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London’s Housing Crisis and its Activisms Conference, Saturday 23rd April 2016

This one day conference launches a forthcoming CITY Special Feature on ‘London’s Housing Crisis and its Activisms’, co-edited by Paul Watt (Birkbeck) and Anna Minton (UEL).

Speakers at the conference include contributors to the Special Feature, alongside Aditya Chakrabortty, Senior Economics Commentator at The Guardian, and Sian Berry, Green Party Mayoral candidate.

When Saturday, 23 April 2016 from 10:00 to 18:00 (BST)

Where University Square Stratford – 1 Salway Road, London E15 1NF, United Kingdom – View Map

The conference is also a way of celebrating the 20th anniversary of CITY, a journal which has consistently been at the forefront of radical urban scholarship under the editorship of Bob Catterall:

Conferences Fees

Payable on the day at registration:

  • Waged – £5

  • Student – £3

  • Unwaged – Free

Conference Programme

10.00 – 10.30 am: Registration, tea/coffee

10.30 am: Introductions

Anna Minton (UEL), Paul Watt (Birkbeck), Bob Catterall (Editor-in-Chief, CITY)

11.00 am: Keynote: Aditya Chakrabortty, Senior Economics Commentator, The Guardian

11.30 am – 1.00 pm:

Panel 1 – The Financialisation of Housing,

Chaired by Dawn Foster, The Guardian

  • Michael Edwards (UCL) – The housing crisis and London
  • Luna Glucksberg (Goldsmiths) – A view from the top: unpacking capital flows and foreign investment in prime London
  • Stuart Hodkinson (University of Leeds) – Global corporate landlords in ‘post-crisis’ urban landscapes in North America and Europe: speculating on London’s housing future

Followed by Q&A

1.00 -2.00 pm: Lunch

2.00-3.30 pm: Workshops

1. Linking housing campaigns and the Kill the Housing Bill Campaign – Katya Nasim (Radical Housing Network) and Eileen Short (Defend Council Housing and Radical Housing Network)

2. Viability assessments: how developers build what they want to build – Jerry Flynn (Elephant Amenity Network/35percent campaign), Bob Colenutt (University of Northampton) and Nick Perry (The Hackney Society)

3. Estate regeneration: lessons from Cressingham Gardens – Pam Douglas and Tom Keene (Save Cressingham Gardens)

4. Architects for Social Housing – Simon Elmer and Geraldine Dening (ASH)

5. Academia, activism and social cleansing – Tom Gillespie (University of Sheffield), Penny Bernstock (UEL) and Focus E15

6. Beyond The Margins: Squatting and Homelessness – A workshop facilitated by the Advisory Service for Squatters (ASS) and the Beehive Housing Project

3.30– 4.00 pm: tea/coffee

4.00 – 6.00 p.m:

Panel 2 – Is London Being Socially Cleansed?

Chaired by Loretta Lees (University of Leicester)

Anna Minton (author of Ground Control, UEL)

Guy Nicholson (Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Hackney Council)

Sian Berry (Green Party Mayoral candidate)

Paul Watt (Birkbeck) – A nomadic war machine in the Metropolis: en/countering London’s 21st century housing crisis with Focus E15

Speaker from Focus E15

See event also on:

CITY at the AAG 2016, San Francisco, March 29 – April 2

Supported by twenty years of the study of urban, urban-rural, global/planetary trends and action/inaction, CITY has turned increasingly to a holistic but also various and detailed series of accounts of ‘where the world is at’ and to where it is and might/could/should be heading.

Its panel sessions for this year’s AAG and the current issue of the journal (20.1) take up these and related themes: Download flyer for more info >>

See also the editorial from our latest issue, 20.1 ‘Planetary’ urbanisation: insecure foundations, the commodification of knowledge, and paradigm shift

City sponsored panels at the 2016 AAG:

The Urban Process under Planetary Accumulation by Dispossession 1.

Session no. 2571

Wed, 30 March at 3:20 PM – 5:00 PM in Golden Gate Room, Hotel Nikko, 25th Floor

What does the never-ending crisis of globalisation tell us about the spatial nature of capitalist accumulation and dispossession? Is there a limit to the ways in which global capitalism mutates to escape its own contradictions? If capitalism only displaces problems rather than solving them, who bears the brunt and who decides their fate? What will be the outlook of planetary urbanisation of capital without China-sponsored capitalism? How can the left use socio-spatial processes to produce radical alternatives to residual, dominant and emerging forms of power?

