01 February, 2021

Call-for-abstracts 

"Urbanisation, crisis and resilience: the multiple dimensions of urban transformation in Beirut, Lebanon"


Special issue of 'Urban Planning' (Cogitatio Press)




Beirut’s urban transformation is a subject of significant multi-disciplinary inquiry in the social sciences. Long considered as a crossroads between Asia, Africa and Europe, owing to its strategic location, Beirut gained prominence as a Levantine city in the mid-19th century. Since its independence (1943), the modern state finds itself subject to myriad external pressures which often have destabilising internal effects. The city’s traditional role as a maritime and commercial entrepôt and university city was widened to become a nascent financial centre in 1956 with the introduction of banking secrecy laws. Its subsequent international reputation as a diplomatic hub and tourist resort with various monikers such as the Switzerland or Paris of the Middle East coincided uneasily with growing geopolitical and migratory pressure flowing from the expulsion of Palestinians by Israel, and ended abruptly with the outbreak of civil war in 1975. 
    Periods of post-war reconstruction are the backdrop for new socio-economic and political dynamics. Reconstruction after the civil war had only limited success in achieving its ostensible aim of restoring the city’s former international status. Alongside the rise of centralised market-led urbanism, laissez-faire urban planning, the embedding of sectarian polarisation and neglect of basic infrastructure are all factors that raise questions about the model of urban regeneration implemented and arouse new socio-political tensions. Post-modern redevelopment of the inner-city as a site for speculative real-estate investment occurs alongside an intensive, unplanned urbanisation along the coastlines to the north and south, and in stark contrast to the ‘misery belt’ of informal sprawl on the periphery of the city.
    Recent crises not only comprise a long-standing concern about the state’s economic failure and clientelist political environment but were exacerbated by the outbreak of COVID-19 and also the 4th August blast in the port of Beirut. These events were seen by many as a crystallisation of Lebanon’s complex problems. However, these episodes do not supplant the rich historical setting both ancient and modern Lebanon represents for urban scholars. Beirut’s cultural and geographical liminality, and enduring role as a prominent urban confluence with multi-faceted geographic positionality, imbue it with an especially abundant empirical interest and topical relevance.
    This thematic issue has evolved from activities under the umbrella of the Urban Commission of the International Geographical Union (UGI-IGU), whose 2020 annual conference was supposed to take place in Beirut, Lebanon. It was eventually held as a digital conference, but already offered a first encounter of members of the Commission with a range of researchers from the Middle East, Lebanon and Beirut in particular, and discuss related topics of urban development, policy and research. The special issue offers a chance to shed some new light on Arab and Middle East urbanisms – not with respect to those places that received some attention in recent years (such as Dubai or Doha), but to focus on a place that enjoys both variety and rich history, while being subject to multiple political crises in recent times as well: Beirut, Lebanon.
    Currently the Urban Commission of the IGU-UGI plans to hold its 2021 Annual Conference in Beirut as an on-site event, to take place on 23-27 August 2021. Hoping that this will work out, the conference could offer a proper environment for discussing some of the issues that would fit here as well.
    Urban Planning (ISSN: 2183-7635) is an international peer-reviewed journal of urban studies aimed at advancing understandings and ideas of humankind’s habitatsUrban Planning is an open access journal (free for readers) with an article processing charge of EUR 900 per accepted manuscript. Please note that a certain budget is preserved for allowing up to seven papers be financed via the editors of this Special Issue.

Keywords:
Mediterranean/Middle East urbanism; Beirut, Lebanon; urban development; urban planning; resilience; urban geo-politics; post-colonial perspectives.

Academic Editors:
Buccianti Bakarat, Liliane, Professor, Université St. Joseph, Département de géographie, Email: liliane.barakat@usj.edu.lb; www.usj.edu.lb
Hesse, Markus, Professor, University of Luxembourg, Dept. of Geography & Spatial Planning, Email: markus.hesse@uni.luwww.humanities.uni.lu

Timeline:
Submission of Abstracts: 1-15 March 2021
Submission of Full Papers: 15-31 July 2021
Publication of the Issue: January/March 2022

Instructions for Authors:
Authors interested in submitting a paper for this issue are asked to consult the journal's instructions for authors and submit their abstracts (maximum of 250 words, with a tentative title) through the abstracts system (here). When submitting their abstracts, authors are also asked to confirm that they are aware that Urban Planning is an open access journal with a publishing fee if the article is accepted for publication after peer-review (corresponding authors affiliated with our institutional members do not incur this fee). Please also see the above condition for funding.

28 January, 2021

Fully funded PhD position available for DIGI-GOV

Applicants must apply online at: http://emea3.mrted.ly/2mgfn

***We are aiming for a start date in the spring or summer 2021. The deadline for application is March 10. If you are interested in this position, applicants must apply online but do not hesitate to inform me via email (constance.carr@uni.lu).***

The Urban Studies Group at the Department of Geography & Spatial Planning (DGEO), Faculty of Humanities, Education & Social Sciences (FHSE), University of Luxembourg (UL) invites applications for a Doctoral candidate (PhD student) to work on the research project entitled, “Digital Urban Development — How large digital corporations shape the field of urban governance (DIGI-GOV)”  

Project Summary is available for download here:

Area  Urban studies, urban governance, human geography or related field.

