Graham, 2010; Nishiyama, 2018). While these trends are in part related to changing subjectivities and risk-based forms of governance that emphasise “preparedness” (Lakoff, 2008), they also reflect new potential for disruption in cities created by globalisation, technological innovation and the spread of markets in illicit goods, arms and technologies (Glenny, 2008; Telles, 2010). This is particularly the case in many cities in the global South, where armed criminal organisations and rival political authorities are able to directly contest state sovereignty. However, in the global North too, criminal and terrorist networks also seek to mobilise technologies to evade or challenge state power for different ends. Meanwhile, at the individual or local level, ordinary citizens may also appropriate the technologies available to them to protect themselves from perceived urban threats.

In this session we explore the concept of “technopolitics” as a framework for investigating these diverse relationships between urban security, sovereignty and technology. Technopolitics may broadly be understood as “the strategic practice of designing or using technology to enact political goals” (Hecht, 2011, p. 3). However, the term also captures the ways in which technologies may operate both as the medium of politics – for example in the potential of social media to mobilise new publics capable of constituting themselves physically in urban space – and as an object of political contestation, as new groups and alliances form to contest the practical and ethical consequences of new security technologies (Kurban, Peña-López and Haberer, 2017). In these ways, technopolitical analysis shares affinities to assemblage, actor-network and “new materialist” approaches in urban studies that explore the frontier between the social and the material, the embodied experience of urbanity, the limits of human intentionality and the constraints and resistances imposed by non-human agents. In particular, we welcome papers that:

  1. Explore the theoretical potential and limits of technopolitics (and related theoretical approaches) for analysing security and sovereignty;
  2. trace the sensorial dimensions of urban technopolitics;
  3. identify what is distinctively urban about urban technopolitics, and how this technopolitical urbanity varies according to different spatial configurations of materials, bodies, affects and practices;
  4. offer empirical accounts of contexts, events and security systems, in either the urban global South or North, that capture key technopolitical questions; or
  5. link technopolitics to broader themes, such as inequality, neoliberalism, race- and gender-based violence, and post-coloniality.

27. Contesting territorial stigma: Dynamics of civic life in stigmatized immigrant neighbourhoods

SESSION NUMBER: 27

Contesting territorial stigma: Dynamics of civic life in stigmatized immigrant neighbourhoods

Thomas Swerts – Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam

In the last couple of years, events like the 2015 ‘migration crisis’, terrorist attacks and the global resurgence of right-wing populism have fueled the systematic stigmatization of immigrant communities and the urban neighborhoods they reside in. In Europe, for example, right-wing politicians and media outlets have demonized immigrant neighborhoods by calling them ‘Islamic no-go-zones’, ‘Jihadi capitals’ and ‘immigrant ghettos’. Likewise, the upsurge in criminalizing discourses in North America, Australia and many other parts of the world has contributed to the stigmatization of undocumented, refugee and Muslim communities (see e.g. Abrego 2011, Ludwig 2016, Morgan & Poynting 2016).  In neo-liberal, populist times, immigrant neighborhoods tend to be increasingly framed as lawless territories where shadow economies flourish, ‘illegal aliens’ remain under the radar and future ‘enemies of the state’ radicalize. National and local governments have responded to this alleged ‘crisis of lawlessness’ by undertaking a plethora of revanchist interventions (Schinkel & van den Berg 2011). As a result, forms of civic organization that are present in immigrant neighborhoods, like hometown associations or religious institutions, are deliberately targeted by state authorities.

In this session, we subscribe to Lamont’s (2018) call for the need to get a better grasp on the proliferation of ‘recognition gaps’ and the narrowing of cultural membership in neoliberal societies by studying stigmatization and destigmatization processes. By now, a rich literature has emerged within urban studies that explores how territorial stigmatization unfolds in various contexts (see Wacquant 2007, 2008, Wacquant et al. 2014, Kirkness and Tijé-Dra 2017, Slater 2017). However, processes of territorial destigmatization have received relatively less scholarly attention. In a public address wherein Wacquant (2011) revisited his territorial stigmatization thesis, he acknowledged that residents can seek to defy and deflect spatial stigma through the collective ‘defense’ of the neighborhood. However, existing studies mainly tend to zoom in on how individual residents resist or cope with the ‘bad’ reputation of their neighborhoods in their everyday lives (see Garbin and Millington 2012, Slater and Anderson 2012, Kirkness 2014).

Building on recent literature on the dynamics of civic organization in immigrant neighborhoods and communities (see Small, M., McDermott 2012, Vermeulen et al. 2014, Nicholls and Uitermark 2016), this session shifts focus to the role that local civil society organizations and citizen initiatives play in contesting territorial stigma. Contrary to stereotypical portrayals of immigrant neighborhoods as places characterized by social disorganization, anecdotal evidence suggests that the presence of organizational resources and networks affects the collective ability of residents to destigmatize their neighborhoods. For example, after the 2016 terror attacks, local civil society organizations and citizens undertook several initiatives to put the heavily stigmatized municipality of Molenbeek and its residents ‘in a different light’. By bringing together case studies from cities around the world, this session aims to empirically and theoretically explore emerging forms of collective agency, resistance and resilience in stigmatized immigrant neighborhoods. In this session, we therefore invite papers that address:

  • the dynamics and structure of civic life in stigmatized immigrant neighborhoods
  • the role that local civil society organizations and citizen initiatives play in destigmatization processes
  • how immigrant communities collectively organize and mobilize themselves to counter territorial stigma
  • how territorial stigma in immigrant neighborhoods is constructed by the interventions of state and non-state actors

28. Children and adolescents as co-producers of knowledge on urban spaces

SESSION NUMBER: 28

Children and adolescents as co-producers of knowledge on urban spaces

Sven De Visscher – University College Ghent

Anna Juliane Heinrich – Technische Universität Berlin

Jolijn De Haene – Flemish Network Child- and Youth Friendly Cities and Municipalities

Children and adolescents are major users of public urban spaces—they are on the move throughout the city, they hang out at their meeting places in public space, they are visible performing street sports and much more. Accordingly, young people hold profound knowledge on their neighborhoods and hometowns and are active producers of meaning in and knowledge on the city. However, while there is a rising awareness acknowledging young people as co-users and producers of meaning in public urban spaces, they are still generally underregarded in the planning and design of these spaces.

With our session “Children and adolescents as co-producers of knowledge on urban spaces” we emphasize the importance of young people as stakeholders with own perceptions of urban spaces and as competent, equal citizens with own interests in the future development of cities and municipalities. Moreover, we understand young people as stakeholder possessing and producing rich knowledge on urban spaces—unique knowledge that can and should be made fruitful for the development of cities.

The session is embedded in the scientific discourse and practice development fostering the creation of child- and youth-friendly cities and municipalities, and relates to the paradigm of a sociology and geography of childhood in the broader field of childhood studies. Contributions should focus on working with children and adolescents in the city, instead of on or for them. We particularly welcome papers that present transdisciplinary work, understanding and involving young people not only as subjects or participants of research on urban development but as coresearchers or fellow-researchers. Different domains of young urban life ranging well beyond play and education should be addressed.

There is a growing discourse on transdisciplinary research acknowledging the value and importance of divers origins and forms of knowledge. However, answers to the question how a co-production of knowledge can work, remain tacit knowledge of pioneering research projects so far. Aim of the session is therefore to tap this tacit knowledge on transdisciplinary urban research with young people.

With this thematic orientation the session aims at making young people’s perceptions of urban spaces accessible and thus contributing to the scientific discourse on young people’s participation in urban research and planning processes while at the same time inspiring practical approaches in co-creating child- and youth-friendly cities. The involvement of divers stakeholder groups—not only young people in urban studies and urban planning requires multiple modes of communication. The session will present new and inspiring methods to research and negotiate public urban spaces, including but not limited to art-based methods.

Questions to be addressed by contributions are:

  • How can young citizens together with other stakeholders (academics, planners, policy workers, …) explore urban spaces using all their senses?
  • How can these explorations of urban spaces be communicated using i.a. visual, verbal, auditory, haptic and atmospheric means of communication?
  • How can children and adolescents be involved as co-researchers in urban studies?
  • What innovative methods are fit for the co-creation of knowledge on urban spaces between young citizens, academics, urban professionals and/or policy makers?

The theme and questions of the session will be addressed by paper presentations. Time for fruitful discussions will be scheduled. Contributions from a broad range of disciplines are warmly welcome – especially contributions from interdisciplinary research teams with experience in transdisciplinary research.

29. De-limiting, experiencing and crossing metropolitan boundaries between the urban and "non-urban"

SESSION NUMBER: 29

De-limiting, experiencing and crossing metropolitan boundaries between the urban and “non-urban”

Sofia Pagliarin – Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

In The Image of the City (1960), Lynch identified edges as one of the crucial elements defining the urban form. Often, but not always, edges are boundaries, for instance de-limiting neighborhoods or encircling itineraries. Boundaries can also be sensed: we can sense we are in the city because we perceive its vibes and vitality, either if we are residents or tourists. Similarly, we also experience we find ourselves in a non-urban area because of its quieter atmosphere, or because of the background noise of a busy highway – a large-scale transport infrastructure possibly defining a boundary – at a distance. But where can we (exactly?) outline edges between “the urban” and “the non-urban”?

The relevance of this question becomes apparent when we look at contemporary metropolitanisation processes. Using Europe as an example, in the past 70 years metropolitanisation processes greatly changed the traditional urban structure of the European territory, which has traditionally been organised in clearly de-limit-able towns, villages and medium-size cities. Over time, the seamless growth of towns and cities into metropolitan areas, urban systems or city-regions posed pressing institutional and political challenges to governance actors and policy-makers. Across Europe, a typical response to these challenges has been the establishment of metropolitan authorities as collective, intermediate multi-scalar governance bodies for the supra-local coordination of spatial policies beyond conventional administrative boundaries (Salet et al. 2003: Gualini 2006). However, the spatial delimitation of metropolitan authorities might not correspond to the “true” urban system: why is a municipality included in or excluded from the boundaries of a metropolitan authority? What are the power dynamics shaping (or counteracting) conventional boundary definitions at the metropolitan level?

Within its defined boundaries, a metropolitan area includes a variety of urban and non-urban forms: we encounter a continuum from the urban to a variety of non-urban (but still variably urbanized and non-contiguous) areas: the suburban, the peripheral, the marginal, the rural and the natural. How do Lynch´s basic elements of the urban form (paths, edges, districts, nodes, landmarks) play out in so-called “non-urban” surroundings? Do we need specific elements to define the “non-urban” form in metropolitan regions?

Furthermore, in-between these non-urban types of built environments (and related people?), edges can take the form of fences, fringes and thresholds, which are permeable and spatially fluid to a certain degree. Therefore, edges can be also interfaces (Cilliers 2001). But how do edges as interfaces play out in reality between “the urban” and “the non-urban” within (or outside) metropolitan areas? And how do we perceive edges as interfaces in our sensory experience of the continuum between urban and the “non-urban”?

Analytically, cities can be considered as the (non necessarily central) core of much larger open, complex urban and metropolitan systems (Byrne 2001). As we cannot deal with urban/metropolitan reality in all its complexity, we as researchers must bound complex systems in some way (Cilliers 2001), such as the “inside” and “outside” of metropolitan areas. Methodologically, outlining boundaries helps our work as researchers to analytically reduce the complexity of the reality we examine, but this is not a self-evident nor a straightforward task.

This session welcomes contributions that explicitly have a metropolitan look to the permeable delimitation8s) and interface(s) between the urban and non-urban, and that deal with (without however being limited to):

  • co-construction processes of (visual and non-visual) boundaries between the urban and types of non-urban (i.e. suburban, peripheral, marginal, rural, natural), for instance through mundane practices or participatory processes;
  • how boundary delimitation within the urban, and between urban and non-urban areas, can be challenged through social practices, also connected to a diversity of sensory experiences;
  • processes of boundary co-definition so that boundaries of urban systems tend to be “solid” and “taken-for-granted”;
  • discrepancies within and between administrative/conventional/de jure metropolitan boundaries and “true”/de facto urban systems in the face of (spatial) policies and distribution of social inequalities (e.g. public transport offer);
  • methods to identify urban/non-urban boundaries to single out cases-studies for comparative analysis in empirical research to examine different cities, neighbourhoods, metropolitan areas, suburban areas.

Although boundaries are a key concept for researchers examining divided cities, in this session we are primarily interested in contributions about the variety and overlap (or tension) of “metropolitan boundaries” within and between the urban and the non-urban and their dynamic co-construction. We also welcome proposals related to how Lynch´s elements, but also others conceptualisations of boundaries as edges and interfaces (e.g. space syntax, urban code), can be applied, transferred and transformed (if at all) to non-Western cities (see Lawhon and Truelove 2019).

30. Life, work and play in sprawling urban regions

SESSION NUMBER: 30

Life, work and play in sprawling urban regions

Clemens de Olde – University of Antwerp

Ann Pisman – Ghent University

Hans Leinfelder – KU Leuven

Urban sprawl is the backdrop to many people’s daily lives worldwide. Sprawl is the scene of their commute, the reality of their residential environment, or the environment of a shopping trip. With ever-increasing urbanisation and suburbanisation, sprawl will most likely continue to grow in the foreseeable future.

For decades the different ways of life in sprawling (suburban) environments have been the subject of academic research. Research topics range as widely as the social ties and social mobility in these environments, the effects of sprawl on public health, the environmental dimension of sprawl, and the calculation of the public and private costs of a sprawling spatial pattern. However, the research provides little to no insight into the experiences of people living and working in urban sprawl conditions.

That is why, in this session, we welcome contributions from all over the world on contemporary empirical research and theoretical insights about living, working and recreating in sprawling cities and regions. We think that these insights are valuable and necessary to design really effective public policies to deal with sprawling regions and prevent further sprawl.

We welcome contributions relating to life in urban sprawl, such as (not limited to) analyses of:

  • The social organisation of groups living, working and recreating in urban sprawl and their interrelations with other groups (e.g. youth, the elderly, workers, migrants, …);
  • The interplay of public and private institutions with subjects and groups in a sprawling environment (e.g. public services, housing, commerce, transportation, recreation, …);
  • The sensory experience of the sprawling environment, including pollution, traffic, noise, aesthetic effects, the experience of the daily commute and so on;
  • Daily activity patterns and rhythms as well as the effects and potential of ‘smart’ technology on life in urban sprawl;
  • The production of inequalities and power differences in all themes listed above and its consequences for governing, planning and policymaking in a sprawling environment.

This session welcomes a diverse range of experiences, researchers, and practitioners from around the globe to present their research. We explicitly welcome contributions from all urban studies disciplines including (urban) sociology and political science, geography, spatial planning, architecture and urbanism, public management, etc. Contributions may include fundamental theoretical explorations or the results of (comparative) empirical study.

Module 31-40

31. Reflections on Intersectional Power Dynamics in Urban Methodologies

SESSION NUMBER: 31

Reflections on Intersectional Power Dynamics in Urban Methodologies

Dilruba Erkan – University Panthéon-Sorbonne

Minke Hajer – Università degli studi di Milano & Universteit van Amsterdam

Why don't we talk about how conducting fieldwork is different for female scholars? Urban scholars, including a growing number of women, often gather their data and empirical insights through qualitative fieldwork. Whilst gender, as well as other forms of intersectionality, is taken into account in almost every aspect of urban research, the role of gender during fieldwork does not get adequate attention.

Data collection through qualitative fieldwork often creates a specific power dynamic - between the researcher and the urbanite - that is affected not only by gender but also nationality, sexual orientation, religion, and so forth. While the researchers' role is to narrate the observations, these dynamics influence (1) the data collection: what and how respondents chose to share, and (2) the data analysis: how the researcher looks at and interprets the field.

It arguably becomes more complex as female researchers enter male-dominated fields, where it can be a fine line between creating rapport and trust with respondents, and being flirted with or even sexually harassed. Despite many researchers being tacitly aware of these dynamics, it is strangely challenging to incorporate a reflection on this in the academic debate. The goal of this panel, therefore, is to open up the discussion regarding gender, and other challengers of traditional researcher-respondent power structures, during fieldwork.

Contributions may address questions such as: How do intersectional power dynamics influence data collection and/or analysis? Why do respondents 'confuse' the academic interest of female researchers with romantic or sexual attraction? Why are female Ph.D. students still advised to bring a (male) 'chaperone' to their fieldwork? How do researchers' mental well-being influence data collection and/or interpretation? What is the role of the university as a (cis) male-dominated institution? As well as, why don't we talk about this (more) as academics?

The panel welcomes traditional paper presentations and highly encourages other contributions and presentation styles that help further this discussion. Although gender is an essential part of the panel, contributions regarding other components of power structures such as ethnicity, migration, socio-economic status, class, sexual orientation, subculture, etc. are also encouraged. The panel is an attempt to bring the discussion regarding gender and intersectionality during fieldwork forward, as well as to find ways of maintaining and 'mainstreaming' this discussion in the academic debate.

32. Perceiving a shrinking city – the local perspective

SESSION NUMBER: 32

Perceiving a shrinking city – the local perspective

Maria Gunko – University Higher School of Economics

Elena Batunova – Politecnico di Milano, Milano

To be a livable city means not only to have a comfortable, safe, and aesthetic environment but also to provide senses of dignity and belonging, as well as confidence in the future wellbeing. In our culture growth for long has been associated with virtue, prosperity, and stability (Hospers & Sysner, 2018). However, the current spatial development is characterized by unevenness and inequality. Urban growth and urban shrinkage are parallel processes (Ganser & Piro, 2012; Haase et al., 2016); whereby, urban shrinkage refers to a trajectory of development opposite to the ‘normal’ and desirable growth with persisting and long-term depopulation being its most important and rather distinct feature (Bernt, 2016). The number of shrinking cities grows worldwide, but they still seem to be stigmatized from the outside (e.g. Steinführer & Kabisch, 2008; Béal at al., 2017) and the concerns about their future arise from the inside (Ringel, 2018). Though, shrinking cities receive more and more attention in the literature; most publications come from such disciplines as geography or planning studies and discuss causes/consequences of shrinkage or planning/policy responses while the everyday life of shrinking cities’ inhabitants, as well as local leadership that can promote positive changes, remain understudied.

In the words of Hollander (2018), ‘as bipedal mammals, we experience places at a neighbourhood scale’; at the neighbourhood level, people observe negative consequences of shrinkage – abandonment and vacancy, deteriorated buildings, loss of social control and marginalization. The crises in governance and lack of adequate policies, along with budget austerity foster communities’ self-organization, self-reliability, and bottom-up initiatives to cope with everyday issues and ensure livability in shrinking cities (Oswalt, 2006; Kinder, 2016; Ringel, 2018). At the same time the feelings and perceptions of people living in shrinking places, whose life is characterized by insecurity and everyday routines which come across manifestations of decline, may hinder local activism and leadership, as well as the search for new opportunities and meanings of a place. Sense of resignation, powerlessness, and uselessness of any actions may provoke inertia or self-vandalism accelerating decline.

Do shrinkage and its manifestation solely evoke negative feelings and concerns, or can decay fascinate and inspire people, creating new narratives and the basis for social cohesion (Schönle, 2011)? Since local urban spaces consist of various social worlds, including those of urban activists, city planners, community managers, and diverse groups of residents very different if not conflicting understandings, views, and feelings towards the current situation may coexist in one shrinking city. The current session aims to address the broad issue of how urban shrinkage and its various effects (both tangible and intangible) are perceived, lived, and coped with by the local communities, including all of the above population groups. The list of topics includes but is not limited to the impact of shrinkage on the identity, senses of belonging and dignity of various social groups within the city; perceptions of the past, present, and future in a shrinking city; new and re-invented everyday practices and narratives in a shrinking city; local leadership and bottom-up coping strategies under conditions of urban shrinkage.

33. Aesthetics: Making Sense of the City

SESSION NUMBER: 33

Aesthetics: Making Sense of the City

Amy Barron – University of Manchester

Joe Blakey – University of Manchester

This session asks what it means to think through an aesthetics of the city.  Understandings of aesthetics are diverse, referring not only to art or art theory, but also the “ensemble of techniques, performances, and intensities of experience that shape the materialities and practices of everyday life” (Hawkins and Straughan, 2016: 28).  In its most general understanding, aesthetics is about “the way the sensual world meets the sensate body, and with the affective forces that are generated in such meetings” (Highmore, 2010: 122; Koren, 2010).  Aesthetics, therefore, invariably figures in how we make sense of the city and ourselves.  As Latham and McCormack have argued, the “aesthetic is part of the generative, distributed expressiveness of the city” (2009: 260 - 261).  Aesthetics is bound to how we experience urban life imaginatively, materially, socially and politically.  It is bound to the policing of the city and politics surrounding it (Dikeç, 2015; Walby and Lippert, 2012). As Dikeç has argued, “aesthetics is linked to politics as a form of perceiving the world and a mode of relating to it” (2015: 35).  But aesthetics is not solely a political question, it affects the very sensory fabric of, around and about our cities and how they are differentially experienced. Aesthetics, therefore, prompts us to consider the affective and more-than-representational dynamics that shape, and are shaped by, how we sense and make sense of the city (Highmore, 2010).  Aesthetics is intrinsically interdisciplinary, bringing together urban, cultural, political and social theorists.