David Harvey’s theory of uneven geographical development continues to provoke such questions as well as provide invaluable insights into the way the urban process is not only central to the economic accumulation of capital, but also the terrain in which capitalists seek to liberate themselves from democratic control. Harvey’s major lesson is that any project to overcome capitalism’s legitimacy, is tied to our ability to confront the way capital transforms daily life to compound its own growth rate.

CITY had the pleasure of publishing Harvey’s reflection on urbanisation in its first ever issue. On this occasion to commemorate its 20th anniversary, CITY is pulling together a series of panels to explore how Harvey’s critique of urban accumulation maps the deterritorializing terrain of crisis, tracking new spaces of dispossession, and expressions of revolt and revolution.

The aim isn’t simply to highlight the legacy of a celebrated intellectual, instead we want to explore how Harvey’s work connects with a growing but also contentious field, in which CITY has played a significant part, of theoretical analysis, empirical research and political activism, one which helps expose strategic weaknesses in contemporary capitalism, fights the consolidation of political economic power, and gives us the intellectual tools to avoid blind alleys and help in the construct ion of liberatory ways forward.

'El Immigrante' - mural by Joel Bergner in San Francisco's Mission District

'El Inmigrante' - mural by Joel Bergner in San Francisco's Mission District

Hyun Bang Shin
Bob Catterall


Bob Catterall


Elvin K. Wyly
Ilse Helbrecht
Ayona Datta
Miguel Robles-Duran
Hyun Bang Shin


Urban Geography Specialty Group
Political Geography Specialty Group
Socialist and Critical Geography Specialty Group

The Urban Process under Planetary Accumulation by Dispossession 2.

Session no. 2671

Wed, 30 March at 5:20 PM – 7:00 PM, in Golden Gate Room, Hotel Nikko, 25th Floor

Mural in San Francisco, Photo: Elvin Wyley.Chair:

Hyun Bang Shin


Nasser Abourahme
Bob Catterall
Alex Loftus
Matthew Gandy


Urban Geography Specialty Group
Political Geography Specialty Group
Socialist and Critical Geography Specialty Group

The Practical Person’s Guide to the city, urbanisation, and the planet

Session no. 3465

Thur, 31 March at 1:20 PM – 3:00 PM, in Nikko Ballroom II, Hotel Nikko, 3rd Floor

Some recent debates on, variously, ‘the city’, the urban (or urban-rural), urbanisation, and the planet in relation to their theoretical, empirical and/or political bases and implications have  surfaced, without  fully addressing each other. We  invite a full discussion of these in relation to aspects of four papers: “Beyond city limits: a conceptual and political defense of ‘the city’ as an anchoring concept..’.(Mark Davidson and Kurt Iveson); “Urbanizing Urban Political Ecology: A Critique of Methodological Cityism.”(Hillary Angelo and David Wachsmuth); “Towards the Great Transformation: Where/what is culture in ‘Planetary Urbanisation’? Towards a new paradigm” (Bob Catterall); and ‘The intelligent woman’s guide to the urban question'(Kate Shaw).

Mural in San Francisco, Photo: Elvin Wyley.Organiser:

Mark Davidson


Nasser Abourahme


Hillary Angelo
Richard A. Walker
Mark Davidson
Kate Shaw
Bob Catterall


Urban Geography Specialty Group

Amateur Urbanism

Session no. 3565

Thur, 31 March at 3:20 PM – 5:00 PM in Nikko Ballroom II, Hotel Nikko, 3rd Floor

In this lecture sponsored by CITY, Andy Merrifield will present his current work on Amateur Urbanism. Professionals and wannabe professionals are everywhere in urban studies today, everywhere in the exclusive running and ruining of cities, everywhere in the control of urban economies, everywhere in austerity drives, everywhere in think tanks and institutions who study cities, everywhere mass media have a say about cities, everywhere the grant money flows, the payroll beckons and the spotlight shines. The biggest problem this professionalism poses for any urban dissenter—for people I shall call amateurs—is representation. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation, into a representation done for and by professionals. And professionals brook no dissent. Professionals are realists; everybody else lives in cloud-cuckoo-land. This paper stakes out its terrain in cloud-cuckoo-land and explores the nemesis of professionalised urbanism: amateur urbanism, an urban knowledge and practice not on anybody’s payroll, a passionate labour of love.


