2015 AAG CFP: Revisiting Entrepreneurialism: the logics of urban governance in systemic crisis

October 26, 2014 · No Comments

Harvey’s (1989) outline of entrepreneurial urban governance remains a staple of urban theory. Consensus is that cities – as constrained by neoliberal institutions – must pursue growth above all else, even at the cost of the well-being of some of their citizens (Merrifield, 2014). Urban governance is therefore seen to rely on technocratic or speculative experiments that are designed to make the city a better enabler of market processes (Gibbs, 2013; Karvonen & van Heur, 2014; MacLeod, 2011; Swyngedouw, 2011). Yet we constantly see that urban growth initiatives are not coherent nor bear predicted results. Over time, speculative initiatives can be subject to regime changes and capitalist crisis that render them something other than what was intended. In addition, political actions are now being taken at the municipal level that appear to contravene entrepreneurial dictates. Can such changes make our urban politics something other than entrepreneurial and/or neoliberal?

In recent years a number of significant urban economic and political events have occurred which appear to demand a revision of popular theories of urban governance. They highlight the limits to entrepreneurialism coordinated according to the logics of growth and, paradoxically, the resilience of entrepreneurial practices despite their inability to deliver growth. Entrepreneurial practices appear to be tearing away from their neoliberal justifications, becoming more apparent manifestations of ideological practices. Such events include the raft of municipal bankruptcies that have shaken the financial ordering of cities by ignoring the governmental rules of financial capitalism. They also include events that seem to cast doubt on the strength and scope of neoliberal dictates; where significant increases in city-based minimum wages are now accepted as politically possible and broad-based mobilizations are challenging who has the authority to govern cities.  The logics of entrepreneurialism therefore appear less constraining and/or more easily transcended, even in our so-called post-political times.

This session therefore revisits the political economic condition of urban governance. It examines how urban politics can and have diverged from its entrepreneurial neoliberal condition, and what the implications of such divergences can and might be. Potential topics of papers to be included in the session might include:

  • Theories of urban governance that develop ideas of entrepreneurialism
  • Studies of urban events and processes that challenge dominant understandings of urban governance
  • Attempts to understand urban governance in times of (permanent) political and economic crisis
  • Studies and theories of political confrontation and change in contemporary cities
  • Attempts to comparatively understand the varied experiences of cities in times of crisis

Authors are invited to submit 250 word abstracts to John Lauermann (jlauermann@clarku.edu) and Mark Davidson (mdavidson@clarku.edu), by October 6. Likewise, please feel free to contact us with questions or to discuss potential paper topics.

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Progress in Human Geography paper

June 14, 2014 · No Comments


A new paper out, co-written with Kurt Iveson, entitled “Recovering the politics of the cityFrom the ‘post-political city’ to a ‘method of equality’ for critical urban geography” out in Progress in Human Geography

The paper actually preceded our other recently published paper in Space and Polity

This paper uses Jacque Rancière understanding of politics to ask what makes cities political entities. We review existing urban geography debates to identify some of the defining features of urban politics and then subject them to critical questioning: are they actually political? The paper seeks to develop existing interpretations of Rancière’s philosophy within geography to develop his ‘method of equality’ in order to recover the politics of the city. This identifies three necessary components of critical urban scholarship in order that it transcends critique and works towards making democratic politics possible.

If you do not have access to the journal, please email me for a copy

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Blogging about US urban politics

March 26, 2014 · No Comments


A short piece for LSE’s USAPP: http://bit.ly/1ru5H6V

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New article on the post-political

March 12, 2014 · No Comments

SP cover

Really happy to see this out… a piece I wrote with the brilliant Kurt Iveson entitled “Occupations, mediations, subjectifications: Fabricating politics” in Space and Polity. The abstract is pasted below. If you do not have access to the journal, please email me for a copy of the paper.

abstract: The revolutions and protests that have spread across the globe since 2008 have been seen as a watershed moment. In this article we examine the relationships between urban space and politics that have emerged across these events. We draw upon the political philosophy of Jacques Rancière to provide a framework to understand some events of this period as political moments and, in addition, attempt to build upon Rancière’s work to trace out the geographical dimensions of politics. The paper concludes with a consideration of the counter-revolutionary projects enacted by current social orders.

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Academic publishing

February 26, 2014 · No Comments


Really great read about the business and politics of academic publishing…


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Research Grants for Radicals

February 15, 2014 · No Comments

HG logo

Fantastic funding opportunity (one of the few!) for critical work: Human Geography’s Small Research Grants Program


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Urban Politics: Critical Approaches

February 15, 2014 · No Comments


After many years and two continents, the book is finally out… thanks to all those who contributed and made it possible.


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‘Picking up the pieces’: austerity urbanism, California and fiscal crisis

February 14, 2014 · No Comments

Just out, something written with Kevin Ward, in Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society


http://cjres.oxfordjournals.org/content/7/1/81.abstract (email me for a copy if you don’t have access to the journal)

California continues to be at the epicentre of the current Great Recession. Cities around the state are facing a multiple-fronted assault on their fiscal situation. Although not new—the state’s precarious financial situation is the stuff of legends—the cutting in federal revenues, together with the decline in property taxes stemming from the drop in house prices and the rising costs of servicing debt incurred through years of speculative growth strategies have left a number of city governments in the state horribly exposed. This paper explores the place of a number of Californian cities in the context of the wider onset of US austerity urbanism. This constitutes a deepening and widening of some aspects of earlier neo-liberalisation.

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Re-thinking Urban Ideology in Post-ideological Times – Madrid, June 25-27

February 3, 2014 · No Comments

Fascinating conference – http://is.gd/XVGk2u

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2014 AAG Session: The emergent politics of the austere city: antagonisms and revanchism in crisis resolution

January 16, 2014 · No Comments

Co-organizing with Kevin Ward (Manchester)

As the conniptions of capitalist crisis continue to unfold, landscapes of crisis resolution and institutionalization have emerged from the spaces that were only two years ago marked by protest and contestation. This is not to say that revolutionary movements have been erased. Rather it is to recognize that in many places – particularly across the cities of the Global North – capitalist elites have moved quickly to implement reforms that have sought to repress, resolve and subvert substantive political change. In step with longstanding neoliberal practices, this class-based attempt to stabilize an unhinged economy has often involved the utilization of the city as a site to inflict the costs of creative destruction and accumulation via dispossession. As Peck (2013) claims, austerity has come to cities via the creation of “austerity urbanism”.
In this session we seek to examine how capitalist crisis and related attempts at mediation/resolution have impacted the formal and informal political mechanisms of the city. We invite papers that explore the following themes:
– The evolution of contestation and protest within the austere city
– Mechanisms of antagonism articulation and/or displacement within the urban political environment
– Transformation of urban political and institutional structures related to crisis resolution
– New lines of social division and marginalization resulting from revanchist policies
– Emergent opportunities for politicization within urban landscapes of austerity
– Reconfigurations of urban politics relating to broader efforts to address recessionary decline, and related theoretical and conceptual challenges

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