2014: CRITICAL GEOGRAPHIES OF URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE
6-7 November 2014 The Bartlett School of Planning, University College London
Keynote speakers: Professor Eric Swyngedouw (University of Manchester), Dr. Alan Latham (UCL), Dr. Adriana Allen (Bartlett, UCL)
This year’s UGRG Conference will explore the relationship between critical urban theory and infrastructure. Critical urbanism may be defined by Brenner et al (2009: 179) as concerned:
(a) to analyze the systemic, yet historically specific, intersections between capitalism and urbanization processes;
(b) to examine the changing balance of social forces, power relations, sociospatial inequalities and political-institutional arrangements;
(c) to expose marginalizations and injustices that are inscribed and naturalized within existing urban configurations;
(d) to decipher the contradictions, crisis tendencies and lines of potential or actual conflict within contemporary cities, and on this basis;
(e) to demarcate and to politicize possibilities for more progressive, socially just, emancipatory and sustainable formations of urban life.
Since the publication of Splintering Urbanism (Graham and Marvin, 2001), there has been a heightened focus on employing critical urbanist perspectives to study the fundamental issues of urban infrastructure, of who gets what infrastructure and where? This includes work on the assemblage and effects of different types of infrastructure including water, waste and other metabolic systems (Gandy 2002; Marvin and Medd 2006; Nikolas et al 2006), traffic and city streets (Hamilton-Baillie 2008; Buiter 2008) motorways and flyovers (Harris 2013; Merriman 2007; Norton 2008), various forms of public transportation (Butcher 2011), cycling (Aldred 2012) and airports (Guller and Guller 2003; McNeill 2010). Emerging research has highlighted the particular materialities of different infrastructure systems as they sustain and disrupt the circulations that constitute urban life (Amin and Thrift 2002; Gandy 2004; Latham and McCormack 2004; Hommels 2005). It has also examined practices of dwelling and experiences of inhabiting infrastructural systems as particular kinds of public spaces (Bissell 2010, 2014; Koch and Latham 2014; McIlvenny 2010; Sheller and Urry 2003; Wilson 2012).
Such work has demonstrated the exercise of social and political power through infrastructural provisioning, and the challenges of governance which might bring about more inclusive and democratic forms of urban infrastructure (Boudreau et al 2009; McFarlane and Rutherford 2008; Spinney 2010; Swyngedouw 2005).
Much work remains, however, in exploring the key dynamics through which infrastructure structures and restructures urban spaces. In particular, the UGRG is keen to hear from scholars working on topics and theoretical perspectives which include (but are not limited to) the following:
- state versus private provision, management and maintenance of infrastructure
- dynamics of access and exclusion
- privatization of key urban infrastructure
- Global North and Global South standards and models of infrastructure provision
- comparative studies of infrastructural provision and innovation
- policy mobility and the circulation of ‘best practice’
- dwelling and inhabitation within infrastructural spaces
- new imperatives of sustainability, austerity and resilience agendas
- innovations ranging from micro-scale to regional master-planning
The CFP has now closed and speakers have been confirmed. However, if you would like to attend as a guest, please register here.
If you have any questions, please email Luke Binns at lukebinns (at) gmail.com
2011: UNEQUAL CITIES
10-11 November 2011
Location: Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 9XP
This year’s UGRG Conference explored the persistence and pervasiveness of inequality in urban life and processes of urbanisation. It featured urban research addressing issues of income divides, social and cultural exclusion, and differential access to services, employment and political representation.
The two days in Edinburgh were a tremendous success. We’d like to thank all presenters for their excellent contributions and especially Libby Porter (University of Glasgow) and Gerry Mooney (Open University) for their key note addresses.
2010: Alternative Urbanisms
Thursday 11th – Friday 12th November 2010, University College London, Gower Street – London – WC1E 6BT UK
This UGRG Conference explored alternative ways of organising, practising and imagining cities. It responds to recent global turbulence and uncertainty in urban capitalist economies, political frameworks and environmental conditions. These urgently demand new ways of challenging existing policies, ideologies and visions, by recognising a broad and complex array of urban geographies, and emphasising the creative and sustainable possibilities of the urban twenty-first century.
Michael Edwards, Bartlett School of Planning, University College London. (website)
Colin McFarlane, Department of Geography, Durham University. (website)
Malcolm Miles, Centre for Critical Cultural Resarch, University of Plymouth. (website)
Jane Wills, Department of Geography, Queen Mary, University of London. (website)
List of all abstracts available here: (pdf/word)
Global Cities Now? Current Perspectives in ‘Global Urban Studies’
Thursday 5th – Friday 6th November 2009, Centre for Urban Theory, Swansea University, UK.
The Keynote Speakers were:
Professor Peter Taylor (Loughborough)
Professor Andrew Leyshon (Nottingham)
Professor Wendy Larner (Bristol)
Professor Ian Gordon (LSE)
2008: Urban MultipliCities – Exploring multiple urbanisms and challenging conventional
Thursday 6th – Friday 7th November 2008, Department of Geography, Queen Mary, Univesrity of London, UK.
The Keynote Speakers were:
Dr Mustafa Dikec (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Dr David Pinder (Queen Mary, University of London)
Professor Gillian Rose (Open University)
Professor Egin Isin (Open University)
2004: UGRG Postgraduate Conference
Emerging Urban Geographies: Connecting Theory, Politics and Practice
27 November 2004
Queen Mary, University of London
The 2004 UGRG Postgraduate Conference brought together postgraduates from across Europe to present and discuss their emerging and completed research. The conference was themed along the empirical and practical connections that contemporary urban geography makes with contemporary urban programmes and planning initiatives in the spheres of culture, society and economy. The day-long meeting incorporated paper presentations, a poster session, and ‘break-out’ discussion groups addressing key questions about how urban geographical research is of relevance and interest to ‘non-academic’ policy and practice. Discussions ranged from the ways that urban geographers tend to interpret and think about ‘the city’ as an ontology, to how the conceptual ontology of ‘the city’ might be/ought to be re-thought or re-interpreted in our engagements with processes of policy beyond the realms of academe. Two former members of the UGRG Committee – Donald McNeill (King’s College London) and Mike Raco (formerly University of Reading, now also at King’s College London) – kindly offered some summations for the day.
The 2004 Postgraduate Conference was a success in large part to all those who enthusiastically participated in the event. Thanks are also due to the RGS-IBG, for providing a small grant, which offered reimbursements on travel expenses for eligible conference participants. A special thanks is also due to the generous support of Professor Roger Lee and his colleagues at the Department of Geography, Queen Mary, University of London, for hosting and sponsoring the event.
UGRG Postgraduate Conference 2002
30 November 2002
University of Reading
The UGRG organised its highly successful first Postgraduate Conference in 2002 at the University of Reading. About 25 participants at this conference displayed their research projects in the form of poster presentations. The conference was attended by the entire UGRG Committee.
The general theme of the conference was the distinctiveness of the ‘urban’ within urban geography. A mixture of reading- and poster-based discussions throughout the conference day situated the innovative research projects of the participants in relation to recent works in urban theory and urban geography. One result of this dialogue was a short publication by some of the conference participants in Area:
Susan Moore, James Faulconbridge, Clare Blake, David Westhead, Tom Slater, Gavin Brown, Mark Davidson, Margo Huxley and Eddie Huijbens (2003). ‘Reflections on current developments in contemporary urban geography’, Area 35(2): 217-222.Download PDF copy.