Kurt Iveson


Bob Catterall


Andy Merrifield
Kurt Iveson

CITY LIGHTS bookstore, San Francisco

Hard copies of the journal CITY – analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action, are available in San Francisco from the City Lights bookstore:

City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco.San Francisco Landmark #228
City Lights Bookstore
261 Columbus Avenue
Between Broadway and Pacific North Beach, Built 1907

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by  madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn  looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient
heavenly  connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
up smoking in the supernatural darkness of  cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities
contemplating jazz…. “
(Beginning of Howl by Allen Ginsberg.)

Howl was first performed at the Six Gallery in San Francisco on October 7, 1955, by Ginsberg’s friends and fellow poets Gary Snyder, Philip Lamantia, Philip Whalen, Michael McClure and Kenneth Rexroth. Soon afterwards, it was published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who ran City Lights Bookstore and the City Lights Press.

City Lights was founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin. Although it has been more than fifty years since tour buses with passengers eager to sight “beatniks” began pulling up in front of City Lights, the Beats’ legacy of anti-authoritarian politics and insurgent thinking continues to be a strong influence in the store, most evident in the selection of titles.

See City Lights website for the complete Short History of City Lights >>

San Francisco Landmark #228
City Lights Bookstore
261 Columbus Avenue Between Broadway and Pacific
North Beach
Built 1907

CITY at the AAG 2015, Chicago, April 21-25

‘What are the dimensions and nature of the  urbanisation processes? What forms of action – resistance, reform, and/or revolution are needed to transform urbanisation from something that we largely undergo or react to and against into something that we produce?’ These questions will be explored in the City panel ‘Dimensions of Urbanisation: Resistance, Reform and/or Revolution? (2117).

A second panel will debate the definition of urban in relation to social justice.

Debates: (Re)defining the urban and the question of social justice

is scheduled on Tuesday, 4/21/2015, from 12:40 PM – 2:20 PM in Water Tower, Hyatt, West Tower, Bronze Level

Organizer(s): Alex Schafran

Chair(s): Alex Schafran

Panelist(s): Teresa Caldeira – University of California, Berkeley

Christian Schmid – ETH Zurich

Michael Storper – London School of Economics

Ozan Karaman – University of Glasgow

Artwork: Giovanni Battista PiranesiSession Description: Urban studies has recently returned to a series of debates surrounding the definition of the urban. How and where do we understand urbanization? How do we grapple with the variegated history and geography of the urban? Do concepts need refining, redefining or both? A related question involves the impact of these questions, in particular for questions of social justice and inequality. This panel invites leading urban theorists to revisit contemporary debates on the urban, and to speculate as to what they mean for social movements, questions of social justice and the future of urban inequality.

City panel: Dimensions of Urbanisation: Resistance, Reform and/or Revolution? (2117)

is scheduled on Wednesday, 4/22/2015, from 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM

in Columbus H, Hyatt, East Tower, Gold Level

Organizer(s): Bob Catterall – CITY

Chair(s): Bob Catterall – CITY


Antonios Vradis – Durham University

Adam Elliott-Cooper – University of Oxford

Bob Catterall – CITY

Sharon M. Meagher – Widener University

CITY Issue 19.2-3

CITY, Issue 19.2-3 April 2015; ‘Cosmopolitan multinational music group’, in the aptly named Greenmarket Square, Cape Town.

Session Description: Drawing on a wide range of experience, research and activism, this session explores two questions and their interconnections. What are the dimensions and nature of the  urbanisation processes – as discussed notably in  Brenner and Schmid’s recent paper, ‘Towards  a new epistemology of the urban?’  (City, 19.2-30) -that we are undergoing, reacting to/against, and/or producing? What forms of action – resistance, reform, and/or revolution -are needed to transform urbanisation from something that we largely undergo or react to and against into something that we produce? The panelists are editors of CITY, an academic, cultural and activist journal, engaged in action-research.  The work of those contributing to this session ranges from Brazil and Greece, from London and Birmingham, from Latin America and Africa to the USA, and from women’s to racial, and class struggles.

Answers to these questions can only come, we argue and report, from  multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary action-related  studies, that address racial/ist, cultural, social, ‘environmental’,  and economic/financial  dimensions of  the places , times of and beyond urbanisation.

