RGS-IBG 2017 CfP: Decolonising urban transport studies

Session title: Decolonising urban transport studies

Convenors: Wojciech Kębłowski (Université libre de Bruxelles, Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Tauri Tuvikene (Tallinn University) and Astrid Wood (Newcastle University)

Session outline

In line with the underlining call of the conference to decolonise geographical knowledge, this TGRG sponsored session ventures into studies of urban passenger transport and mobility aiming to ‘open them up’ to the critical perspectives developed and developing in the world of urban studies writ large. We aim to delve into this challenge in three parts. 

First, following the ‘usual’ understanding of decolonisation, the session welcomes research that begins with an explicit focus on the more unusual suspects of urban policies and practices. We therefore welcome papers that work on the questions of movement in ‘ordinary cities’ of both North, South, and post-socialism as well as different dimensions of ‘ordinariness’. This also raises questions of policy mobility, in particular when emerging between cities seldom celebrated as outposts of ‘cutting-edge’ policy models, along paths less travelled by transport ‘fixes’ and ‘fads,’ and ‘recipes.’

Second, the session seeks to decolonise urban transport studies from dominant technical framings that, on the one hand, perceive movement as a question of of utility, efficiency or economic growth that are supposedly achieved through ‘rational’ planning and decision-making, and, on the other, a matter of sustainable development to be advanced through primarily technological and behavioural innovations. We thus aim not only to discuss strategies towards re-politicisation of urban transport by anchoring them more explicitly within a series of political-economic considerations emerged in urban studies. 

Third, we propose to take on the challenge of ‘decolonising’ urban space and mobility by attending more closely to the alternative practices and knowledges of moving, which often challenge formal rules and planning. While such practices might designate informal ways of negotiating urban space, they are not necessarily different from or inferior to the formal and established forms of mobility, and provide a fertile ground to negotiate dominant narratives of urban transport geographies.

To respond to the challenges outlined, we look forward to receiving papers offering theoretical discussions and empirical studies alike, dealing with one or more research sites in the global South, North or post-socialist environment and answering to one or multiple topics raised in this call.

Submission procedure

Potential session participants should send an abstract of maximum 250 words to Wojciech Kębłowski (wojciech.keblowski@vub.ac.be), Tauri Tuvikene (tauri.tuvikene@tlu.ee) and Astrid Wood (astrid.wood@ncl.ac.uk) by 29th January. We will get back to you before 5th February.

Presenters are strongly encouraged to submit a paper for the Postgraduate Prize awarded by TGRG. The TGRG has a small prize for the best postgraduate presentation in any TGRG session at the RGS-IBG 2017 Conference. If you wish to enter for the Postgraduate Prize a full paper should be submitted to the Chair and Secretary of TGRG prior to the conference date for judging. For more information and to find out about entry criteria please contact TGRG postgraduate rep Clare Woroniuk (clare.woroniuk@newcastle.ac.uk).


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