This session takes stock and assesses potential avenues for work on aesthetics, the sensory and the city.  We welcome papers which may consider (but are not limited to) the following questions:

  • How can aesthetics be understood and used in relation to the ‘city’ and why might this matter?
  • How is difference lived in the city and how might aesthetics work to delineate or challenge such difference?
  • In what ways do aesthetics of the city link with the more-than-representational, theories of affect, politics and ‘the political’?
  • In what ways do aesthetics affect our experience of the city and in turn how can one affect aesthetics?  How do different individuals make sense of the city? 
  • How might aesthetics help us to consider the temporal and spatial production of identities and subjectivities?
  • How might an aesthetics of the city relate to more-than human approaches?
  • What are the methodological challenges to research on aesthetics and the city?

34. The im|mobile city: methodologies, justice and right to mobility

SESSION NUMBER: 34

The im|mobile city: methodologies, justice and right to mobility

Karol Kurnicki – University of Warwick

Cosmin Popan – Manchester Metropolitan University

Ragnhild Dahl Wikstrøm – University of Oslo

The urban experience is a mixture of movement and stillness produced in the relations between people, places and things. The sensory, bodily, and affective aspects of movement and urban life are at the centre of reflection in both mobilities and urban studies. The ways in which the urban and mobility processes are structured closely interrelate. Thinking about how these interrelations engage embodied, sensual and technologically mediated experiences can open up new critical concepts of justice, emancipation and inclusion.

The session seeks to explore conceptual exchanges between mobility studies and urban studies, addressing the overlapping interests between these two fields.  We aim to investigate possible meeting points that could strengthen critical thinking about planetary urban processes and analyses of particular circumstances and situations that engage people and things in the production of space. We want to explore how concepts, imaginations and methodologies already in use in im|mobility studies can be productively used to investigate contemporary urban challenges and bring to the surface the complexity of global processes reflected in everyday reproduction of power and domination. We also want to explore the potential that discussions in urban studies have for the exploration of im|mobilities in contemporary urbanisation.

The session will be a platform for papers that consider how the experience of the city – involving everything from everyday life to major structural processes – is relevant for understanding moments of movement and stability. Are there ways of tracing movement and stillness in cities that help shed light on processes of exclusion and inclusion? How is im|mobility practiced, lived, enacted and constructed in “ordinary cities” in different geographical and social contexts? What materials, objects, atmospheres and affects can be engaged for a better understanding of shifting privatisation, financialization, exclusions and dissent in cities around the globe? How can right to the city and mobility justice be understood as practical achievements of active citizens and urban movements?

Both smart and micro mobilities are productive topics through which we can consider issues of mobility justice and the right to the city: the uneven geographies created by internet platforms (which cities and which city areas they cover); the new forms of mobility governance enabled through sensors and programming environments; the mobile data mined and used as commodities for commercial purposes; the emerging mobile digital precariat resulting from platform capitalism (mobile workers in the gig economy) etc. The rapid proliferation of food delivery digital apps, hail riding apps, home delivery services as well as the surge in dockless bike schemes and electric scooter services diversify the range of mobile technologies and invite us to consider what appropriate methods can be used to critically investigate the surge in technologies enabling, mediating and governing urban mobilities. We want to explore the consequences of mixing old and new means of movement in rapidly changing urban landscapes, asking if there is an element of dissent, diversion, commoning and emancipation in contemporary im|mobilties.

Papers of empirical and/or conceptual nature will be considered. Suggested themes include:

  • Im|mobile theories of urban space
  • Im|mobile multi-sensory experiences of urban spaces
  • Mobile methods and creative methodological approaches
  • Digitalization of sensory experiences of space and im|mobility
  • Production of im|mobile spaces and citizen engagement
  • Studies of infrastructures, urban transport policy and planning for im|mobility
  • Urban mobility futures, sustainable mobilities and urban development
  • Mobility justice, im|mobile exclusion and inclusion
  • The right to the city - the right to im|mobility

35. Morbidities in Motion: Exploring cities as spaces of medical care to migrants for healthcare

SESSION NUMBER: 35

Morbidities in Motion: Exploring cities as spaces of medical care to migrants for healthcare

Deeksha – Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

Aravind Unni – Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

The city has been a centre for healthcare in many parts of the world. In countries of Asia, cities cater to secondary and tertiary medical needs of patients from rural areas along with those from neighbouring countries. Unequal distribution of healthcare services along with the search for technology and therapies sets in motion internal and transnational journeys filled with aspiration for quality medical treatment. In the previous two decades, New Delhi, Singapore and Bangkok have emerged as medical tourism hubs attracting global clients. In such contexts, cities have changed to cater to the growing numbers of medical tourists and migrants for healthcare. The panel focuses on medical mobilities and the urban space, probing how cities, globally, and specifically in South and South-East Asia, shape and reshape to attract, accommodate and respond to the morbidities in motion. In times, when, the city space and resources are strained and often contested, not only medical infrastructure but services like housing, recreation, translators among others necessary for visiting patients sometimes change urban neighbourhoods, social relations and the very fabric of the city. The mobile patient, is often the patient-consumer, subject of philanthropy, contrarily also stigmatized bodies and carrier of diseases.

In some cases, hospitals may completely contain the medical tourist or the migrant for healthcare. However, more often than not, morbidities in motion spill out into everyday urban spaces, into the roads, neighbourhoods, markets, trains and parks. The migrant patient and his caregivers experience the city sensorially differently than urban residents- moving at different paces, appearing ‘foreign’, seeking different food and flavours and seeing the urban space through a different set of knowledge and experience. Most importantly, their relation to the urban and its spatial relations and practices is mediated foremost by the experience of morbidity. The exploration of the city as a provider for medical care to migrants for healthcare, while, highlighting flows of global capital and businesses, also challenges dominant ideas of the city as a purely transactional space through emphasis on the urban as philanthropic. The panel invites proposals exploring the continually reconfiguring of the urban in relation to those migrating into the city to access quality healthcare and medical facilities, global and local economies supporting the ‘diseased’ migrant body, social and philanthropic responses to their medical and other needs. Papers creatively bringing together interdisciplinary perspectives and methods focused on capturing the unique experience of migration, morbidity and the urban space are invited.

36. Sensing the city during walking / cycling the "first / last mile"

SESSION NUMBER: 36

Sensing the city during walking / cycling the “first / last mile”

Apostolos Arvanitis – Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Sokratis Basbas – Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Stella Giannakopoulou – Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

The so called “First mile / Last mile” (FM/LM) problem is an ongoing research issue on the urban planning agenda, during the last years. The FM/LM describes the first and the last trip that an individual makes on his/her own in order to access public transportation (i.e metro, bus, train etc.). An individual may use various transport means; car, bus, metro, bike etc. between the trip origin and destination as far as a transfer point is concerned. Most of the times she/he uses a combination of means. However, in spite of the in-between mean(s), the user completes the first and the last part of the trip by herself/himself. Hence, when means of public transport are used in the framework of the trip, this first/last mile has to fulfil a variety of requirements in order for the public transport system to be attractive and sustainable.

This panel focuses on the investigation of the walking and/or cycling experience of individuals when they were completing their first/last mile trip in order to access public transportation means and infrastructure (metro / bus / tram /train station). People are willing to walk and/or bike for a distance between 400m to 800m in order to get to a public transport station.

Questions arising in the urban design / planning process concerning the above mentioned buffer zones include but are not limited to:

  • Which elements of the built environment (i.e. aesthetics, greenery, land-use mix, sounds, smells, etc.) encourage and/or discourage people to walk / bike the FM/LM?
  • Which elements of the built environment (i.e. aesthetics, greenery, land-use mix, sounds, smells, etc.) determine and affect the individual’s choices for specific FM/LM trip routes?
  • How do people move in the city during their usual FM/LM trips? Are they in need of exploring different routes every day? Do they follow certain routes because they have to do so or it is just a habit? Which parameters affect their choices?
  • How do individuals sense the city during their everyday FM/LM trips? Are specific elements (i.e. sounds, smells, views etc.) able to make a route attractive / non-attractive? Are these elements strong enough to divert an individual from her/his habitual route?
  • An individual’s FM/LM trip as a social experience of the city. How connected are people with their surrounding built environment? Do we hear/smell/see the city or are we deeply absorbed into our mobile phones, completely disconnected from the city while walking?

Focusing on the issue of walking/bicycling the FM/LM, the panel is aiming at the investigation of the relationship between individuals and their city. More specifically, the aim is to investigate the way individuals, sense, experience, interact with their city, during their everyday trips. The aim is to shed light on which social elements of the built environment make a common trip to be a pleasant / unpleasant / friendly / boring etc. experience. Furthermore, the panel aims to investigate what connects and disconnects people from the city and how technology may affect each relationship. In addition, to investigate how the different groups of individuals (i.e. young, elderly, disabled, educated, non-educated, men, women, etc.) perceived the city. Taking into account that people use public transport systems for their daily trips (i.e. to/from work, education, shopping etc.) this specific walking/cycling route comprises a repeated experience for the majority of individuals. This enables for a variety of relevant surveys and counts which lead to conclusions useful for the ongoing research in the area of urban space.

We would especially encourage, Early Career Researchers (ECRs), activists, practitioners and professionals, apart from academics to submit either/both theoretically driven and/or empirically grounded pieces of work. The language of the panel is English.

37. Understanding refugees' home-making practices and housing pathways against the backdrop of the broader housing question of European cities

SESSION NUMBER: 37

Understanding refugees' home-making practices and housing pathways against the backdrop of the broader housing question of European cities

Viviana d’Auria  – KU Leuven

Luce Beeckmans – Ghent University

Forcibly displaced persons (including refugees) face numerous challenges to access housing, among other urban assets, in Europe as elsewhere. This is ever more the case as most cities are confronted with a severe housing crisis, whereby refugees suffer the consequences of low shares of social housing, oversaturated housing markets (especially in the lower segments) and, more generally, severe discrimination. Moreover, institutional categories linked to migration policies are reflected in the differential nature and duration of welfare that can (or not) be claimed by various groupings and which are, by consequence, category-dependent. Housing is a case in point, whereby the transition to a refugee with statutory rights from an uncertain position of asylum seeker usually means a disruptive change of setting with a number of variants: from isolated asylum centres to private housing markets in Belgium; from dispersal low-quality residential sites to temporary accommodation or settled housing in the UK, to mention only two examples. As a result, forcibly displaced persons (including refugees) regularly experience discontinuous housing pathways, ending up in precarious dwellings in arrival neighbourhoods.

Nonetheless, decent and affordable housing has been systematically foregrounded as a key domain for refugee well-being, social inclusion and mobility. With forced displacement increasingly becoming an urban phenomenon, housing provision is concurrently related with the potential for cities to be(come) inclusive environments for refugees. This call for proposals aims therefore to explore the potential of housing for refugee inclusion as part of a broader urban question, and this by focusing on urban areas where refugees already land, such as arrival neighbourhoods. It is in such sites that housing may (or not) facilitate refugees’ construction, reproduction and re-enactment of ‘home’ (intended here as both a relational place, and as a matter of living conditions influenced by structural conjunctures (cfr. Boccagni 2017)).

In this double meaning of home, not only as a range of attributes in terms of physical size, facilities present, material quality and ownership regimes, but also as environments which have a social and cultural impact, the sensory aspects of home-making have often been overlooked. This session aims to explore such aspects by apprehending home-making as  both an embodied experience and an emancipatory practice for refugees. In confronting conditions of abjection, precariousness and destabilisation, home-making can create places of gathering and belonging, and both of these are in dire need of a sensory exploration. The call welcomes inter-disciplinary perspectives on the topic, and looks forward to proposals dealing with, amongst others, the temporal, spatial and cultural aspects of home-making by refugees in European cities; as well as proposals that shed light on (experimental) civil society and governmental initiatives that support refugees in this process of home-making in various ways.

38. Socio-spatial fragmentation: New perspectives in urban theory and research

SESSION NUMBER: 38

Socio-spatial fragmentation: New perspectives in urban theory and research

Matthew A. Richmond – London School of Economics

“Fragmentation” is a widely invoked but often weakly defined concept in urban studies. Sometimes it is used effectively as a synonym for segregation, referring to the spatial differentiation of urban populations along class and racial lines. At other times it might refer to increasingly intense physical and symbolic barriers that reinforce such separations (Caldeira, 2000) or to less visible infrastructural networks that “splinter” urban space (Graham and Marvin, 2001). Different understandings of fragmentation may be attached to different conceptions of what is driving urbanisation in diverse contexts, from notions of a generalised ‘planetary urbanisation’ (Brenner, 2014), to the enclave urbanism of cities undergoing variegated processes of ‘worlding’ (Roy and Ong, 2011), to the widespread production of informality and infrastructural exclusion in the global South (McFarlane, 2018). Latin America in particular has long been key centre for the theorisation of socio-spatial fragmentation (Santos, 1990; Prévôt-Shapira, 2001). Across the region, in both large metropolises (Lopes de Souza, 2000; Duhau and Giglia, 2016) and medium-sized cities (Sposito and Góes, 2013), gated condominiums, informal settlements and isolated social housing projects have all proliferated in cities that are weakly integrated by public transport and widely experienced as insecure.

In this session, we welcome submissions that investigate processes of socio-spatial fragmentation from both a theoretical perspective and through empirical analysis of particular urban contexts. We welcome analyses from both the global South and North, and which explore the relationship of fragmentation to broad themes such as inequality, globalisation and neoliberalism. We are also interested in analyses of particular sub-themes that might be understood as related to fragmentation, such as public space (parks, squares, high streets), low-income housing (social housing, informal settlements), elite spaces (gated condominiums, shopping centres), and infrastructure projects that either deepen or mitigate processes of fragmentation (public transport networks, urban regeneration projects). Contributors may wish to explore questions like:

  • What strengths does fragmentation have as a concept and how does it link to and differ from other related concepts in urban theory?
  • How does fragmentation connect to different domains of urban life, such as housing, mobility, work, consumption, leisure and politics?
  • How do different urban actors, operating at different scales, understand, reproduce and/or contest processes of socio-spatial fragmentation?
  • How can the notion of fragmentation be practically applied in urban research and what methodologies lend themselves to capturing processes of fragmentation?

39. Urban Amenities, Cultural Consumption, Middle-Class Identities

SESSION NUMBER: 39

Urban Amenities, Cultural Consumption, Middle-Class Identities

Levent Soysal – Kadir Has University

Jan Rath – University of Amsterdam

The transformation of the manufacturing economy to the—what Allan J. Scott (2008) would label—cognitive‐creative economy, and the concomitant concentration of the ‘new middle classes’ in urban centers has led to the proliferation of new forms of urbanism. Primordial loyalties and attachments have lost their significance, and urban individuals are now seeking social identity, connections and belonging through lifestyles and cultivated sensibilities with regard to, for example, food and foodways, fashion, musical styles, entertainment, and shopping. Indeed, a wide array of amenities are emerging and they offer a platform for the development of new life styles and communities: specialty coffee bars, hot bakeries, chocolate architects, olive oil specialists, craft beer breweries, ‘ethnic’ home decoration stores, street food treks, and hot yoga studios are popping up like daisies, all drawing the attention of the new middle classes (Bridge and Dowling 2001; Ernst and Doucet 2014; 2010; Shaker Ardekani and Rath 2017 and 2018; Zukin 2010).

As has been argued by Silver and Clark (2016), clusters of amenities constitute scenes, i.e. settings that structure shared cultural consumption. They join the various forms of consumption together, permitting a range of seemingly diverse activities—from sipping coffee to listening to music or engaging in urban farming—to be analyzed as part of one social process. These social and cultural processes—manifested through and driven by cultural consumption—do not only impact the way city dwellers identify themselves and how they position themselves vis-à-vis others, but also affect in  more general terms the sense of place, the sense of belonging and eventually the right to the city for all. The latter is not self-evident and this problematic situation is aggravated by the fact that municipalities and other public and private institutions (such as housing associations and developers) seem to favor middle-class consumption behavior, middle-class lifestyles, and middle class political articulation.

What was traditionally conceived of as ‘the public’ is evidently in retreat: public services are under pressure, public housing is being sold off and public space is increasingly no such thing. In such a (neoliberal) climate, the commons seem to offer an alternative to the battle between public and private. The rise of urban scenes and the concomitant sense of belonging, purpose and public accountability might give a new impulse to the urban commons. At the same time, there is obviously a risk that the same processes contribute to the further erosion of the urban commons.

Interesting questions then are: how do new forms of bridging and bonding emerge, how are membership and status within a scene determined, how do distinct types of scenes (clusters of amenities, spatially and temporally) differentially affect urban development, in which contexts are they embedded, how about the aesthetic and ethical symbolisms and about the political drivers? Also—more generally—what is in the character of a particular scene that speak to broader and more universal themes, notably the maintenance and enhancement of urban commons? In the current panel, scenes are used as a lens to look at structural economic, social, political and cultural dimensions of the urban commons.

40. Rethinking the urban housing shortage in the global South: incremental housing as a node for intersecting flows of city-making

SESSION NUMBER: 40

Rethinking the urban housing shortage in the global South: incremental housing as a node for intersecting flows of city-making

Griet Steel – Utrecht University

Femke van Noorloos – Utrecht University

Abigail Friendly – Utrecht University

Sustainable urban housing stands at the nexus of multiple SDGs (SDG11 figuring prominently), with spectacular urban growth, exacerbating inequality, environmental degradation and housing shortages as some of the pressing issues. Incremental housing – a step by step approach to housing construction in which the built environment is improved by owner-builders as money, time and materials become available – is a key driver of contemporary urbanization worldwide. Taking place in informal ways and driven by urban residents rather than the state, incremental housing practices remain challenging to integrate with formal state-led city-making. However, these experiences vary widely depending on inequalities at different scales, people’s roles and power positions, policies and regulations related to incremental housing and city-making, and broader structural forces shaping land and housing markets and urban development more broadly. Scholarship on incremental housing continues to focus largely on tenure, building materials and housing conditions at a local level, while incremental housing is embedded in – and dependent on – larger urban and regional systems and flows. Housing is inserted into a broader context of city-making , including flows of labor, people, finance, knowledge/ideas, technologies, design and infrastructure. Mapping these dynamics is necessary to understand fundamental questions of where, how and why initiatives aimed at addressing the urban housing shortage in the global South advance or get stuck. Academically, a further reconceptualization of incremental housing is needed that acknowledges the embeddedness of local incremental building practices within broader industries, markets and practices of city-making. Given the reality of incremental housing practices across the Global South, academic debates need to understand the complexity of these challenges.

In this session, we aim to focus on how the process of creating incremental housing produces a variety of ever-changing embodied experiences for dwellers-managers over time, depending on how they engage with flows of building materials, finance, and labour, together with land, design and infrastructure. By focusing on these embodied experiences of incremental housing flows, we aim to scrutinize how to overcome dilemmas related to urban incrementalism, long-term, city-wide planning, and compact cities in the Global South. We are particularly interested in receiving submissions from scholars from the Global South.

In particular, we welcome papers that analyze city flows, chains and circuits that emerge from incremental housing practices by focusing on:

  • the functions and experiences of different actors such as self-builders, suppliers of materials and finance and informal brokers, identifying winners and losers in incremental housing dynamics, including the generation of employment for specific groups;
  • the industries and value chains that emerge and change, including financial or credit systems, where materials come from, go to, and flow together; and
  • the reasons why certain housing developments stand empty and why repair and recycling  are not used optimally, for example for emptied vertical blocks and older housing estates.

Urban researchers largely recognize that contemporary cities are constantly in flux and created and recreated through various flows and relations of people and materials, and not the stable products of past planning decisions ‘frozen in space’. Nevertheless, modern urban planning tools, methods and procedures often continue to reflect the idea of planning as the creation of something stable and long-lasting, such as zoning or land-use plans. They emphasize stability instead of dynamic connections, interlinkages and movement. By focusing on the actors and the lived experiences of user-driven, self-organized industries of building, maintaining, repairing and renewing/upgrading, the panel aims to put an innovative light on the embeddedness of ‘local’ incremental and self-managed building practices within broader industries and city-making practices.