Take the Money and run! An evening exploring London’s response to the crisis, with films, talks and debate

Centre of Media Studies, SOAS and CITY Journal present

Take the Money and run! Trickledown Economics: From Hedge Funders to the London Riots

“Riots are the voice of the unheard” – Reverend Martin Luther King

Saturday January 24th, 2015, 4:00 pm to 8:30 pm

at the Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Russell Square

No need to book – all welcome

An evening exploring London’s response to the crisis, with films, talks and debate

The financial crisis following the banking collapse in 2008, has been a purely man-made phenomenon, an unsurprising result of the suicidal economics of short-term, casino economics of the international financial sector, and its capital, the City of London. The link between production and ‘wealth creation’ has been shattered by the financialisation of international capital, hence creating a market detached from economic realities. This has led to the deepest financial crisis in our lifetime, with hundreds of millions all over the world suffering, and having to pay the cost of the reckless financial market. In its wake, ten of thousands have ransacked London shops, taking a bottle and running.

Have we learnt anything from these events? Have we changed society to take account of the two related disasters? Are we now immune from a further crash? What is the price being paid for the last crash, and who is paying it? Are further riots likely, or will society take political action instead to efficiently transform the financial sector? Is this a crisis of financial capital, or of capitalism?

Instead of dealing with the banks and financial institutions of Capitalism which have brought about this latest crisis, the UK Coalition government has launched a massive attack on the victims – the unemployed, the low-wage earners, migrant workers, people on benefits, the old and the infirm. They are to ones who are paying the cost of the banks profligacy.

To answer the question, two filmmakers and a number of researchers have come together to think about London and the crisis, at a point in time when positive change seems further than ever.


16:00            London is Burning (2012, 45Minutes), a documentary film by Prof. Haim Bresheeth (SOAS)

17:00            Secret City (2012, 72 minutes) a documentary film by Prof. Michael Chanan (Roehampton University)

18:30 Panel presentations and discussion:

Chair: Prof. Annabelle Sreberny (SOAS)

Panel Presentations

Prof. Jeremy Gilbert (UEL)

Property and Power in the post-political City

Adam Elliott-Cooper (Oxford University)

Resistance: Disruption at the point of consumption

Michael Edwards (UCL)

London: a class struggle waged from above, and resistance

Q&A Session with Panel and directors

Athens and beyond…cities in financial/economic/social crisis

‘How does a global financial crisis permeate the spaces of the everyday in a city?’

An exploration through film, presentations, and discussion of Athens, a city in crisis and under authoritarian control. Are the same features appearing, if less starkly but just as insidiously, elsewhere? What is to be done? Check out the virtual special issue of CITY here for related articles – free access!

How does a global financial crisis permeate the spaces of the everyday in a city?

Contributions from:

Costas Lapavitsas, economist, SOAS

Lila Leontidou, geographer, Hellenic Open University

Dimitris Dalakoglou, anthropologist, University of Sussex

AntonisVradis, geographer, University of Durham

Adam Elliott-Cooper, geographer, University of Oxford

Bob Catterall, editor, CITY

Saturday, 11 October, 6.00-9.00pm, at the Khalili Theatre, SOAS

The Khalili Lecture Theatre is on the lower ground floor of main College buildings (see

Presented by CITY with crisis-scape ( and co-organised with RMF at SOAS (

An introductory quote (below)?

‘Is the anxious, authoritarian, militarized city of self-avowedly fascist police and pitched civil war our present-future? Is this the fate of urbanity itself in our millennial, post-historical times? Is Athens, the purported birthplace of those secular forms we came to so faithfully value— democracy, the polis, the public—the harbinger of their demise?’’

Nasser Abourahme in his contribution to a special feature ‘Crisis-scape: Athens and beyond’, a special feature in CITY, 18.4-5 (early October, 2014)

Reclaim the city and the planet

Available online now!

Virtual Special Issue of CITY: ‘Reversing Urbanization?’

Editorial to the special issue: Introducing and resituating a debate about ‘planetary urbanisation’

Virtual Special Issue flyer: Reversing urbanization?

Download flyer (pdf.)

CITY Panel at the Annual International Conference of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS-IBG) 2014

Sponsored by CITY: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action.

