Borderland: Identity and belonging at the edge of England

Date and time
Monday 20 May 2024, 6-7.30 pm UK time

Room 225, Central House, 14 Upper Woburn Place, Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, WC1H 0NN

Borderland: Identity and belonging at the edge of England

Please join us at our next event to mark the launch of Phil Hubbard’s latest book: Borderland: Identity and belonging at the edge of England. 

The event will include reflections on the book from the author and discussions by experts in the fields of cultural and historical geography, urban studies, and social anthropology. 

Book Description

Over recent years, the issues of Brexit, COVID and the ‘migrant crisis’ put Kent in the headlines like never before. Images of asylum seekers on Kent beaches, lorries queued on motorways and the crumbling white cliffs of Dover all spoke to national anxieties, and were used to support ideas that severing ties with the EU was the best – or worst – thing the UK has ever done.

In this coastal driftwork, Phil Hubbard – an exiled man of Kent – considers the past, present and future of this corner of England, alighting on a number of key sites which symbolise the changing relationship between the UK and its continental neighbours. Moving from the geopolitics of the Channel Tunnel to the cultivation of oysters at Whitstable, from Derek Jarman’s feted cottage at Dungeness to the art-fuelled gentrification of Margate, Borderland bridges geography, history, and archaeology, to pose important questions about the way that national identities emerge from contested local landscapes.

“A powerful, poignant and beautifully written journey through the frontier lands of Brexit Britain. This is travel writing with a purpose, charting an anxious and often hostile landscape with care and passion.” Alastair Bonnett, author of The Age of Islands: In Search of New and Disappearing Islands

About the Participants

Phil Hubbard is Professor of Urban Studies at King’s College London. He has published widely on questions of class, gentrification and the impacts of urban policy on socially marginalised populations. His books include Cities and Sexualities, The Battle for the High Street, and Key Ideas in Geography: City.

Matthew Gandy is Professor of Cultural and Historical Geography at the University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Kings College Cambridge. He is a cultural, urban, and environmental geographer with particular interests in landscapeinfrastructure, and more recently bio-diversity. His most recent book Natura Urbana: Ecological Constellations in Urban Space is winner of a 2023 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize awarded by the Foundation for Landscape Studies and UVA School of Architecture. He has also directed documentary films including the award-winning Natura Urbana: the Brachen of Berlin.

Yasminah Beebeejaun is a Professor of Urban Politics and Planning at the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London. Her work is concerned with feminist and anti-racist approaches to planning theory and practice. Her articles have been published in many journals including Environment and Planning C, Journal of Planning Education and Research, Planning Theory, Planning Theory and Practice, and Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. She is co-editor of The Journal of Race, Ethnicity and the City.

Farhan Samanani is a Lecturer in Social Justice in the School of Education, Communication and Society at King’s College London. His work explores how people build forms of connection, understanding and common cause across lines of meaningful difference, in the contemporary UK. He works closely and collaboratively with communities on issues ranging from racial justice, to accessible cities, to climate change, seeking to understand and support everyday efforts to build a better future. His most recent book is entitled How To Live With Each Other: An Anthropologist’s Notes on Sharing a Divided World. 

Natura Urbana: Ecological constellations in urban space – Matthew Gandy

Date and time
Tuesday 3rd May 2022
6-7.30 pm (British Summer Time)

via Zoom

Natura Urbana: Ecological Constellations in Urban Space by Matthew Gandy 


Matthew Gandy (University of Cambridge)

Harriet Bulkeley (Durham University)

Rivke Jaffe (University of Amsterdam)

Erik Swyngedouw (University of Manchester)


Phil Hubbard (King’s College, London)


Jenny Robinson (University College London)

Register here.

The Urban Salon is delighted to host the launch of Matthew Gandy’s new book, Natura Urbana: Ecological Constellations in Urban Space (MIT, 2022). Matthew draws together different strands of urban ecology as well as insights derived from feminist, posthuman, and postcolonial thought to explore the “other nature” that flourishes in marginal urban spaces, at one remove from the controlled contours of metropolitan nature. This is not the poor relation of rural flora and fauna. As he notes, these islands of biodiversity underline the porosity of the distinction between urban and rural, which he explores through close attention to diverse cultures of nature at a global scale.

