RC21 Conference (Delhi, 18-21/09/18) – Embedded Comparisons: Urban Processes at Multiple Scales – Call for Abstracts

At the next RC21 conference in Delhi (India) – 18-21 September 2019 – we are organising a session on “Embedded Comparisons: Urban Processes at Multiple Scales”.

This session addresses comparative methodological issues raised by “theme 9” in the conference concept note. It asks: “How do new scales of connections – networks outside the usual frameworks of globalities or localities – inform comparative theorizations beyond conceptions of size, function, ‘importance’ or economic scale? What are the ways in which we can go beyond the divisions of North-South? What compels us to do so?”.

 The comparative turn in urban studies is part of the general globalization of academia, as far-flung parts of the world come into increasing economic, political, social and cultural contact and scholars turn against received dualisms. Concepts travel in many directions, enriching analyses of increasingly interconnected places. The conference concept note calls for “innovative planetary comparisons that are not confined to a North – South divide.” Such comparisons were once based upon simple geography, geopolitical relations, or types of political economy. To the extent that they are tied to generic relations of power or dependency, urban processes can be profitably compared as embedded within political-economic structures operating at multiple scales.

 In addition, localities are embedded within complex connectivities among various urban nodes comprised of back-and-forth flows of many resources, including, of course, the migrations of people. Local practices and histories challenge dominant models of urbanism originating in particular national contexts, offering up instances of undertheorized and hybrid processes that may have broader applicability. Transnational phenomena and emergent properties are everywhere, if we just look and conceptualize them beyond preconceived categories.

 Our session invites presentations related to the overarching theme of “embedded comparisons.” Papers might consider how macro processes and linkages evident at and across different scales of analysis (planetary, international, national, regional,…) have various and mediated impacts to be compared at the local (metropolitan, city, and neighbourhood) level.

 The focus could be on social welfare arrangements at the regional, national, and city levels that can alter market-generated or ethnic-based local inequalities. Papers might also offer comparative insights into the ways that megacities in the Global South differ, thereby undermining uniform constructions of “developing,” “post-colonial,” or “urbanizing” cities or “seeing from the South.”

 Time, history, and culture are key sources of local differentiation within larger economic and political contexts. Yet there are shared characteristics among cities of the Global South that defy conventional categories, too, such as the elite districts that bring the Global North to otherwise developing venues. Finally, papers might elaborate on the types of embeddedness of most similar and most different urban comparisons.

 Authors might illustrate how comparatively informed “extended case studies” can take a step beyond the assumption that multiple scales and hierarchical urban networks are operating everywhere. The approach may identify contingent relationships, autonomous local factors, and the conditions under which forces at various levels are or are not consequential for urban life.

 Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words by January 21st, 2019. Please include names, affiliations and contact information to the conveners:

Hilary SILVER George Washington University (Washington, USA)



Yuri KAZEPOV University of Vienna (Vienna, AT)



Jules NAUDET Centre d’Études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud (CEIAS)/Centre for South Asian studies (Paris, FR)



Abstract should be sent also in CC to rc21delhi@gmail.com

 For further information on logistics, timing and other details, please see the Conference website: https://rc21delhi2019.com/ 

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