Planetary urbanisation has assumed significance in recent urban studies debates, given its provocative questioning of the precise nature of the city and the urban, especially the neat demarcations separating urban, suburban and rural zones. While the questions raised by this discourse pose a fundamental challenge to basic epistemological assumptions, categories of analysis, and object of investigation, is it holistic enough to rethink the urban (and the non-urban) as a planetary condition, and more importantly, is it radical enough to provide adequate solutions, making sense of what is happening on the ground in the process? The objective of this panel discussion is to draw on the recent debates in the CITY Journal where by rethinking the urban, one is able to reclaim the city and the planet. But in order to do so, the journal recognises the need for a commitment to follow it out in the universities and on the ground. Thus, following this year’s theme of co-production, this session explores theoretical and empirical encounters across the global to reveal not just a comparative analysis but a disruption of prominent conceptual innovations. In arguing for a radical ‘post-urban’ analysis, it considers the kind of planning movement that will be necessary to facilitate this.

Number 395
Friday 29 August 2014, Session 4
Convenors: Bob Catterall (CITY Journal) and Pushpa Arabindoo (University College London)

Panel Contributors:

Gray space and the new urban regime

Oren Yiftachel (Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel)

Using the concept of ‘gray space’ as both an analytical tool, and a description of an undeclared planning strategy, Yiftachel’s discussion will use examples from Europe, Africa and Asia (with a special focus on Israel/Palestine) to outline the emergence of new urban regimes across the globe. These accommodate and institutionalize late-capitalist, liberal, collective identity and legal forces to condemn vulnerable populations to a semi-permanent position between the ‘lightness’ of membership, approval and legality and the ‘darkness’ of criminalization, punishment and eviction. Gray spaces have become the hallmark of urbanization in the early 21st Century. The ‘gray spacing’ of contemporary cities forces us to rethink our traditional understandings of urbanizing societies, in the context of a ‘creeping urban apartheid’, and its social and political implications.

Back to the land

Melissa Wilson (CITY Journal)

Melissa Wilson will share from her experience as a scholar-activist working with ‘City’ on the transition from urban life to off-grid ecological living. In the context of contemporary urban struggles for autonomy and health, her work explores the bridge between urban and rural, including the potential of permaculture and ecological knowledge for living harmoniously and co-productively with nature. Given the current alarming developments in climate change and ecological degradation, a biological perspective on the industrial and centralised form of modern urban survival – and especially its implications for the agrarian world out of which it is reproduced – urges us to seek alternative forms of everyday living that restore content to active participation, especially in the realm of food production, localised economic development, reduced dependence on fossil fuels and building community resilience to systemic shocks. There is a growing agrarian and food movement worldwide (discussed by Adrian Atkinson in ‘City’) that acknowledges this challenge in practical terms, but challenges still remain on how to bridge the cultural and political communication mainly located in urban centers, and the ecologically restorative agrarian work to urban communities as well.

Reclaiming the city from the state: Race and activism in post-Duggan Britain

Adam Elliott-Cooper (University of Oxford)

As deindustrialisation tears apart industrial labour, it becomes replaced, and controlled, by securitisation. While G4S herald themselves as the world’s largest employer, state security, namely the police and prisons, intensify their control over both the unemployed, and the never-employed. It is Britain’s black communities face that the brunt of both labour-market exclusion and police repression.

Both capital and the state see black communities, still occupying potentially profitable urban neighbourhoods, as sections of a surplus population. As police stops, searches, strip-searches, ASBO’s, detentions and dispersal orders are a regular feature for black youth on Britain’s city streets, the police taser, charge and plan to water canon those who dare to revolt in signifiant numbers. While deaths in the hands of police continue to face organised resistance, the state sanctions spying, infiltration and smearing of black community campaigns. This paper looks not only at how London and Birmingham’s black inner-cities are policed, but how resistance is organised to defend and reclaim the cities these black communities once helped to build.

A planet of Asians

Pushpa Arabindoo (University College London)

Twenty-first century is not only ‘urban’ but it is also Asian if we go by the demographic claims of international financial institutions such as the UN and the World Bank. While more than fifty percent or nearly two billion will be Asian (with a billion plus living in Asia’s teeming cities), there isn’t much beyond this statistical construct that enquires critically about the nature of this urbanisation. This paper in reviewing the current theorisations within urban studies about the ‘Asian city’ also draws on the opportunities as well as constraints of a discourse such as planetary urbanisation, emphasising the need to, first of all, consider conceptually what is the urban in an Asian context, specifically the epistemological challenges posed by countries like India and China. Secondly, we will also need to consider more carefully struggles of the elite and marginalised groups to reclaim the urban, as such encounters tend to defy our empirical understandings of the urban.

