Planetary Gentrification

Date and time
16 March 2016
5.30-8 PM GMT

Room PAR.LG.03, Parish Building, LSE (see LSE Maps)

Book launch: Planetary Gentrification

To celebrate the launch of a new book Planetary Gentrification (2016, Polity Press) by Loretta Lees, Hyun Bang Shin and Ernesto Lopez-Morales, join us on the evening of Wednesday 16 March for a special launch event at LSE.

Please register on Eventbrite before 29th February (or until places are filled).

Authors: Loretta Lees (University of Leicester), Hyun Bang Shin (LSE) and Ernesto Lopez-Morales (University of Chile, Santiago)

Discussants: Fulong Wu (UCL), Andrew Harris (UCL) and Alex Loftus (KCL)

Supported by:
Department of Geography and Environment, LSE;
Department of Geography, University of Leicester;
CITY: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action

Book description
This is the first book in Polity’s new ‘Urban Futures’ series.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, proclamations rang out that gentrification had gone global. But what do we mean by ‘gentrification’ today? How can we compare ‘gentrification’ in New York and London with that in Shanghai, Johannesburg, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro? This book argues that gentrification is one of the most significant and socially unjust processes affecting cities worldwide today, and one that demands renewed critical assessment.

Drawing on the ‘new’ comparative urbanism and writings on planetary urbanization, the authors undertake a much-needed transurban analysis underpinned by a critical political economy approach. Looking beyond the usual gentrification suspects in Europe and North America to non-Western cases, from slum gentrification to mega-displacement, they show that gentrification has unfolded at a planetary scale, but it has not assumed a North to South or West to East trajectory the story is much more complex than that.

Rich with empirical detail, yet wide-ranging, Planetary Gentrification unhinges, unsettles and provincializes Western notions of urban development. It will be invaluable to students and scholars interested in the future of cities and the production of a truly global urban studies, and equally importantly to all those committed to social justice in cities.

Differentiated Mobilities in Contested Cities: Towards Comparative Approaches

Date and time
2 February 2016
1.30-6 PM GMT

IAS Common Ground, South Wing, Wilkins Building, UCL, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT (see UCL Maps

Differentiated Mobilities in Contested Cities: Towards Comparative Approaches

In this workshop, we aim to explore urban contestation in various cities throughthe lens of mobility, and to work towards creating comparative frameworks to study mobilities in contested cities.

Contemporary cities are well understood as places of difference, diversity, and encounter. Whether this difference is a creative force or a potentially destabilizing force is a topic for further discussion. Here, we are concerned with understanding how urban mobilities are structured and experienced in contested cities.

In particular, we are interested in inviting discussion on the ways in which urban difference is made apparent and potentially transformed through patterns of mobility and urban circulations. We would like to explore how governmental policies or planning outcomes that affect patterns of mobility cause further fractures and perpetuate difference in the city but also to reflect on what new kinds of social interactions might emerge. And finally, we will consider how we can compare differentiated mobilities across contested cities, and what lessons we can draw from such comparisons.


Draft programme structure:

13:45: Welcome: Jennifer Robinson (UCL)
13.50: Introduction: Jonathan Rokem (UCL) & Sobia Ahmad Kaker (LSE)
14:00: Session I: What can we learn from mobilities in different contested cities.

Sobia Ahmad Kaker (LSE) – Securitizing Circulation: Porous Borders and Fluid Enclaves in Karachi
Suzanne Hall (LSE) – Elaborating Migration: the co-production ofurban diversity and discrimination

15.00 Coffee Break
15:30 – Session II: Towards comparative approaches.

Jonathan Rokem (UCL) – Contested Mobilities: Learning from Urban Difference in Jerusalem and Stockholm.
Jorge Blanco (University of Buenos Aires) – Uneven Mobilities in Contested Cities: Latin American Cases in Comparative Perspective

16.30: Responses from invited respondents/ Discussion (chaired by Jennifer Robinson) with Laura Vaughan (UCL); Camillo Boano (UCL); Stephan Graham (Newcastle)

17.25: Close and drinks

The Engineer and the Plumber: Mediating Mumbai’s conflicting infrastructural imaginaries

Date and time
20 January 2016

6 PM

UCL Pearson Building, Exhibition Room GO07, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

The Engineer and the Plumber: Mediating Mumbai’s conflicting infrastructural imaginaries


Dr Lisa Björkman (Department of Urban and Public Affairs, University of Louisville)


Professor Andrew Barry (UCL Geography)

Two decades ago, the rules governing the provision of piped municipal water supply in the Indian city of Mumbai underwent a dramatic shift, whereby access to water became linked to the policy frameworks governing eligibility for a property titling scheme – what the paper characterizes as “hypothetical property right”.

