Originally posted on Progressive Geographies:
Room W007, Durham University, December 5th 1-4.30pm
With the majority of humans on the planet now residing in towns and cities, it is de rigueur for commentators to describe the world as ‘urban’; to herald an ‘urban revolution’ and proclaim cities as the triumphal spaces that ‘make us human’ (cf. Brugmann, 2009; Glaeser, 2011). Even in places that are not visibly urban, it would seem that urbanism – as a set of political, economic, cultural and symbolic forces – is often identified to be fundamental in the organisation of geography and everyday life. These are big claims begging searching questions for researchers of Geography and Urban Studies. And in this regard, it is to be welcomed that the relations between ‘urban’ and ‘world’ (or ‘planet’ or ‘globe’) have become a primary focus for critical urban research in recent years. For example, and to invoke the extraordinarily prophetic thinking of Lefebvre (2003), how far do the uneven networks through which urbanism increasing spreads across the globe signal a new kind of fragmented ‘urban society’? If the world is indeed increasingly urban – its form stretching, sprawling, colonizing – can we still talk about ‘a city’ as a distinctive territorial entity (Amin and Thrift, 2002)? What now, in such a context, does it mean to be ‘urban’? And what do we signify by ‘world’ – the world ‘out there’, a space for accumulating wealth, the world as a set of political or symbolic ideas, or something else? What alternative forms of urban world-forming might be developed and from what sources?
In this afternoon workshop, three speakers will, in quite different ways, critically reflect on the relationship between ‘urban’ and ‘world’ (or ‘planet’ or ‘globe’). The aim of the workshop is to think expansively about the different ways in which we might think, write, research and contest the relations between urban and world. Speakers will have 20 minutes each followed by 10 minutes of questions, and the presentations will be followed by discussion.