Circulations of social urbanism and informal settlement upgrading: between alternative and mainstream urban models

Location: Hybrid (in-person and online) | Map
Language: English and Spanish
Left photo: Electric escalators in Comuna 13 in Medellín implemented through social urbanism / Right photo: Electric escalator in La Araña in Mexico City inspired by social urbanism. CREDIT: Ryan Anders Whitney

We invite you to participate in the first seminar of a series of seminars on the subject of “Alternative circulations? Situating policymaking, decoloniality, and urban models within Latin American cities”. Please note that we will be scheduling Seminar 1 in Mexico City during the IX International Conference on Critical Geographies to make it attractive to colleagues who are also planning on attending that event.

In this seminar series, we address the broader actors, circuits, and geographies involved in the circulation and mobility of urban models in and from Latin America. Together the seminars 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. In concrete terms, we will hold four seminars: Circulations of social urbanism and informal settlement upgrading: between alternative and mainstream urban models (Mexico City, October 26-27th, 2023), Gender, care, and Latin American experiments in local governance (Bogota, March 2024), Alternative circuits and stakeholders (Buenos Aires, May 2024), and Theory and practice: moving the conversation forward (100% virtual, June 2024).

The first seminar, Circulations of social urbanism and informal settlement upgrading: between alternative and mainstream urban models will be held on October 26th and 27th at the Tecnológico de Monterrey’s Mexico City campus. Social urbanism is a policy of urban interventions adopted at the beginning of the 2000s in Medellín to foster urban equity through the strengthening of institutional, physical, and social infrastructures in marginal areas of the city. This seminar will explore social urbanism as a model, critically analysing its mobility from Medellin to other cities across Latin America while looking at alternative and emerging models related to poverty and informality. Furthermore, the seminar will explore alternative policies from the global South, asking what new South-South policy circulations suggest about the role of Latin American urban models. A site visit to explore the uptake of social urbanism in Mexico City will be included as part of the seminar.

As part of this seminar, we are looking for contributions on the formation and circulation of urban policies related to social urbanism, informal settlement upgrading, poverty, and inequality, as well as emerging best practices on these topics. We are most interested in contributions that explore the role of, and/or disconnect between, mainstream and alternative actors that help define, establish, and contest urbanism models that are circulating within Latin America. Please feel free to contact the seminar organizers if you would like to discuss your abstract before submission.

Abstracts: 250 words, in English or Spanish, including a title of no more than 20 words.
Deadline: May 25th, 2023

Send to:

Ryan Anders Whitney (
Isabel Duque Franco (
Guillermo Jajamovich (

Please note that we have funding available to pay for the travel costs of one exceptional PhD student to attend the seminar in Mexico City to share their research. If you are a PhD student, please be sure to let us know when you email your abstract to us. The PhD student selected for travel funding will be chosen based on an evaluation rubric.

Relevant dates for contributors

April 2023: Call for abstracts issued for Seminar 1
May 25th, 2023: Deadline for 250-word abstracts
June 5th, 2023: Notification of acceptance/rejection of abstracts by seminar
October 26th / 27th, 2023: Seminar 1 in Mexico City

"Before the USF senior fellowship, I ran a real risk of drowning in University administration and management responsibilities as I entered the ‘mid-career wildernness’. The fellowship reinvigorated my capacity, ideas and track record in research – and helped catapult me from mid- to senior career."

Professor Donald Houston, Senior Research Fellowship

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