Urbanisation, Planning and Development

Seminar Series

These research seminars are a series of expert-led discussions. Unless otherwise noted, the seminars take place at LSE on Tuesdays, 4:30pm-6pm in Clement House, room CLM 3.04. The seminars are open to all.

ShanghaiLondonDhakaMumba by J.Abichandani, 2008

2017 Lent Term

'Urban Crises'

Coordinated by Dr Romola Sanyal and Dr Austin Zeiderman

In 1979, Stuart Hall argued that crises are historically formative. Yet the new historical formations they generate, Hall insisted, “do not ‘emerge’: they have to be constructed. Political and ideological work is required to disarticulate old formations, and to rework their elements into new configurations” (1979:15). Almost forty years later, we might say that crisis is now one of the dominant refrains of contemporary urbanism, broadly conceived. The internal contradictions of capitalist urbanization produce crises that relentlessly reconfigure the built environment, political institutions, social relations, and subjective dispositions alike. Ecological changes on a planetary scale render bodies and landscapes increasingly vulnerable to crisis. Violent upheavals throw certain regions into a permanent state of crisis. The power to frame the present as crisis forecloses certain futures while enabling others. Ideologies, interventions, and investments are justified by potential crises looming on the horizon. Crises produce affective states of fear, anxiety, exhaustion, and despair, but they can also spark the collective imagination and fuel outbursts of political mobilization. Categories such as the “urban” or the “public” are themselves in crisis as stable analytics that can guide theory and practice. How did this come about and what are the key elements of the crises reverberating throughout the contemporary urban world?

To diagnose this historical conjuncture, we invite empirically grounded and theoretically engaged reflections on crisis and its social, spatial, and political implications.

January 10: Steve Graham (School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University)

“Life support: For a political economy of urban air”

January 17: Cassidy Johnson (Bartlett Development Planning Unit, University College London) “Perceptions of risk and crises and their influence on urbanisation and disaster management”

January 24: Melissa Fernández Arrigoitia (Sociology, Lancaster University)
“Housing with, through and against Crisis: Between Production and Destruction of Homes in San Juan, Rio de Janeiro, and London”

January 31: Jordana Ramalho (LSE)
“Gender, Risk and Resilience: perspectives from informal settlers in Metro Cebu, the Philippines”

February 7: Jonathan Darling (Geography, University of Manchester)
“Asylum in Austere Times: Crisis, Endurance, and the Possibilities of Urban Belonging”

February 21: Sobia Kaker (LSE Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit, London School of Economics and Political Science)
“Circulating Uncertainty: Governing Everyday Insecurity in Karachi”

February 28: David Madden (Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science)
“The Residentialisation of the Border: Migrant Tenants and the ‘Right to Rent’ in London”

March 7: Alex Nading (Anthropology, University of Edinburgh)
“Zopilotes, Alacranes, y Hormigas (Scorpions, Vultures, and Ants): Animal Metaphors as Organisational Politics in a Nicaraguan Trash-Picking Community”

2016 Michaelmas Term

4 Oct: Ayona Datta (Geography, King's College London)
Winners and Losers: ‘Good Governance’ and Hashtag Citizenships in the making of India’s 100 Smart Cities Challenge

11 Oct: Reece Jones (Geography, University of Hawaii; United States)
Violent borders: Refugees and the right to move

This talk is part of a book launch tour. The book will be available to purchase from 11 October. See the publisher's website. 

25 Oct: Tuna Kuyucu (Sociology, Boğaziçi University, Turkey)
Two Crises, Two Trajectories: The Impact of the 2001 and 2008 Economic Crises on Turkey

8 Nov: Mercedes González de la Rocha (CIESAS, Mexico)
Survival and Social Exchange: The Relevance of Giving, Receiving and Reciprocating

PODCAST available - click here to listen in full (lecture starts at 00:55).

15 Nov:  Julie Ren (Geography, LSE)
Urban comparisons across time & space: Beijing, Berlin, Chicago and beyond

"Following a brief discussion of the origins and limitations of comparative urbanism, I will present how I’ve operationalized the critique in my research. From research on mobility investigated through art spaces in Beijing and Berlin to a book project revisiting Robert Park’s 1915 paper on the city for urban China today, I explore questions of commensurability and the translation of urban concepts across time and space."

22 Nov: Geoffrey de Verteuil (Planning & Geography, Cardiff University)
Between the cosmopolitan and the parochial: The immigrant gentrifier in Koreatown, Los Angeles

"This presentation questions the currently lopsided relationship between the cosmopolitan and the parochial, in which the former is favoured both conceptually and empirically. In response, I propose a relational framework for bringing them into conversation, simultaneously recasting and re-invigorating longstanding debates via three more recent framing devices - the process of relationality/territoriality, disposition and spaces of encounter - embedded in and through the subject of the immigrant-gentrifier in Koreatown, Los Angeles. I present the results of 25 interviews of Korean immigrant-gentrifiers and 10 key informant interviews. The results constitute a parochial critique that emerges as a series of conflicted paradoxes but also productive tensions: between an ostensibly transnational process compromised by a profoundly homegrown, parochial set of investors and outlooks; between a set of dispositions that seek inner-city diversity and density, yet simultaneously sheltered from its spillover costs; and spaces of encounter marked by a gap between the promise of truly open spaces and the reality of guarded and self-segregated ones. Ultimately, this presentation does double duty – rebalancing the cosmopolitan-parochial, but also that gentrifiers and immigrants are not mutually exclusive and that their relationship requires more research."