Module 41-50

41. Racial capitalism, everyday life and the city

SESSION NUMBER: 41

Racial capitalism, everyday life and the city

Claudia Fonseca Alfaro – Malmö University

Defne Kadioğlu – Malmö University

Challenging the classical Marxist focus on class and political economy, scholars within Ethnic Studies (e.g. the work of Barrera, Marable or Almaguer) have been trying to disentangle the relationship between racism and capitalism for decades. Led by a new generation of researchers rediscovering racial capitalism—a term coined by Cedric Robinson in 1983 within the Black Radical Tradition—there is a renewed interest in the deployment of the concept from different perspectives. For example, reflecting on the levels of environmental destruction that the planet is currently facing, Saldanha (2019) argues that because of the colonial origins of capitalism, the Anthropocene is in fact a racial regime. Pulido (2016) explores the relationship between environmental racism and racial capitalism. Focusing on urban agriculture, McClintock (2018) argues it is a racialized practice that works both as a tool of Othering but also as a tool of resistance to capital accumulation. Chakravartty and Ferreira Da Silva (2012), on the other hand, explore the “racial logic of global financial capitalism” in a Special Issue. Bhattacharyya (2018) explores how processes of racialization have been put to use in the service of capitalism. Scholars have also addressed the nexus of racial capitalism to private property, land value, spatial planning and the ongoing accumulation of wealth (cf. Bhandar, 2018; Toews, 2018; Dorries et al. 2019).

There is, however, less work explicitly studying the connections between racial capitalism and urban

theory. To begin with, neoclassical urban theory has been accused of having a blind spot in studying the role of race and racism (Kobayashi, 2014). While there are authors that have explored the linkages

between capitalism and the urban (e.g. predominantly the work of Henri Lefebvre and David Harvey) and scholarly work on the nexus between race and urban inequality produced through capitalist relationships (e.g. Wacquant 2008; Gibbons, 2016; Hackworth, 2018), the intellectual work to further explore the race-capitalism-urban matrix remains to be done.

Attempting to bridge this knowledge gap and guided by the conference’s theme, we seek to explore the relationship between racial capitalism and the urban. We invite contributions that address theoretical discussions, provide rich empirical examples or challenge the usefulness of racial capitalism in studying urban processes. Possible questions include but are not limited to:

  • What is the role of racial capitalism in producing urban space (e.g. patterns of physical and social segregation, investment and disinvestment, urban planning)?
  • What is the role of materiality (e.g. infrastructure, public and commercial space, housing) in reproducing racial capitalism in the city?
  • What is the role of racial capitalism in mediating access to public urban space (e.g. access to recreational spaces, nature, public transport)?
  • How does racial capitalism shape everyday experiences of urban life (including at the intersection of gender and class)?
  • What other conceptual tools are there to explore the race-capitalism-urban matrix (i.e. other strands of theory—feminist, postcolonial/decolonial, queer—that while not explicitly using the concept “racial capitalism” can nevertheless contribute to its theorization)?
  • What is the conceptual usefulness of racial capitalism, in other words, what is racial about racial capitalism?

42. Emerging Bordering Practices in Urban Space

SESSION NUMBER: 42

Emerging Bordering Practices in Urban Space

Martin Lundsteen –University of Oxford

European politics is at a turning point. Faced with increasing migration, extremism, transnational crimes, and a variety of other ostensible external security threats, most European countries have recently taken new and alternative steps to police and secure internal borders. Contrary to agreed-upon doctrines of globalisation and free mobility in the EU, member states have reinserted physical border controls, invested heavily in surveillance technologies, and furthered legalisation to surveil and minimise the means and mobility of many non-citizens, unintentionally affecting many citizens alike. These socio-political and -legal practices conform a crucial pattern which might have far-reaching consequences for the social cohesion of the increasingly diverse societies of the EU. Yet while research exists that examine the political discourse as well as the jurisprudence technicalities, we still need information on their relation to space.

While social control of populations deemed dangerous or contaminating is nothing new – sociology, urbanism and criminology, emerged from this preoccupation – we are certainly seeing new path-breaking trends in the social policies and jurisprudence of the advanced liberal societies of the EU in the last decades. Similarly, although border and migration scholars have emphasised the ‘downgrading’ , ‘loosening’  or ‘dissolution’  of internal intra-state EU borders in an area of free movement, ubiquitous boundaries- and bordering-practices have arisen in parallel with the reinstating of borders and border regimes.  In fact, recent work on borders demonstrates how there is no single, unitarian organising logic at work; instead, it constitutes a site of constant encounter, tension, and contestation. One should, therefore, rather speak about bordering practices, recognising the ongoing process involving social relations that are historically constituted and often politically contested.   Consistent with this viewpoint, a rich body of scholarship has developed to explain these practices have transformed nation-states, economies, subjectivities, and citizenship.  However, only little attention has been drawn to their unintended social and political effects on the society in general, and more specifically, the ‘field of belonging’ in relation to urban space. 

As studies in critical criminology and sociology have shown time and again, criminality as a legal category is politically and socially informed. Public conceptions of who is criminal are informed by hegemonic ideas related to the social relations of gender, race, and culture; indeed, somebody might even ‘look delinquent’. However, nowadays they are not so in typical overt terms.  Instead, we see a transformation from prior processes of social control through demonization, racialisation, and culturalization towards one based on a moralisation, where social boundaries are drawn implicitly through competing ideas of deservingness and moralities.  This subtle policing of the internal boundaries of the citizenry, the borders of the moral communities, is often ignored.  As when community policies targeting uncivil behaviour, especially informal economic practices, have been implemented with the explicit aim of making certain neighbourhoods ‘more secure’.

In dealing with this burning issue, this panel aims to shed a much needed qualitative – and critical – light on the development of present-day jurisprudence and its increasing relation to issues of borders and belonging, especially in their relation to urban space.

This session is therefore interested in papers from different theoretical approaches that scrutinise the political use of notions such as civility and the negotiation of what is considered appropriate behaviour or beings out-of-place in urban space, be that in small or medium-sized towns and metropolis, and especially how these are handled, managed, understood, narrated, policed, and so on, in local society, favouring empirical and especially ethnographic studies which include the role of space in bordering practices.

43. Regulating the body in public space

SESSION NUMBER: 43

Regulating the body in public space

Danielle Chevalier – Leiden University

Mischa Dekker – École des hautes études en sciences sociales & University of Amsterdam

Bodily presence in public space is a key facet of the urban; Being present and visible in the public domain is a prerequisite for having a voice and taking part in the social and political dynamics of a social constellation (Habermas 1989, Lefebvre 1991). Of old, access to public space and the opportunity to present oneself there have been regulated by the powers-that-be, such as municipal authorities, public transport organizations and street market associations. Examples of regulations controlling access to public space include rules pertaining to the body of individuals. Over time, the focus has shifted from what the body is, based on for example premises regarding gender or race, to what the body does. In other words, whilst being present in public space is ostensibly increasingly accessible, subsequently expressing oneself in public space is curbed by constraining regulations. Not everyone has equal access to being themselves and demonstrating their identity in public space. Regulations on what the body does in public space cover a wide spectrum of behaviours, ranging from dress habits to speech acts to physical conduct. Contemporary high-profile examples of such regulations include so-called burka-bans, bans on cat-calling, and bans on busking or consumption of specified substances in public space.

This panel invites papers on the regulation of the body in public space, whether through state law or other normative orders. Contributions can be based on ethnographic research, action based research, discourse, policy and/or legal analysis, but also historical archival research. The regulation(s) under scrutiny can be still under debate, currently implemented or no longer active. The topics under discussion can range from the socio-political context of a regulation to the tactics that people in public space strategize to comply with, circumvent or challenge regulations (Ewick & Silbey 1998) that curtail their possibilities in public space. Overall, the session wishes to contribute to understanding the power dynamics involved in regulated public space, and how regulations -and the responses they invoke- impact the production of space that accommodates some and limits others.

45. Sound and the city

SESSION NUMBER: 45

Sound and the city

Sandra Jasper – Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Over the past decade, the sounds of the city have emerged as a vibrant focus for interdisciplinary research. In and around metropolitan spaces, the experience of sound reaches particular levels of intensity. Cities are widely characterized as sites and sources of noise, but despite the wider public discourse on the problem of noise and its detrimental health implications, the politics of sound have yet to be fully explored. Soundscapes are differently constituted and sensed, contingent upon cultural understandings, class and ethnic inequalities, uneven power dynamics and access to urban space. In Delhi, for example, the growing power of elites’ bourgeois-environmentalist ideas has resulted in efforts to “silence” specific neighbourhoods and remove the urban poor along with their noisy vehicles and communities (see Ghertner 2012; Patsarika, Schneider and Edwards 2018). But loud music and pot panging are also used as a strategy to “speak back” in processes of social marginalization (Kaviraj 1997) foregrounding the recent interest in the emancipatory potential of sound’s disruptive spatiality (see Kanngieser 2011; Labelle 2010; Revill 2016).

The increasing level of social conflicts over noise is not only caused by traffic, industry, and airport expansions, but also by the burgeoning nighttime economy and club culture in the post-industrial, tourist city (see Bader and Scharenberg 2010; Garcia 2016). Efforts to make cities quieter through zoning laws, design alterations, or legal regulations are accelerating processes of social exclusion. The creation of new leisure spaces of urban nature is accelerating what we might call “acoustic gentrification,” a phenomenon that can be observed in many cities across the world (see Checker 2011; Kusiak 2014; Radovac 2015).

Nonhuman nature is a key element of the everyday acoustic environment. The sounds of urban nature draw our attention to temporal dimensions, such as the dawn chorus, circadian rhythms, and seasonal variations through changing weather and vegetation and the migratory patterns of birds. Architectural façades, abandoned infrastructures, and other recesses in the built environment can become unplanned habitats for birds, bats, and other species. Recent work on nonhuman nature has called for considering animals and plants as part of a re-enchanted city or ‘zoöpolis’ (Barua and Sinha 2019; Gandy 2013; Wolch 1996). Are cities becoming louder or quieter if we consider processes of extinction and biodiversity loss? Can cities serve as ecological and sensory refugia?

This session aims to bring together current work at the intersection of sound research and urban studies. It invites contributions that explore different cities worldwide, especially inviting scholars working in different global contexts, addressing the acoustic experience of cities through a triple lens: as particular places and events, as a focal point for new hegemonic and counter-hegemonic practices, and as a subject of new conceptual interest. Topics and questions may include but are not limited to the following four themes:

Sonic politics:

  • How is urban space governed through sound?
  • What are the politics of urban sound and is there a ‘right to silence’?
  • What sounds generate social or environmental conflicts in cities?
  • How are sound, noise, and silence used as tools of resistance or contestation?
  • Have efforts to create quieter spaces resulted in a more or a less socially just city?

Acoustic ecologies:

  • In which ways does urban nature shape the acoustic experience of cities?
  • How, in turn, is urban nature affected by changes in the urban soundscape?
  • What role does nature play in experimental design interventions aiming to modify the acoustic experience of urban space?

Mediated environments:

  • What is the role of different design fields or sound cultures in reframing the experience of sound in cities? What new digital or artificial types of sounds are being designed?
  • How do experts from the fields of architecture, urban design, and planning shape what we have come to experience as the sounds of the city?
  • What role does sound play in reconfigurations of urban space through new types of scientific data and practices of measurement, sensing, and surveillance?
  • How does the increasing presence of digital soundscapes relate to the city’s changing material ecologies?
  • Sound methodologies and creative interventions:
  • What kind of novel sound mappings or cartographic approaches to the representation of soundscapes are being used in urban research?
  • How does a concern with sound and practices of careful listening challenge established research methodologies?
  • What kind of experimental art or design interventions have made use of sound or altered the urban acoustic experience?

46. The Political Consequences of Gentrification

SESSION NUMBER: 46

The Political Consequences of Gentrification

Jan Üblacker – ILS Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development

Considerable debate and controversy continue regarding the effects of gentrification on cities, neighborhoods and residents. While there is a significant amount of research describing the influence of neoliberal policies on urban restructuring, gentrification and displacement, only little is known about their political consequences. To what extent are these processes affecting (1) the political participation and attitudes of residents and displaced persons, (2) the composition of urban electorates and their preferred political parties and (3) the political agendas, processes and alternative policies that may have the potential to overcome undesired outcomes?

With gentrification becoming a global urban strategy (Smith 2002) and hence being a worldwide observable phenomenon (Lees et al. 2015) it became evident that market liberalization, political deregulation and a class-based local demand were the main driving forces of global urban inequalities.

While in some countries the middle classes remain the demand-side drivers of urban restructuring and gentrification, in other cases they have been overtaken by supply-side factors such as financialization of housing and shifting tenurial systems. The subsequent rise of property values and rents that climb even beyond the economic capabilities of the urban middle classes keep on pushing housing issues back into local political agendas in recent years. Therefore, urban governments and political parties are concerned with finding adequate answers to fulfill the steady demand of affordable housing by an increasingly socio-economically diverse population.

The inability or unwillingness by political actors to address the housing issues caused by gentrification is bound to generate a political discontent and a loss of trust in local governments. Against the background of an increasing competition over housing on tight markets this may as well open up opportunities for populist reactions cause by such housing issues. These might fall on fertile ground in gentrifying neighborhoods where long-time residents encounter cultural diversity, economic inequality and a loss of social capital provoked by a dynamic population turnover in a formerly homogenous environment, causing them feelings of economic deprivation and cultural alienation. Of course, the question of the political consequences of gentrification might be read differently in other parts of the world, where political regimes are less responsive to the needs of their population. Here gentrification and economic marginalization may spark solidarization, political mobilization and protest. Given the ongoing processes of gentrification worldwide and the shifting political geographies of recent times this session intends to bring together different views on the political consequences of gentrification for residents, neighborhoods, cities and urban policies. Submissions can be based on the following questions:

  • How does gentrification affect political participation (e.g. voting turnout, political attitudes)?
  • How do urban electorates and party preferences change with gentrification?
  • What are the implications of those changes for urban governments?
  • Which other forms of political action and participation are caused by gentrification?
  • How do political parties in cities react to processes of gentrification?
  • Which regulatory instruments exist and are used to handle gentrification?
  • When and why do governments regulate gentrification and related processes?

47. Public Space and Social Innovation: an approach to perception and transformation in the city

SESSION NUMBER: 47

Public Space and Social Innovation: an approach to perception and transformation in the city

Juan Andres Walliser Martinez – Complutense University of Madrid

Clemente Navarro Yañez – Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Seville

Innovation has become a reference term for a number of fields in social science as a desirable outcome –yet full of substantial ambiguity (Moulaert, 2011: 3) of urban regeneration and economic development. Urban studies incorporate the concept mainly through the notion of social innovation and democratic innovation as it involves a range of actors from public institutions, mainly local; through civil society and bussiness in its different forms (Unceta et al., 2017). Yet public space is an arena in which innovation has gather protagonism in the city since a long time ago. Often is the first place to test, prototype or just appropriate new practices and actions in the city. Furthermore, public space has been historically one of the main scenarios through which citizens have experienced urban space, social interactions and often their own citizenship (or the lack of it). Often the combination of social innovation and public space not only gives place to initiatives that cover those areas which public administration do not reach (Moulaert et al. 2007; Nyseth & Hamdouch, 2019); but also it can induce institutional innovative change, precisely in tools and strategies conducted to narrow the distance between public action and citizen´s needs and demands  (Pradel et al, 2013; Orueta y Walliser, 2019)

There is a relevant link between both concepts -public space and innovation- which can be looked at from a double perspective: a) how has public space influenced social and democratic innovation, as well as corporate environments; and conversely, b) how has social and democratic innovation influenced public space.

In the first case we should consider how public space has traditionally been a vehicle for social interaction prompting social cohesion and the integration of different social groups in socially and ethnically heterogeneous societies (Amin, 2010). Bottom-up approaches to public space from this perspective have been widespread in cities throughout the world lately with new forms of action and mobilization to channel social and spatial transformation and to claim political change. Often these practices developed by new urban activisms are build around the idea of resilience as a social construct involving concepts such as ex-titutions, adhocracy, co-creation or situated knowledge among others influenced by the ideas around the commons or in its digital dimension, the use of open source as a source of collaborative learning for the city. Study cases and theoretical debate will be welcome in this session.

Also, public space has become a key component of innovation from an organisational perspective. New strategies to produce and breed knowledge in corporate (and to a lesser extent institutional) organisational environments include the role of public space as interaction and creativity catalysers. This realm plays a relevant role in urban regeneration processes that seek to attract investment and talent through highly attractive working and living environments, despite they might contribute to process of gentrification and urban segregation.

From this second point of view we want to highlight how different initiatives, and experiences develop into new social and democratic innovative tools. Following Blanco et al. (2018), public space is part of the new urban agenda which regards both the right to the city and the (re)construction of the commons.

Prototyping, pilot programmes, decentralization are often tools used for innovation in public space both from a top-down point of view, but also as scenarios of democratic innovation through strategies of co-creation.

We would like to include papers that highlights how this kind of experiences can have an outcome both in terms of institutional change from a governance perspective, regarding procedures (i.e. public procurement), management strategies (i.e. co-production, public-private cooperation, etc.), decision making process, urban knowledge management, etc. Empirical papers with a comparative perspective will be prioritized. 

Some question to be discussed in this session are: How do urban policies about public space enhances social integration, social innovation processes, innovative social practices or creativity? What kind of innovations are present in urban policies regarding to public space? What kind of actors and governance processes produce these urban policy innovations?

What is the impact of protoypes in public space in terms of social or policy change? How do bottom up-initiatives contribute to transform sociospatial relations?

With the outcomes of the group we would like to develop a proposal for a special issue in a journal on urban studies.

48. Power in the loopholes: Sensing and shaping the city through law

SESSION NUMBER:48

Power in the loopholes: Sensing and shaping the city through law

Francesco Chiodelli – Gran Sasso Science Institute

Hanna  Hilbrandt – HafenCity University Hamburg

While the prevailing approaches to urban governance and development are dominated by a ‘positivistic view’ that considers law “as immaterial, universal and abstract”, socio-legal geographies of the urban have unveiled the complexities of the law and its everyday enactment. This session explores both the constitution of regulative loopholes and the conflict-ridden social processes through which they are used, exploited and governed.

Loopholes are found within and at the intersections of the multiple sources of regulatory order, including plural laws, conflicting local regulations and frequently diverging social norms. They are used by a number of actors - individual and collective, local and transnational, human and corporate. Transnational financial corporations avoiding municipal taxes, platform capitalism exploiting urban real estate, people trying to survive by squatting and self-building shelter are cases in point. Criminal organizations infiltrating urban governance through its regulative weaknesses and social movements using legal engineering to fight accumulation by dispossession provide further examples of actors exploiting regulative loopholes for their own aims. Together, loopholes emerge as powerful ‘tools’ that can be used for different, even opposite, ends (e.g. for and against a certain idea of urban justice).

Clearly, loopholes are zones of intense struggles in and through which inequalities are widened, boundaries are drawn and small progressive victories sometimes won. Yet these practices and their governance are largely black-boxed from theoretical and empirical debates about the urban, in part due to the methodological difficulties that researching them entails. This relative neglect has not only obscured their uneven effects, but also restrained an understanding of how legal maneuvers can be used for progressive ends. To overcome this gap, this session aims to investigate practices of using regulative loopholes and shortcomings in the urban sphere, with a specific focus on urban governance and development. It centers on the relationship of these practices with different articulations of public institutions (e.g. laws, regulations, policies and practices by the state and its local segments), thus privileging a reading of these phenomena through the lenses of socio-legal studies, theories of power and the state, as well as legal geography.

We invite papers that discuss the following topics, among others:

  • Different practices of using loopholes, including as tools for exploitation (‘weapons of the strong’) and/or empowerment (‘weapons of the weak’); in politics of legal engineering; in practices of urban governance and development;
  • The multiscalar constitution of loopholes, focusing, for instance, on the intersections of bottom-up practices and top-down strategies of states, corporations and other large-scale organizations and/or the intersections of (il)legality at different scales;
  • The governance of loopholes and other regulatory shortcomings;
  • The spatial, in particular urban, effects of the above practices;
  • Different approaches of conceptualizing and theorizing the loopholes;
  • Methodological challenges of sensing and researching loopholes, including questions concerning the methodological engagement with law by non-lawyers; or the positionality and ethics of researching practices of legal exploitation.

