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Urban Futures

About the Urban Futures Research Domain

The world is entering an ‘Urban Age’ it seems. We continuously hear doomsday predictions about the impending global urban crisis where, for the first time in the history of mankind, more people will be living in cities than in the countryside. We continuously see impressive graphs, pie charts and simulations of this impending urban age presented by experts and state representatives. The logics of these predictions often have a dominant framing - rapid urbanisation, uncontrolled migration, resource depletion, severe fuel shortages, and the breakdown of law and order. We are told that cities in the global north and south alike face severe urban crises in the near future. So, we are told to be prepared. We are told to use the impending ‘urban age’ as an opportunity to transition into a sustainable urban future.

The Urban Futures research domain in the Department of Geography takes a critical perspective towards this ‘urban age’ thesis by examining how contemporary urban theory and practice shape visions, representations and narratives of the present and future. We examine ‘urban future’ as more than just an anticipatory logic of crises represented as apocalyptic collapse or sanitised utopias. We are interested in examining how alternative visions of urban futures in planning, governance, citizenship and everyday life are being imagined, contested and lived by people across the world. We understand the ‘urban’ as a heuristic mode of existence that is punctured through time by struggles for recognition, identity, survival and belonging. Attending to where, how and when these struggles are initiated and fought, builds progressive urban futures.

As a multidisciplinary and collaborative group of urban scholars, we are interested in the question of the ‘future’ as a conceptual, analytical and methodological lens into challenging current paradigms of urban theory, practice and research. Our research is concerned with three key questions: How is our understanding of the future shaped by past and present urban crises? How do we imagine a future with the analytical tools of the present? What are the alternative histories and timescapes of urban futures?

Discover more about the domain’s latest research projects, publications and  topics, as well as information about new exhibitions, events and more on the Urban Futures Research Domain blog.

For further details on the Urban Futures Domain

Please contact Dr Ayona Datta



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