Thirteen new Seminar Series Awards for 2023-2024

Grants Awarded Blog 12th April 2023

The USF is excited to announce another record level of funding for urban studies Seminar Series Awards around the world. Thirteen unique proposals have received offers of support to deliver projects in over twenty different countries, with over £245k being committed to the 2022 round of this funding scheme. Each programme involves at least three events (and sometimes up to fifteen!), which range from traditional academic workshops to public talks, early-career training sessions, and more. Events will be hosted from around fifty different locations and venues throughout 2023 and 2024. Many proposals also step beyond traditional academic audiences for their activities, and involve a range of other actors and organisations in the programming of their events and research topics. All proposals will generate compelling and timely scholarly debate and dialogue in urban studies, and will also work towards a range of outputs and impact across publications of all types, knowledge mobilisation, training, and other resources—ranging from podcasts to video production.

The USF is very pleased with the diversity of themes and participants that will be engaged in this round of the award, with a collection of projects that represent a wide variety of significant collaborations across continents, disciplines, research topics, cultures, languages, and more. Eleven of the thirteen proposals also involve Global South scholars and/or institutions as part of their core delivery teams, and indeed the wider applicant pool constituted some of the most diverse proposals received by the USF for any funding scheme to date. Since the USF has been working hard in recent years to further extend its support to Global South regions—including via carefully tailored grant design and programming that aims towards more equitable grantmaking generally—this round of the Seminar Series Awards is viewed as a resounding success on the journey towards supporting a truly global urban studies community.

The USF is very grateful to all those who applied in this round of the funding, and also to nine external reviewers who worked tirelessly alongside the awarding panel in carefully selecting the thirteen successful proposals. Although running such a competitive global grant can be challenging, the USF is pleased to report that the scheme maintained a healthy success rate of around sixteen percent, and currently intends to launch a further round of the funding in 2024. Congratulations are extended to all of the new grant-holders, and the USF looks forward to seeing each programme take shape in the near future.

Thirteen new Seminar Series Awards for 2023-2024

Detailed project information is available on the relevant sections of the USF website (see: About > Grants Awarded > Seminar Series Awards), where the successful proposals include:

The project Youth on the Move: Performing Urban Space in the Global South is led by Ying Cheng (Peking University), Min Tang (Tongji University) and Anuj Daga (University of Mumbai). It will feature two online lecture series and two workshops held by institutions in Beijing, Mumbai and Lagos. This seminar series focuses on the emerging socio-spatial practices of youth in African and Asian contexts, and will examine their modes of moving and meaning-making through an embodied politics of performance. Through lectures and workshops, the proposal gathers urban scholars, architects, artists, curators and local youth groups and asks: how does the youth perform Southern urban space; what practices of (im)mobility do they produce; and what promise do they offer to the reading of the multi-layered Southern urbanity?

The UTA-Do African Cities Workshop Series will bring together emerging scholars, artists and activists around the shared project of thinking and doing the urban. The workshops will be led by Liza Cirolia (African Centre for Cities), Miriam Maina (University of Manchester), Andrea Pollio (ACC/DIST, Polytechnic of Turin), and MK Mbugua (The GoDown Arts Centre). The core of the programme is an annual African Cities Workshop, supported by engagements with officials and public events that focus on specific themes within urban studies. In 2023, the workshop and supporting events will be held in Nairobi, co-hosted by the BIEA and The GoDown Arts Centre. In 2024, the events will take place in Dar es Salaam in April/May.

As people move around the world, we shape and reshape the place we live, their population and identities, we create space for new encounters, exchanges, and tensions. The seminar series Towards innovative mixed-methods approaches to studying living multicultural in small cities will explore the methods we use to study multiculture in small cities across Europe, and interrogates the use of mixed-methods approaches. The participants will investigate how researchers can better understand how multiculturalism is experienced in different places by combining quantitative, qualitative, digital, participatory and ethnographic methods. The seminars will bring together academics, researchers, and practitioners from different fields to share their work and learn about mixed-methods research practices, encouraging collaboration and open scholarship. By exploring these ideas, we hope to develop new methods, practices and approaches to studying cities. This project will be led by Stefano De Sabbata (University of Leicester), Matteo Dutto (Monash University), Maarten Loopmans (KU Leuven), and a wider team based at the University of Leicester, KU Leuven, and beyond.