Conference details:

Location: Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and Imperial College London RGS-IBG: 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR (Registration & helpdesk) Imperial College London: Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2AZ
Dates: Opening event and pre-conference workshops on Tuesday 26 August, then sessions running Wednesday 27 to Friday 29 August 2014
Theme: Geographies of co-production Conference chair: Wendy Larner (University of Bristol)

Thinking across boundaries: Re-imagining planning in the urban global south

3-Day Conference to Celebrate 60 Years of DPU:

16.30 – 19.00, Wed 2nd July;
08.00 – 18.00, Thurs 3rd July;
09.00 – 17.00, Fri 4th July

at Darwin Lecture Theatre, Darwin Building, UCL
Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

Our Anniversary Conference is the highlight of a year of celebrations marking the DPU’s 60 years of education, training, research, consultancy and knowledge sharing in urban and regional development policy and planning in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.A range of speakers drawn from academia, practice and community organisation will be brought together with DPU staff, past and present, students, alumni, and others to deliberate on critical issues that guide the field of development planning. The themes of the conference are:

– A future for urban development planning? Thinking across boundaries
– A future for urban development planning?  Approaches to urban inequality and informality in cities of the global south
– Participation and contested practices in urban design and planning: rights, needs and urban imaginaries
– Re-imagining socio-environmental trajectories of change: Radical practices and approaches to environmental planning and governance
– Forging new relationships in governance and planning: the state, market and society in a post economic crisis world
– Urban Development and development assistance
– Gender, intersectionality and socially just futures: Planning in an era of social polarisation
– Positioning planning learning in an urbanizing world: the challenge of practitioner formation and the co-production of knowledge

The event will also see the launch of the ‘DPU Reflections Working Paper Series‘ and ‘The DPU’s first 60 Years: A Short History’ booklet.

Download conference programme (.pdf)

More info:

See also from CITY, free to download! The latest piece from a special Editorial series in CITY,

‘Towards the Great Transformation: (11) Where/what is culture in ‘Planetary Urbanisation’? Towards a new paradigm’ (2014) Bob Catterall, CITY Vol. 18, Issue 3


The present dominant paradigm in much writing on ‘planetary urbanisation’ with its exclusive emphasis on ‘ the urban’ and consequent neglect/denial of ‘the rural’, thereby of the planet itself, and its minimal deployment of the concept of culture and of the humanities, reflects the somewhat ramshackle condition of urban studies and socio-spatial sciences with their uncritical and undertheorised notion of interdisciplinarity (sometimes incorrectly labelled recently as transdisciplinarity). Where and what is the planet itself in much of the work on ‘planetary urbanisation’? Where featured at all it is reduced to dehumanised and apparently nonsentient (mainly male) actants. It cannot do justice to the nature of life on the planet and therefore cannot provide an adequate account or critique of planetary urbanisation. It is, in fact, in danger of becoming an accomplice in that imperial(ist) project. An alternative paradigm, outlined here, is one in which the biosocial and gendered nature of culture, including its relationship to agriculture and ‘the rural’, is central to its explorations of the full geo-spatial field and their implications for action. To achieve justice with and for sentient beings and the planet, that misrepresented biosocial entity has, first, to be earthed, materialised, gendered, and cultured. (subsequent episodes reconsider the city in this neglected context and then science as partly normative notions). This series, developing a multidimensional, transdisciplinary(rather than interdisciplinary) approach, providing some necessary infilling and new/old orientations to the now outmoded paradigm, sets out a claim for this new paradigm for the biospatial sciences and the humanities. It seeks, in this episode drawing particularly on Marx’s studies of the Russian commune and beyond (in space and time), Chernyshevski’s work, particularly his novel What Is To Be Done?, and on earlier work in the series, to contribute to the identification of a partly agrarian and fully ‘encultured’ path to the reclamation of the now acutely over-urbanised planet.

Gray Space and the new urban regime: Between liberalism and creeping apartheid

Lecture with Professor Oren Yiftachel, Ben-Gurion University, Israel.

