Informality and housing precarity: Urban perspectives across North-South

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

Location
Online

Informality and housing precarity: Urban perspectives across North-South

Panelists

Julie-Anne Boudreau (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)

Francesco Chiodelli (Università degli Studi di Torino)

Alex Vasudevan (University of Oxford)

Discussants

Matthew Gandy (University of Cambridge)

Dorothee Brantz (Technische Universität, Berlin)

Chair

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

Location
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.

 

 

 

London National Park City: a panel discussion

Date and time
Monday 15th March 2021
17.00 to 18.30

Location
Online event

London National Park City: a panel discussion


Participants

  • Cara Clancy (University of Plymouth)
  • Matthew Gandy (University of Cambridge)
  • Daniel Raven-Ellison (Guerrilla Geographer and National Park City campaigner)
  • Meredith Whitten (London School of Economics)
  • Judy Ling Wong (Black Environment Network and National Park City Foundation)

 

Theorising urban studies on/from China/Asia

Date and time
25 February 2021
2-3.30 PM GMT

Location
Online event

Theorising urban studies on/from China/Asia

Speakers
Julie Ren (University of Zurich) and Yimin Zhao (Renmin University of China)

Discussants
Jennifer Robinson (UCL) and Hyun Bang Shin (LSE)

Co-organisers
Hyun Bang Shin (LSE) and Matthew Gandy (Cambridge)

Registration
The event is free to attend but pre-registration is required.

Register now


 

One of the major on-going debates and challenges in critical urban scholarship is related to the call for de-centring knowledge production, especially the emphasis on the need of ‘theorising’ from outside the Global North. What can we learn from this endeavour to re-assert the importance of southern cities, and are there any limitations in our existing practices? Does the focus on a select number of southern cities result in replicating the extant shortfalls of urban studies from the Global North? In this Urban Salon event, we consider these questions by inviting contributions from scholars who have engaged with urban China studies situated in larger debates on Asian urbanism.

 

Exceptionalism and theorising from Urban China

Julie Ren

A review of segregation research on Chinese cities presents several intertwined findings: Chinese cities are framed in terms of their difference, mostly in contrast to Euro-American cities. In translating the findings, the research often resorts to a methodological nationalism, which contextualises Chinese cities in terms of their “Chinese-ness,” a reductionist heuristic that elides the diversity of these cities and renders residential segregation incommensurate with the experience of cities elsewhere. The effect of this is to limit the potential of this research to contribute to a “more global urban studies,” by inscribing a kind of exceptionalism into Chinese cities. 

 

Towards a translational turn in urban studies

Yimin Zhao

Engaging with reflections on improper urban vocabularies, this talk wants to introduce a “translational turn” to foreground dialogues—rather than equivalences—between languages. To better capture global urban experiences, we should recognise the role of translation that exposes us to strangeness and alterity. Drawing on hermeneutics and the philosophy of language, I suggest “the fusion of horizons” could become a new perspective to redefine translation where different languages encounter each other. This point is elaborated with heterogeneous names of the urban frontier, which inform us how and how far appropriating gaps/distances can initiate creative and unexpected dialogues for more global urban studies.

 

Short bio

Julie Ren is a Senior Scientist at the Department of Geography, University of Zurich. Formerly a Fulbright Fellow, she also held postdoctoral fellowships at the City University of Hong Kong and the London School of Economics. Her research considers the potential of comparative urban research for redressing existing modes of urban theorization. Currently, she is researching the contemporary art biennial in Dakar and Taipei to explore questions of cultural representation, public space, and la ville événementielle. Her most recent book is Engaging Comparative Urbanism: Art Spaces in Beijing and Berlin (Bristol University Press, 2020).

Yimin Zhao is an Assistant Professor in Urban Planning and Management at Renmin University of China. Trained as a human geographer, his research has been associating with the theme of space and politics in the urban change. After completing previous investigations on Beijing’s green belts and Jiehebu, his current research develops along two lines of inquiry, one focusing on the infrastructural lives of authoritarianism in Beijing, and the other looking into the urban mechanisms of “Global China.”

The post-covid city?

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

Location
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 (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-06-19/cities-will-survive-p…).

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.


