Urbanisation, Planning and Development

Seminar Series

These research seminars are a series of expert-led discussions. Unless otherwise noted, they take place on Thursdays, 1pm-2:30pm online via Zoom. The seminars are open to all. 

Centner UPD Seminar

Michaelmas Term 2020

1 October

Dr Ammar Azzouz (University of Oxford & Arup)
‘Re-imagining Syria: Destructive reconstruction and the exclusive rebuilding of cities’

Debates on Syria’s reconstruction have already started to emerge, often concomitant with new waves of violence, re-destruction and social exclusion. These debates are shaped by the elite and the powerful and sometimes by local architects, but in most cases their visions and projects fail to engage with ordinary Syrians, neglecting their struggle, suffering, aspirations and hopes for the future of Syria. Given this neglect, this paper brings the voices of Syrians to the debate on reconstruction and destruction of Syria in an attempt to link them to the fortunes of new architecture, and more broadly, the New Syria. The paper builds on a series of interviews with Syrians inside and outside Syria and emphasises on the importance of drawing on the voices of Syrians now, before major reconstruction has begun. With the lack of adequate voices of citizens, it is crucial to engage with Syrian communities to give them the right to be heard regarding their towns and cities at the time of imagining and re-imagining Syria and its future reconstruction.

The paper shows how reconstruction could be destructive and exclusive, and how it could be used as a tool of punishment and violence. It provides insights and perspectives for intellectuals, policymakers, architects and activists interested in exploring alternatives to reconstruing forms of Syria without being narrowed to the formulation of ‘heritage’. 

Zoom link available here

15 October

Dr Sarah Marie Hall (University of Manchester)
‘Waiting for Brexit: Everyday life, temporality and participatory approaches in the shadow of Brexit negotiations'

UK geopolitics for the last five years have been heavily dominated by Brexit. The lead up to the referendum, the result, negotiations, intervening general election, extensions, further negotiations, and impending exit from the European Union have captured both academic and public interest. This paper contributes to geographical and wider social science research on the everyday geographies of Brexit, with a particular focus on the temporal politics of waiting. Emerging analyses focus on Brexit as an event, as uncertainty and a discrete period for and of research on public moods. I illustrate how exploring Brexit through the lens of waiting provides new ways of thinking through the time-spaces of Brexit. Drawing on data collected during an ethnographic participatory project in Gorse Hill, Greater Manchester, in 2018-2020, findings make the case for waiting as crisis, as conjuncture and as method. More specifically, analysis of group discussions, community-led research projects, podcast recordings, vox pops and ethnographic fieldnotes highlights the embodied, everyday, endured experience of waiting for Brexit. The paper closes with a discussion of the pace and timeliness of research, and the implications of waiting for, in and with Brexit and other forms of socio-political change. 

Watch the recording here
Passcode for recording: MBU2*m0w 

29 October

Dr Jessica Hope (University of St Andrews)
‘The limits to thinking sustainably: Approaching sustainable development through its socio-material geographies’

Zoom link available here

12 November

Dr Niranjana Ramesh (LSE)
'Vernacular natures: Ecological politics along the urban shoreline'

Zoom link available here

26 November

Dr Jessie Speer (LSE)
'The shape of displacement: Rethinking housing loss through life narratives of homelessness’

Zoom link available here

This series is organised by Dr Ryan Centner. Contact r.o.centner@lse.ac.uk with any questions.