Matthew Gandy (University of Cambridge) will present his new book which will be followed by a panel discussion and then a Q&A with the audience. 

Matthew Gandy is Professor of Cultural and Historical Geography at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Concrete and Clay and The Fabric of Space, both published by MIT Press.


Roundtable: Comparative Urbanism for Southeast Asia

Date and time
Tuesday 26th October 2021
12 pm (BST)


Roundtable: Comparative Urbanism for Southeast Asia


Emma Colven (University of Oklahoma; London School of Economics and Political Science)

Junjia Ye (Nanyang Technological University; ; London School of Economics and Political Science)

Shaun Sheng Kiat Teo (National University of Singapore)

Jeremie Molho (Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies)


Hyun Bang Shin (London School of Economics and Political Science)

The Urban Salon is delighted to host a roundtable discussion together with the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre (LSE SEAC) at the London School of Economics and Political Science on comparative urbanism in Southeast Asia. This event is also part of the Southeast Asia Forum organised by LSE SEAC.

The renewed and sustained interest of urban theorists in comparative methodologies has generated a wealth of comparative urban research over the past two decades. However, this scholarship remains dominated by research on African and European cities, with Southeast Asia cities not especially well represented. Bringing together scholars whose work engages with sites across Southeast Asia and beyond, this roundtable discussion is convened to reflect on the present state and future of comparative urban research, and the potential of comparative urbanism to enrich understandings of Southeast Asia. Two sets of questions will guide the discussion: (1) What kind of theory-building or testing does comparative research make possible? How do comparative methodologies generate insights into the particular and the general, the local and the global? (2) How do the panelists choose and conceptualize their research sites? Are some sites incommensurable? What kinds of connections or relationalities does comparative research elucidate?


Emma Colven (@EmmaColven) is Assistant Professor of Global Environment at the University of Oklahoma and SEAC visiting Fellow. Her research explores themes of socio-ecological change, environmental expertise, and environmental politics in cities of the global South.

Junjia Ye is is Assistant Professor in Human Geography at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and SEAC visiting Fellow. Her research interests lie at the intersections of cultural diversity, critical cosmopolitanism, class, gender studies and the political-economic development of urban Southeast Asia.

Shaun Sheng Kiat Teo (@ShaunSKTeo) is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography, National University of Singapore. He is interested in the development of comparative tactics for analytical and conceptual innovation in urban studies. Thematically, his work focuses on experimental urban projects and their underpinning state-society relations. His work seeks to contribute to furthering tactical innovation in comparative urbanism and to theorizing the state’s relevance for progressive urban transformation.

Jérémie Molho (@jeremiehmolho) is a Marie Curie Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies.

Hyun Bang Shin (@urbancommune) is Professor of Geography and Urban Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science and directs the LSE Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre. He is Editor of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, and is also a trustee of the Urban Studies Foundation.

Register here.

Images are collages of photographs from Hyun Bang Shin, featuring Bangkok, Hanoi, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City and Kuala Lumpur.


Informality and housing precarity: Urban perspectives across North-South

Date and time
Wednesday 16th June 2021
5pm (BST)


Informality and housing precarity: Urban perspectives across North-South


Julie-Anne Boudreau (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)

Francesco Chiodelli (Università degli Studi di Torino)

Alex Vasudevan (University of Oxford)


Matthew Gandy (University of Cambridge)

Dorothee Brantz (Technische Universität, Berlin)


Jennifer Robinson (University College London)

The Urban Salon is delighted to host a discussion together with the Center for Metropolitan Studies of the TU Berlin on of informality and housing precarity, on the occasion of the launch of a new book from Hanna Hilbrandt (University of Zurich). Inspired by concepts of informality which have been generated across the global South, the book develops new perspectives on practices of housing governance in Berlin through the twentieth century: normative judgements, room for manoeuvre and ongoing minor acts of negotiation add up to a way to mobilise the concept of informality as “routine enactments of rules and regulations”. The panelists will respond to Hanna’s detailed ethnography of the technically illegal use of allotment garden structures as dwellings in Berlin, both at times of housing crisis and on an ongoing basis.


