CFP: The field formerly known as Urban Studies?

RGS/IBG Conference 2015

University of Exeter, Wednesday 2nd to Friday 4th September 2015


The field formerly known as Urban Studies?

The purpose of this session (these sessions) will be to generate some discussion around ongoing attempts to rethink the ‘urban’ as a concept capable of bequeathing a coherent body of scholarship. In recent years urban studies has been challenged from two contrasting vectors.  On the one hand, it is now widely proclaimed that we have entered an ‘urban age’, with over half of the world’s population now living in cities. More importantly perhaps, following Lefebvre’s prophetic pronouncement over forty years ago, all of society “has been completely urbanized” at least in the sense that urbanization is deeply entangled in key processes shaping territories hitherto thought of as both ‘urban’ and ‘non-urban’.  In the context of these debates, we are interested in exploring Brenner and Schmid’s concept of “planetary urbanization” as a basis for a new direction for Urban Studies. On the other hand, and partly as a consequence of this, ‘the urban’ as a distinct category of spatial and theoretical analysis has lost its coherence. A diverse set of interventions, for example, urban political ecology approaches that dismantle the separation between nature and society or post-colonial perspectives that disrupt the primacy of urban theory derived from particular (Western) contexts have challenged how we think about the urban.  It is clear that we are living in a world of cities, but in this world ‘the city’ itself may have disappeared. Contributors will be asked to reflect critically upon the status, nature and implication of the claim that we need to think again about what to do with the “field formerly known as Urban Studies”. Theoretical, methodological, and empirical papers will be welcome.

Please send your proposed title and abstract (about 200 words) to Mark Boyle ( or Cian O’Callaghan) ( before the 14th February.

More details on key dates and the registration process are available at:

Session Organisers: Mark Boyle and Cian O’Callaghan (Department of Geography/National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analyses, National University of Ireland Maynooth) andBrendan Gleeson and Lauren Rickards (Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, Melbourne University).


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