Future of Cities seminar series – ‘Urban Life’


The programme for the Future of Cities Michaelmas Term Seminar Series, ‘Urban Life’, is now available.
Seminars in this series will be held 16:30-18:00 on Wednesdays from 19 October in the Hovenden Room of All Souls College, Oxford. All are welcome to attend.

Seminar Series Abstract

Over the academic year 2016 – 2017 the Future of Cities programme seminar series will explore the rich profusion of life, human and non-human, that makes up urban environments. It will look at how a range of factors from housing to health, markets to mobilities, legislation to legal practice, have bearings upon the ways in which urban living is conditioned.  Further, it will consider how apparently marginal figures and spaces such as migrants, peri-urban agriculture, ‘waste’ or ‘wild’ spaces within cities condition the ambit and potential of urban life.

Casting the frame for the series broadly, as ‘Urban Life and Urban Living’, the seminars will explore processes of urbanisation and the changes they bring to the environments in which different kinds of life and social lives are lived, from the biophysical to the built environment. What questions does thinking about different kinds of urban life raise for practices of urban living? Vice versa, how do practices of urban living impact different kinds of urban life? What does this mean for how we think about things like political practices, infrastructures, economies and circuits of exchange, or inter-species relationships? How are the urban spaces that emerge through this lens to be governed, for which kinds of denizens (human and nonhuman), and in what political modes?  What pasts are referred to and futures envisioned in contemporary urban planning and popular discourse, whether thinking about ‘smart cities’, infrastructures, or other urban residents themselves? What are the inclusions, exclusions, enclaves, and inequalities that emerge through urbanisation?

In the Autumn term the seminar series will focus on the processes and practises of Urban Living, and in the Spring term on forms of Urban Life. They will bring together people from different disciplines to consider these issues, building links between people working on similar topics from different research backgrounds, across the University and beyond.

Topics for discussion include:

  • – Governance of urban life and bio-politics in urban spaces
  • – Marginal figures and spaces: inclusion/exclusion, life ‘out of place’, from migrants, to different demographic groups, to non-humans in urban spaces. Spaces of ‘waste’, ‘wild’ and ‘edge-lands’
  • – Non-human life in towns and cities
  • – Lively infrastructures and urbanisation
  • – Human and non-human well-being in urban spaces; from health to conservation vs pest-control?
  • – Interdisciplinary studies of urban ecologies; creative, productive or frustrating?

Seminar schedule:

19 October
The Border and the City: Spatialities of the European Crisis
Dimitris Dalakoglou, Chair in Social Anthropology, VU University Amsterdam

2 November
Racialized Citizens, Security and the Paradox of Exclusion and Inclusion
Piero Vereni, Associate Professor, University of Rome Tor Vergata

16 November
The Global Urban Transition: Origins and Implications for Human Development
Sean Fox, Lecturer in Urban Geography and Global Development, University of Bristol

30 November
The Block: Social Biography of a Building in Postsocialist Romania
Maria Șalaru, DPhil Candidate and Film Maker, University of Oxford