The call for papers for this session at the 2015 RGS/IBG Conference (below) attracted my attention in the context of discussions I am having with students in my urban geography seminar. For our first meeting, last week, we read Ash Amin’s intervention in Public Culture 25(2). There, as here, at issue is how urbanization undermines the epistemologies around which social sciences including human geography have been organized.
RGS/IBG Conference 2015
CFP: ‘The field formerly known as Urban Studies?’
The purpose of this session (these sessions) will be to generate some discussion around ongoing attempts to rethink the ‘urban’ as a concept capable of bequeathing a coherent body of scholarship. In recent years urban studies has been challenged from two contrasting vectors. On the one hand, it is now widely proclaimed that we have entered an ‘urban age’, with over half of the world’s population now living in cities. More importantly perhaps, following Lefebvre’s prophetic pronouncement over forty years ago, all of society “has been completely urbanized” – at least in the sense that urbanization is deeply entangled in key processes shaping territories hitherto thought of as both ‘urban’ and ‘non-urban’. In the context of these debates, we are interested in exploring Brenner and Schmid’s concept of “planetary urbanization” as a basis for a new direction for Urban Studies. On the other hand, and partly as a consequence of this, ‘the urban’ as a distinct category of spatial and theoretical analysis has lost its coherence. A diverse set of interventions – for example, urban political ecology approaches that dismantle the separation between nature and society or post-colonial perspectives that disrupt the primacy of urban theory derived from particular (Western) contexts – have challenged how we think about the urban. It is clear that we are living in a world of cities – but in this world ‘the city’ itself may have disappeared. Contributors will be asked to reflect critically upon the status, nature and implication of the claim that we need to think again about what to do with the ‘field formerly known as Urban Studies’. Theoretical, methodological, and empirical papers will be welcome.
Session Organisers: Mark Boyle and Cian O’Callaghan (Department of Geography/National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analyses, National University of Ireland Maynooth) andBrendan Gleeson and Lauren Rickards (Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, Melbourne University).