Towards a Global Urban Geopolitics - Bringing Geopolitics into the Mainstream of Comparative Urban Studies

We are pleased to invite you to the next event of the Cities & Society seminar series: Towards a Global Urban Geopolitics - Bringing Geopolitics into the Mainstream of Comparative Urban Studies by Dr. Jonathan Rokem.

Dr.Jonathan Rokem argue that it is timely to start learning from, and compare across different urban geopolitical contexts offering instead multiple access points, from which to explore the ever-expanding range of conflicts, contestations and cultural formations shaping the future of cities. Photo: University of London

Abstract

Conflict and violence in all their degrees and nuances have become a political and humanitarian concern that is predominantly urban. As a result of these shifts in global and local forces, the political geographies of cities are being reshaped, frequently in unpredictable ways, their populations coming together or becoming polarised with often un-ordinary and underexplored patterns.

In this lecture my objective is twofold: firstly, from a theoretical perspective bringing geopolitics into the mainstream of urban studies to enhance our understanding of cities as contested nexus points of social, spatial and political change; and, secondly to construct a multidisciplinary comparative research agenda to re-frame urban contestation as a dynamic and mobile process. I explore the relational and contrastive value of comparisons across different contested cities, pointing at the significance of learning from non-conventional cases normally excluded from academic debates, moving beyond the so called ‘global urban’ theory producing usual suspects. In so doing, I argue that it is timely to start learning from, and compare across different urban geopolitical contexts offering instead multiple access points, from which to explore the ever-expanding range of conflicts, contestations and cultural formations shaping the future of cities.

As an Urban and Political Geographer my empirical work has been inspired by over a decade of experience researching ethnic minorities and contested cities. Some of my recent empirical research from the EU funded Marie Curie Contested Urbanism project (2015-2017) involved spatial analysis of public transport infrastructures in Jeruaslem and Stockholm, coupled to statistical analysis of their urban geopolitical composition. In the case of Jerusalem, access to public transport is multi-dimensional: as well as providing access to resources, it shapes opportunities for spatial mobility that may either overcome or reinforce urban intergroup ethno-national violence. In Stockholm despite a long-standing political vision of social integration, there is increasing ethnic spatial separation. To conclude, I will discuss opportunities, which counterbalances the on-going fractured urban reality in both cities, where the ordinary and not only the military becomes geopolitical relational sites.

Biography

Dr. Jonathan Rokem teaches at the Department of Geography, University College London. His overarching research objective is to bring a new geopolitical comparative perspective to Urban Studies and Planning with specific interest in the Middle East and Scandinavia. He has held several prestigious international fellowships and recently concluded his Marie Curie Contested Urbanism project (2015-2017). His work has been published in leading academic journals; the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (IJURR), Political Geography, Urban Studies and CITY. His new co-edited book: Urban Geopolitics: Rethinking Planning Contested Cities (2018) is available from Routledge. He is currently working on his new monograph; Comparing Urban Difference: Learning from Jerusalem and Stockholm.

Published May 3, 2018 11:00 AM - Last modified May 3, 2018 11:01 AM