The Transgressive City (session at RC21)

Call For Proposals (papers, notes, videos, etc.) for RC21 Mexico City (July 2016), The Transgressive City

Stream Title: “Importing and Exporting Worldly Urbanism: The Challenges of Studying the Global Circulation of City Models, Best Practices and Imaginaries”

Organizers: David Sadoway (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)  & Anthony M. Levenda (Portland State University, Portland USA)

Our RC21 session seeks to analyze, scrutinize and theorize the importation, exportation and appropriation of circulating urban ideas, projects and the practices of actors that make these ‘policy mobilities’ possible (McCann & Ward 2012). As cities examine and opt for importing a plethora of policies, model projects and programming from across the globe, various groups – including city governments, developers, consultancies, civil society and universities – are offering services such as thinktanking, thought leadership, urban branding, standards and metric-making, rankings, rating systems, best practices and models-in-the-making. These circulating urban policy, planning and design ideas, and coupled imaginaries, provide rich insights into questions about knowledge, power and place-making. Conversely too, cities, businesses, consultancies and civic groups are (hyper)actively engaging in exporting memes, schemes and dreams about urbanism. This mode of import-export urban policy development is wrapped up in the world-making and cosmopolitan ‘worlding’ of cities (Ong & Roy 2011).

What worlds collide or what worlds are displaced when urban neighbourhoods are ‘worlded’ or ‘world classed’? What are the impacts of ‘worldly models’ that touch down in cities or are ‘tested bedded’ as place-making endeavors? What powers, knowledges, technologies, infrastructures and everyday practices make urban policies, ideas and ideals mobile and worldly? With the critical understanding that policies, projects, and urban imaginaries are both territorial and relational, these are the types of questions we seek to explore in examining the exportation/importation of urban planning memes, schemes and dreams in Mexico City.

Our RC21 Mexico City stream session invites papers, short videos, research notes, or reports on projects in-the-works, which focus on the challenges of comparative urbanism in a world awash with circulating models, best practices and more. We invite works that engage with these themes in any geographical or spatial context, but especially those that transcend and transgress across socio-economic, socio-technical, ecological and political milieus, such as:

  • The practices and technologies of exporting urban design, planning, and management ideas: thinktanking, branding, best practices, ranking, test bedding, model-making, etc.
  • Worlding and its impacts on the urban commons, civic life and governmentality, etc..
  • Worlding and world-making (Ong & Roy 2011) within and amongst cities.
  • Policy mobilities (McCann 2011) and how they touch down in city-regions.
  • Planning ideas that travel (Healey 2009) and their import (or export).
  • Comparative or translocal urbanism (Robinson 2011, McFarlane 2013, Ward 2011, Peck 2015) as studies within, amongst and between cities.
  • Comparative global urban strategizing, networking and coalition-building, etc.
  • G/local urban knowledge networks/systems and assemblage urbanisms.
  • Role model cities, consulting urbanism, fast urbanism, enclave urbanism & ‘smart cities’.

Please submit your 500-700 word project proposal or abstract with “RC21 Mexico City” in your email subject heading to ALL three of the following addresses on or before Jan 31, 2016:   David Sadoway <>; Anthony Levenda:  <>; and the RC21 Mexico City 2016 panel organizers:  <>.


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