Date: 30 January 2014

Time: 18.30-20.00pm

Venue: UCL Conference Suite 05, 188 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 7PH

Chashem Zaneh, an unrecognized Bedouin locality with the city of Beersheba in the background, August

Chashem Zaneh, an unrecognized Bedouin locality with the city of Beersheba in the background, August

This lecture will analyse the impact of structural economic, identity and governance tensions on urban regimes and societies in the twenty-first century. It draws attention to the pervasive emergence of ‘gray spaces’, that is, informal, temporary or illegal developments, transactions and populations. ‘Gray-spacing’ has become a central feature of urbanism in most parts of the world, as well as a strategy to manage the unwanted/irremovable, as well as the wanted/uncontrollable.

Urban planning is central to this process, given its ability to approve, deny, legitimate and criminalise urban development. Gray spacing enables the mobility of marginalised groups into privileged regions, often under the guise of liberalising economies. At the same time, this puts in train a process of ‘creeping urban apartheid’ under which the region is governed through the principle of ‘separation and inequality’. These tensions and trends will be illustrated by highlighting research findings on the planning of cities around Europe, Africa and Asia, with special focus on the ‘ethnocratic’ cities of Israel/Palestine, such as Beersheba, Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem.

Prof. Yiftachel teaches urban studies as well as political and legal geography at Ben-Gurion University, Beersheba. His research has focused on critical understandings of the relations between space, power and conflict, with particular attention to ethnic, social and urban aspects of these relations. Yiftachel has taught as guest professor at a range of universities including RMIT Melbourne, Curtin, Columbia, Penn, Berkeley, Venezia, Kolkata and Cape Town. He has published over 100 articles and ten authored and edited books, including “Indigenous (In)Justice: the Bedouins in Comparative Perspective” (co-ed, Harvard University Press, 2013); “Ethnocracy: the Politics of Land and Identity in Israel/Palestine” (Pennpress, 2006); and “The Power of Planning” (ed, Kluwer, 2001).

Oren Yiftachel”Critical theory and ‘gray space’ Mobilization of the colonized” CITY , Vol. 13: 2–3, June–September 2009

(Free download link:

Global Uprisings: first reflections on a historic get-together of radicals in Amsterdam

by Antonis Vradis

Note: CITY will be publishing an upcoming special issue on the Global Uprisings event at De Balie with contributions from many of the speakers and participants… Please check back for the special issue!

Global Uprisings event at De Balie, Amsterdam, November 2013.

There might be no better sign that we may be “living in the end times”, as Slavoj Žižek has had it, than the fact that the day came when dozens of anarchists, council communists, autonomous Marxists and other radicals descended in Amsterdam, gathering in one of the city’s most well-established cultural venues, De Balie.

What took place during the past weekend in the Dutch capital is, in this sense, already the stuff of legend: direct participants in some of the most important uprisings of the past five years, plus some of the strongest and most passionate voices that have come in their defense since, got together under one roof. In the opening plenary, Paul Mason set the tone by moving on from his recording and mapping out of the global uprisings in Why it’s (still) kicking off everywhere (see 17.5 for the CITY reflection and response – Editorial and contents list here), Mason outlined his vision for what may, or should happen from now on.

In the morning plenary of November 21st, Lobna Darwish from the Mosireen collective in Egypt, Foti Benlisoy from Istanbul, Turkey and from Victor Khaled from Brazil offered an inspiring account of their respective struggles – the most recent ones in this continuing global thread of revolt.

What followed was nothing short of a complete mapping-out of the some of the most important struggles of our times. From the crisis in Europe – and the way in which it has hit the European periphery in particular, to the question of housing, all the way to feminist and LGBTQ organising in the revolts, attempts to network and fight back across the Mediterranean and even, experiments and attempts at self-organisation; that crucial threshold when the moment of revolt is (sur)passed in favour of a more permanent shift in the way that people live their lives. The end-of-day plenary saw David Graeber and George Caffentzis putting the day’s discussions in perspective, and tackling the question of the in/visibility of class struggle at the time of crisis.

November 22nd was the last day of the conference (and videos are not yet uploaded on the De Balie Vimeo channel). The day saw some excellent discussions on the topics of migration, the question of urbanization and revolt, student struggles around the world, grassroots media at the sites of revolt around the world, and the question of ‘reinventing’ the strike – an important attempt to reflect on new tactics and trends in strike organization. At the event’s closing plenary, Paul Mattick Jr. reflected on the current crisis in a much larger, historical perspective – explaining how the current disaster is little more (or less) than capitalism’s business as usual.