49. The nexus of critical, smart and digital urbanism

SESSION NUMBER: 49

The nexus of critical, smart and digital urbanism

Hebe Verrest – University of Amsterdam

Elisabeth Peyroux – CNRS

Karin Pfeffer – University of Twente

Over the last decade, the Smart City concept has increasingly become a popular urban policy approach of cities across the globe. Smart city approaches are often based on idealized, utopian visions of the future, digital and technology-driven urban innovation as well as on new data analytics (Kitchin 2014). They are also considered a universal solution to varied urban policy problems in different cities, however, they do not take sufficiently into account lived experiences in ‘ordinary’ urban places, or issues of marginalisation and exclusion (Slavova and Okwechine, 2016; McFarlane and Söderström 2017). Moreover, they also face disciplinary and methodological limitations (Peyroux and Ninot, 2019).

How Smart City policies operate in contemporary cities is being examined in the emerging, but still underdeveloped, academic field of ‘smart urbanism’. According to Luque-Ayala and Marvin (2015), due to the ‘infancy’ of the discipline, its disciplinary fragmentation and single case study approach, the work lacks ‘theoretical insight and empirical evidence required to assess the implications of this potentially transformative phenomenon’ (p. 2106). Furthermore, the multiplicity of definitions of Smart City including its normative character hinder its use as an operational category for research (Peyroux and Ninot, 2019). In addition, mainstream smart urbanism considers Smart City as a set of technocratic solutions for urgent urban problems and not as a political response to political conflicts that reflect discourses on what urban problems are, what appropriate solutions are and what desired urban development is. Finally, current attempts to theorize smart cities are often rooted in the notion of “Urban System”, which draws on new approaches to complex systems thinking (Harrison and Donelly, 2011). While useful in their own right, such approaches fail to consider more qualitative dimensions of smart urbanism as well as the micro-level and individual perspectives.

Recently, Verrest and Pfeffer (2019) and Peyroux and Ninot (2019) have furthered such critical engagement by distilling dimensions absent in current mainstream smart urbanism. In their paper, Verrest and Pfeffer develop their contribution to the smart urbanism debate from existing theoretical and conceptual approaches within critical urbanism. They distilled three dimensions that require further development to improve our analysis and understanding of what Smart City policies mean for contemporary urban life: (1) the acknowledgement that the urban is not confined to the administrative boundaries of a city; (2) the importance of local social-economic, cultural-political and environmental contingencies in analyzing the development, implementation and effects of Smart City policies; and (3) the social-political construction of both the urban problems Smart City policies aim to solve and the considered solutions. Peyroux and Ninot (2019), in particular because of the multiple limitations of Smart City approaches, even suggest shifting the focus from Smart City concept to the widespread use of digital technologies, because digital technologies are interweaved in the urban fabric through a variety of uses (e.g. in urban planning and management, and social interactions).

Building on Verrest and Pfeffer (2019) as well as Peyroux and Ninot (2019), in this panel we aim to further our knowledge and understanding of the construction of urban problems and offered solutions through digital innovations. In the light of the conference theme ‘shaping and sensing the city’ we particularly invite contributions for this paper presentation session that address one or more of the following questions:

  1. Which urban issues are being included or excluded in the narratives of smart city policies? Through which processes?
  2. What kinds of alternative imaginaries based (or not) on digital innovations exist and how are these being advocated?
  3. How does the use of sensory/digital technologies frame socio-spatial problems at various levels? What are the perceived benefits and limitations of the collected data? How does this vary according to stakeholders or social groups?
  4. How are smart city technologies, in particular sensors, expected to affect or reduce socio-economic and spatial inequalities? 
  5. Which innovative methodological and theoretical approaches can help us grasp how the use of sensory/digital technologies reframe urban problems and what roles digital ‘sensors’ play? What are the relevant ontological and epistemological considerations to take into account?

In the panel we bring papers in conversation with each other, meaning that presenters will be asked to discuss another paper in the same session. We aim to bring the papers together in a special issue. As such, we prefer full papers for the panel. 

50. Negotiating livelihoods in the new resourcescapes of the "green transformation"

SESSION NUMBER: 50

Negotiating livelihoods in the new resourcescapes of the “green transformation”

Nadine  Appelhans – TU Dortmund

Fabio Bayro Kaiser – Institute for Urban Design and European Urbanism

The “green transformation” of cities and infrastructure does not come without material requirements.While recycling is strongly advocated from an ecological perspective, due to technical innovation andgrowing global consumerism a large amount of these materials will be newly sourced from resource extraction. It is therefore, that resource-related settlement development has recently made its way back onto the global research agenda. In this course, the global commodity needs regarding carbon and concrete related materials, such as oil, coal or sand are moving around the globe to sites of ever-lower production costs while the shift towards materials used in “sustainable” technology (e.g. electric mobility, hydrogen technology, renewable energy infrastructure, sustainable building-materials, etc.) such as biomass, cobalt and lithium are creating wholly new sourcing chains. While this resource extraction conventionally aims to cater to a global demand, locally these shifting geographies of resource extraction result in newly affected settlement areas. The extraction practices touch issues not only of transformed sensory experience of place, but of health, livelihood and environmental impact for the affected population. These need to be looked at from a global perspective, recognising the sovereignty, development interests and stakes in environmental action of the sourcing regions. However, the benefits of resource extraction for the citizens in the extraction areas are highly contested. While some see economic benefits and development opportunities for the community, others fear to pay the implicit environmental and social costs. The negotiation of this is a current issue for many settlements affected by growing, mining, winning or excavation. Up to now, much of the academic work on resource extraction has largely described single cases, such as effects in the Zambian copper belt, gold mining in South Africa, cobalt mining in the Congo or tin mining in Indonesia.  On these grounds, we welcome papers describing the local socio-ecological impact of resource extraction in the “green transformation” and how these issues are addressed by affected communities in negotiation with local, national and global governance.

Hence, this panel has three main aims:

  1. Through contributions from empirical work in locations worldwide, we seek to review the negotiation of livelihoods in settlements related to resource extraction. The panel asks how resource extraction endeavours link interests of different scales and socio-economic nature in a concentrated space. It hence gathers and discusses cases from the full global realm, which critically explore and discuss how the relation between resource extraction, corporate responsibility and socio-environmental impacts play out on the local scale.
  2. To engage in a comparative discussion. Taking the empirical cases as a starting point, the panel seeks to discuss overarching topics, commonalities and differences from the cases presented. It aims to discuss issues of urbanization processes induced by resource recovery, impacts on and rights of settled population, to come to generalised insights on patterns and contingencies on issues, agency and advocacy of communities related to resource extraction. It seeks to distinguish patterns, impacts and strategies regarding the newly affected extraction sites linked to “green transformation” in relation to carbon-industry-related resource-scapes and economies of resource recovery (recycling).
  3. To discuss the power structures and governance on local, national and global scale in relation to the cases and patterns of resource provision in the “green transformation”. We welcome papers on innovative strategies of policy formulation, impact negotiation, alternative scenarios of sourcing and development and the way forward in a globally considerate “green transformation”. We explore how settlements in the resource extraction areas relate themselves to the “green transformation” and how this is aligned with their development interests.

Module 51-60

51. The Paradox of Mega Urban Projects: Imaginaries, Practices and Experiences

SESSION NUMBER: 51

The Paradox of Mega Urban Projects: Imaginaries, Practices and Experiences

Mayra Mosciaro – University of Amsterdam

Yunpeng Zhang – KU Leuven

Urban mega projects present a paradox (Flyvbjerg 2005). On the one hand, there are plies of compelling evidence that mega urban projects often fail to achieve their intended goals and worse, they often incur significant fiscal burdens and undermine local development needs (Flyvbjerg et al. 2003). On the other hand, their popularity as a tool to transform the built environment never seems to decline. From Beijing to New York, from Jakarta to Milan, they are still enthusiastically pursued in many parts of the world to reshape the urban landscape (Orueta and Fainstein 2008; Shatkin 2017). They continue to exercise great influence on the ways in which cities are imagined, produced, lived and governed.

This paper-presentation session invites contributions from different disciplines to interrogate the (re)production of this paradox over time in different geographical contexts. Through this concerted effort, we aim to identify both persisting and evolving mechanisms and practices that sustain this paradox and draw out the socio-spatial consequences.

We welcome contributions which discuss (but are not limited to) the following questions:

  • the defining features and changing forms of mega urban projects: what constitutes the mega-ness of mega urban projects? What unique conditions or processes do mega urban projects enact? How does the definition of mega urban projects change over time and between different places?
  • Mobilities and politics of knowledge surrounding mega urban projects: how are mega urban projects justified and naturalized? How do they align with popular aspirations for better habitat and better life whilst at the same time sustain capitalist accumulation? How are counter-discourses marginalized, excluded or denied?
  • Practices of mega urban projects: how are mega urban projects implemented? Which financial devices are used? How are they contested?
  • Lived experiences of mega urban projects induced transformations: what are the consequences of mega urban projects? How do they affect pre-existing inequalities? How do they shape our experiences of time and urban space? How are these experiences exploited to sustain mega urban projects?

52. Love in the diverse city

SESSION NUMBER: 52

Love in the diverse city

Lidia Manzo – University of Milan

One of the most profound effects of globalization is that people from everywhere are falling in love with people from everywhere else. Increasing migration worldwide has facilitated the unions of people from different countries, religions, ethnicities and, presumably, cultural backgrounds. Such unions are often celebrated as a sign of integration; however, the classic assimilation theory no longer suffice in tackling the growth of large cities, which are witnessing unprecedented levels of diversity.

Thus, mixed unions may do more than reflect the nature of social boundaries. In urban areas of super-diversity, there is a growing likelihood that multiple and overlapping forms of mixedness will characterize many romantic relationships and it may be that while some ethnic and racial boundaries will remain persistent, others will become more blurred and of diminishing social significance. However, despite the centrality of sexuality to the conduct and continuation of urban life, investigations of intercultural love remain curiously absent from urban studies.

Cities can be seen as roiling maelstroms of affect, love styles and spatially contextualized romantic emotions. Mixed couples and their intimate lives are the focal point at which the different aspects of the globalized world literally become embodied. They define resistance against the state’s biopolitical power to control people and become a space of intimate citizenship. At the same time, these relationships may represent a ‘quiet revolution’ that holds for re-envisioning people’s idea of ‘us and them’, challenging what it means to inhabit multiculturalism in our everyday lives. But how are people inside a family to withstand, negotiate and survive pressures that separate whole worlds from one another?

This session examines how romantic relationships between native majorities and immigrant minorities are experienced and performed at the urban scale by inviting papers that address some of the following:

  • first, in order for an intercultural couple to love one another, the two individuals need to meet. Which are their “places of the heart”? Where do they meet in the diverse city? Are these spaces permeable, opened, and available to the dating and mating between natives and migrants? We want to explore these emotional geographies of mixité by revealing the ways in which different kinds of places can elicit specific feelings of intercultural love;
  • in romantic love, individuals are apt to encounter inequality within their relationships. Yet, how are these disparities experienced? What is the role of local communities? We point to the enduring inequities inherent in the experience of love and difference in our societies and the opportunities or the obstacles that may arise in the urban milieu;
  • from a social network perspective, support or opposition from one’s social surrounding affect the course of love over its various developmental stages, including its initiation, maintenance, and termination. Thinking about young people, parental approval to an intercultural romantic relationship remains controversial and deserves more attention;
  • what the political consequences of thinking more explicitly about these topics might be?

53. Transport, mobility and critical urban studies

SESSION NUMBER: 53

Transport, mobility and critical urban studies

Wojciech Kębłowski – Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Tauri Tuvikene – Tallinn University

Silja Laine – University of Turku

Contemporary cities are increasingly structured by how (im)mobility is experienced, narrated and contested. And yet, urban studies—particularly those building on critical roots of urban research—remain relatively disengaged from exploring transport and mobility. Transport policy/politics are much less discussed than, for instance, housing policy/politics, across leading urban studies journals such as IJURR (ten times less papers on transport than housing), Antipode (eight times less), Urban Geography and Urban Studies (four times less).

Therefore, in this session we invite novel contributions to building a stronger theoretical and empirical relationship between (critical) urban studies and transport studies. We rely on existing research that demonstrates how various transport policies may be developed as tools of uneven, “splintered” spatial development (Graham and Marvin, 2001), divisive top-down metropolitan politics and urban regimes (Enright, 2016), transport-induced gentrification (Deka, 2017), and are hence often mediated and resisted by bottom-up movements, unions and citizen initiatives.

Incorporating transport and mobility to critical urban research involves a variety of epistemological and methodological approaches. On the one hand, engaging critical explorations of urban mobility may follow the path of exploring urban political economy of transport, focusing on power relations, regulatory frameworks and regimes shaping particular transport policies and practices. Moreover, it involves exploring the question of social and spatial justice in relation to transport and mobility (Martens, 2017; Sheller, 2018). On the other hand, however, ways of moving are also related to different forms of sensing cities, with methods and insights from mobilities studies having currency for critical urban studies research (Bissell, 2018; Sheller and Urry, 2006). Driving, taking public transport, cycling or walking all have different sensorial experiences and are embedded variously in values of mobility experiences. Sweating in a hot metro car or clinging to a pole on a bumpy bus ride give these modes of transport a different value position from that experienced when using a cocooned and air-conditioned private car. Sensing the city, negotiating paths in the city by cycling or walking not just elate but also frustrate and anger, generating political affects. Cities and mobilities are also narrated differently from diverse political angles, generating incongruent sensorial and affective geographies of urban development and experience. Trams and metros are often used by transport planners and politicians to further a particular—”modern”, “European”, historically-minded or future-oriented—urban experience. Consequently, questions about the right to mobility as well as transport and mobility justice are yet to be properly embedded within urban studies taking into account the diverse epistemologies and ontologies of this field. 

Thus, we look for papers that in different ways bring together questions of movement and how such (im)mobilities relate to questions of urban redevelopment, justice, urban and mobility commons, public space and public sphere, unequal geographies, and forms of marginalisation. We are further concerned with how “sustainable” and “liveable” cities are generating inequalities despite their supposed contribution to more environmentally just societies. We invite research discussing alternative narratives of urban living from conceptually and geographically diverse perspectives by attending to questions of transport. Transport plays too central a role in city life to be left to transport engineers and planners alone.

We look for empirically and/or conceptually oriented papers dealing with the following topics (but not necessarily limited to these) from geographical, historical, anthropological, activist, literary urban studies, artistic and/or other perspectives:

  • Political economy of urban transport
  • Everyday geographies of public transport
  • Urban and metropolitan transport regimes
  • Transport-related poverty, inequalities and (in)justice
  • Policy mobility of urban transport policies and practices
  • Urban boosterism and city branding related to development of transport infrastructure and policy (e.g. metro development, cycling, pedestrianisation)
  • Digitalisation, platform economies and unequal geographies of cities
  • Affective dimensions of transport planning
  • Right to the city and justice movements working on questions of transport
  • (Artistic) interventions to urban transport geographies
  • Urban histories and utopian transport thinking
  • Postcolonial/decolonial perspectives to urban transport geographies
  • Various forms of (re)presentation of unequal and (un)just geographies of mobilities

54. Exploring the hospitality of urban spaces through the eyes of newcomers

SESSION NUMBER: 54

Exploring the hospitality of urban spaces through the eyes of newcomers

Maxime Felder – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne

Luca Pattaroni – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne

This session aims at exploring the hospitality of urban spaces through the eyes, bodies and expectations of newcomers. The session has a twofold focus. Firstly, it focuses on newcomers in urban environments. Newcomers do not necessarily come from far away, nor have they always arrived at their destination. They represent a variety of legal status and of socioeconomic positions. The notion of newcomer allows comparing how these characteristics and the way they are assigned to public and legal categories shapes the experience of people coming to a city which is unknown or unfamiliar to them. On the one hand, the term newcomer is broader than that of migrant or refugee, for example, because it includes people who do not necessarily define themselves as such. On the other hand, it is more precise, since it does not assume that migrants or refugees are necessarily newcomers. 

Secondly, this session focuses on hospitality as “a quality of environments, situations, ambiances, objects, spaces, buildings or institutions” (Stavo-Debauge, 2018). Hospitality refers to the capacity to receive people and to enable their experiences and activities. In this respect, hospitality might not only be a matter of openness. Spaces to which theoretically everyone has access may prove inhospitable to newcomers (Lofland, 1998). In order to be effective in the long term, hospitality might require more than the opening of borders and the erasing of barriers. This perspective should allow to go beyond the inclusion/exclusion and in/out dichotomies. For instance, hospitality refers to the opportunity to enjoy what the city has to offer and to experience pleasant sensory experiences. The broader aim of the session is to delve into the arrival moment (the first weeks and months) and all what stands between the newcomer’s first steps in a new city and the moment when the question of “integration” arises (the most studied moment, associated with the idea of the “inclusive” city). It is in this in between that one can observe all the uncertainty and ambiguity of contemporary migration and the ambivalent relation to arrival cities. Hospitality appears as a necessary analytical and political tool to tackle the preconditions for the possibility of inclusion. 

This session will welcome papers focusing on the experience of newcomers trying to make a city their temporary or lasting new home and the site of their belonging. How and where do they access resources, find places to settle and make themselves “at ease” in their new surroundings? How are their sensory experiences of the city shaped by their status, ethnicity, class or gender?  

We also invite papers that investigate how the civil society and local authorities intend (successfully or not) to make a city more hospitable to newcomers. How do they impact the city’s accessibility and habitability, and how do they deal with the tension between openness and closure (for a place to work as a shelter, it must sometimes protect and be covered or closed)? 

55. The city of apps? Who benefits from smart cities infrastructures?

SESSION NUMBER: 55

The city of apps? Who benefits from smart cities infrastructures?

Charles Henrique Voos – Guilherme Guimbala Faculty

Anthony Boanada-Fuchs – University of St. Gallen

Sukanya Krishnamurthy – University of Edinburgh

The recent years have witnessed a surge in apps related to smart city infrastructure. With the aim to connect people with similar interests, track various movements (people and goods) around the city and other forms of data etc. most of them promise easing and facilitating daily life to create more human and sustainable cities. As a result, websites and mobile applications have emerged to facilitate everyday urban activities, ranging from accommodation, transportation, food, to delivery options. This digital layer is undeniably transforming not just urban life but city spaces as well.

The economic, spatial and social effects of increasingly app-based urban environments are vividly discussed within academia, civil society, politics, and media - along with the selective entrepreneurial climate it supports. The negative manifestations of technological driven developments are many, inequality, segregation, gentrification, rising rent prices, and precarious work relations. At the same time, these technological advances are also supporting widening engagement in urban causes, more effective access to resources, ability to identify and quicker react to short-term changes and wider trends etc. Smart cities seem to hold the promising key to transform urban environments into the cities we want, the question remains if the practice actually manage to realize such potential.

This panels intends to advance our understanding of the cities of apps, the agents involved, and the underlying mechanisms and effects of increasing alignment of technological solutions and urban policies. Therefore, we seek to contribute a complementary angle to the debate advanced by authors such as Harvey, Logan & Molotch, Mollenkopf, Wright Mills, Davis on how social arrangements (re)organize policies in favor of dominant entrepreneurial groups in certain urban contexts. We invite theoretical discussions as well as thick empirical studies that address one or more of following questions:

  • Which groups benefit from smart applications and website services, what are the underlying reasons and what are their interests?
  • What are the effects of websites and mobile applications on cities and urban configurations?
  • Which are the cities of apps and what are the differences between developments in large, medium and small cities?
  • In which ways are app-based cities deepening existing urban problems?
  • How do electronic apps travel globally and in which ways do they contribute to knowledge transfers along Global North and Global South lines (and vice versa)
  • What is the role of governments (at different scales) in regulating and controlling smart cities infrastructure and in which ways do other sectors react to them?
  • What are the social effects of smart city infrastructure and are there resistance movements and actions?