Speakers

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

 

Chairs

Monica Degen – Brunel University London

Loretta Lees – University of Leicester

 

Glissant and Black Urbanism

Date and time
Thursday 27 February 2020
17.00 – 18.30

Location
Centre Building Room CBG.1.06
London School of Economics and Political Science
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE

Glissant and Black Urbanism

Speaker
Garth A. Myers, Trinity College Hartford CT USA

Discussant(s)
Jennifer Robinson, UCL

Chair
Hyun Bang Shin, LSE


The poems, essays and novels of the late Edouard Glissant rely on both a keen spatiality and a postcolonial sense of relationality. Glissant’s work is often difficult to decipher or contradictory, and engagement with his work in geography is still rare – albeit increasing in works tied to the study of Black Geographies and Black urbanism. I see many opportunities for urban geographers to engage with his thinking productively. Over his long career, he created what Nesbitt (2013: 239) called the ‘single most developed and philosophically sophisticated body of work in the tradition of Caribbean critique’. In this talk, I examine how Glissant’s take on transversality, submarine relationality, planetarization and his own notions of the ‘whole-world’, ‘creolization,’ ‘archipelagic thought,’ and the importance of landscape can create new visions for rethinking urbanism from the global South. The talk is built from my forthcoming book, Rethinking Urbanism: Lessons from Postcolonialism and the Global South (June 2020, Bristol University Press), which relies on Glissant in significant ways.

Speaker Bio

Garth A. Myers, associated with the Center for Urban and Global Studies, is the Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Urban International Studies. Garth Myers earned a Ph.D. in Geography (1993) from UCLA with an allied field in Urban Planning. Myers has an M.A. (UCLA, 1986) in African Area Studies, with Geography and Urban Planning as the major and minor fields, and a BA with Honors in History from Bowdoin College, with concentrations in African and African-American History. He has taught at the University of Kansas, University of Nebraska-Omaha, Miami University (Ohio), California State University at Dominguez Hills, and UCLA. Myers is comfortable with large lecture classes and small seminars. His teaching philosophy rests on a belief in student engagement; the best learning takes place in engaged classrooms, where the professor facilitates student discussion and debate. Myers has conducted research in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa, Finland, and the UK over the past 20 years, and he regularly uses his research to inform his teaching.

Living Through Uncertain Times

Date and time
Wednesday 19 February 2020
17.30 – 19.30

Location
Queen Mary University of London
 2.22 Graduate Centre
Mile End Campus
London E1 4DH

Living Through Uncertain Times

Speakers
Michele Lancione (University of Sheffield), Constance Smith (University of Manchester)

RSVP on Eventbrite


Across the world, cities are facing crisis on multiple fronts, putting the conditions for everyday life under tremendous pressure. Urban inhabitants are forced to recon with abstract processes of change in part by establishing informal networks of care and social infrastructures of support. Exploring the emergence of such improvisatory practices, networks, collectives and gatherings, this seminar asks: How can critical urban scholarship develop more rigorous approaches to conceptualise, question and contribute to improving the conditions for urban life to flourish in times of uncertainty?

The Urban Salon with The QMUL City Centre invites Michele Lancione (University of Sheffield) and Constance Smith (Social Anthropology, University of Manchester) to address these topics. Following their talks, there will be an open discussion on the theme of living through uncertain times.

 

More about the speakers:

Michele Lancione is an urban ethnographer and activist interested in issues of marginality, diversity, and radical politics. His most recent writing has focused on homelessness, racialised displacement and underground life in Bucharest, Romania. Michele is member of the Common Front for the Right to Housing (FCDL), and corecipient of two Antipode Awards. He is also one of the founders and Editors of the open-source Radical Housing Journal (RHJ), an Editor of City, and Corresponding Editor for Europe at IJURR. He is based at the Urban Institute, University of Sheffield (UK), where he is commencing work on a 5-year European Research Council funded program on ‘Radical Housing’.

Michael’s talk will be: Recentering the politics of home. Notes from within and from below

Constance Smith is a UKRI Future Leader Fellow in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester, where her research focuses on the anthropology of architecture, time and urban change. Exploring shifting landscapes of buildings, planning and infrastructure, her work examines how urban materialities influence temporal engagements. She holds a PhD from UCL and an MA from Columbia University.

Connie’s talk will be: Nairobi in the making: precarious architecture, ‘world-class’ futures and urban belonging

Urban green space: reflections on ecological design

Date and time
18 February 2020
6 – 7.30 pm

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

Urban green space: reflections on ecological design

Speakers
Matthew Gandy (University of Cambridge – panel chair), Ingo Kowarik (TU Berlin), Bianca Maria Rinaldi (Politecnico di Torino) and Henriette Steiner (University of Copenhagen)

Registration
Open and free for all, no need to RSVP.


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.

Urban green space: reflections on ecological design

Date and time
Tuesday 18th February 2020
18.00-19.30

Location

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

Urban green space: reflections on ecological design 

Panel

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.

Butterflies, Moths, and Urban Bio-diversity

Date and time
Sunday, 30 June 2019
11:00 – 12:00

Location
Abney Park
215 Stoke Newington High Street
London N16 0LH

Butterflies, Moths, and Urban Bio-diversity

Free, suggested £5 donation welcome
Meet at the main gates,
Stoke Newington High St


Geographer, urban ecologist and Urban Salon member Prof Matthew Gandy will lead a walk through one of London’s most interesting biodiversity hotspots, focusing in particular on butterflies, moths, and other insects.