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CFP AAG 2018: Urban infrastructural transitions and a progressive reworking of the contemporary city

Urban infrastructural transitions and a progressive reworking of the contemporary city

Organizers: Valentin Meilinger (Utrecht University), Joe Williams (Durham University)

Urban infrastructures are inextricably linked to social and material orders of contemporary cities and their urban geographies. They shape (and are shaped by) urban resource flows, modes of governing, lifestyles, but also urban injustices; and they are embedded in the socio-cultural foundations of contemporary capitalism (Amin/Thrift 2016). While urban infrastructures are increasingly acknowledged as powerful levers for urban sustainability and climate policies, the infrastructural heritage of the modern capitalist city and the social orders tied to it remain adamant barriers of more progressive urban (infrastructural) transitions (Pincetl 2016). Particularly, current urban water and energy transitions and their entanglements bear testimony of this.

The aim of this session is to reflect on whether and how urban infrastructures can be conceptualized and studied as platforms for a more progressive reworking of social and material orders of contemporary capitalist cities. The main aims of this session will be to foster discussion around:

  • Developing a critical understanding of how urban infrastructures, as relational systems, provide a valuable analytical lens to explore socio-material reconfigurations of contemporary cities and shifting “infrastructural spaces” (Easterling 2014).
  • Tracing how urban infrastructural transitions shape and are shaped by changing resource flows, modes of governing, power relations, lifestyles, social practices, imaginaries of the city and cultural values.
  • Understanding how in urban infrastructural transitions infrastructure “comes to matter” (Rutherford 2014: 1542) politically and forms an arena of political contestations about future social and material orders and geographies of the city.

Contributions that speak to these aims are welcome from a wide range of conceptual approaches. Relevant questions and topics include, but are not limited to:

  • What is the role of the state relative to the (organized) civil society and to the economy in current urban infrastructural transitions, and how does it change?
  • How do entrenched institutional orders of the state change in current infrastructural transitions?
  • What impacts do austerity conditions have on current urban infrastructural transitions?
  • What are scalar reconfigurations that accompany current urban infrastructural transitions (governance constellations, techno-structure etc.)?
  • How are new forms of solidarity, community and citizenship materially negotiated via the design and management of shifting infrastructures?
  • How are urban imaginaries, aesthetics and conceptions of urban nature materially negotiated via the design and management of shifting infrastructures?
  • How do social and ecological justice movements appropriate urban infrastructures in transition?
  • What are empirical examples of progressive politics of infrastructural change?
  • How are resource flows and their management/governance structures becoming more tightly interconnected in current infrastructural transitions?

If you are interested in participating in this session, please contact Valentin Meilinger (v.meilinger@uu.nl) or Joe Williams (joseph.g.williams@durham.ac.uk) by 20 October, and send your proposed title and abstract of no more than 250 words (http://www.aag.org/cs/annualmeeting/call_for_papers/abstract_guidelines).

References:

Amin, A., Thrift, N. J. (2016): Seeing like a city. Cambridge: Polity.

Easterling, K. (2014): Extrastatecraft. The power of infrastructure space. London: Verso.

Pincetl, S. (2016): Post carbon cities. Distributed, decentralized and demodernized? In: Evans, J., Karvonen, A, Raven, R. (eds.): The experimental city. London: Routledge.

Rutherford, J. (2014). The Vicissitudes of Energy and Climate Policy in Stockholm: Politics, Materiality and Transition. Urban Studies 51(7): 1449–1470.

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Announcements

CFP AAG 2018: Urban Political Ecology: Bodies, Social Reproduction and Everyday Life

Call for Papers: AAG, New Orleans, 10-14 April 2018

*Urban Political Ecology: Bodies, Social Reproduction and Everyday Life*

Session organisers: Archie Davies (King’s College London) and James Angel (King’s College London)

Please email abstracts (no more than 250 words) to james.angel@kcl.ac.uk by Wednesday 18th October

Urban political ecology provides a valuable lens through which to interrogate the power-laden production of urban environments, undoing reactionary binaries between the city and nature and offering possibilities for imagining and enacting more democratic socionatural trajectories (Swyngedouw 1996, Heynen, Kaika and Swyngedouw 2006, Heynen 2014). Yet recent years have seen calls for an urban political ecology more closely attuned to the sensibilities, senses and rhythms of everyday life (Loftus 2012). Urban environments are produced through the dialectical relation between waged and unwaged labour, yet thus far urban political ecological engagements with the “fleshy, messy” (Katz 2001) work of social reproduction has been relatively sparse. For Doshi (2017) there is a need for a more “embodied” urban political ecology, beginning from the body as the site at which contested socioecological processes are made and remade.

This session seeks to deepen the dialogue between urban political ecology and theories of the body and everyday life. We welcome contributions that forge conversations between urban political ecology and a range of approaches to the everyday and the embodied.
Approaches could include, but are not limited to:
– materialist feminism,
– postcolonial and decolonial perspectives,
– new materialisms,
– geographies of affect and emotion, and
– queer theory.

We are interested in both empirical and theoretical contributions dealing with subjects such as urban food and hunger, energy, pollution, waste, infrastructure, water and more. We are keen to include papers that illuminate the role of the embodied and the everyday in mediating and constituting unjust urban environments, and the political possibilities opened up by seeing daily reproductive practices as a locus of struggle that might prefigure alternative urban natures.

References
Doshi, S. (2017) Embodied urban political ecology: five propositions. Area 49(1): 125–128

Heynen, N. (2014) Urban political ecology I: The urban century. Progress in Human Geography 38(4) 598–604

Heynen N, Kaika M, and Swyngedouw E (eds) (2006) In the Nature of Cities: Urban Political Ecology and the Politics of Urban Metabolism. Abingdon: Routledge

Katz, C. (2001) Vagabond Capitalism and the Necessity of Social Reproduction. Antipode 33(4): 709–728

Loftus A (2012) Everyday Environmentalism: Creating an Urban Political Ecology. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press