56. Sensing and shaping urban marginality: multimodal and engaged research with children and young people

SESSION NUMBER: 56

Sensing and shaping urban marginality: multimodal and engaged research with children and young people

Kitti Baracsi – University of Pécs

Stefano Piemontese – University of Birmingham

The presence of children and young people in the public space, as well as their participation to the social and cultural life of cities, can be seen as a litmus test of what works and what not in terms of social, environmental, and generational justice. In particular, the social navigations of those among them who experience urban marginality reveal how structural inequalities are reproduced and opportunities for social transformation are shaped. Their knowledge and views about the world, however, are largely disregarded and delegitimised in hegemonic discourses. These, in fact, tend to depict urban marginality through stereotyped and essentialized descriptions, either as a site of resentment, insecurity and decay; or as a field where dominant norms about “worthy futures” are expected to trigger upward social mobility trajectories. In this context, children and young people are described through either alarmistic or pietistic imageries. What is often overlooked, however, are the constraints and negotiations that shape their navigations across multiple forms of urban inequality. Their ability to cope with the (re)production of marginalities as part of contemporary urban transformations, as well as their strategies to deal with the making of new boundaries, hardly enters into mainstream narratives, but is rather neglected and invisibilised. 

Building on this, the session aims to collect contributions from scholars who with their work aim to co-create spaces of legitimacy, communication and imagination with those children and young people that rarely talk for themselves in the public sphere. The panel will provide a space to share research practices and debate methodological and ethical dilemmas. We welcome experiences of multimodal research that actively involve participants in the knowledge production process; collaborate or dialogue with social movements; take advantage of the opportunities generated by digital technologies; support children and young people to construct new narratives about themselves through creative practices; and critically reflect on research positionality and the limits of research as transformative force. 

Therefore, we are inviting paper submissions addressing the following questions:

  • What are the principles to be considered when embarking on engaged research projects with children and young people experiencing urban marginality? In what way should these principles guide the research process, and what methodological choices do they bring about?
  • What do creative and experimental approaches uncover about the methodological potentials of uncertainty and failure? How can we integrate inconsistency into our research projects?
  • How do the “narrative spaces” created by multimodal research approaches contribute to reshape the imageries and the experiences of urban marginality?
  • What are the main ethical dilemmas and criticisms that researchers face in their attempt to address power relations and inequalities within and beyond their research?

The main format of the session will be paper presentation. However, given the focus of our call, we encourage participants to share multimodal contributions. 

57. On cities as tourist commodities: real estate and economic transformations in the digital platform era

SESSION NUMBER: 57

On cities as tourist commodities: real estate and economic transformations in the digital platform era

Guido Anselmi – Università Statale di Milano

Veronica Conte –Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

Federico Prestileo –Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

In the aftermath of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, tourism development has become a viable competitive strategy (Sequera and Nofre, 2018), supported through political agendas aimed at capturing tourist flows, attracting new investments, and fostering local competitiveness (MacKinnon and Cumbers, 2007). Indeed, OECD figures show that, in 2018, tourism contributed to 4.2% of GDP, 6.9% of employment, and 21.7% of service exports in OECD countries (OECD, 2018).

Nevertheless, as it became clear with previous city boosting strategies, touristification comes with serious and critical drawbacks. Firstly, touristification is increasingly intensifying the function of the city as a marketplace and as a product, consumed and used to gain advantages in a symbolic economy (Zukin, 2008). Secondly, there is a growing concern that it is triggering a “new geographical distribution of wealth and poverty” (Sharpley and Harrison, 2019; also Jover and Parra, 2019), resulting in both increased socio-economic inequalities between and within cities and the displacement of vulnerable social groups (Törnberg and Chiappini, 2019).

Global digital platforms (e.g. Airbnb, Home Away, Booking.com) have a significant impact on this symbolic marketplace and, consequently, on the city. Notwithstanding the narratives that short-term rental accommodations (STRAs) are underutilized assets valorized as part of a ‘sharing economy’ (Botsman and Rogers, 2010), existing research has questioned the role of STRAs in fueling rent increases (Barron et al., 2018; Horn and Merante, 2017). Other accounts have put emphasis on the restructuring of property markets (Cocola-Gant and Gago, 2019), in order to show how, and the extent to which, the latter have been gradually monopolized by (local and international) investors seeking profits from STRAs.

Touristification and the increasing importance of symbolic economies are leading to changes in local economic activities and retail shops (Sengel et al., 2015). In relation to this, it is possible to analyze the impacts of the standardization of consumption in specific markets branches (e.g. food, beverage, leisure, and cultural activities – OECD, 2017) and question if it affects lifestyle costs for residents and commuters, not only from an economic point of view but also in terms of possible uses of urban spaces.

The goal of this session is to critically engage with tourism-led strategies of urban development in order to:

  1. Understand how cities are dealing with touristification processes;
  2. Assess the impacts on local communities and property markets;
  3. Investigate the change in cultural consumption patterns in the city;
  4. Explore possible alternative strategies.

We welcome original theoretical and empirical contributions addressing the following topics:

  • The impacts of touristification on rent values and real estate markets;
  • The professionalization of the STRA sector and the increasing importance of intermediaries;
  • The regulation of STRAs and the restructuring of property markets;
  • Tourist-led development as a tool to upscale urban governance and connect the city to global capital flows;
  • Cultural consumption patterns and new commodification processes;
  • The modification in economic activities in touristified neighborhoods;
  • The creation of leisure and cultural attraction districts and food and beverage zones.

We also encourage innovative technical and methodological papers exploring new approaches to study all of the above or other connected subjects.

58. Urban Creative Economies and the Re-Shaping of Race and Class Inequalities

SESSION NUMBER: 58

Urban Creative Economies and the Re-Shaping of Race and Class Inequalities

Nicole Trujillo-Pagan – Wayne State University

This session aims to explore the possibilities and limits of “creative economies” to mitigate urban inequality and racial segregation in conditions of later capitalism where traditional employment is in decline. In 2002, Richard Florida proposed the rise of the “creative class.” He met with city governments across the United States to promote his ideas on "creative" redevelopment. Yet by 2017, Florida recognized he had been overly optimistic about the potential for creative labor to build an alternate urban environment. Meanwhile, Waquant (2008) has argued that “urban outcasts” have grown increasingly inventive in adapting local geographies to their needs in highly industrialized, but increasingly neoliberal and "post-welfare" societies across the United States and the European Union. This inventiveness includes, for example, using art to promote collective, human expression. This panel seeks multi-sited manifestations of how creative economies engage with the crises occasioned by late capitalism and reshape urban inequality. We ask: how are creative economies shaped and shape urban inequalities, especially along racial lines? We particularly welcome contributions that think comparatively about decolonizing analyses of gentrification and the place of race and recolonization/displacement in urban settings.

59. Shaping urban sociality: Collaborative workspaces as social infrastructures in cities

SESSION NUMBER: 59

Shaping urban sociality: Collaborative workspaces as social infrastructures in cities

Janet Merkel – Technische Universität Berlin

Vasilis Avdikos – Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences

This session brings together two related discussions in urban studies – the discussion on the changing spaces and individualised modes of work, such as freelance work and self-employment, in the cognitive-cultural economy of cities (see e.g., Avdikos and Iliopoulou, 2019; Grazian, 2019; Merkel, 2019) with the recent infrastructure approach to urban sociality (see e.g., Amin, 2014; Klinenberg, 2018; Latham and Layton, 2019; Wakefield, 2018). Our aim is to explore and explain the critical contribution that collaborative workspaces such as coworking spaces, hackerspaces or makerspaces can make to the social life of cities.

The recent spread of coworking spaces as collaborative workspaces in cities epitomises global shifts in employment relations and work practices in post-industrial urban economies. Especially the rise of independent modes of work is connected with the appropriation of particular public and semi-public places (e.g., coffee shops, libraries), the production of new spaces for work (e.g., coworking spaces, shared home offices) and with changes in mobility patterns of independent workers. However, while coworking has become an object of multidisciplinary academic research, the spatial dimension of coworking still remains under-researched. And there is hardly a discussion on coworking’s place-based character, the embeddedness of coworking spaces within specific urban contexts or the intersections of these spaces with the surrounding neighbourhoods. Yet coworking as a socio-spatial practice is performed at specific sites and produces spaces that then can enable or constrain actions, social relationships and independent workers’ identities. Moreover, coworking spaces can become places where independent workers mutually support each other and develop survival strategies through the pooling of resources (Avdikos and Kalogeresis, 2017; Waters-Lynch and Duff, 2019). Thus, contrary to the dominant neoliberal notion of the entrepreneurial self and the increasing commercialisation of coworking embraced by city governments, we are interested in collaborative workspaces’ emancipatory potential, as places where mutual aid, solidarity-making and alternatives to the dominant neoliberal praxis (e.g., co-operatives, mutual support funds) emerge and are experimented with in cities.

We propose to explore collaborative spaces as ‘social infrastructures’ (Amin, 2014; Klinenberg, 2018; Latham and Layton, 2019) that facilitate social connections, enable social exchange, collective belonging and new social practices for collective self-organisation to cope with but also to contest ‘austerity urbanism’ (Peck, 2012). For this panel session, we encourage a broad range of examples of self-organised/independent workspaces that analyse new ways of organising freelance and self-employed work within and across cities. We are interested in a wide variety of empirical examples and initiatives that provide mutual support or novel solutions to social reproduction issues (e.g., food, health care, housing) and the ways common resources are being reproduced and managed inside the coworking spaces but also through such spaces and beyond. Since we lack systematic and methodologically robust social-scientific analysis about collaborative workspaces as social infrastructures in cities, this session especially welcomes conceptual and methodological accounts as well as detailed empirical explorations from cities around the world.

Papers may include, but are not limited to, the following research questions:

  • What kinds of sociality do collaborative workspaces facilitate?
  • What are potential impacts and outcomes of collaborative workspaces as new social infrastructures (culturally, socially, politically, etc.)?
  • How do collaborative workspaces engage with the neighbourhoods they are situated in?
  • What kind of social and political initiatives are coming out of coworking spaces (e.g., freelancers’ movements, co-operatives, mutual support funds)?
  • How the commons are re-produced and governed in coworking spaces?
  • What is the role of urban policy regarding the promotion, support, and regulation of coworking spaces?

60. Migration, Diaspora and Urbanization in South Asia

SESSION NUMBER: 60

Migration, Diaspora and Urbanization in South Asia

Abhinandan Das – University Of Gour Banga

According to the World Bank report, during the first decade of 21st century South Asia’s urban population grew by 130 million which is more than the entire population of Japan and is expected to rise by almost 250 million by 2030. But South Asia’s share of the global economy remains strikingly low relative to its share of the world’s population. The urbanization in South Asia has been messy as seen in the widespread prevalence of slums.  At least 130 million South Asians live in informal urban settlements characterized by poor construction, insecure tenure and underserviced plots. Though, the region has huge possibilities for transforming their well-beings through proper urbanisation planning. Here, migration is integral with the development of urban space since the colonial time. Migration of human folk, from one part to other, is common here for centuries which also gave diverse diasporic characteristics to the urban centres of this region. During the decolonisation process in the middle of the twentieth century this region witnessed displacement and huge human migration due to partition of India and Pakistan. This incident disrupted the balance of existing urban space and at the same time created new settlements which later transformed into urban zones. However, for the last two decades, migration related citizenship problems became a burning issue of socio-political debate in this region.

Hence, placing the year 1947 as pivotal of change from colonial to post-colonial regime, interested participants can engage the long twentieth century to narrate the connection between inter-regional and trans-national migration and urban South Asia. This panel aims to explore how the migrants carried on their culture, language, cuisine, architectural pattern and even the names of their locality from where they came and embedded those in newly settled urban centres. It also proposes to look at the interplay between urban and peri-urban characteristics of South Asian cities and changing relationship between diaspora and local neighbourhood throughout the long twentieth century. The panel will engage interdisciplinary perspectives from history, political science, anthropology and sociology on the migration and changing trajectories of urban environ.               

Module 61-70

61. Extended Urbanisation: From State Strategies to Everyday Life

SESSION NUMBER: 61

Extended Urbanisation: From State Strategies to Everyday Life

Nitin Bathla – ETH, Zurich

Christian Schmid – ETH, Zurich

For this session, we invite papers to expand the analytical notion of ‘the city’ in the conference thematic through reflecting about the production and experiencing of extended urbanisation. Today, urban research is increasingly confronted with urbanisation processes unfolding far beyond the realm of agglomerations, urban regions, and even mega city-regions. Novel patterns of urbanisation are crystallizing in diverse environments, in remote areas, in agrarian regions, in spaces of seeming wilderness, and in the oceans, thus challenging inherited conceptions of the urban as a bounded zone and a dense settlement type. These observations suggest a radical rethinking of inherited cartographies of the urban, at all spatial scales, encompassing both the built and the unbuilt.

Any form of urbanisation generates not only the concentration of people, means of production, goods, and information, but also a simultaneous proliferation and expansion of the urban fabric resulting in what can be termed as extended urbanisation. This includes the formation of complex and multi-scalar centre-periphery relationships, the blurring and rearticulation of the urban fabric, the production of functionalised logistical spaces, and the progressive enclosure and operationalisation of landscapes to fuel metropolitan growth. New centralities are thus emerging in diverse places concomitant to the bypassing of a wide range of territories that are left behind or have become depleted as a result of the ongoing urbanisation processes. Conversely, areas that are characterised by extended urbanisation can also evolve into new centralities and urban concentrations. The production and experience of urban centres thus needs to be understood in a dialectical relationship with experiences of peripherialisation through the loss and relocation of economic activities, strong and lasting emigration and the weakening of social infrastructure.

A wide range of elaborate state strategies are required to shape, regulate and enforce extended urbanisation through homogenizing the legal frameworks for urbanisation, through opening up new territories for capital accumulation, and through creating conditions for further urban expansion. Of special importance in this context are strategic infrastructural projects, such as large-scale high-speed train and highway systems and complex infrastructural initiatives that impose an overarching logic on the territory.

Furthermore, the production of the urban fabric supports and enables urban practices, which are connecting people and places, changing everyday life in sometimes dramatic ways. This necessitates the analysis of all kinds of movements of people that crisscross the territory and at the same time bind it together and define it. While commuting is important to understand the reach of agglomerations and thus concentrated urbanisation, territories of extended urbanisation are usually characterised by longer, more sporadic and varied forms of mobility.

Today, a multitude of processes of extended urbanization are transforming urban territories in unprecedented and unpredictable ways. It is urgent to get a more comprehensive picture and a more systematic understanding of these processes. We invite contributions that are interested in broadening the explorations of ‘sensing and shaping’ urban spaces in territories of extended urbanisation.

Possible questions guiding your contribution could be:

  • What forms of extended urbanisation could you detect in your research?
  • How do centre-periphery-relationships change through various forms of urbanisation?
  • What state strategies are emerging to shape, regulate and enforce extended urbanisation?
  • How do people adapt to or resist against processes of extended urbanisation?
  • What is ‘the urban’ under conditions of extended urbanisation and how do urban experiences unfold and develop?

62. The Sensing and Shaping of Time in Urban Gardens: Affect, Design, Governance, and Labour

SESSION NUMBER: 62

The Sensing and Shaping of Time in Urban Gardens: Affect, Design, Governance, and Labour

Sofia Cele – Uppsala University

Jan van Duppen – The Open University

This call for papers invites contributions that think through the temporal dimensions of gardening in cities. We are interested in papers that address the sensing and shaping of different temporalities related to the cultivation of green spaces in urban areas.

First of all, gardens offer citizens the opportunity to tune into the cyclical rhythms of the seasons, of observing and nurturing plant growth, of changing weather and colour patterns. Allotment, community, guerrilla gardens, allow for the multi-modal sensorial explorations of naturecultures; and in doing so, they create spaces for slowing down, for a temporary escape from the pressures of paid work and social obligations (Schoneboom and May 2013), a potential space to resist the attention economy and allow for a moment to do nothing (Odell 2019). Yet, when we study the rhythms of garden, domestic, and paid work, do we observe eurhythmia or arrhythmia (Lefebvre 2004)? In the midst of these busy lives, how do gardeners manage to have time to garden? How is this often voluntary labour planned and organised? What (more-than)human collectives are shaped over time? Do new temporalities emerge in the intricate processes of this ‘becoming-with’(Haraway 2008)? And, what potential futures are unmade in the process of cultivation (Ginn 2017)? We welcome here detailed qualitative accounts of embodied practices, ethnographic studies, and time-geography research.

Secondly, in the last two decades, we are seeing a renewed interest in gardening in cities, not just from new enthusiastic amateurs and seasoned gardeners, but also from the professional field of artists, architects, designers, planners, and project developers. These new gardens are brought into being with very different motivations and political aims; we are seeking critical accounts of temporary community garden projects, mobile gardens, ephemeral guerrilla projects and art installations. What processes of governance create urban gardens, and what efforts are made to keep them in place, move them on, or dismantle them? What tensions can be identified between the temporal limits of these projects and the needs and agencies of the growth of plants? What labour is invested, and by whom, and in how far can this push for participation be seen as part of the neoliberal city (Rosol 2012)? Following on from that, we invite contributions that address the relations between gardens and urban change. In how far, are gardens implicated in gentrification processes? Do gardens accelerate, interrupt, or slow down urban change? Furthermore, gardens increasingly feature in future projections of the city, greenery has become an ubiquitous feature of the urban imaginary. What visual and political work does greenery do in the making of these urban futures?

Lastly, we invite methodological experiments and reflections on the potential and limitations of mapping time in the garden. How can we represent and analyse the temporal dimension of these multi-species world-making projects (Tsing 2015)? How does time (and the lack of it) play a role in our research efforts and outputs?

63. Reflecting on the normative and the analytical in urban research: on values, theories, and methodologies

SESSION NUMBER: 63

Reflecting on the normative and the analytical in urban research: on values, theories, and methodologies

Katrin Grossmann – Erfurt University of Applied Sciences

Elena Trubina – Ural Federal University

The pursuit of justice, equality, democracy, tolerance, belonging and diversity in people’s understanding of urban space involves the proliferation of normative orientations (Bannister 2013, Mitchell 2003, Hero 2005, Levy 2009, 2013, Yuval-Davis 2011). Numerous studies have shown that this pursuit provides the utopian horizon for both urban studies and activism, though often used as negation such as “injustice”, “inequality” or “non-democracy” (Lipman 2007, Soja 2009, Dorling 2010, Pikulik, and Bedford 2018, Chin 2019 ). Yet, how exactly these normative concepts and assumptions influence urban studies, seems a messy field. While some scholars claim that “inattention to normative issues” in geography is prevalent (Barnett 2010), many others continue using “loaded” notions implicitly rather than explicitly.

To clarify the normative orientation of studies and how they impact the methods chosen and theories applied for data interpretation seems an enormous strain. Difficulties comprise combining political or philosophical theory with empirical analysis, to uncover normative implications of seemingly neutral terms and categories, the temptation to select cases according to the messages envisioned instead of analytical rigor, or to handle results that do not clearly reveal the injustices to be denounced. More generally, we observe a lack of enthusiasm to engage with issues that do not fall into the typical interpretative frameworks, the “Zeitgeist” of the respective scholarly community. To add to the predicament, urban researchers depend on exactly these normative orientations and frameworks when submitting their research for publishing. On top, urban scholars need to produce research that resonates with the public’s values and with values and goals of fund givers when applying for third party funding.

The landscape of research and reasoning in urban studies varies greatly concerning the relation between normative orientations and analytical approaches. While some concepts (i.e. the capability approach, much of the gentrification literature) are simultaneously normative and analytical, others like environmental justice research subject their methodologies largely to the normative concepts. Studies that aim at quantitative overviews of trends, e.g.in demographic development, seem to come without any normative underpinning – but they might be just implicit in the use of terms and categories. Yet other concepts either scare researchers off with the weight of the words which are already written about them or their superficial use becomes the sign of a researchers’ “critical” inclinations. Scholars may be lacking the full-fledged theories of equality, justice, etc. yet their intuitions and insights about how the normative ideals and ideas are being neglected can be sufficient focal points.

In this session, we invite critical insights and reflections on the role the normative arguments, judgments and concepts present in urban research, the ways they relate (and maybe related) to shifting emphasis on norms and values or analytical rigor over time and the modes in which they can be employed in transdisciplinary collaborative partnerships and coalitions.

Invited topics include but are not limited to:

  • reviews of the role of normative concepts in the formation of attention (or the lack of attention) in different fields of urban studies
  • reflections on the geographies of the relation between normative orientations, theory building and analytical approaches
  • positioning papers, e.g. what is a “proper” function of normative concepts, judgments, and assumptions?
  • discussions how methodologies can be sensitive to – or independent from – normative orientations
  • reflections on theory formation between normative reasoning and analytical rigor
  • Reflections on the formation of the underlying normative foundations of urban studies today and in the history of the discipline.
  • What are prevalent normative orientations and analytical schools today? What are the gaps and potential future orientations?

Presentations on empirical findings are welcome if presenters would be able to demonstrate the specifics of normative reasoning (or the causes of its absence) in their studies and respective intellectual communities.