Hanna Hilbrandt is assistant professor of social and cultural geography at the University of Zurich. Her research explores marginality and exclusion in housing and urban development as well as socio-spatial inequalities in the context of global economic restructuring.


Register here.



A dog’s life: canine geographies of the city

Date and time
Thursday, 29th April 2021

3-4.30 pm BST

Online event

A dog’s life: canine geographies of the city

Speakers: Stefano Bloch (University of Arizona), Rivke Jaffe (University of Amsterdam) and Krithika Srinivasan (University of Edinburgh)

Discussant: Matthew Gandy (Cambridge).

A free event open to all.

Register here.

In a time of pandemic, the place of dogs in the city is being discussed as never before as more and more people introduce them into their household as a source of companionship and security: at the same time, dogs appear increasingly central to many rituals of exercise and play central to community-making and neighbourliness.

Reflecting on these issues – and the boundaries drawn between wild and tame animals – Urban Salon (London) and the Urban Futures group, King’s College, present a discussion of the place of dogs in the contemporary city, addressing questions of canine agency, the way this is harnessed as labour, and the forms of violence enacted against dogs as they are divided into categories such as the dangerous stray, the working animal and the domestic pet.

Presentations will be followed by a Q&A.

More on the speakers and their presentations:

Canicide: How dogs fall victim to intrusive police practices

Stefano is a cultural geographer who conducts research on neighborhood change, gentrification, criminality/criminalization, policing, and identity with expertise in LA-based gangs, the history and theorization of graffiti as a socio-spatial practice, and the use of ethnographic and autoethnographic research methods.

Dogs and Danger: More-than-Human Sensing of Urban Insecurity

Rivke’s work connects geography, anthropology and cultural studies, her research focuses primarily on the spatialization and materialization of power, difference and inequality within cities. Her current work studies the role of security dogs in mediating urban inequalities in Jamaica.

The future of conservation with Indian street dogs

Krithika’s interests lie at the intersection of political ecology, post-development politics, animal studies, and nature geographies. Her work draws on research in South Asia to rethink globally established concepts and practices about nature-society relations and has involved empirical projects on street dogs and public health, biodiversity conservation, animal agriculture, and non-elite environmentalisms.




The post-covid city?

Date and time
Thursday 21st January 2021
17:00-18:30 (GMT)

Online event

The post-covid city?

In June 2020 Florida proclaimed – This Is Not the End of Cities – both the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement create opportunities to reshape cities in more equitable ways (…).

In this first Urban Salon since covid hit we consider the post-covid future of cities in London and beyond, critically evaluating Florida’s proclamation by zooming in on 3 themes – urban public space, tourism, and young people.

We have invited four speakers from across the academic and urban professional sector to respond to the Florida proclamations from their research expertise and share with us their thoughts and hopes for the future of cities.

Once you subscribe to the event a zoom link will be sent in advance on the day. Register here.


Dinah Bornat – Director at ZCD Architects – youth

Nuriah Benach– Lecturer, Geography at Barcelona University

Eleanor Warwick – Head of Strategic Policy & Research at Clarion Housing Group

Paola Jiron – University of Chile, the Housing Institute

Wilbard KombeUniversity of Dar es Salaam



Monica Degen – Brunel University London

Loretta Lees – University of Leicester


Urban green space: reflections on ecological design

Date and time
Tuesday 18th February 2020


Bartlett School of Planning UCL
 Room G01 – Central House
14 Upper Woburn Place
London WC1H 0N

Urban green space: reflections on ecological design 


Matthew Gandy (University of Cambridge)

Ingo Kowarik (TU Berlin)

Bianca Maria Rinaldi (Politecnico di Torino)

Henriette Steiner (University of Copenhagen)

In recent years many European cities have developed innovative park designs that combine environmental objectives such as healthier air, cooler microclimates, and the enhancement of biodiversity with novel approaches to the creation of public space. In this panel event with some of Europe’s leading experts on urban nature we explore some of the latest developments and challenges for enhancing urban nature in contemporary landscape design.

Open and free for all, no need to RSVP.

