ISA-RC21 Conference: In and Beyond the City: Emerging Ontologies, Persistent Challenges and Hopeful Futures
Across the globe, cities surpass their own contours. Urban cores expand and intensify in size and height, and we see connectivities, nodes and enclaves involving new technologies, information flows, migrations, time/space compressions and everyday rhythms and experiences that defy known cartographies and categories. Meanwhile, a city’s decision makers, planners, politicians, representatives and all other agents who govern urban life face increasing challenges that exceed their tools of measurement and categorizations in unprecedented ways.
This surpassing of the gaze and grip of the city can also be seen as a reworking of everyday ontologies, or the properties and relations between concepts that we, as urban scholars, may long have assumed to be easily understood, like ‘neighborhoods’, ‘social networks’, ‘place’, ‘urban politics’, ‘urban movements’, ‘rural-urban continuum’ or more. While these contours impact how we live in and understand cities, most traditional urban concerns and vulnerabilities – social and spatial inequalities, racial and ethnic exclusions, injustices and exploitations in livelihoods, inadequacies of housing, infrastructure, health, security and environment – remain. Practices of technology, design and innovation develop simultaneously which adapt to scale and pressure, for example, sustainable, affordable and resilient building and infrastructure, or ways to manage urban waste. New urban experiences that produce new cultural formations, practices, urban art and aesthetics and modes of being political also emerge.
The conference’s location in Delhi – a city that has long exceeded theoretical parameters, material forms, planned or unplanned practices both within and outside its limits – provides an ideal starting point to think through emerging and dominant concerns of addressing the city.
In this conference, our call is to search for perspectives that support these changing theoretical, practical and empirical terrains. We invite discussions that move beyond conventional understandings and encourage an inclusive framing that allow innovative planetary comparisons that are not confined to a North – South divide. We invite proposals on sessions that focus on ways in which city futures are imagined and addressed in scholarship. While we encourage a critical approach to agendas for the future in cities, we are eager to learn about hopeful futures that may be unfolding over urban terrains.Overall, the conference invites proposals that address conventional challenges as well those related to changing scales and technologies of the urban.