64. Digital urban platforms as political projects in sensing and shaping the 21st century city

SESSION NUMBER: 64

Digital urban platforms as political projects in sensing and shaping the 21st century city

Tim Devos – Tim is a founding partner at Endeavour and holds a PhD in Social Geography on the politics of co-creative urban development.

Seppe De Blust – ETH, Zurich

Jonas De Maeyer – Jonas is an architect and urbanist with an expertise in socio-spatial inequalities.

All the more, the papillae with which the city is sensed are digitized. Progressively, technologies are adding a layer to our sensorial palates, enabling new modes of experiencing and acting upon the urban. Over the last few years we have seen the emergence of a wave of practices and initiatives strategically mobilising ‘digital urban platforms’ to sense and ultimately shape cities in a variety of ways.

On the one hand, they enable local organisations and citizen initiatives to capture dynamics in the city that otherwise would remain invisible or inaudible. From offering surplus food or energy, personal tools and apartments to pinning potholes and vacant buildings or sharing locally measured traffic, noise, rainfall or NOx-levels; these platforms allow people to engage with their social and material environment in innovative ways. In times where metabolic flows in the urban are increasingly covered and evacuated from political spheres, these platforms again excavate the covered materials and render them sensible and debatable. In times of vote-centred back-end-politics, this first platform function enables citizens to develop new ways of sensing the city and position themselves in its social and material landscape.

On the other hand, these platforms often provide a grip for citizens to not only image but also individually or collectively reimagine the city and their role in shaping it. From recasting individual properties as shared services, catalysing and informing political action and opening up new economies going from delivery services to e-scooter juicing; these platforms often not only uncover (underutilized) resources but also connect large audiences with them in more direct and engaging ways.

Although digital platforms have been – unevenly – popping up across urban landscapes, the combination of both aforementioned functions of urban platforms – to sense and act upon the city in new ways – are only scarcely linked. Moreover, these platforms embody the shift away from government as new modes of governance-beyond-the-state and are fundamentally Janus-faced. Not only do they empower certain actors while disempowering others. While some urban platforms seem to deepen and reproduce existing urban inequalities, others prove to disrupt existing power structures by providing a new access to sensing the city, rendering it malleable and providing the means for people to challenge the dominant means and ends of urban production.

This ambiguous role of digital urban platforms in processes of urban transformation highlight the need to get a grip on their caring capacity. In order to critically engage it seems crucial to get a better understanding on how digital urban platforms as socio-technical ensembles give hyper-local initiatives a role in addressing global problems, what their actual impact is on social action and how these platforms structurally support the diversification and co-construction of socio-environmental realities.

 

For this session, we welcome contributions relating to civic or hybrid urban platforms in cities of all sizes in the Global North and South. Through this session we aim to nuance, confront, debate and address how digital urban platforms:

(A)

  • and the narratives around them have evolved in cities around the world;
  • are installed in new hybrid constellations of public, private and civic actors,
  • are embedded in interlocal, interurban, international and intersectional networks;

(B)

  • enable citizens to develop a new sensorial relation with their urban environment, by potentially uncovering covered urban metabolic flows;
  • provide means for citizens to translate these new experiences into individual or collective action;
  • provide new modes of governing the city;

(C)

  • are embedded in uneven urban geographies;
  • and their internal organization or external context shapes their progressive agency;
  • remodel the relation between economic, social and environmental aspects of the city;
  • deepen or disrupt existing urban inequalities in their relation to real estate, housing, food, energy, mobility, ecology and other themes.

 

Session organisers

Endeavour is a platform for socio-spatial innovation based in Antwerp, Belgium. Next to having guided and designed a large variety of complex processes of participation in urban development in Belgium and the Netherlands, they have developed a long-term engagement with both theory and practice of urban platforms. After trying to cooperatively buy one of the most iconic buildings in the skyline of Antwerp with a massive group of citizens and institutions, Endeavour developed a platform to gather and connect vacant and underused buildings with civic spatial needs and guide them in cooperatively reimagining and acquiring access to them.

65. Matters Turn Political. Loved and Contested Materialities of Cities

SESSION NUMBER: 65

Matters Turn Political. Loved and Contested Materialities of Cities

Anastasiya Halauniova – University of Amsterdam

Michiel Stapper – University of Amsterdam

Urban matters can be deadly dangerous and sublimely pleasurable. The fire in London Grenfell Tower made it obvious that the cladding panels can be held as responsible for the human sufferings and losses as local authorities or government cuts are. Contributing to failures of urban built environment or offering sensorially rich experiences, matters expose urban policies and politics that are not that easy to grasp: that of holding stuff together (Hennion, 2017) or letting it crumble apart.

With this panel we invite the contributors to address the following question: how do urban matters turn political and how urban politics become materialized? Thinking of and theorizing matter as political demands from scholars to move beyond the 'parochial nature of our understanding of materiality' (Miller, 2005) as a mere representation. Asking questions to the very stuff the cities are made of means reattuning the theoretical lenses of urban scholarship (Simone, 2011). It allows to break the well-established binaries between the expert and the layperson practices of managing and living with the urban matters.  It asks to move in-between the offices of urban professionals controlling the urban through screens (Latour, 2006) and papers (Hull, 2012), and mundane encounters of city inhabitants with obdurate materialities they take care of every day (McFarlane, 2011; Hommels, 2005).  It challenges the dichotomy between practices of ‘knowing’ the city - making it controllable and predictable -  and that of ‘sensing’ the city - allowing the urban built environment to surprise and challenge its inhabitants.

With this panel we do not aim to write the theory of urban matter. Instead, we invite contributions, in the form of paper presentations and other genres of academic storytelling, which are going to shed light on the particularities of how matter turns into policy or politics in various socio-material settings across the globe. The panel gathers empirically-rich studies on the following questions. How urban matters are valued and devalued, made worthy and unworthy by various actors, be they developers, city officials, inhabitants, or non-human dwellers of cities? What are the socio-material orders that matters help in sustaining, prolonging or disrupting? How do urban matters contribute to objectification and stigmatization of various groups of city inhabitants? How and why certain matters are ‘drawn into’ the justification of political decisions, and others are made invisible or absent? Finally, how particular urban materialities are loved, while others - hated and contested? To answer these questions, the panel puts together contrasting cases, focusing on the issues of housing, public/privatized infrastructures, mobility, and urban governance.

66. Beyond Digitization: Re-capturing the Urban Experience

SESSION NUMBER: 66

Beyond Digitization: Re-capturing the Urban Experience

Lasse Gerrits – Otto-Friedrich University Bamberg

Zeno van den Broek – Independent researcher

Digitization, as other prominent technologies, possesses considerable transformative power (Dolata, 2013). While one could argue that early digital technologies were somewhat external to urban fabric – for example as a tool to visualize and imagine future changes (e.g. Carusi, Hoel, Webmoor, & Woolgar, 2014; Gerrits & Moody, 2011), as well as simulating various urban scenarios (Allen & Sanglier, 1981; Batty, 2010; Janssen, Wimmer, & Deljoo, 2015), current developments lead to a complete enmeshment of tangible, built environment and digital space. For example, Microsoft’s ‘Dreamwalker’ operates by the grace of juxtaposing the virtual onto the real to such an extent that they become indistinguishable to the user (Axon, 2019), as such collapsing time, space and experience.  

Digital technology is much more than just a tool or a method to sense the urban and to reprocess it for convenient uses. It causes a fundamental transformation of urban reality as it merges all contextual, indexical, symbolic or lived differences in that reality (Mackenzie, 2015). Digitization requires the integrity of the whole to become encoded into bits. This encoding is essential for the operation of the machine but it causes dichotomization at the micro level (Mackenzie, 2017). Experiences that may appear as gradients to the naked eye needs to be cut up into discrete values before it can be put to work inside the machine. At the meso level, vectorization imposes another dichotomization on the aggregated and re-cut experience. Indeed, every operation within the machine creates a bifurcation point (ibid.), as such transforming the lived reality into an entirely new one – not a difference in degree but in kind.  

The digitization of urban space does not only affect its citizens (in their daily urban patterns) and administrators (in their attempts to create ever-growing vistas of how steering attempts could pan out, see Boisot, 2004, 2006), it also affects the ways in which researchers conduct research (Gerrits, forthcoming), for example because they bet on so-called big data and machine learning to generate a more profound understanding of the urban experience. Such approaches do not only appear to ease the research process, they alter the epistemology and ontology of such research (Austin & Callen, 2012). Taken together, digitization holds agency in the urban and requires from us a thorough reorientation regarding the ways in which we collect and merge the urban experience for a fundamental understanding of that experience. What are the implications of the juxtaposition of technology and reality for theory, methodology and experience? This session welcomes contributions that deal with the following themes:  

  • Analysis of, and reflections on, the consequences of digitization in the urban realm for citizens, administrators and researchers 
  • Experiments with alternative methods to unearth the consequences of digitization in the urban realm. 
  • Development of a counter-program in order to harness the transformations of the urban experience that digitization causes.  

We explicitly welcome alternative, left-of-field approaches, including but not limited to auditive and visual research, simulations and virtualizations. The session is open to researchers and artists alike, as the questions asked here require an explorative, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach.  

67. Advising Cities: Consultants, Corporate Power and the Politics of Urban Development

SESSION NUMBER: 67

Advising Cities: Consultants, Corporate Power and the Politics of Urban Development

Chris Hurl – Concordia University

Anne Vogelpohl – Hamburg University of Applied Sciences

Over the past three decades, transnational professional service firms – such as Pricewaterhouse Coopers, McKinsey, and IBM – as well as smaller, more specialized consultancies have come to play a central role in advising cities around the world on infrastructure development, smart strategies and urban growth policies. With the rise of digital technologies, new sensory infrastructures have become an emergent field of advice and, at the same time, an entry point for consultancies to influence urban policies. Such infrastructures have often reshaped the way in which advice is imagined, mobilized, and assembled. While, in the past, consultancies tended to provide advice on an ad hoc basis, over time they have come to develop more continuous relations with different levels of government through the development of complex databases, sophisticated information systems and interlocking contractual agreements. However, the changing socio-material infrastructures of consulting work are not often taken into consideration in the literature. This panel explores the reconfiguration of advisory systems in the urban context.

Specifically, we invite papers that explore:

  • the politics of advising on urban development. How are actors able to generate credibility in advising on urban issues? And how is this credibility contested?
  • the changing practices through which knowledge is assembled. How do consultancies generate data about urban issues?
  • the technologies through which information is circulated. Where is this data collected and how is it circulated?
  • the changing market for advice. How are firms able to carve out a niche for their advisory services? To what extent is the market for advice dominated by large, transnational firms? And what relationship do they have to smaller, more specialized firms?
  • The role of consultancy firms in transforming the circulation of policy advice across jurisdictions. To what extent have consultancies contributed to the convergence of policy ideas across regions? And to what extent must consultancies adapt their knowledge to different urban contexts?

70. Research Policy Interface: Equity, Services and Economic Development forCities inthe Global South

SESSION NUMBER: 70

Research Policy Interface:  Equity, Services  and  Economic  Development forCities inthe Global South

Sukanya Krishnamurthy – University of Edinburgh

Peter Gotsch – NTNU

Enrico Michelutti – University of Udine

Over the past decade, the statement “cities are the engines of economic growth” has been repeated often. Yet, our knowledge about the growth trajectories of cities remains limited. Even as populations and ecological footprints grow in many places, challenges related to providing basic economic opportunities and socio-economic divides remain.

Among the many factors dictating growth, the inability of urban labour markets to provide economic opportunity to growing populations has led to widespread informality. In most developing regions informal employment represents more than half of non-agricultural employment. High rates of inequality – both in income and opportunity can threaten economic growth and human development. While being a key resource for ‘survival’ and a path to prosperity, informality is frequently associated with conditions of vulnerability when it develops within weak institutional contexts.

Responding to the interconnected challenges of rising inequality and lack of economic opportunities in cities, this session focuses on research and policy as liked to equitable access to public goods and services by all citizens and both formal and informal businesses through the production of global knowledge products (and knowledge co-production mechanisms), facilitation of research-policy dialogues, and the support of city-level diagnostics and policy recommendations.

The session recognizes that improved access to public goods and services not only benefits the marginalised but also strengthens the fundamental prerequisites for growth and productivity, enabling cities to benefit from economies of agglomeration and scale. The universal provision of basic infrastructure is fundamental to increasing the productivity of people and businesses alike. An effective, affordable transport infrastructure for example, is required to avoid congestion and reap the economic benefits of connectivity. No economy can thrive without reliable sources and supply of energy, especially electricity. Public space is essential to the livelihoods and productivity of informal workers, who often operate in the streets and open areas of the city. Crucially, many public goods and services are within the control of cities and local governments themselves, rendering them a key entry point for addressing the challenge of adopting more equitable and sustainable approaches to economic development in cities.

In this session we are interested in papers:

  • Exploring case studies of projects that address(ed) equitable economic development between through public services provision -- and potentially discuss the role of urban planning herein;
  • Critically reflecting on ideologies and politics on the paradigm of inclusive and equitable development linked to economic growth (related to triple down economic-thinking);  
  • Discussing alternatives and counter movements to mainstream (economic) growth paradigms.

Module 71-80

71. Precarious beginnings - Global perspectives on forced migrants' struggle for housing

SESSION NUMBER: 71

Precarious beginnings - Global perspectives on forced migrants’ struggle for housing

Hala El-Moussaw – Vrije Universiteit Brussel

René Kreichauf – Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Tolu Lanrewaju-Kadri – Rutgers University

Ilse van Liempt – Utrecht University

The transition of forced migrants into the housing market is an important element of integration supporting their successful settlement and inclusion into other domains such as the labour market and social networks (Adam et al. 2019, Ager & Strang 2008). Yet, forced migrants face a number of restrictions and challenges when trying to access housing. Forced migrants often start in government-organized transitional housing (from shelters to camps and detention), they may experience dispersal, assignment to localities and residential requirements as well as local strategies to segregate forced migrants in certain areas. These processes limit their mobility and protract their path to housing (Kreichauf 2018). On top of that, forced migrants, like other vulnerable populations, are increasingly confronted with a shortage of affordable housing in prospering urban agglomerations. They find themselves directly competing with the local population in extremely tense markets where the competition is characterised and fostered by social tensions between low-income groups as well as racism and discrimination towards forced migrants (Landau 2006, Adam et al.  2019).

While the housing situation and challenges of forced migrants differ greatly between countries, localities and even within groups of forced migrants (often depending on legal status, national background, gender, household size, economic resources, etc.), a more global approach in understanding common trends as well as dissimilarities, their causes and consequences, may shed light on the specifics of both forced migrants’ transition into the housing market as well as the current state of housing in urban centers. Overcoming national containers of analysis, this session focuses on local developments from an international and comparative angle. 

Within this session, we want to target three major sub-topics. First, we are interested in contributions that study the trajectories of forced migrants, their tactics and strategies in navigating housing markets. Second, this session aims to focus on the location and quality of housing that forced migrants find: What are the conditions and standards of housing? What kind of housing do they find (rental, subsidized housing, ownership, private landlords etc.) and where is it located? Third, we seek to explore how local policy and administrative bodies react to the forced migrants’ housing challenges. To what extend do cities develop concepts to ease or deny forced migrants’ integration into the housing market?

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Transition from accommodation into the housing market
  • Forced migrants’ tactics and strategies in finding and maintaining housing
  • Housing under dispersal policies 
  • The quality and standards of the housing found by forced migrants
  • Informal ways of finding housing (brokers, networks, squatting, etc.)
  • Local policy responses to housing forced migrants in tense housing markets (local housing strategies, subsidized housing, social housing for forced migrants, etc.) 
  • Alternative housing projects for forced migrants
  • De-facto camp sites, homeless shelters and other institutionalized solutions developed to respond to the lack of access to the housing market

72. Data and digital technologies to upgrade urban neighbourhoods

SESSION NUMBER: 72

Data and digital technologies to upgrade urban neighbourhoods 

Aksel Ersoy – TU Delft

Today, our cities are eager for order while the alluring promises of meritocracy and social mobility ring increasingly hollow. Data and digital technologies propose creating platforms that dynamically adjusts civic systems – everything from energy grids and waste management to road allowances, street furniture and parking spaces – as urban conditions dictate. This is an amazing opportunity for any local authorities as these systems contribute to better handling of public resources and management. The main worry is associated with the ways such modes of behaviour surveillance have been used as “instruments of technology”. Data and digital technologies are not neutral set of instruments but have a preferred usage and deployment inscribed in them. In Science and Technology Studies (STS), the notion of such a ‘script’ has acquired prominence through the work of scholars like Akrich (1992) and Latour (1992); “like a theatre play or a movie, technologies possess a ‘script’ in the sense that they can prescribe the actions of the actors involved” (Verbeek, 2006, p.363). A case in point would be how city administrations increasingly process, and use their data in the forms of ‘dashboards’ that present a multitude of urban performance indicators, from unemployment rates to air quality to problem behaviour and beyond. The script underlying this type of data processing, especially in combination with predictive real-time analytics, is one of knowing all that takes place in the city, of top-down monitoring and control, of ‘evidence-based’ policy and intervention (Kitchin et al., 2015). The prescriptive effect of such scripts, however, is not set in the stone of their initial design. STS scholars have described many cases of oppositional appropriations and changes of technological scripts through concrete oppositional practices but also through everyday usage (Bijker, 1997). Thus, while on the one hand many urban data and digital systems have been designed for commercial or surveillance purposes, they also entail potential for the making and remaking of contemporary cities (Thrift, 2014). Glaeser et al. (2018), for instance, argue that digital exhaust – the trail of data left online through everyone’s day-to-day use of the Internet – does not only provide the big data base on which current platform capitalism is built, but can also help us inform about the making of social structures and networks in the society. This is particularly relevant in cities today as formal governance structures fail to register and represent the way that engineering and technological expertise is increasingly shaping the conditions within which formal governance can operate. A different approach to imagining how citizens might reshape their cities is to recognise how city routines and rhythms are held together by different interfaces. Those interfaces can be used between imagination and action, from the ongoing experimentation, ‘making do’ and improvisation with the diverse material, social and technological elements that come to constitute the changing city. As said, the widespread implantation of sensors into urban and household environment in cities or using city benchmarking and dashboards can be seen as part of cities as technological surveillance assemblages, but - on the other hand - the smart city infrastructures being developed increasingly can position the city as a co-learner alongside citizens, as ‘sentient’ and responsive to citizen’s conscious and unconscious practices. This session aims to explore how local residents, civil servants and visitors can use data and digital technologies to change the stigmatized, marginalised or undesirable characteristics of their neighbourhoods.

73. Urban practices: changes in policy, institutions and governance

SESSION NUMBER: 73

Urban practices: changes in policy, institutions and governance

Camila Nastari Fernandes – Federal University of ABC - UFABC, São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo

Marcela Alonso Ferreira – Fundação Getulio Vargas

Luciana de Oliveira Royer – University of Sao Paulo

Which roles do political institutions assume in subnational administrations in an urban governance context? Are they undergoing recent transformations to address current pressing issues? How do they work with multiple stakeholders, considering public, private and civil society actors? To what extent do they interact with bottom-up practices? Do they dialogue with other political institutions and government branches? How do they contribute to reducing (or enhancing) inequalities? 

In the last decades, there have been relevant institutional transformations associated with urban and public policies in various national contexts. As a consequence of the strengthening and participation of new agents and non-state organizations, the perspective of governance has become fundamental to understand the dynamics of policy production in cities. Power is no longer only identified as exclusive to government, likewise public institutions are embedded and operate within a network with other non-state actors.

Understanding the institutional transformations in urban politics is potentially relevant to comprehend how political actors operate within and beyond institutional boundaries, analyzing formal and informal rules, values and ideas expressed to understand more precisely how their behavior interferes in the production and implementation of policies. In an era when local governments are dealing with shortages of own resources, the need to work in partnership with other governmental and non-governmental agents poses challenges for the coordination of public policies in the city. The role of local authorities in the urban governance model is no longer guided solely by results maximization, but rather operates in a more fragmented way in the networks of social and private actors. 

This session aims to discuss the interface between political institutions and urban practices, exploring the transformations of organizational structures and their roles in socio-spatial processes and urban governance. Coordination and management of public policies, bottom-up and top-down approaches, political and bureaucratic legacies, emergency of innovative governance practices and institutional arrangements  are some of the examples of emerging issues regarding changing political institutions and urban policies. The session intends to convene approaches of different fields of study—notably urban studies, political and social sciences—in an interdisciplinary effort. As a result, it is expected that the session will provide an overview of pressing issues regarding this interface in different urban contexts by discussing relevant cases and recent experiences. Additionally, the session also aims to convene and contribute to comparative analysis and research.

