Conference – CFP Assembling life at the margin, AAG 2014, Tampa, Florida

21 Oct

Call for Papers: Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting 2014, Tampa, Florida, April 8-12th

Organised by Michele Lancione (UTS, Sydney; Cambridge University from Feb. 2014)

Assembling life at the “margin”: Critical assemblage thinking and urban marginality

Ethnographers, sociologists and urban geographers have mainly looked at the city as the inanimate backdrop against which social, cultural, and economical marginality takes place. Although the literature provides examples of fine-grained and situated accounts of urban poverty and marginality (e.g. Desjarlais 1997; Gowan 2010), it still falls short in taking the urban machinery fully into consideration in the instantiation of life at the margin (Lancione 2013). What role does the urban play in the daily processes of marginalisation? How do more-than-human agencies (Farías and Bender 2010), affective atmospheres (Anderson 2012), resilient materialities (Chattopadhyay 2012), prosaic technologies (Swanton 2013), and the power of care (Darling 2011; DeVerteuil 2012), affect the life of marginalised people? What kind of policy insights can derive from taking the city back into our understanding of the above processes?

This CFP aims to shed new light on how urban marginalities come into being; how they are performed; and constructed/de-constructed in the relational entanglements between the self and the city. The aim is to investigate marginality not as a static condition that can be labelled a-priori (“the homeless”; “the poor”; “the refugee”; etc.) (Ruddick 1996), but to render it in its on-going nuanced development open to the more-than-human and the unpredictable (Bennett 2010). In this sense, one should always be speaking of becoming marginal, and being theoretically and empirically ready to welcome unpredictable changes (Anderson et al. 2012). From this standpoint it will then be possible to confront the normative categorisations that mostly inform public policy making, and provide empirical evidence to support a constructive critique of their drawbacks (Russell, Pusey, and Chatterton 2011). In this sense, we are interested in investigating marginality from an assemblage-like perspective to engage in a positive critical urbanism (McFarlane 2011), aimed at the identification of new possibilities and agencies, and also at the de-framing of canonical knowledge and policies (Amin 2012).

Potential topics include:

• Theorisation of critical assemblage theory and urban marginality
• Methodological insights on an assemblage-driven urban ethnography at the margin
• How does a vitalist approach to marginality differ from canonical scholarship?
• The production of more-than-human subjectivity at the margin
• Contesting categories through theoretical and empirical work
• Becoming marginal
• Passivity, disconnection, and urban marginality
• Power and assemblage theory

Please do not limit to these suggestions; we welcome abstracts with expansive interpretations of these topics and themes (in regards both to cities of the Global North and South). It is envisaged that an edited book proposal – on assembling life at the margin – may be crafted starting from the presented papers. To facilitate discussion, and to be considered for the book proposal, presenters will be encouraged to submit their draft papers to the Organiser at least two weeks prior the beginning of the AAG conference.

Please send proposed titles and abstracts of up to 250 words to Michele Lancione ( by the 14th of November.


Amin, A. 2012. Land of Strangers. Cambridge: Polity press.
Anderson, B. 2012. “Affect and Biopower: Towards a Politics of Life.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 37 (1): 28–43.
Anderson, B., M. Kearnes, C. McFarlane, and D. Swanton. 2012. “On Assemblages and Geography.” Dialogues in Human Geography 2 (2): 171–189.
Bennett, J. 2010. Vibrant Matter. A Political Ecology of Things. Durham: Duke University Press.
Chattopadhyay, S. 2012. Unlearning the City. Infrastructure in a New Optical Field. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Darling, J. 2011. “Giving Space: Care, Generosity and Belonging in a UK Asylum Drop-in Centre.” Geoforum 42 (4): 408–417.
Desjarlais, R. 1997. Shelter Blues: Sanity and Selfhood Among the Homeless. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
DeVerteuil, G. 2012. “Does the Punitive Need the Supportive? A Sympathetic Critique of Current Grammars of Urban Injustice.” Antipode 00 (00): no–no. doi:10.1111/anti.12001.
Farías, I., and T. Bender, ed. 2010. Urban Assemblages: How Actor- Network Theory Changes Urban Studies. London: Routledge.
Gowan, T. 2010. Hobos, Hustlers and Back-sliders: Homeless in San Francisco. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Lancione, M. 2013. “Homeless People and the City of Abstract Machines. Assemblage Thinking and the Performative Approach to Homelessness.” Area 45 (3): 358–364.
McFarlane, C. 2011. “On Context.” City 15 (3-4): 375–388.
Ruddick, S. 1996. Young and Homeless in Hollywood. Mapping Social Identities. New York: Routledge.
Russell, B., A. Pusey, and P. Chatterton. 2011. “What Can an Assemblage Do?” City 15 (5): 577–583.
Swanton, D. 2013. “The Steel Plant as Assemblage.” Geoforum 44: 282–291.