The paper outlines the ideological basis and practical implications of the profound policy shift, as well as the material, legal and political contradictions of this new regulatory regime. Focusing empirical attention on a neighborhood in Mumbai’s eastern suburbs, the paper demonstrates how these contradictions are increasingly mediated by the material and practical knowledge, embodied expertise, local authority and wide-ranging sociopolitical relations of an intermediate cast of characters known locally as “plumbers”. The social, political and hydraulic imaginaries animating the work of “plumbing” are shown to inhabit a temporal and spatial imaginary distinctly at odds with a network-flow paradigm within which the work of water supply planning and distribution in Mumbai is conceptualized, materialized and institutionalized. The hydraulic and legal contradictions of these clashing infrastructural idioms – of flow and event – have rendered the hypothetical property-right based water infrastructural regime highly unstable. 

The paper follows these spiraling contradictions, tracing how the instability eventually erupted in Mumbai’s waterscape. With the hypothetical property right based water policy framework delegitimized and effectively unmade, the city’s water infrastructures (their planning and operations) remain caught between dueling infrastructural imaginaries – suspended in a highly politicized state of limbo.

No booking required. See UCL Maps for directions to the location.

Learning from China and Questioning China Exceptionalism: An interdisciplinary debate

Date and time
Wednesday 20th May 2015
2.30-6 pm (GMT+1)

Room 32L.LG.04, 32 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London School of Economics and Political Science (Maps and Directions)

Learning from China and Questioning China Exceptionalism: An interdisciplinary debate

The next Urban Salon seminar is going to take place at the LSE as a half-day workshop to provide a space for a unique opportunity to listen to academics working in various disciplines, who are to reflect on their own research and share their thoughts on how studying China has added value to each disciplinary understanding.

Closing date to register: 15th MayRegister to attend.

Professor Michael Keith, ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, University of Oxford

Professor Fulong Wu, Bartlett School of Planning, University College London

Dr Kean Fan Lim, School of Geography, University of Nottingham

Dr Leigh Jenco, Department of Government, London School of Economics and Political Science

Hyun Bang Shin, LSE

Exceptionalism and urbanism: China’s cities, the genealogy of markets and thinking about a comparative urbanism

Michael Keith, University of Oxford

In this talk Michael Keith draws on the work from his collaborative book China Constructing Capitalism to consider how we might make sense of what is sometimes described as the exceptionalism of China’s growth model.  He will focus in particular on how we come to think of the historical relationship between law and economics in the genealogy of markets in shaping the crucible of contemporary urbanisms. The suggestion is that this focus opens up alternative ways of thinking about comparative urbanism in contemporary study of the metropolis.


China�s Changing City Planning: Planning for Growth

Fulong Wu, Bartlett School of Planning, Univeristy College London

This paper will review changing city-planning practices in China. The discussion will contrast the effort of developing a new civic center in Shanghai in the era of Republic China, the programs of developing industrial workers’ villages in the socialist period, and the recent planning and development of new towns and eco-cities. The role of city planning in delivery of entrepreneurial urban governance is discussed. At the national and regional levels the instrument of planning is utilized to achieve a more coordinated development. The changing role of city planning is examined, especially with reference to forming the discourse of growth, which legitimizes the state control over urban development. The study helps to explain the puzzle why planning has not diminished along with the demise of the socialist economy. The study also reflects on the notion of neoliberalism and asks to what extent China’s urban development conforms to the paradigm of the neoliberal city.