Submissions are welcome on the following themes (but are not limited to):

  • Horizontal and vertical governance in cities;
  • Practices, bureaucracies and legacies in urban policies;
  • Bottom-up and top-down institutional arrangements;
  • Innovations and stability in urban planning institutions;
  • Coordination of urban policies and institutional design;
  • Institutionalization of socio-spatial inequalities;

74. Geographies of school segregation: comparing household choices and strategies

SESSION NUMBER: 74

Geographies of school segregation: comparing household choices and strategies

Marta Cordini – Politecnico di Milano

Carolina Pacchi – Politecnico di Milano

Andrea Parma – Politecnico di Milano

Segregation is not only an indicator of social inequality, but also one of its causes. The notion of segregation, then, refers to dynamics of exclusion that go beyond the concept of spatial distance to include a broader idea of social inequality. School segregation, in particular, reinforces the disparities and exacerbates the social reproduction of disadvantage. Children coming from families with low economic, cultural and human capitals are the first victims of this dynamic of exclusion. School segregation is the result of the combination of patterns of population distribution across the territory, institutional settings of education system and households’ choice.

While there is an open debate about the possible benefits or shortcomings of free choice at system level, literature has especially shown the relevance of households’ choice in contributing to educational inequalities and in shaping the geography of school segregation in urban contexts. Not only the choice itself counts, but also strategies that families put in practice to achieve their objectives are relevant in terms of the outcomes in school intake.

Scholars in general agree in considering school choice as a middle-class privilege. This group carries out a recognized strategic behaviour when their children education is on the table. Middle class parents are considered “active choosers”, since they mobilize their social and cultural capital to reproduce their social and economic status through education. Lower-classes are instead defined as “disconnected users” or “low interveners”, not having a strategic relation with the educational system. Individual and family choices then result in creating or re-enforcing patterns of school segregation or concentration of certain groups that goes beyond the territorial distribution at residential level.

While we can find some parallels among middle class choices across countries, strategies can be differently shaped according to the local and national institutional settings, the specific configurations of the housing market and the meaning associated to ethnicity, class and education. In other words, household agency takes different form in relation to the set of opportunities and constraints within which the choosers act.

The present panel welcomes contributions addressing the topic of educational inequality, and more specifically of school segregation, as an outcome of household choices and strategies. Papers are expected to answer one or more of the following questions in relation to the territorial impact of households’ choice:

  1. Which are the priorities of households when they choose their children’s school? (distance, pedagogical offer, intake composition, learning standards…)
  2. What is the role of information? How do families get the information they are basing their choices on? (official information, word of mouth, open days, meetings…)
  3. How is the choice translated into a strategy? Which are the strategies households adopt? Do they differ according to household typologies? How does the institutional structure of the education system contribute to shaping and selecting them?
  4. Is the choice for everybody? How do different endowments (in terms of economic, cognitive, cultural resources) shape parent strategies? As mentioned above, research has in fact already shown that not all the families have the same degree of choice, being the access to information and the capability of mobilizing human and social capital not equally distributed (active/passive choosers)

The panel welcomes both quantitative or qualitative papers, based on individual contexts or on comparative analysis across different cities.

75. Sensing space agonistically: urban spaces as collective mobilisation frames

SESSION NUMBER: 75

Sensing space agonistically: urban spaces as collective mobilisation frames

Enrico Gualini – Technische Universität Berlin

This session explores ‘sensing the city’ in terms of the emergence of agonistic understandings of urban space. It addresses how identification with urban spaces – acting as collective ‘place frames’ or ‘place identities’ – can foster shared experiences of agonistic engagement and mobilization. This perspective combines a relational understanding of spatiality with an agonistic understanding of democracy, and is based on the assumption that the experience of spatiality is constitutive of agonistic practices of local democracy. In a relational understanding of spatiality (Massey 2005), this entails addressing spatiality beyond reification of the ‘urban’ – of urban spaces and places – and related analytical and normative ‘spatial traps’ concerning its political nature. Instead, political meaning of urban spaces, in this perspective, is defined by the experience of social agents, and by the way their understandings of spatiality frame and co-define their resources for mobilization and collective action. According to an agonistic understanding of democracy, this entails exploring how spatially constituted collective understandings and practices become defining elements of agonistic forms of political subjectivation.

Critical engagements with contradictions of neo-liberalization processes, the ‘urbanization of injustice’ (Merrifield and Swyngedouw 1996; Brenner and Theodore 2002; Mitchell 2003; Nicholls and Beaumont 2004); Leitner, Peck and Sheppard 2006; Davies 2014) and contentious and/or insurgent urban practices related to claims of the ‘right to the city’ (Friedmann 1995; Harvey 2000, 2003; Dikeç 2001, 2005; Purcell 2008) have contributed to a more definite ‘spatialization’ of research on urban social movements (Mayer 2000; Mayer, Thörn, and Thörn 2016). The theoretical underpinnings of reference to the urban in the study of contentious politics and mobilization have become more systematically addressed (Martin 2003, 2018; Martin and Miller 2003; Nicholls, Miller and Beaumont 2014; Leitner, Sheppard and Sziarto 2008; Nicholls 2008; Nicholls and Uitermark 2017), focusing on the urban as a relational field in interpreting the emergence and dynamics of networked social mobilization (Della Porta and Diani 1999; Diani and McAdam 2003).

These contributions underline the analytical as well as critical significance of spatiality for understanding practices of politicization. In line with a ‘post-foundational’ understanding of the spatiality of politics, the urban is no more conceived as external substrate or passive object of political agency, but as political space: ‘not only an integral element of the defining moment of the political, but an integral element of the disruption of the normalized order of domination’ (Dikec 2005: 171). Accordingly, spatial frames can be seen as a constitutive dimension of the dynamics and trajectories of an agonistic democracy.

This session invites to explore processes of collective meaning-making – i.e. on the ‘world of meanings’ enacted by political subjects in their becoming – in the agonistic experience of urban space, and to expand this perspective of urban studies through empirical insights and theoretical and methodological contributions.

76. Home-making, Intimate Spaces and the City

SESSION NUMBER: 76

Home-making, Intimate Spaces and the City

Mahuya Bandyopadhyay – Indian Institute of Technology

How do urban dwellers sense and represent their private, intimate spaces? How are these intimate spaces configured? How do new urban dwellers make their homes? What do the practices of home-making tell us about urban governance? What sorts of relationships of power, subversion and harm do these spaces hold? And what can sensing intimate spaces tell us about urban sociality and city life? I refer to intimacy as a specific form of knowing, loving and caring for a person (Jamieson 1989:1), one, Berger and Luckman (1966) would call a 'significant other.' Intimacy is linked to privacy. It is subjectively experienced and socially recognised as close. Mutual love, and often, physical, bodily and/or sexual contact, frame such closeness, though the latter can occur without intimacy. For Giddens (1992), it emerges through a dialogue of reciprocal self-disclosure between equals. A person reveals their inner qualities and feelings while reinforcing the self through their narrations of personhood and belonging.

The study of intimacy, intimate spaces and the home has primarily been the domain of family and kinship studies. The session seeks to demonstrate the significance of the making of private spaces and navigating intimate relationships in the city. How do we sense the city in our most private, intimate spaces and relationships? How does a focus on intimacy shape our understanding of urban sociality?

The session proposes to address the core theme of the conference – sensoriality and the city by asking the question how do urban dwellers sense, make sense of and create and re-create for themselves and others their private, intimate spaces? The home and the process of home-making are distinct focal points. How are these private spaces controlled and regulated? By whom? And to what ends? Finally, how does the urban dweller negotiate this control? Is private space reimagined? Or the public, for that matter?

How do migrants, both men and women, experience these processes differently? The session plans to draw on the new migrants in a city for whom the experience of finding, making and settling in a home are immediate and form a substantial part of their everyday lives. It will also focus on the lives of those born in marginal, migrant families, continuing to live on the fringes of the city or in lands circumscribed by several kinds of illegalities. The conventional private/public dichotomy is disrupted as city dwellers carve out intimate spaces in otherwise open sites. My fieldwork in a mainly working-class Muslim neighbourhood in Kolkata, India has shown how young men and women seek out close relationships of choice within otherwise regulated and controlled private worlds. They carve out intimate spaces within the public sites of parks, cinema halls and restaurants in the city.

If the urban neighbourhood has been a site of studying and understanding the city, I intend this session to visibilise the ‘home’ and other intimate spaces, not immediately known and, generally unique to a city. Further, these spaces are forcefully mediated through the use of technologies; for surveillance, and for connecting with a distant social and material world. How does technology enable the urban dweller or the new migrant to navigate intimate spaces differently? The session will explore what it means both empirically as well as methodologically to make the home or other private spaces the site of studying urban experiences.

77. Sensing Urban Exclusion: Atmospheric Attunement and Creative Interpretation

SESSION NUMBER: 77

Sensing Urban Exclusion: Atmospheric Attunement and Creative Interpretation

Ed Charlton – London Schools of Economics

Urban exclusion is not always observable, not always visibly sensed. Oftentimes, it is propped up by ordinary atmospheres of marginalisation. Whether in the smell or the sound of a place, parts of the city may be made undesirable or marked as exclusive by way of their sensorial as much as their structural separation. This panel aims to explore the unvoiced and unseen atmospheres that underpin urban exclusion, prioritising a type of creative, sensory attunement to the city over and above its strict academic interpretation.

Since Nigel Thrift (2004) first sought to characterise the contemporary urban environment as ‘roiling maelstroms of affect’, it is arguably those quieter feelings of apathy, resentment, and desire that have come to offer up a more promising key to the divisions that structure urban life. These ordinary affects, as Kathleen Stewart (2007) has it, might be better understood as public feelings; that is to say, moods that ‘are in broad circulation’ and give ‘circuits and flows the forms of a life’. This panel invites participants to consider the ways in which those everyday public feelings not yet ‘fully articulate’, to cite Raymond Williams, might tell us about the operation and proliferation of urban exclusion? What methods and forms, likely beyond the boundaries of the traditional academic paper, are required for us to capture and explore these feelings?

Exploring the ways in which the mood of the city might be sensed and articulated, we invite panellists to reflect on those structures and sites in the city that nurture exclusionary atmospheres by using, or engaging with, creative and artistic formats. As such, we encourage accounts that bridge the structural and the affective, and which allow us to think about the sensory alongside the materiality of the city.

Contributions may address the following themes, but are certainly not limited to them:

  • Spatialised exclusions – walls, barriers, gates, as well as privately-owned public spaces (POPS) and securitised spaces
  • Olfactory exclusions – waste, sewage, abjection, as well as sanitised spaces
  • Soundscapes of exclusion – public security announcements, noise pollution, sounds of gentrification and tourism, sonic turf wars
  • Climatic exclusions – heat, flooding, pollution

We invite creative responses to urban exclusion, as well as academic papers incorporating or engaging with them. This might include the following formats:

  • ‘Site-writing’ (Rendell 2010), short stories, or poetry
  • Photo essays, short films, archival accounts
  • Reviews of public art or exhibitions
  • Collaborations between academics and artists
  • Methodological reflections aimed at the atmospheric, the affective and the sensory

78. Urban spaces, working conditions and labour conflicts: political and sensory experiences of work

SESSION NUMBER: 78

Urban spaces, working conditions and labour conflicts: political and sensory experiences of work

Alexandre Orban – Vrije Universiteit Brussel

How does urban space shape labour conflicts and vice versa? How do labour conflicts affect the ways in which cities are sensed and experienced?

Ever since the neoliberal turn that continues to advance profound socio-spatial transformations of urban landscapes, their inhabitants have sensed the pressures of an economic and ideological shift away from the paradigm of industrial production to that of the service economy. Even though the ways in which urban neoliberalism has been (re)produced are geographically variegated, urban economies across the global North, South and East have witnessed a triple movement of feminization, tertiarization and precarization (Grasland and Van Hamme, 2010). In the global North and East, the power of traditional labour unions has been severely damaged by a massive loss of manufacturing jobs, and a (de)regulatory shift from federal/national institutions of the State to diverse regional and urban authorities introduced competing ideologies and uneven development around labour (Harvey, 2008).

More recently, the relationship between labour and the city has been transformed by the arrival of supposedly new and innovative business models such as those advanced by platform capitalism. In Belgium, academics (e.g. Gracos, 2017), associations (GRESEA), and union activists (FGTB) have raised concerns regarding the working conditions that platform capitalism offers or erodes, and the process of job creation/destruction it involves. Particularly pertinent questions have been formulated regarding the rapid growth of the so-called gig economy, whose workers are continuously subjugated to platform dependency, high flexibility of working hours, payment on the delivery and “ready for duty” regime. However, less has been explored in terms of how these new labour patterns, conditions, and “gigs” affect urban space, and what sensory experiences they entail. Although contemporary labour “innovations” may be hinge on globalized flows of goods and capital, the increased presence of platform workers such as “uberistas” and Deliveroo couriers at localized strikes and protests indicates that place still matters to understand the political dynamics and sensory experiences of labour.

This further suggests that labour disputes, which for long have chiefly related to industrial sectors, today have expanded to other sectors of urban economies, exhibiting specific spatial dynamics, sensory experiences, and conflicts. These questions have been traditionally addressed by labour geography (Herod 1997), which engaged in the socio-spatial analysis of diverse voices and interests of workers to understand their realities, and thus to provide critical geographic analysis of contemporary capitalism. Labour geography further mobilizes the central concept of workers’ agency,  understood as the capacity to transform the reality of their work. In this session, we intend to demonstrate that space constitutes an essential dimension for understanding workers' mobilizations, materializing through specific dynamics and under specific conditions. While corporate interests, in order to govern and shape the sensory experience of labour and workers’ bodies, can appropriate landscape, workers can also physically appropriate it. Through strategic acts of resistance, they can influence the production of their own urban and working space.

Therefore, we invite empirically and/or theoretically oriented contributions from geographical, historical, anthropological, activist, literary, and artistic perspectives, for instance related to any of the topics and themes:

  • Spatialities and modalities of labour conflicts: their conditions of emergence, appropriation and production of urban space
  • Histories and spatialities of workers’ mobilizations
  • Labour conflicts and conditions in specific “urban” economic sectors  (e.g. food, transport, cleaning, care), or in specific urban contexts and spaces
  • Sensory experiences of labour conflicts and conditions in historical or contemporary urban settings
  • Policing and surveillance of labour
  • Governmentality and regulation of labour
  • Informalization of labour

79. Urban Greeneryand spaces of nature: protection, commodification and contestation

SESSION NUMBER: 79

Urban Greeneryand spaces of nature: protection, commodification and contestation

Safa Ashoub –Technische Universität Berlin

Salma Khamis – Technische Universität Berlin

Mohamed Abotera –University of Antwerp

This session invites researchers to discuss the relationship between the built urban and the natural environment1 (defined: as air, water, climate and energy). The objective is to unravel the complexities that shape the built environment and understand how contemporary cities assimilate or fragment the natural environment. We (the session coorganisers) broadly define the green/natural environment here as ‘all-natural elements in their natural form (air, water, greenery and light) and man-made green surroundings (parks, gardens, vegetation within and around human settlements).’ In this regard, we propose that contemporary urbanism and the production of the built environment has become in many cases at odds with the natural environment. On the one hand, we seek to preserve nature and appreciate its wholeness and on the other we are in a constant race to expand possibilities and explore further potentialities of human creation. This contingency is not to be taken in superficial terms or to be simplified in statements that either blame every man-made invention as disastrous to the environment or applaud human technologies that simulate the natural environment and maybe even reproduce it. The case is much deeper and more complex to our understanding.

Hence, in our initial dissection for the dimensions of that tension, we developed three streams of causality. First, the relationship between planning and macroeconomic agencies that produce structures which have shaped in turn the built environment in the 21st century and the concurrent debate about the neo-liberal production of space. Second, the sociopolitical circumstances that produce/reproduce the natural environment to accommodate the most basic urban needs (in terms of shelter, livelihood and social ties). Third, the relationship between the spaces of conflict that arise from natural disasters, armed conflicts or any other reasons and the formation of the built environment and deformation of the natural environment in either temporary or long-term urban settlements (post conflict settlements).

Hence, we invite the presenters to talk about some of these themes and we welcome other ideas:

  • Economic dynamics for growth and development and the exploitation or avoidance of interaction with the natural environment (via focusing on technologies and mass production economics);
  • Socio-political and power dynamics that shape urban governance frameworks with a critical perspective on the relationship between the human and non-human actors (via looking at institutional structures that embed or eliminate the interaction with the natural environment);
  • Conflict dynamics that affect the choices of the urban dwellers and their interaction with the natural environment (via focusing on the during and post conflict needs versus the ever-growing climate change challenges).

In this session, we are targeting cases studies and research from the Global South. We are particularly interested in cases from contested contexts. Our geographical expertise lies in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA), but we are organising this session in order to expand on our knowledge and exchange with others.

80. Policing the City: Assembling Communities and Crowdsourced Data

SESSION NUMBER: 80

Policing the City: Assembling Communities and Crowdsourced Data

Ana Ivasiuc – Philipps University Marburg

Lior Volinz – Vrije Universiteit Brussel

In the last decade, there has been a crucial shift in urban policing. On one hand, data crowdsourcing initiatives encouraged by traditional state security actors themselves have proliferated through what has

been called ‘lateral’ or ‘participatory’ surveillance. On the other hand, observers have noted the bottomup emergence of informal policing as a reaction to the perceived inability or unwillingness of the state to control urban crime. Urban citizens and the state are entangled in such dynamics in complex ways that afford theoretical reflection on issues of statecraft, as well as on transformations of urban policing and of the urban space itself. Around state-encouraged initiatives of informal policing, this shift entails the establishment of new platforms and interfaces to facilitate the relations between security actors (such as the police, local authorities and migration enforcement agencies) and urban residents. The selforganized neighbourhood patrols are more often than not met with reluctance by state authorities who see their monopoly of crime control being challenged; one of the state responses to such initiatives has been the promotion of neighbourhood watch schemes as opposed to the active patrolling of the urban space. This panel explores the social, political and technological transformation that these platforms and informal policing strategies bring forth and their relevance for how urban space is experienced, lived, and claimed by residents. More concretely, we are interested in questions such as the following:

  • How do new digital and mobile platforms (policing apps, mobile city applications, egovernance tools) reshape claim-making by urban residents, as well as the capacity and accountability of security authorities?
  • How do such policing infrastructures and informal policing practices reassemble the city through material, digital, representational, and discursive entanglements, and what kinds of city do they promote?
  • How do such tools, as well as neighbourhood patrol initiatives, affect the ways in which urban space is experienced, constructed, lived, and claimed by residents of various backgrounds?
  • What kinds of struggles over urban space are made visible – or, alternatively, invisible – by digital infrastructures of policing and by informal policing practices carried out in the urban space? In other words, how is the right to the city negotiated through practices of informal policing and ‘participatory surveillance’?
  • What kinds of representations of the city emerge from these forms of ‘participatory surveillance’, and which selections do such representations entail in terms of the accrued policing of residents of particular class, race/ethnicity, religion, and gender?
  • How are such technologies and initiatives of urban policing entangled with dynamics of gentrification and, more broadly, the interests of capital?
  • How are these technologies and practices contested, resisted, subverted, or appropriated by particular urban residents or by traditional security actors?

Module 81-89

81. Peak Conviviality? Making Trouble With/For Convivialities Research

SESSION NUMBER: 81

Peak Conviviality? Making Trouble With/For Convivialities Research

Mervyn Horgan – University of Guelph

The last decade or so has seen an explosion of (mostly Western-focused) research on conviviality in everyday urban life (Germain 2013; Oosterlynck et al 2017; 2016; Radice 2014; 2016; Vigneswaran 2014; Wise & Velayutham 2009; 2014). This work is inspired in large part by Paul Gilroy’s (2005) positioning of conviviality as centrally concerned with ‘processes of cohabitation and interaction that have made multiculture an ordinary feature of social life’. Existing research treats seriously experiences and negotiations of everyday encounters in urban space as a domain where identities are affirmed and negated, and where differences are highlighted, assumed and/or ignored. To date, research on conviviality provides insights into varieties of everyday collective bonds, with many studies providing a valuable counterweight to the ‘vast sociology of hopelessness’ (Hall & Smith 2014). Make no mistake, though, this is no panacea. Simultaneously, research attunes us to the bubbling up of new forms of social exclusion and the consolidation of old forms of marginalization. Indeed, as Back & Sinha (2016) note, we must seriously attend to the ‘paradoxical co-existence of both racism and conviviality in city life.’

