Urban Governance and Its Discontents

The annual conference on ‘Urban Governance and its Discontents’ was held on 18-19 February 2016 at the University of Oxford.

A cornerstone initiative of the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities, the conference brought together urban thinkers and practitioners to discuss the unprecedented challenges of urbanization to life on this planet in the 21st century.

The event adopted a new format for presenting and elaborating thinking on what cities are and what they should be, placing scholars who are on the cutting edge of global urban research face-to-face with established and innovative practitioners—architects, activists, policy makers, and artists. Through a series of rigorous yet accessible public dialogues, practitioners and scholars grappled with the intellectual and material implications of their interventions and theories on contemporary cities.

The conference was organized around four central debates:

  • Making the city: Spontaneous vs Planned? Challenges for the 21st century.
  • Governing the city: Where do infrastructure, democracy, and social justice meet?
  • Mobilizing the city: Amidst global urban protests, the ‘right to the city’ is the right to what?
  • Representing the city: How do writing and painting reflect and shape migration to cities?

Each debate was preceded by a small panel of academics and practitioners presenting papers that speak to the same key issues as the respective debates.

Some video interviews with a selection of prominent speakers and participants at the event are available to view on the Urban Transformations Youtube channel here.