In what was most definitely the most powerful of moments in an already moving event, the closing moments of Global Uprisings played out down the street from De Balie, at the space where hundreds of migrants have found refuge, in a parallel attempt to make their voices heard, to become visible in the Dutch society. What kind of impact might Global Uprisings have? What is its legacy? The answer to the question will take a while to discern in the horizon, but there is already enough evidence that it will be formidable.

‘Prayer of Fear’, a video by the self-organised media collective Mosireen from Egypt – reflecting on their thoughts, their questions and their dilemmas after the massacre of approximately 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters by the Egyptian Army. (A translation in English of the text is underneath the video on Youtube).

Videos from all sessions at Global Uprisings are available through the De Balie Vimeo Channel.

Antonis Vradis is a research fellow at, a member of the Occupied London collective and alternatives editor of CITY. See also

CITY at this year’s AAG meeting, L.A. 2013

L.A.In the editorial to the first issue of CITY in 1996, “It all comes together in L.A.?” we asked “What is a city in the late twentieth century? And, just as important a question, what could and should it be? When? Where? How?” Almost 2 decades on we come together again with Ed Soja and Allen Scott in L.A. at the Association of American Geographers in April, leading with two panel sessions that address two deeply important and interrelated contemporary urban debates:

CITY Panel Session 1:

CITY Perspectives 2. Why it’s kicking off everywhere (5163)

is scheduled on Saturday 13/04/2013, from 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM
in the Pacific Ballroon Salon 3, The LA Hotel, Level 2

Bob Catterall, CITY Editor-in-Chief
Anna Richter, Leibniz Institute

Bob Catterall, CITY Editor-in-Chief

Kurt Iveson, University of Sydney
Mark Davidson, Clark University
Andrea Gibbons, London School of Economics and Political Science
Antonis Vradis, London School of Economics and Political Science

Session description: In his Why it’s kicking off everywhere: (2012) The new global revolution, BBC economic journalist Paul Mason argued that ‘Greece is the modern case study of what happens when the political elite of a developed country allows its legitimacy to go up in flames.’ Moving across the planet from Greece to the USA, he explored the validity of this negative insight, and from Cairo to Manila, its hopeful alternatives, as two faces of global revolution. His work has the characteristic depth of historical investigation and the immediacy of street-based observation and digital dialogue.

In this session, editors of CITY, building on work in the journal, consider Mason’s overall approach and its relevance for analysis, action and outcome. They do so in the light of his subsequent updates, including the second edition, Why it’s still kicking off everywhere (Verso, 2013), on the progress of ‘the new global revolution’: it ‘finally has to concretise into a programme, a coherent vision. If it doesn’t…there are plenty of other forces of coherence.’ The session will explore why it’s kicking off everywhere, and how the ‘new global revolutions’ might go forward.

CITY Panel Session 2:

CITY Perspectives 1. Emerging cities of the third wave (5263)

is scheduled on Saturday 13/04/2013, from 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM
in the Pacific Ballroon Salon 3, The LA Hotel, Level 2

Bob Catterall, CITY Editor-in-Chief
Anna Richter, Leibniz Institute

Bob Catterall, CITY Editor-in-Chief

Allen Scott, University of California-Los Angeles
Ed Soja, University of California-Los Angeles
Sharon Meagher, University of Scranton
Elvin Wyly, University of British Columbia

Session description: In his seminal paper, ‘Emerging Cities of the Third Wave’ (CITY, 15.3-4, 2011), Allen Scott has argued that ‘the logic of urban change today is intertwined with the evolution of a globalizing cognitive-cultural capitalism in the context of a dominantly neoliberal policy failure.’ ‘The accumulating failures of neoliberal approaches’, he concludes, ‘suggest that the need for a new dispensation is now pressing’, and he proceeds to briefly indicate, drawing on his analysis of the third wave, what this new dispensation would involve.

The paper serves as a basis for this session in which the two leading members, Allen Scott and Ed Soja, of what was once characterized as ‘the LA School’, consider the paper in and beyond its place of origin. They are joined by Elvin Wyly and Sharon Meagher, two editors of the journal CITY, whose first issue was entitled ‘It all comes together in Los Angeles’.

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