With the ‘convivial turn’ (Neal et al 2013) very clearly under way, we may find ourselves spinning in its wake, with some urban researchers likely feeling that we are approaching or may even have already reached ‘peak conviviality’. If ‘peak conviviality’ looms, then, what have we been missing? Perhaps, more importantly, where to from here? What comes next?

In this session we invite papers that explore varieties of co-existence expressed in and through everyday encounters—convivial or otherwise—in urban public spaces, broadly conceived. We welcome diverse perspectives and case studies that take seriously the challenge of studying public space as a domain for theorizing conviviality (and beyond) in contemporary collective urban life. Submissions should work with and/or against the convivial turn, whether to identify and address, expose and challenge, or expand and surpass its limits and possibilities. In this spirit, we are especially interested in research working at the conceptual boundaries of the convivial turn, by (1) elaborating concepts and cases that make trouble for research on conviviality in urban public space, and (2) engaging with potentially overlooked intersections between conviviality and adjacent concepts including but not limited to sociability, interdependence, solidarity, reciprocity, mutuality, superdiversity, conflict, and (in)civility.

82. Social control, resistances and sensing the cities in the Maghreb region

SESSION NUMBER: 82

Social control, resistances and sensing the cities in the Maghreb region

Wafae Belarbi – National School of Architecture of Rabat

Sam Cherribi – Emory University USA

We propose a session which is part of the second theme of the conference, focuses on the policing of urban populations through the governing through sensory interventions. The urban context in the Maghreb states is characterized by a very important sociopolitical control in the public space. This control is exercising on the social, physical and sensorial environment in the cities. It generates sensory experiences in space that deserves to be examined. Indeed, with neoliberal policies, the exacerbation of social inequalities, the restriction of individual freedoms, the prohibition to occupy spaces and the prohibition to practice certain activities in public spaces, there have been various manifestations of social conflict (or violence) in the public space. In this session, we want to examine the effects of these ideologies of social control on the sensory experiences of actors and users of space. Our first questions are: what is systematic acts of production and control of meaning in the public space.  What types of sensory experiences are generated by social control? We will examine instances of violence shaped by unique political economies and contexts, the role of the nation-state and transnational influences as a result of the increasing globalization of violence. This session focuses on various types of violence: subjective or objective, systemic or symbolic, physical or psychic, visible or invisible. We will also examine the philosophy of nonviolence, especially the notion of Ahimsa. We will collaboratively examine the ideology of order,’ the ‘fear of power,’ and the socio-ethical conditions of the community.

On the other hand, we want to investigate forms of non-violence as forms of resistance. Faced with this control over public space, we have resistance strategies which themselves produce meaning. Urban informality is a significant component of the urban mode of production of meaning in its multifaceted expressions in cities in the Maghreb. A good part of the urban territories escapes the expectations of the apparatuses of the State. Nevertheless, social and political control remains very present in these spaces. The State is facing an increasingly ingenious public. These are skilled inhabitants pose significant challenges to the state institution. They are marked mainly by their resourcefulness by using different repertoires ranging from discretion, circumventing rules to direct confrontation/exposition. So, our second question is: How does urban informality, as a form of resistance to the State’s exertion of social control, produce own its meaning?

83. New territorial divides, reactionary politics and the populist backlash

SESSION NUMBER: 83

New territorial divides, reactionary politics and the populist backlash

Eduardo Marques – Centre for Metropolitan Studies and University of São Paulo

Patrick Le Galès – Sciences Po Paris

The rise of right-wing, nationalist and/or populist parties is often said to have a specific electoral geography and sociology which often maps onto an urban-rural divide (e.g. in the USA and India), onto the geography of industrial decline and growth (e.g. UK), or or East and West (e.g. Germany), as well as a specific, class-related geography within cities and metropolitan areas (e.g. Hungary). These general interpretations must be at least nuanced to explain recent cases, such as recent local and presidential elections in Brazil, as well as the 2019 presidential election in Bolivia, where rural and poor regions remained as bastions of left-wing resistance.

Worldwide, however. the right-wing revanche targeted more vulnerable groups, and serious hit democratic participation and redistribution. This electoral geography, and the recent access to various tiers of government of right-wing, nationalist and/or populist parties, have implications for the relationships between cities, regions and states, and for the possibility of “hopeful futures” through “progressive” social and political agendas which seek - at various scales of governance and of collective action – to resist the so-called “populist backlash”. To discuss these processes is the main goal of this session.

We will welcome papers that address the theme and seek answers to questions such as:

  • What are the various conditions that favor right-wing politics and movements in different cities? What are the civic, demographic, and political characteristics that make certain cities more prone to right-wing activism than others? How do local activists achieve political and ideological power in these cities? What is the relation between activists and local political parties and elected officials?
  • What types of policies are pursued in localities? How do these policies seek to demarcate boundaries between established groups (e.g. white nations) and outsiders (e.g. foreigners, undocumented, refugees)? What are some factors that limit the implementation of right-wing policies (e.g. constitutional limits on local governments, counter movements, etc.)?
  • How do local movements and political parties connect to national and international far-right wing movements? What is the role of local struggles in this broader network of far-right activism?
  • What challenges for urban, regional and national governance - and territorial development or redistributive policies - emerge in countries where new right-wing, nationalist and/or populist movements or parties have accessed power (at different tiers of government)? Is this likely to further contribute to territorial, electoral and socio-economic divides between metropolitan and other areas?
  • How can social movements, political leaders and public authorities of particular neighborhoods, cities or regions resist the ‘conservative backlash’ and reforms which challenge existing redistributive policies and past achievements in terms of minority rights and recognition?

84. Bottom-up Urbanism: Growing Social Policy from the Grassroots Upward and Across Scales

SESSION NUMBER: 84

Bottom-up Urbanism: Growing Social Policy from the Grassroots Upward and Across Scales

Hilary Silver – George Washington University

Yuri Kazepov – University of Vienna

Benedetta Marani – Politecnico di Milano

Lorenzo De Vidovich – Politecnico di Milano

The RC21 Conference theme of “Sensing and Shaping the City; Power, People, Place,” focuses on how citizens experience the fragmentary, unequal and contradictory realities of global urbanity.  In keeping with this, we propose a conventional session of paper presentations followed by discussion that will consider how ordinary people solve immediate problems and address pressing needs when the neo-liberal state does not act.  The consensus upon which universal welfare states rest is unravelling.  Political polarization contributes to policy failure, dysfunction, and legislative gridlock.  Austerity, sometimes enforced by global institutions, robs national welfare programs of their effectiveness and fiscal viability.  Faced with rising poverty, insecurity, homelessness, precarious employment or joblessness, cultural displacement, pollution and environmental degradation, citizens are taking matters into their own hands.  They are not only resisting social welfare and insurance cutbacks and demanding state action to address new problems, but they are also devising social innovations on their own. Local problems may initially seem idiosyncratic, and experiences fragmented, but citizens do seek out others for help. Neighborhoods and cities form empowering horizontal regional, national, and transnational networks to access resources, expertise, and political allies.  Thanks to low-cost social media, social policy innovations are diffused through international efforts of locally grounded NGOs and social enterprises.  Localities become embedded within complex connectivities among various urban nodes comprised of back-and-forth flows of many resources, including, of course, the migrations of people. Like the social innovation approach of "bottom-linked" policy, different scales are brought into relation to one another. Whilst extending the arena of interlocutors and thickening the existent networks, these processes entail significant spatial drawbacks. The current spatial configuration of social welfare provision shows new territorial patterns of bottom-up practices, still aiming at guaranteeing basic forms of social and spatial rights at an urban and metropolitan scale.  While the neoliberal State is withdrawing from social policy and imposing new responsibilities on citizens, it can also serve as a partner in developing citizens initiatives, passing safety regulations, diffusing new ideas, and funding social welfare arrangements at different scales levels that moderate market-generated, ethnic-based and territorial inequalities. The multi-scalar features of these new forms of social welfare also raise issues of accessibility, in terms of inclusiveness, affordability and reachability. This dialectic between bottom-up and top-down scales of social organization, their spatial configuration in and beyond urban areas, and the tension between horizontal and vertical ties, contribute to the dynamism of urban efforts to solve problems and address needs directly.

85. Progressive cities and civil society mobilizations

SESSION NUMBER: 85

Progressive cities and civil society mobilizations 

Walter Nicholls

Claire Colomb

In the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump, a number of city governments in the USA affirmed their city’s commitment to values such as the welcoming of migrants, the protection of women’s and LGBTQ rights, or the fight against climate change, openly opposing Trump’s reactionary agenda. Some, for example, declared their city as “sanctuary” and pledged to limit their cooperation with government agencies in charge of enforcing immigration law. In some European countries, recent local elections have brought to power new progressive coalitions (such as those elected in May 2015 in several cities of Spain - notably Barcelona, Madrid, Zaragoza and Valencia - or in 2016 in Berlin) or social-democratic mayors (e.g. in London or Rotterdam) who have, on various occasions and to a variable degree, openly distanced themselves from, or opposed outright, the political agendas or actions of the central and/or regional government (e.g. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, campaigning against Brexit). They have been advocating a new “progressive” municipal politics, in part building on social movements and grassroots initiatives. Many of them have also called for stronger forms of national and transnational cooperation between progressive or “fearless cities”. There are thus mounting signs which point towards more progressive urban political agendas in national (or regional) contexts which have veered towards increasingly reactionary, populist, nationalist, xenophobic or anti-migrants agendas. Such developments are not confined to Europe and North America. In Delhi, the government has since 2015 launched a progressive agenda under the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party. But in other national contexts (e.g. Hungary, Italy, or Brazil), the past legacies and contemporary agendas of progressive city governments and urban social movements are under threat of being curtailed, attacked or dismantled by the authoritarian practices and reforms imposed by higher tiers of governments controlled by right-wing, nationalist and/or populist parties.

Examples of questions:

  • Which room for manoeuvre do district, city or regional governments and associated urban actors have to enact “progressive” agendas and policies in the context of increasingly reactionary, populist, nationalist, xenophobic or anti-migrants agendas and regional/national politics? 
  • What evidence is there of city governments and coalitions of urban actors taking an explicitly progressive or oppositional stance to higher tiers of governments in relation, for example, to migration, “diversity”, and social rights? Is this trend really new? What tensions does this give rise to? 
  • How are “progressive” discourses translated, in practice, into policy initiatives, with what outcomes and limitations? What factors influence the room for manoeuvre of individual districts, cities (or regions) in relation to national governmental agendas and policies?
  • How are discourses and practices of new municipalism forged and developed? Transnational ‘progressive’ city networks.
  • Linkages between grassroots movements and municipal governments

86. Production of urban space and contemporary finance: public policies and social spending

SESSION NUMBER: 86

Production of urban space and contemporary finance: public policies and social spending

Ursula Dias Peres – University of Sao Paulo

Luciana de Oliveira Royer – University of Sao Paulo

  • The main question of this session is the debate about the role of the State in the regulation and funding of urban development and what are its limits and constraints in a scenario of austerity policies;
  • This perspective contributes to unveiling limits and possibilities for the formulation of public policies for urban development directed by the State and with access to public funds aimed at reducing poverty in cities, ensuring adequate urban infrastructure in a systemic and non-segregated manner

Urban and housing precariousness is still a feature in cities in the global south. Therefore, considering housing and urban infrastructure as elements of urban development, government action aimed at this development is a fundamental requirement. Public investment is a condition for reducing the precariousness of urban development. However, public policies and social spending depend on multiple circumstances in addition to public funding. Therefore, debating urban development from the perspective of public funding contributes to unveiling the limitations and possibilities related to poverty reduction in cities. In this way, research on financing and public policies for urban development is relevant for the community, for urban and regional planning and for public administration. Public policies and social spending are fundamentals to guarantee access to urban services. But fiscal resources are subject to legal rules and limitations defined in political and institutional arenas that are often far removed from the urban issue. In order to guarantee adequate public funding for urban development, it is necessary to work on solutions that integrate elements of urban and regional planning, economic sciences, political science and public administration.

The arrival of the 21st century brought a scenario that on the one hand projected a horizon of progress in terms of living conditions in cities, but on the other hand put in doubt convictions and utopias in view of the impasses that these proposals represented. This is confirmed in the observation of urban political actors, experiencing a period of equilibrium with numerous events and publications, carrying out analyzes, discussions, criticisms and evaluations of the effects produced by and from these normative and institutional landmarks of urban policy.

Despite the recognition of advances in regulatory frameworks and institutional structures, there is an impasse on how to proceed with urban reform in the current historical moment. This stalemate is partly caused by the adoption of fiscal austerity policies, in the last decade, that have restricted investments and, in general, reduced the autonomy of local governments, directly responsible for urban development.

To debate the possibility of advancing urban development thus implies discussing the limits of fiscal austerity, but also to understand what the role of the state is and what level of autonomy city governments should have to deal with the dilemmas of this agenda. Given this scenario, we are interested in discussing what are the similarities and differences in the governance of the cities regarding the formulation and implementation of urban policies, and how the distributive conflict around public funding has been treated.

87. How do digital platforms reshape cities and urban research?

SESSION NUMBER: 87

How do digital platforms reshape cities and urban research?

Justus Uitermark – University of Amsterdam

John D. Boy – Leiden University

This session welcomes contributions examining how digital platforms reshape urban landscapes, relations, and research.

We increasingly know and navigate the city through digital platforms like Google Maps, Facebook, Instagram, TripAdvisor, and Airbnb. While these platforms help us to pursue our mundane desires—to find a place for coffee, a park to hang out in, a bed for the night—they have profound yet underappreciated effects on the city at large. The algorithms of digital platforms direct our gazes to some places rather than others, in effect changing how we view the city: Instagram presents us with very different images of the city than Twitter. But there’s more at stake than just the way the city is seen. Uneven representations have material consequences. How places are represented online has become critical for their flourishing and survival. Places that are invisible on digital platforms are at risk of disappearing altogether. As all kinds of places, ranging from restaurants to community centers, set out to improve their algorithmic ranking and conform to the aesthetic norms promulgated through platforms, tendencies toward homogenization and uneven development are potentially exacerbated.

The rise of digital platforms also reshapes the city as a terrain of social struggle. Digital platforms enable intensified land-use and reshape relationships between landlords and renters. Platforms are central to the gig economy and the new forms of precarity and exploitation it gives rise to. Social movements invariably use social media and other digital communication platforms to organize and mobilize. While scholars and activists initially welcomed digital media for facilitating egalitarian relations, more recent work suggests that digital media do not sustain robust activist networks and are more likely to amplify reactionary sentiments than progressive movements.

The growing importance of digital platforms increasingly requires us to consider complex geographies of imbricated offline and online spaces within and across cities. Digital platforms not only change urban landscapes and struggles, but also the ways we conduct urban research. Digital platforms add new ethnographic sites and are a bountiful (albeit problematic) source of computational data. The incorporation of these new sites and data is a methodological and epistemological challenge for urban researchers.
 

88. ICT and urban infrastructures: between affirmation and subversion of centralized plans and policies

SESSION NUMBER: 88

ICT and urban infrastructures: between affirmation and subversion of centralized plans and policies

Sophie Schramm – TU Dortmund

The way we experience, or sense the city has been dramatically altered by the proliferation of ICT. ICT shape our everyday lives as we have constant access to information, for example about the places we are or intend to go beyond what we can immediately see and sense, through GIS mapping and other devices. ICT figure in discourses about “smart urbanism” – specifically policy-makers and planners frame ICT as a fix for the slow expansion of networked infrastructures that often cannot keep pace with rapid urbanisation of global South cities. In fact, urban utilities and international organisations employ mobile technologies to improve accounting, bill processing and payment procedures of networked infrastructure provision; to gather information about the use of and access to services particularly in “underserved” settlements; and they use GIS technologies to improve infrastructure management by mapping networks of pipes, transportation routes, etc.. Urban residents may use mobile technologies to improve their access to infrastructure services; to find out, whether and where services are available; and to mobilise communities for better service access.

Thus, ICT offer possibilities for different actors to change infrastructure provision and access according to their particular goals and rationalities. This may concern the expansion of centralized networks, the disciplining of urban residents to become paying customers of centrally provided services or the subversion of these goals. Subversion may work through mobilisation of residents dissatisfied with the governance and organization of service provision or by distributing and accessing information about possibilities to access services beyond centrally provided channels. Therefore, ICT are important technologies that may strengthen or undermine top down governance and organization of infrastructure systems in cities. We are interested in these dynamics and the possibilities that ICT offer for both, the affirmation and subversion of centralized infrastructure policies, as well as the creation and negotiation of new ways for heterogeneous infrastructure access from the bottom up.

Contributions may refer to, but are not limited to, these questions:

  • How do ICT change infrastructure service provision? How do ICT shape access to infrastructure services for different groups?
  • How do different actors employ ICT to support or to subvert top-down interventions into infrastructures?
  • What is the potential of ICT to contribute to more cohesive urban infrastructure provision or, on the contrary, to increase uneven access to services?
  • How do actors frame ICT in discourses about modern, “smart” urbanism and how does this relate to everyday uses of ICT for urban infrastructure access?

89. Social reproduction in hypercommodified homes

SESSION NUMBER: 89

Social reproduction in hypercommodified homes

Eva Kuschinski - HafenCity University

Leon Rosa Reichle - Centre for Urban Research on Austerity, De Montfort University

Within critical social science, the housing question has been historically marginalized over (other) workplace struggles (Gray, 2018). The home as a workplace of racialized and gendered reproductive labour has been treated as secondary to matters of (industrial) production. Even urban studies most often centre around “public” space, workplace struggles or, when considered specifically with housing, its role as an asset. This is paralleled by the marginalization of women’s presences, participation and leadership of social struggles around housing (Hughes, Wright, 2018). Symbolic for a dominance of androcentric perspectives in society, academia and unfortunately many political struggles, the question of the reproductive sphere, its relevance for capitalism and social relations in total, and hence its strategic position for transformative politics has been either ignored or treated as a separate and secondary issue. Ignorant of ground-breaking analytical and political feminist work (Dalla Costa, 2019; Federici, 2012, 2004) demonstrating the centrality of relations of social reproduction in capitalism, even critical housing scholars have neglected in-depth analyses of questions around racialized and gendered relations of social reproduction, at most mentioning them in passing (Aalbers, Christophers, 2014). 

While feminist accounts of social reproduction (Bhattacharya, Vogel, 2017) are reviving in the face of deepening multiple crises and social inequalities, systematic feminist analyses of the housing question remain sporadic (Roberts, 2013; Watson, 1986).

We believe that a lot is to be learnt from reconceptualizing critical housing scholarship through the prism of  social reproduction. In doing so, we suggest considering relational approaches, linking the micro-social sphere of the household to societal relations of reproduction. Whereas critical social theories on the neoliberalization of work have long emphasized its relational effects as competitive, divisive and isolating (Sennett, 1998), we are curious about relational analyses on the neoliberalization of housing.

Hence we propose to reconsider relations of reproduction and relations around the sphere of social reproduction as an entrypoint to critical urban analysis. In homes, the centres of daily lives, relations of social reproduction meet institutions of private property, the dominant relation-way of capitalism (Adamczak, 2017). In contexts of state withdrawal and increasing housing financialization, this encounter is often violent. As reproductive spaces are politically turned into scarce market goods on an internationally competitive housing market, we are interested in the consequences for social and reproductive relations on different scales. 

  • Within these transformations, what is the role of historically gendered relations within the reproductive sphere of the home? 
  • How to theorize (increasingly financialized) housing as the site of commodified yet precarious and multiply marginalized care labour? 
  • How can we understand the role of current and historical struggles for the right to housing as reproductive struggles; struggles for spaces securing the basic reproduction of human life? 
  • How can we conceive of these as intersectional class struggles? 
  • How to theorize racialized exclusion from the housing market within these struggles? 
  • How does the reproduction of social relations change within these developments? 
  • How are reproductive relations stabilized or changed, progressively or regressively within such struggles? 
  • How can we navigate the different scales of relations of reproduction within the home, the neighbourhood, the city, globally? 

We invite theoretical or empirical paper presentations that centre around reproductive relations in a context marked by the increasing hypercommodification of housing. These can be concerned with social struggles, with the impacts of housing neoliberalization on (intersectional) relations of reproduction, with (the changing reproduction of) urban communities, with theoretical (and empirical) approaches to the changing role of the state in social reproduction and anything else you wish to surprise us with!