Urban comparativism: some reflections and challenges on how to actually do it

Date and time
Tuesday 3 June 2014

UCL Pearson Building, Exhibition Room G07, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

Urban comparativism: some reflections and challenges on how to actually do it

Sara Gonzalez (Geography, Leeds University)

Loretta Lees (Geography, Leicester University)

There is a now an established literature on urban comparativism sparked by the works of Colin McFarlane and Jennifer Robinson. This work suggests that we need to move beyond traditional urban comparative approaches, often conceived within positivists frameworks and geographically limited to the Global North. The comparativist turn argues, however, that comparison should be broadened not to just to include different cities or moments within cities but also as an approach rather than simply as a method. This involves also learning from urban difference and thinking theoretically through urban comparison.

In this session I will present some reflections and challenges of trying to do comparativist research drawing mainly from two ongoing research projects/networks: one looking at the impact of the global financial crisis in 4 European cities and another a research network between Spanish, British and Latin-American universities looking at contestation in cities. The aim of the session is not to provide answers but to spark a discussion where we can think collectively how to best approach urban comparativism drawing from examples that I will present and that the audience will hopefully bring.

All are welcome.