On the Conceptual Implications of State-driven Infrastructural provision in the Chongqing city-region

Kean Fan Lim, School of Geography, University of Nottingham

This presentation discusses the implications of the state-driven infrastructural overhaul of Chongqing, a major city-region in interior China, for current conceptualizations of “Chinese exceptionalism”. It shows how this overhaul, widely construed to be antithetical to market-driven industrialization at the national level, was in fact an outcome of national spatial strategies that favored selective marketization along the Chinese coastal seaboard. Specifically, the lack of private capitalistic interests in driving infrastructural development in Chongqing impelled the municipal government to undertake the financial risks of infrastructural construction across eight major domains. Subsequent industrialization in the mid-2000s occurred as improved facilities enabled time-space compression, in turn vindicating and perpetuating state involvement in infrastructural provision. This phenomenon offers a double complication of the developmental story in post-Mao China. First, extensive state involvement in inland urban economies like Chongqing is neither a simple residue nor a potential resurgence of Maoist economic governance; it is ironically a reaction to the geographically-targeted, “first wave” marketization pathway of the post-Maoera. Second, state construction and management of infrastructural amenities is not inherently anti-market; on the contrary, it now drives a new wave of market-oriented industrialization across cities in interior China. By extension, the Chongqing case underscores how the economic history of post-Mao China is neither linear nor exceptional to the entire country; it is more accurately framed as a dynamic – and hence inherently capricious – interaction of inherited institutions, selective economic liberalization and state spatial strategies.


Toward the Creative Engagement with Chinese Thought

Leigh Jenco, Department of Government, London School of Economics and Political Science

This presentation will be based on the introduction to my book forthcoming in September from Oxford University Press, titled Changing Referents [??]: Learning Across Space and Time in China and the West. The book examines the theoretical possibilities opened by a series of Chinese debates, dating from the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, in which awareness of Chinese ethnocentrism as well as methods of learning from difference were subject to heightened (some would say unprecedented) scrutiny.  These Chinese thinkers personally confronted the historical processes that supposedly culminated in the displacement of “pre-colonial,” “indigenous,” or “traditional” modes of thought by the terms of supposedly universal Enlightenment modernity.  In contrast to typical readings, I argue that their conversations actually enable more constructive assessments of how and why we might want to learn from foreign others – an important lesson in our own age, when globalization forces us to confront very similar questions and when methodological discussions about engaging “otherness”  themselves remain Eurocentric. In this paper I focus primarily on how Chinese thought can be used “creatively” in this way despite pronouncements of its modern “death” by Joseph Levenson and others.

An anatomy of resistance: the popular committees of the World Cup in Brazil

Date and time
Monday 23 March 2015
5-7 pm (GMT)

Graham Wallace Room, 5th Floor, Old Building, LSE (See Maps and Directions)

An anatomy of resistance: the popular committees of the World Cup in Brazil

Christopher Gaffney (University of Zurich)

This talk will explore the formation, composition and political actions of the Comitês Populares da Copa (CPC), Popular Committees of the World Cup, that formed in twelve Brazilian cities in anticipation of the 2014 World Cup. The CPC was the largest network of resistance movements ever assembled for a sports mega-event and contributed to the discourse of resistance and radical street actions that marked the 2013 FIFA Confederations’ Cup. Each of the twelve nuclei was independent of the others but communicated and coordinated through an umbrella organisation called the Articulção Nacional dos Comitês Populares da Copa (ANCoP), National Articulation of Popular Committees for the World Cup.


Hyun Shin (LSE)

Beyond incommensurability, methodological regionalism and the Global North/South divide: the challenges of thinking Naples as an ordinary city

Date and time
Thursday 5th March 2015
6-8 pm (GMT)

Exhibition Room, G07 Pearson Building, Gower Street, University College London (see

Beyond incommensurability, methodological regionalism and the Global North/South divide: the challenges of thinking Naples as an ordinary city

Nick Dines (Middlesex University)

For centuries Naples has been been viewed by foreigners, Italians and Neapolitans themselves to be something of an urban exception. Especially since Italian Unification, the city has been persistently diagnosed as a backward and undeveloped metropolis that lacks the accoutrements of urban modernity and civility. The image of an aberrant city has not always been seen in a negative light: Walter Benjamin and Asja Lacis, for example, identified in Naples a primordial and ‘porous’ urbanism that offered a seductive alternative to the northern European urban life.