The Overlooked Cities seminar series interrogate “overlooked cities” or “overlookedness” as a collective critique and elaborate the praxis of counter-overlooking to provide renewed critical impetus to think about, write about, care about and act on urban lives. Three seminar events will be held in September 2023 in Bandung, Indonesia, in October 2023 in Bloemfontein, South Africa and in March 2024 in Durham, UK. This series will: 1) Establish a common understanding and dialogue between the concepts of overlooked and ordinary cities, thereby grounding discussions in historical and contemporary debates; 2) Connect academics, practitioners and early career researchers working in, and on, overlooked cities to build a common agenda for counter-overlooking in global urban studies; and 3) Map the urban conditions that are overlooked and question their implications for planning policy and praxis. The series envisages three main outputs: a special issue, an ECRs mentoring and training workshop, and an “Overlooked Cities Network.” The series is led by Isolde de Villiers (University of the Free State), Yimin Zhao (Renmin University of China / University of Zurich), and Erwin Nugraha (Resilience Development Initiative), with support from team members including Julia Wesely (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna) and Hanna A Ruszczyk (Durham University).

A seminar series on Women’s urban care practices in Europe and Latin America will be led by Adriana Hurtado Tarazona (Universidad de los Andes), Sandra Carolina Pulido-Chaparro (Universidad de los Andes), and Nina Margies (Humboldt University of Berlin). They will be assisted by team members from institutions in Colombia and Germany, including María José Álvarez-Rivadulla, Friederike Fleischer, Talja Blokland, and Natalia Martini. This proposal focuses in particular on the economic and health crisis triggered by the pandemic, including vulnerabilities in cities and the importance of caregiving practices. The series will focus on key questions such as: what forms of social and symbolic resources of urban infrastructure allow women to enable or create forms of urban care? What lessons can we learn about specific cases in Latin America and Europe, on the role of public social capital in care practices? How do experiences from the margins allow us to think about public social capital? The events and activities will consist of two in-person seminars of four days in Bogotá and Berlin (each including specific workshops for training ECRs), a two-day online seminar as closing event, and a podcast series produced after each seminar.

The seminar series Feminising urban struggle will strengthen knowledge and debate about the lived experiences of peripheral women in producing and reproducing their territories through struggle. The goal is to facilitate critical reflection about urbanization at the periphery, stimulating new studies and research agendas that use gender, race and intersectional lenses towards the production of grounded and transdisciplinary knowledge(s). The key focus of the series is on women’s involvement in urban production at peripheral areas, through autoconstruction, a term adopted in reference to housing as well as urban infrastructure and services, advocacy and insurgency (see: Caldeira 2017). This stems from the applicants’ research projects in different global south contexts (Southern Africa and South America), exploring the activism of peripheral women in transforming their territories, claiming spaces deemed as inaccessible to them and their communities, and building their own political networks. The series will be led by Priscila Izar (University of the Witwatersrand), Paula Freire Santoro (University of São Paulo), and Elinorata Mbuya (Ardhi University), with support from team members including Sarah Charlton and Paula Meth.

Interrogating the role of religious actors in shaping urban planning is a seminar series which aims to contextualise, unpack and compare the ways in which religious (or religious-inspired) actors engage with planning systems and governance processes, and the perceived impact on trajectories of urban development in the Middle Eastern and Latin American cities. Existing scholarship suggests that religious institutions—whether Islamic Shia or Sunni and Catholic or Neo-Pentecostal—in these areas have consistently taken on functions attributed to the state, and evolved into alternative welfare providers that overlap with, contradict, or complement state institutions. The provision of goods and services like water, energy, and housing are examples of such practices. Yet such welfare is not sufficiently unpacked by urban theorists, nor are they recognised as a cornerstone of planning trajectories in the global south. By jointly analysing Middle Eastern and Latin American cities, this proposal seeks to extend current scholarly debates on the role of religious actors that are increasingly active—politically and spatially—yet absent in planning theories. The series is led by Azadeh Mashayekhi (UCL), Noura Wahby (American University in Cairo), and Camila Pereira Saraiva (Universidade Federal do ABC), with support from team members including Thaisa Comelli and Vafa Dianati (both at UCL).

The series Calibrating urban liveability in the Global South: Gendered perspectives on climate, health, governance and policy is led by Surabhi Mehrotra (Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology), Divya Subramanian, and Sneha Krishnan (OP Jindal Global University). Women are more vulnerable to the detrimental effects of climate change, natural hazards, environmental pollution, rapid urbanization, political apathy, resource inaccessibility, and food insecurity, among others. However, they rarely find representation in the policy formulations and decision-making processes. A gendered lens is proposed to assess urban livability by addressing policy, public health, climate resilience, governance and environmental aspects. The overarching goal of this project is to provide an interdisciplinary research platform for planners, academics, practitioners, key stakeholders, and activists to contribute valuable narratives, research, case studies, and artworks, among other formats. This series attempts to provide a representation of gender-centric discourse informed by the on-the-ground experiences of women, along with domain experts and researchers. The proposal involves a three-part seminar series entailing two virtual events and an in-person symposium.