Journals: Free IJURR virtual special issue on Berlin

3 Sep


The International Journal of Urbanand Regional Research (IJURR) is making available a selection of articles that have been published on Berlin over the past three decades. The Journal hopes that this openly accessible virtual issue allows researchers to engage more deeply with the place and the specific debates that have found their way into IJURR. Berlin is rich with contradicting realities, which ought to stimulate the mind of any interdisciplinary student of urban and regional issues. The selection of the articles is trying to do exactly that.

The Berlin virtual special issue, as well as all the others virtual special issue of IJURR, are freely available clicking here.

Conference: Imagining the Suburbs, University of Exeter, UK

30 Aug

The Cultures of the Suburbs Research Network will host its 2014 conference, Imagining the Suburbs, at the University of Exeter, UK, from 19 to 21 June 2014. 

How do we imagine / re-imagine the world’s suburbs in the twenty-first century? How do current concepts of suburban space and experience sit with past ideologies and future planning? And how do these vary across different regions and in different social and political contexts? Are the suburbs unimaginative and outdated, or are they spaces for progress and change? And what part do (or might) the ‘cultures of the suburbs’ play in shaping and representing these environments?

The organisers invite proposals for individual 20-minute papers or for panels comprising three or four papers from a range of disciplines including (but not limited to) the Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, and applied fields such as Architecture, Design and Planning. Areas of possible interest include (but again, are not limited to) the following: 

The nature and meaning of cultural life in the suburbs; music and theatre (including amateur dramatics); visual culture (art, photography, digital modes); iconography; community radio and other forms of media; poetry, fiction, memoir, film & television; social networking; culture shock; faith communities / sacred spaces; religious spaces and practices; oral histories; local histories; archiving the suburbs; the rhetoric of the suburbs; language and dialect in the suburbs; teaching and researching the suburbs; working with students; learning from planners, architects and designers; children in the suburbs; the elderly in the suburbs; family life and change; health, education & work; privacy and public space in the suburbs; community / civic engagement; retrofitting; gentrification; poverty and deprivation; local, regional and national policy; changing economies; transport; globalization / borders; migration and diasporas; suburban land use; population density and change; green spaces; brownfield sites; sustainability; the suburbs of the future . . . 

Please submit a 200 word proposal for your 20-minute paper (or a 200 word synopsis of your three / four- person panel) by 1 November 2013 to Jill Sullivan, Network Research Facilitator at 
There are a limited number of travel bursaries (£100 each) available to postgraduate students who would like to participate. If you would like to apply for one of these bursaries, please include an application with your proposal, outlining the reasons why you would like to attend and how you feel your work fits with the theme of the conference. 

Twitter: @CulturesSuburbs

Confirmed Keynote Speakers: Professor Roger Keil, Director of the City Institute at York University, Toronto, and author, poet and broadcaster Michael Rosen


Journals: 50 years of Urban Studies – free articles!

28 Aug


The Editors of Urban Studies have decided to mark the journal’s 50th birthday by putting together a virtual special issue showcasing the full extent of Urban Studies’ output over the past 50 years. The issue combines the five most cited Urban Studies articles, the five most downloaded, and the five most important published prior to 1990 (as collectively decided by the Editors). 

You can access these articles for free until 31st December 2013 by visiting the 50th Anniversary Virtual Issue site. Simply click here 

Vote for your Favourite Three

After enjoying your free access, you can vote for your three favourite articles by completing this voting form. The results of the voting will be announced at the end of the year, to coincide with the beginning of Urban Studies’ next 50 years!

Conference: Assembling the Contemporary Latin American City

23 Aug


An interesting CfP for the upcoming Latin American Studies Association (LASA) Congress in Chicago, May 21-24, 2014. Deadline for abstract is August, 28.

Assembling the Contemporary Latin American City: South-South Circuits, Planning Exchanges, Policy Mobilities

In the wake of structural adjustment programs and region-wide reforms to democratize and decentralize central government authority, several Latin American cities became sites of increased experimentation and innovation in urban planning, urban development and public participation. Municipal authorities throughout the region reinvented land use, transportation, housing, and public space as planning tools to address a range of new and long-deferred infrastructural, social, and environmental issues. In this context, urban planning became a highly contentious and experimental arena where a range of actors –from public sector planners to NGOs to social movements to organized private actors- seized opportunities to push and legitimize new models of urban planning and development. Although North-South policy exchanges and circuits persisted, Latin Americans increasingly began to look at cities in the region as legitimate and alternative models beyond North-originated paradigms.