Your Role

  • Complete a dissertation in urban geography on a topic the fits the framework of DIGI-GOV, and submit it for defense inside of 4 years. 
  • Join the DGEO’s Urban Studies group and meet regularly with primary supervisor. 
  • Enroll in the UL Doctoral School in Humanities and Social Sciences (DSHSS) — and join the activities of the Geography PhD Seminar
  • Achieve 20 ECTS awarded through participation in the DSHSS. 
  • Assist the PI with in organising of conferences and meetings in the framework of DIGI-GOV
  • Organize meetings with her/his international advisory board throughout the programme

Your Profile

  • Master or Diploma in Geography or Spatial Planning, Urban Planning or related field, linked to geographical issues of urban development, policy and planning, including experience in interdisciplinary work and qualitative methodology
  • Excellent command of written and spoken English is required. Knowledge of either Luxembourgish, French, German, or Dutch would be considered an asset

We offer
DGEO is a 45-person strong international group of Professors, post-doctoral and senior researchers, and PhD students. Research follows different trajectories of human geography and spatial planning, notably institutional and actor-centred approaches, theories in the context of chains, flows and networks, and also approaches that are related to the cultural and spatial turn. Major fields of research include environmental economic geography, urban studies and metropolitan governance, spatial statistics and modelling, and architecture.

The UL offers the opportunity to participate in the development of a newly created university, an exciting international and multi-lingual environment, well-equipped research facilities, competitive salaries, and is an equal opportunity employer.

In Short
Contract Type: Fixed Term Contract 36 Month - extendable up to 48 months if required
Work Hours: Full Time 40.0 Hours per Week
Location: Belval
Internal Title: Doctoral Researcher
Employee and student status
Job Reference: UOL03910

Further Information
Applications should be submitted online and include:

  • CV and copies of diploma;
  • Motivation Letter;
  • Support letter from at least one recent scientific advisor/professor (preferably three);
  • A PhD proposal that fits the objectives of DIGI-GOV (max. 2 pages, single spaced, 11 pt font) including: 1) Introduction and literature review; 2) Research objectives and expected contribution to the field; 3) Methodology; 4) Work plan and expected timetable; 5) Bibliography.

Early application is highly encouraged, as the applications will be processed upon reception. Please apply ONLINE formally through the HR system. Applications by email will not be considered.

The University of Luxembourg embraces inclusion and diversity as key values. We are fully committed to removing any discriminatory barrier related to gender, and not only, in recruitment and career progression of our staff.  

Questions? Don't hesitate to contact Dr. Constance Carr, constance.carr@uni.lu

27 January, 2021

DIGI-GOV Project Summary available for download



Project Summary available for download here

Abstract DIGI-GOV is a research project that aims to understand (I) the role of large digital corporations (LDCs) in digital urban development, (II) how the presence of LDCs in urban planning practice challenge pre-existing modes urban governance, and (III) how LDC-led urban development constitutes a new relational geography of digital cities. DIGI-GOV is thus a chance to call attention to this critical shift in the ways that contemporary digital cities are constructed, planned, mediated and governed. DIGI-GOV expands on prior research that examined Alphabet Inc.’s digital city project in Toronto that raised a number of important issues for urban planners, development practitioners, and urban studies scholars – even if this particular digital city project was ultimately unsuccessful. DIGI-GOV expands this research because the range of services that LDCs provide has increased in both volume and centrality; more and more public and private institutions rely on LDCs for essential digital infrastructures. There is an urgent need to study the trajectories of urbanization that are rolled out under the leadership of LDCs and the tensions in urban governance that are unleashed. DIGI-GOV will shed light on four further cities in addition to Toronto, which have been challenged by the presence of LDCs—namely, Seattle, Washington DC, Bissen, and Eemshaven. The selected cities are some of the few exemplary cases available where LDCs have secured their position in the local urban field. Through qualitative methodological approaches, DIGI-GOV will tease out how these cities are relationally connected through LDC-led urban development, and what scholars and practitioners can learn from these experiences. Examined together, one can scratch at the surface of, and unearth, this new emerging relational geography. 



05 January, 2021

Hiring: Two Master Student Assistants

Department of Geography & Spatial Planning (DGEO), Faculty of Humanities, Education & Social Sciences (FHSE), University of Luxembourg (UL) invites applications for two Master Student Assistants on a Fixed-term contract, renewable up to 36 months, part-time (10h/week). 

Research Project: Digital Urban Development — How large digital corporations shape the field of urban governance DIGI-GOV

The DIGI-GOV research team is searching two motivated graduate students to join the team as assist with carrying out a variety of tasks associated with the project.

Your Role:

  • To provide on-going project management support assist the DIGI-GOV team (see urbanunbound.blogspot.com).To assist with Office Management, (e.g. web blog management, translations, database management)
  • Assist in organizing conferences and meetings related to the project (administration of registrations, reception, advertising)
  • Be professional and act as a liaison between the project team and outside bodies.

Your Profile:

  • You are currently enrolled full-time as a Master student at the University of Luxembourg and have a Bachelor degree in Humanities/Social Sciences
  • You are knowledgeable of online dissemination methods
  • You are interested in building a long-term team, and focusing on qualitative social scientific research methods
  • You have excellent command of written and spoken English and knowledge of either French/German/Luxembourgish.
  • Be inspired by the potential societal impact of DIGI-GOV

Applications must include the following:

  • CV and copies of Degree Certificates;
  • Motivation Letter;
  • 1-3 Reference Letters of previous employers or academic supervisors

For more information about DIGI-GOV visit urbanunbound.blogspot.com. Interested candidates should send a CV (in EN, DE or FR) to Dr. Constance Carr, constance.carr@uni.lu no later than May 1, 2021.