The city thus provides a fascinating case for thinking about comparative urbanism and, I would argue, for interrogating assumptions about the ‘place’ of postcoloniality and Eurocentrism in urban-theory debates. My presentation will consider different approaches that have either directly engaged with or might be applied to address Naples’s particularities: from anthropological research on the city and revisionist histories of the Italian Mezzogiorno to Greek geographer Lila Leontidou’s broader proposal for a ‘Southern (European) urban theory’. While these approaches all take issue with orthodox representations of the city, at the same time they tend to reinforce local and regional perspectives that ultimately limit the contribution that this nominally Western city can play in the project of postcolonializing urban studies. I want to suggest that the idea of ‘ordinary city’ offers a possible route out of this impasse: it renders Naples more conducive to intra-city comparison but also alerts us to its own internal ethnocentrisms and conflicts. In order to demonstrate the urgency for such a shift in perspective, the second part of my presentation will trace the global media’s misrepresentation of the city’s recent rubbish crisis as the unrepeatable consequences of organized crime and toxic waste dumping. Insisting upon Naples and its trash as ordinary not only works to repoliticize the breakdown of waste governance and offer lessons for elsewhere, it also raises interesting implications for imagining a cosmopolitan urban theory beyond the Global North-South divide.

Book launch: Urban Revolution Now

Date and time
Thursday 24 February 2015
6.30-8.30 pm (GMT)

Room 108 and G07, Pearson Building, University College London, WC1E 6BT (

Book launch: Urban Revolution Now

To celebrate the new book, Urban Revolution Now: Henri Lefebvre in Urban Research and Architecture (Edited by Łukasz Stanek, Christian Schmid, and Ákos Moravánszky):

A panel debate on the possibilities and challenges of applying Lefebvre’s theory in international urban research and practice.

Lefebvre’s concepts and theoretical reflections have become widely known in the last decades. However, working with these concepts in many different contexts poses serious challenges; and in any case taking Lefebvre as a starting point for research and action is an endeavor and an adventure, an expedition into unknown fields. How can we make use of and move beyond Lefebvre’s insights today? Can we apply his concepts fruitfully in research and action in urban situations across the globe? On the occasion of the book launch of Urban Revolution Now: Henri Lefebvre in Urban Research and Architecture we will have an opportunity to debate these questions with two of the editors, and three London urban scholars.


Christian Schmid (ETH Zurich)

Łukasz Stanek (Manchester)

Camillo Boano (UCL)

David Madden (LSE)

Louis Moreno (UCL and Goldsmiths)



Jenny Robinson (UCL)

Please join us for celebratory drinks from 6.30pm in UCL’s Pearson Building, Room 108 (MacII), and a panel debate from 7pm in the Exhibition Room, G07, Pearson Building.

Re-gentrification and Urban Core Revival of Tokyo: A Survey of Chuo Ward and Condominium Residents

Date and time
Thursday 19 February 2015
5-7 pm (GMT)

Room EAS.E168, 1st Floor, East Building, LSE (See Maps and Directions)

Re-gentrification and Urban Core Revival of Tokyo: A Survey of Chuo Ward and Condominium Residents

Asato Saito, Professor of Urban Policy, Yokohama National University

Abstract: Since the late 1990s Japanese major cities have witnessed a shift from decline to growth of their population in urban core area. Chuo Ward in Tokyo experienced a particularly dramatic increase in its population. This study tries to examine its impact and implications upon the local communities from two perspectives. Firstly, the analysis of census data reveals that the growth was mainly caused by relatively young adults aged between late 20s to 40s who live in newly built high-rise condominiums and working as urban professionals. This contrast with the previous round of urban development in the late 1980s when many residents were forced to leave the community by the invasion of office spaces. Secondly, a questionnaire survey conducted with the condominium residents shows that their social class is significantly higher than the surrounding area, in terms of the level of income, occupation, and educational attainment. They seem to have a distinguished characteristics in consumption behavior, social and political consciousness, and the formation of human networks. The study discusses if a new round of gentrification is happening in the urban core of Tokyo, and, if so, what is the social and political implications.

Discussant: Antoine Paccoud (LSE)

Book launch: The Fabric of Space: Water, Modernity, and the Urban Imagination

Date and time
Thursday 29 January 2015
6.30-9 pm (GMT)

Wilkins Haldane Room, Gower Street, University College London, London WC1E 6BT (

Book launch: The Fabric of Space: Water, Modernity, and the Urban Imagination

The Fabric of Space: Water, Modernity, and the Urban Imagination (MIT Press, 2014) considers the cultural and material significance of water through the experiences of six cities: Paris, Berlin, Lagos, Mumbai, Los Angeles, and London. Tracing the evolving relationships among modernity, nature, and the urban imagination, from different vantage points and through different periods.