We think that the increased South-South urban exchanges in Latin America as well as the new ideological alignments and urban experiments in the region (Davis 2013, Goldfrank and Schrank 2009, Baiocchi 2005) offer a platform to explore and craft new concepts and approaches in Latin American urban studies and planning. In recent years, urban scholars in a variety of disciplines have highlighted the potential of relational approaches to theorize cities, policy, and planning including assemblage and actor-network theory (Farías and Bender 2009, McFarlane 2012), urban policy mobilities (Peck and Theodore 2010, McCann and Ward 2011), inter-city referencing (Ong and Roy 2011), and transnational planning exchanges (Watson 2009, Healey 2013). This panel seeks contributors that engage with those debates by analyzing how contemporary Latin American cities are assembled and mobilized. Papers should touch on some or all of the following questions: How and by whom is a Latin American urban policy model assembled and/or mobilized? How are South-South circulations related to Northern circuits of power and legitimacy? Are Latin American urban models counter-hegemonic? Who are the new actors and experts in Latin American urban policy and planning and where do their power and legitimacy reside?

Please send paper abstracts of 250 words or less by August 28, 2013 to panel organizers: Sergio Montero (, Catalina Ortiz (, Enrique R. Silva ( and Oscar Sosa (

Meeting: Dr Olga Camacho Duarte, 28th of August, 1pm, DAB level 6

21 Aug

Dear All,

Next week, Wednesday 28th of August at 1pm, the Urban Forum will hosts (with great pleasure!) Dr Olga Camacho Duarte. Olga is going to talk about urban design and crime prevention in the case of the public housing estates of Mt Druitt in Blacktown. Please come along and advertise this talk among your peers. See below for Olga’s bio and abstract. We will meet, as usual, in DAB post-graduate space, Room 638 on Level 6.

Mt Druitt underpasses project

In this presentation I will talk about the urban design projects that UTS students develop during the Winter School, a course run by the Designing Out Crime (DOC) research centre at the University of Technology, Sydney. Projects undertaken in this course address crime prevention from a holistic, designerly perspective that contrasts with traditional approaches such as crime prevention through environmental design. I will present in particular the proposed designs from a group of students that worked on the underpasses located in the public housing estates of Mt Druitt in collaboration with Blacktown Council and Housing NSW. These housing estates were built following the Radburn urban model which when applied to public housing resulted in a mismatch between the urban infrastructure and the needs of the residents of these estates.

About Olga

Olga graduated as an Architect from the University of Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. In 2006 she was awarded her PhD in Management from the University of Western Sydney. Her thesis was an ethnographic study on spatial practice in public space in Latin American cities which included aspects of sense of security and perception of crime. She was a Teaching Fellow of Organisation Studies at the School of Management, UWS where she taught six different undergraduate subjects over ten semesters. More recently she worked as a Strategic Consultant with DEGW Asia Pacific and as a Research Project Officer with the Urban Research Centre, UWS. At URC she was a lead officer in two projects on social aspects of housing and homelessness.
Olga joined the Designing Out Crime as a Postdoctoral Fellow in October 2010. Her research agenda centres on social aspects of housing including: perception of crime, areas of disadvantage, crime prevention and the impact of design in addressing opportunistic crime in relation to low income housing.

Opportunity: CfP for a book on the “100 Years of Modern City in Nigeria”

20 Aug


The University of Technology in Minna, Nigeria, is promoting  a call for contribution for a book on the following theme: “100 years of Urbanization and Urban Development in Modern Nigeria, 1914—2014”.

The book has the following objectives:

1. To understand urbanization of Nigeria in the last 100 years

2. To assess changes in the urban setting from the point of its architecture, planning, econ- omy, property value and investments, social characteristics, construction and technology of understanding and managing urban space.

3. To assess major policy issues underlying urban planning and development

4. To examine the state of development of Nigerian cities and their contributions to local, national and global competition.

The submission of abstracts closes on the 30th November, 2013. Further information about this exciting project can be found downloading the following file: 100 years of modern city in Nigeria Call for papers

Opportunity: Lecturers/Senior Lecturers in Planning and in Human Geography at Birmingham

19 Aug

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The School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (GEES) at the University of Birmingham seeks to appoint outstanding candidates to Lectureships/Senior Lectureships in Planning and in Human Geography. The embedding of Planning activity within a Geographical context offers opportunities for at least one of the appointees to contribute to both areas. In Human Geography, the School is interested in applicants whose research broadens on their groundbreaking scholarship in critical urbanism, political and social transitions and diverse economies. They are also looking to build our capacities in environmental and energy relations, political geography & geopolitics, economic geography and cultural geography.

The closing date for application is the 5th of September. All the info clicking on this link.

Opportunity: Tenure-track position at the Indiana University on race and the city

17 Aug



The Department of Geography at Indiana University invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Political Geography as part of a series of strategic hires in the department. Candidates should show substantive engagement with theory and we are particularly interested in an empirical focus on gender, ethnicity, or race in urban environments. Teaching duties include both undergraduate and graduate courses. Applicants should have or expect to receive the doctoral degree by August 2014. Applications received by October 15, 2013 are guaranteed full consideration. The position will remain open until filled.

All the information can be retrieved clicking here.


Forum Meeting: No meeting this Monday!

16 Aug

Dear All,

This coming Monday, the 19th, there is no Urban Forum Meeting scheduled. Our meeting with Dr Camacho will soon be arranged and advertised on this website.

Thanks for your understanding.