TRANSFORMING URBAN PLACES: UNDERSTANDING COMMUNITY
DEADLINE FOR ABSTRACTS: 16th November 2016
Boston AAG 5th-9th April, 2017
Session Conveners – Charles Barlow (University of Chicago) and Julie Clark (University of the West of Scotland)
Placemaking and community have gained considerable prominence in policy and planning strategies in recent years. Nevertheless, the rhetoric of inclusion obscures the tensions and competing agendas embedded in managing urban transformation. Along one axis, these efforts are complicated by divergent interests and priorities from myriad stakeholders, ranging from policymakers to private investors to community members themselves. These plural narratives and complicated still further when we consider the role of the civic-minded researcher and our aspiration for geographical inquiry to not just do no harm, but to do good on participants’ terms rather than academics (PyGyRG 2009).
Taking inspiration from the Autonomous Geographies Collective suggestion that ‘the most important principle for academics committed to social change is to make strategic interventions collectively with the social movements we belong to’ (2010, 247), this session seeks to explore methodological approaches that recognize and engage with the value of normative ideas embedded within and negotiated by communities (Smith 2009) and question and destabilize traditional barriers between us, the ‘experts’ and the marginalized ‘researched’ to carve out spaces for collaboration and the co-production of knowledge. Indeed, no matter how laudable, the new orthodoxy of community participation and civic engagement in the urban transformation process poses unanswered questions about who is represented and how, is silent on the role of the civic-minded researcher, while the question of what it takes to create and sustain vibrant urban communities remains as live as ever.
Through this session, we hope to foster discussion of the myriad methodological approaches that inform and advance our understanding of community, and particularly welcome papers engaged with:
· placemaking in policy and planning contexts (e.g. public interest design);
· grassroots community initiatives (e.g. activism and social movements);
· co-production and participatory methods applied in the urban environment; and,
· methodological challenges that complicate our understanding of community (e.g. positionality)
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Register for the Boston AAG conference at: http://www.aag.org/cs/annualmeeting