To celebrate the launch of Matthew Gandy’s new book, join us on the evening of Thursday 29 January for a special launch event in the Wilkins Haldane Room of UCL.

Matthew Gandy is the founder of the Urban Salon, a Professor of Geography at University College London and former director of UCL Urban Laboratory (2005 – 2011). Until the summer of 2015 he will be a Senior Research Fellow of the Gerda Henkel Foundation at the University of the Arts, Berlin. His last publication was the co-edited collection The Acoustic City (Jovis, 2014), launched in London as part of UCL Urban Laboratory’s irregular live music evening Stadtklang. The book will be available to purchase at the launch.

Contact: Jordan Rowe; 

The challenge of comparative urbanism: what is lost in translation when looking at gentrifying neighbourhoods in Rome and Brooklyn, NYC

Date and time
Monday 19th January 2015
6 pm (GMT)

Exhibition Room, PBG07, Pearson Building, UCL, Gower Street (

The challenge of comparative urbanism: what is lost in translation when looking at gentrifying neighbourhoods in Rome and Brooklyn, NYC

Sandra Annuziata

Interest in better understanding the phenomenon of gentrification has increased in Italy more recently. However, gentrification needs to be better contextualized in order to fully understand the way in which the process is shaping Italian cities and its socio spatial effects. This talk will explore the transnational journey of ideas and concepts between Italy, Rome, and Brooklyn, New York City, as I move towards my goal of framing gentrification in the Italian context. I argue that what is lost in comparison is crucial in order to see gentrification from a Southern European perspective, one that links it with the privatization of public housing, valorisation and regeneration processes, and ethnicity. One of the most interesting characteristics of the city of Rome is its complex social stratification and the relationships that different social classes have nurtured within urban space.  Space and sociability cannot be separated in many Roman neighbourhoods. Social diversity has been one of the richest resources of the so called popular neighbourhood. 

Focusing on the notion of popular, namely traditionally working class, helps us to mobilize the Gramscian notions of subalternity and hegemony, as well as the desire for a particular type of urbanity, as a property of social relationships based on difference, diversity, and tolerance. Rome’s popular neighbourhoods are rooted in the history of that city and gentrification emerged in Italy as a complementary and necessary evil of modernity, inseparable from heritage and the rehabilitation of historic city centres, later on called regeneration. Gentrification in Rome was/is not very political, as such comparing it with the social preservation and anti-eviction-based communities groups in Brooklyn enabled me to see gentrification in Rome from a critical perspective related to land exploitation and the private property paradigm. Indeed, the popular notion of urbanity is being both evicted and exploited in Rome. Even though popular neighbourhoods in Rome do not exist anymore because of the loss of working class populations, they still exist in circulating ideas and imaginations about a desired urbanity. The ideal of ‘lively working class neighbourhoods’ remains very strong in collective representations in Rome, and although destroyed the ideal has re-emerged in the re-calling of specific forms of urbanity based on sociability and urban solidarity typical of the working classes. This paradox means the (re)production of a partial idea of urbanity, shorn from its context, deprived from its social components (the working classes) and based on the exploitation of otherness.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Sandra Annuziata is working with Professor Loretta Lees (co-organiser of the Urban Salon) at Leicester on a 24 month EU project titled AGAPE – exploring and improving our knowledge of anti-gentrification knowledges and practices in three Southern European cities – Rome, Madrid and Athens. She is also a visitor-critic on Cornell University’s Rome program, where she teaches on European cities. She is the founder of the independent, not for profit research group

Sandra was awarded her PhD from the Department of Urban Studies, Faculty of Architecture, Roma Tre University, titledA Neighbourhood Called Desire: Neighbourhood transition in two case studies in Rome and Brooklyn won the Giovanni Ferraro National Award for PhDs in 2010. The key results of her PhD were presented at the International Forum of Urbanism in Delft, Holland, 2009, where she received the Best Paper Award. She has an MA Laurea in Architecture and Urbanism (2004) from University of Venice.