Conference: Borders and Boundaries in an Age of Global Urbanization

UTS Urban Forum


Please have a look at the Annual Meeting of the Urban Affairs Association, San Antonio, TX, USA, March 19-22, 2014.

Urban areas have grown at an unprecedented rate in the last decade. More of the world’s population now lives in cities than in any other context. International trade, capital investment and divestment, migration, and porous economic, social and political boundaries fuel this global urbanization. Enormous governance challenges result for megacities and fast‐growing urban centers due to in‐migration and other trends, particularly in the global south. Ethnic, racial and economic disparities across the globe create new tensions and vehicles for exclusion, while also creating interesting possibilities for cooperation and collaboration. Economic, political, and environmental crises further burden governance and demand innovative solutions to problems unique to global urbanization. All of this raises old and new civic and policy questions about boundaries and borders of global urbanization. Consequently, the 2014 conference theme…

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Szczecin – the scarred city

Urban Space Critics

A one day walk through Szczecin was enough to confront the google reality with a walking perspective on the city. Szczecin can be read through the attempts to healing of wounds inflicted by the 1945 carpet bombing. Some of them have been mitigated by planted greenery, some missing parts have been reconstructed, some vast parts of the city have been entirely replaced by new urban tissue.

Rondo Jerzego Giedroycia

Postwar development was led by diverse priorities with the reconstruction of prewar order as the last one due to the almost entire exchange of inhabitants and transformation into the Communist regime. Introduction of large scale traffic solutions was in line with functionalist thinking prevailing at that time in Europe but against the urban tissue which had no community to identify with it and to stand for it. At Rondo Giedroycia there is no winner within the current solution: neither the urban block is properly enclosed, nor the…

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Somewhere At The End Of A River

mapped musings


In a way, a river’s estuary is its final definitive feature. It is a reflection of the past; its contents are a symbol of its erosive and depositional powers. Metaphorically speaking, I find myself at the end of a river – for I am a Hougang boy, and have been so for all my life.

Considering the etymology of ‘Hougang’ (which is Teochew for ‘river’s end’), I figuratively find myself at a river’s estuary because spending my most formative years in Hougang has certainly had an arguably noticeable impact on my perceptions and thoughts regarding certain issues.

Having fancied politicking for a good number of years now, life in Hougang not only involved being aware of municipal issues of the day but also the broader political significance of the area. In and by itself, Hougang is a geographically small area but due to the past actions of the Electoral Boundaries…

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Deleuze & Guattari: Democrats

Path to the Possible

Sorry for the delay in posting new things.  I have just returned from the Lisbon and the Deleuze Studies Conference, and Dublin and the AESOP/ACSP planning conference.  Here is the text of my talk at the Deleuze Studies conference, arguing that D&G are basically democrats (understood the way I understand democracy), but that Lefebvre is an essential addition to D&G if we want to think space well.


For Urban Democracy


Deleuze and Guattari rarely use the word democracy. So it may seem strange at first that this paper argues that it is both possible and fruitful to read in their work a deep desire for democracy. When I say democracy, I don’t mean the liberal-democratic State with its elected representatives, parties, and laws. Rather I mean radical democracy, a democracy in which people directly manage their own affairs for themselves. Democracy as a form of life in which the…

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Tahrir Squared

geographical imaginations

I’ve been putting the finishing touches to the extended version of my essay on Tahrir Square and the Egyptian uprisings, which focuses on performance, performativity and space through an engagement with Judith Butler‘s ‘Bodies in alliance and the politics of the street’ essay/lecture (originally delivered in Venice in 2011).

Tahrir Square (Mohamed Elshahed)Much of the existing discussion of Tahrir treats performance in conventional dramaturgical terms, and owes much more to Erving Goffman‘s classic work than to Judith’s recent contributions, so that spatiality is more or less reduced to a stage: see, for example, Charles Tripp, ‘Performing the public: theatres of power in the Middle East’, Constellations (2013) doi: 10.1111/cons.12030 (early view).  Others have preferred to  analyse the spatialities of Tahrir through the work of Henri Lefebvre: I’m thinking of Ahmed Kanna, ‘Urban praxis and the Arab Spring’, City 16 (3) (2012) 360-8; Hussam Hussein Salama, ‘Tahrir Square:…

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The Future of Cities [Early Career Workshop] 23 Oct. 2013

Call for Papers: THE FUTURE OF CITIES Early Career Workshop, 23 October 2013, University of Oxford [deadline 31 August 2013-reposted from URB-GEOG-FORUM]

The Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities invites submissions for this year’s Future of Cities Early Career Scholars workshop. The workshop will take place on the 23 October as part of the international symposium The Flexible City that will gather more than 35 key scholars and practitioners.
The workshop is aimed at a selected number of early career academics working in the field of urban studies, especially at postdoc and junior faculty levels. The Programme will also consider abstracts from outstanding PhD students in their final year. Papers should match one or more of the four core research themes of the Programme’s ‘Flexible City’ agenda (see below), engage with original research geared towards discussing the future of cities and the contemporary challenges faced by urban Continue reading

‘The History Man’, Revisited


20130715-190718.jpgMalcolm Bradbury’s novel The History Man was published in 1975 and made into a highly-regarded TV series in 1981 starring Anthony Sher. It concentrates on two days in the life of Howard Kirk, a radical sociologist at the fictional English university of Watermouth. Kirk is in many ways monstrous. A serial philanderer, professional troublemaker, he is the chief protagonist in four seductions and a campus riot, and is strongly implicated in two attempted suicides, the first a close colleague, the second his wife.

I first read the book in ’81, after watching the TV adaptation. Aged 14, a  lot of the subtlety went over my head. I didn’t understand the psychosexual dynamics of Kirk’s relationship with his embittered wife, Barbara, nor the academic satire, having yet to experience the delights of a departmental meeting, the focus of the second half of the book.

I did respond to Kirk, though, especially…

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