Embarking on a vibrant exploration of urbanity, the Coastal commons project captures the essence of a multifaceted endeavour unfolding in Costa Chica, Guerrero, Mexico. As a rich tapestry of artists, activists, and researchers, the project team will weave together their diverse Black and Indigenous histories, embracing the complexities of transcultural and multilingual networks of care. Introducing a ground-breaking approach to urban studies, the project encompasses three interconnected activities: virtual seminars, participatory video, and training groups. The project is led by Ulises Moreno-Tabarez, Dulce Quintero Romero, and Keila Martínez Martínez, with a range of local partner organisations, including: Informal Network of Artists and Activists in Costa Chica; Mujeres Afrodescendientes en Movimiento (MUAFRO); Unión Regional de Ejidos de la Costa Chica (URECCh); La Sandía Digital; Tlachinollan; Altepetl Movilizado: Costa-Montaña contra la Minera; La Flor Amuzga, A.C.; Fondo Regional Indígena Mujeres En Desarrollo De La Costa Chica De Gro, A.C.; Mujeres en Desarrollo de la Costa Chica de Guerrero, A.C.; Comerciantes Ambulantes de la Costa Chica, A.C.

New municipalism, democratic public ownership, and the politics of the common aims to contribute to the emergent debate in the urban studies literature on the possibilities offered and challenges posed by the application of common-based approaches to the struggle for the democratic public ownership and management of public goods and services in and beyond the urban and the local dimension. The proposals will bring together early career and established researchers across a series of events, including a week-long residential in Barcelona, a two-day seminar in Antwerp, and a number of online events. It puts an emphasis on developing links between academic research and civil society organisations, with an aim to critically support future efforts to radically democratise public goods and services. This series is led by Bertie Russell (Universdad Autónoma de Barcelona), Iolanda Bianchi (University of Antwerp), and Lavinia Steinfort (Transnational Institute).

The Urban vacancy, occupation and commoning series features a collective of established scholars and ECRs. The team has extensive experience conducting comparative, collaborative transnational research cutting across the North/South divide (Latin America, Europe, and South Africa), and brings together distinct genealogies of urban thought. The dynamic relationship between vacancy, occupations and commoning has been extraordinarily productive; however complex geographical variegation creates barriers. The seminar series will address this challenge through a) learning from embedded discussions involving academics, occupiers and social movements, b) developing a global comparative urban approach, c) training ECRs to develop grounded and international collaborations. This project is led by Suraya Scheba (University of Cape Town), Cian O’Callaghan (Trinity College Dublin), and Andreas Scheba (Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa). They are supported by a team that includes Kathleen Stokes (National University of Ireland, Galway), Justin Kadi (University of Cambridge), Simon Guentner (Vienna University of Technology), Judith Lehner (Vienna University of Technology), Nate Millington (University of Manchester), and Diana Sanchez-Betancourt (Human Sciences Research Council, SA).

A seminar series titled Intersections on the periphery: the Good City in a Time of Crisis will be led by Andrew Tucker (African Centre for Cities), Shriya Anand (Indian Institute for Human Settlements), and Colin McFarlane (Durham University). The series will address the manner in which the intersection of rapid peripheral urbanisation, profound climate impacts, and sharply growing inequalities has challenged existing conceptual frameworks and approaches. The programme responds to a need to create a series of open-ended conversations that will allow participants to reflect on how to make sense of this intersection and what to do about it. On the one hand, peripheral expansion has emerged as the dominant mode of urbanisation, and on the other hand, shifts such as climate change and a plurality of growing inequalities in urban settlements have raised into question our notion of a ‘good city’. The organisers of this series argue that it is at the intersection of these trends that new conceptual work must take place if it is to be relevant to understanding the current urban moment.

Alternative circulations? Situating policymaking, decoloniality, and urban models within Latin American cities will be led by Ryan Whitney (Tecnológico de Monterrey), Isabel Duque Franco (Universidad Nacional de Colombia), and Guillermo Jajamovich (Universidad de Buenos Aires). This seminar series will address the broader actors, circuits, and geographies involved in the circulation and mobility urban models in and from Latin America. Specifically, the seminars will investigate the role of a range of actors, including experts and politicians, but also alternative actors such as those involved in urban social movements and alternative networks of “experts” that are interwoven in policy mobility processes. The team will hold four seminars: ‘Social urbanism, poverty, and informality: between alternative and mainstream circulations’ (Mexico City), ‘gender, care, and Latin American experiments in local governance’ (Bogota), ‘alternative circuits and stakeholders’ (Buenos Aires), and ‘theory and practice: moving the conversation forward’ (virtual/online).