Natura Urbana: The Brachen of Berlin

Date and time
25th November 2017

11.00-12.30 p.m.

The Archivist, Unit V Reliance Wharf, 2-10 Hertford Road, London, N1 5ET
(find on Google Maps)

Natura Urbana: The Brachen of Berlin

UK premiere of Natura Urbana: The Brachen of Berlin (72 mins), directed by Matthew Gandy, at the London International Documentary Festival (LIDF)

In Natura Urbana the changing vegetation of Berlin serves as a parallel history to war-time destruction, geo-political division, and the newest phase of urban transformation. Natura Urbana takes us on a unique journey through Berlin ranging from the botanical microcosm of cracked paving stones to elaborate attempts to map the entire city in terms of its distinctive ecological zones.

Tickets can be purchased from the LIDF website from 15th:

Watch the trailer on the film’s website.


Urban Geopolitics book launch: Rethinking Planning

Date and time
20 November 2017

6-8pm (GMT)

UCL Roberts Building G08 Sir David Davies LT, Torrington Place, London WC1E 7JE
(find on UCL Maps)

Urban Geopolitics book launch: Rethinking Planning in Contested Cities

Urban Salon hosts the book launch of Urban Geopolitics: Rethinking Planning in Contested Cities (Routledge, 2018) edited by Jonathan Rokem and Camillo Boano.

Moving away from loosely defined urban theories and contexts, this book argues it is time to start learning from and compare across different “contested cities”. It questions the long-standing Euro-centric academic knowledge production that is prevalent in urban studies and planning research. Urban Geopolitics: Rethinking Planning in Contested Cities brings together a diverse range of international case studies from Latin America, South and South East Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East to offer an in-depth understanding of the worldwide contested nature of cities in a wide range of local contexts. It suggests an urban ontology that moves beyond the urban “West” and “North” as well as adding a comparative-relational understanding of the contested nature that “Southern” cities are developing.

In this event the editors and some of the chapter authors will present the books overarching themes and engage with selected cities.


18.00 Welcome and introduction


Jonathan Rokem (UCL Geography) and Camillo Boano (The Bartlett Development Planning Unit / UCL Urban Laboratory)


18.15 Book chapter presentations


Sadaf Sultan Khan, Kayvan Karimi and Laura Vaughan (UCL)

The tale of ethno-political and spatial claims in a contested city: the Muhajir community in Karachi


Pawda F Tjoa (Cambridge)

The Embodiment of the Ideology of “Development” in the Practice of Marketplace Coordination in Jakarta


Moriel Ram (SOAS)
The Camp vs the Campus: Revisiting the contested landscapes of an urban Mediterranean encampment in Famagusta, Northern Cyprus

Catalina Ortiz and Camillo Boano (UCL)

The Medellín’s Shifting Geopolitics of Informality: The Encircled Garden as a Dispositive of Civil Disenfranchisement?

19.00 Discussants

Matthew Gandy (Cambridge) 
Sara Fregonese (Birmingham)
Sobia Ahmad Kaker (Goldsmiths)

Followed by a Q&A with the audience and a drinks reception.

The event is hosted in collaboration with UCL Urban Laboratory and The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL.

No booking required.

Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle

Date and time
11th November 2017

6.30-9.00pm (GMT)

Cambridge House, 1 Addington Square, London SE5 0HF
(find on Google Maps)

Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle

Urban Salon are supporting the screening of the film Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle as a fundraiser for the Aylesbury leaseholders legal expenses for the upcoming public inquiry on compulsory purchase.

Speakers include Beverley Robinson (Aylesbury Leaseholders Action Group), Anna Minton (author, journalist and lecturer), Loretta Lees (urbanist and expert on gentrification, University of Leicester; co-organiser, Urban Salon), Uzoamaka Okafor (Chair, Regenter Myatts Field North Community), Jerry Flynn (35% Campaign), Gerlinda Gniewosz (Cressingham Gardens)Paul Sng (Director), Luke Doonan (Executive Producer).

All donation proceeds go to the Aylesbury Leaseholders legal expenses fund set up by the 35% Campaign. You can directly support the campaign on its GoFundMe page.