Call for Participation

International Symposium  |  16-18 January 2020  |  Berlin, Germany

// the Call for proposals is closed //

Perhaps a defining aspect of the current moment is the rise of urban social movements defying exasperating precarity, racism and capitalism, and scholars and activists working to support localized struggles. They rely on sharing reflexive understandings of elements, systems and networks of oppression to labor contextualized strategies and tactics for countering hegemony and exploitation on both intellectual and practical levels. Given the contemporary polycrises – economic, social, political, environmental and corporeal – we have to find and test ways to support the emergence of new scholarly and socio-political spaces and paradigms that inform the tailoring of progressive urban change.

Accordingly, this international symposium focuses on one hand on the disjuncture between theoretical knowledge on the complexities of socio-spatial urban realities and the multiple layers (re)producing inequalities; and on the other hand, on the sharing and communication of this knowledge across disciplinary, professional and literacy boundaries. In particular, we want to zoom in on mappings and visualizations as a tool that has the potential to give rise to alternative, pluralistic understandings of the urban (against the homogenization of places as well as of interpretations) and link works from within and beyond academia. In this respect, we want to investigate whether and how maps (in a broad understanding of the term) can contribute to a more dynamic understanding of resource flows, social relations, power structures and their interlinkages; and consequently explore whether and how maps can make a difference in tackling urban socio-environmental crises.

This symposium aims to create a space for conversation between knowledge produced in the Global South and that in the Global North. It therefore pivots thematically on two key aspects that globally underline the current moment of vulnerability and struggles against it: Intersectionality and Climate Change Adaptation.

Theme 1  |  Cartographies of Intersectionality

Under this theme we invite papers, mappings and visual projects that focus on the relationship between intersectionality – as a framework for understanding the modalities and multiple dimensions involved in shaping social relations and subject formations — and its materialization and spatialization in the urban. Issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, creed and disability are fundamental components in othering, inequality and the creation of vulnerability (social, political and economic), yet their exploration is largely limited to the realm of the written word, therefore fencing intersectionality as a quintessential dimension of analyses from reaching wider audiences and embedding it into practice.

Under this theme we welcome proposals that tackle questions such as (but not limited to):

  • How can maps help grasp the complex conditions (re)producing inequalities, the multilayered systems of oppression and the linkages to urban space – conceived, perceived and lived?
  • Can maps uncover (and how) the intimate relationship between the production of urban space and the productions of power and help push towards a politics of inclusion and possibility?
  • Can the visualizations/mappings of intersectional data bring new insights to the conceptualization of intersectionality or would that by default produce exclusionary categorizations?
  • How can maps deal with the issue of fluid categories (e.g. the anticategorical complexity approach) and interrogate boundary-making?
  • Can maps of intersectionality serve (and how) as tools for countering displacement, appropriation, biopolitics and othering, securitization, privatization and the militarization of the urban?
  • Can maps of intersectionality (and how) support building solidarities – cross-national, -disciplinary and other divides – on issues of contemporary urban policy without becoming itself a tool of policy mobility and assemblage?
  • What are useful strategies, tactics and typologies of mapping intersectionality in urban space?

Theme 2  |  Cartographies of Climate Adaptation

Under this theme we invite papers, mapping and visual projects that explore potential mechanisms, modes, resources and actor networks involved in and required for Climate Change Adaptation (CCA). While market-oriented politics is propagating expensive ‘smart’ and sustainable technologies and new cities as solutions, the fact remains that such solutions fall beyond the capacities of most cities that are in effect layerings and accumulations of histories, resources and technologies. In addition, deliberations on CCA are dominated by techno-managerial proposals that ignore the political economies of poverty, dependency and exclusion which are root causes of (reproduced) vulnerability. Often what is being propagated as preparedness and early response falls short of accounting for the needed process of fundamental rethinking and remaking, in this case, of urban morphologies, physical spaces, infrastructures, networks, and the socio-behavioral systems that reproduce and transform them.

Under this theme we welcome proposals that tackle questions such as (but not limited to):

  • How can maps and visualizations play a role in developing new imaginaries that radically change frameworks of negotiating urban CCA and establish alternative practices and methods?
  • Can maps (and how) coalesce dissensus-driven methodologies and practices of CCA as a tool to normalize plurality of discourses in envisioning and developing urban spaces (beyond the one-all-solving-vision)?
  • What kinds of maps can shed light on the politico-economic character of CCA, voice counter topographies, scrutinize the dominant techno-managerial approaches and open space for discordant and challenging narratives and pathways?
  • How can maps and visualizations change the rhetoric, power dynamics and temporalities around “emergency preparedness” where e.g. large-scale infrastructural projects and remedial technologies are often applied or approved rapidly in periods of crises (whether real or projected) to ‘save the city’, at a time these have serious and lasting implications in terms of deepening social and economic inequalities, political hegemony and environmental degradation?
  • What kinds of maps and visualizations integrate adaptation planning into urban development planning and can they serve as ‘living indicators’ to monitor and adapt courses of action?
  • How can maps common citizens’ knowledge and engagement in agenda-setting, establish connection across stratifications, and support (low-tech) means in response to emergencies beyond institutionalized realms?

We see this transdisciplinary symposium not only as a space for sharing knowledge but equally as a working space for creating ‘new’ knowledge on the urban today, and the ideas and visions we have for the future. Hence, it is structured in a Workshop format where inputs by contributors feed into working groups that tackle specific questions under the two outlined themes. The working groups will extend over the two days of the symposium and cross through plenary and plenum sessions.

For information about submission procedure and deadlines click here.

We are working on options for providing travel support. More information will be released when available. Please stay tuned with our website (click here).


This Symposium is taking place within the framework of the research project “Mapping for Change? Critical cartography approaches to drive socio-environmental urban transformations”, funded by the Volkswagen Stiftungand docked at the recently established K LAB, Institute for Urban & Regional Planning, TU Berlin, Germany.

For more information click here.

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