12 February, 2024

IGU Urban Commission 2024 Annual Meeting in Cork, Ireland (20-23 August 2024)

The IGU Urban Geography Commission in collaboration with the Department of Geography, University College Cork (Ireland) are pleased to invite you to its 2024 Annual Conference: Crises, what crisis? Urban development and policy in search of the "new normal", taking place in the University College Cork, from 20th to 23rd August 2024. The venue is chosen in association with the IGU's main congress IGC taking place in Dublin Ireland (starting on Saturday, 24 August).
    The deadline for the submission of abstracts for the 2024 IGU-Urban has been extended until 29th February, 2024. Anyone interested in submitting an abstract should do it on the template available on https://www.igu-urban.org/2024-cork
    This is the short conference description: "It is widely accepted that societies are currently confronted with multiple crises. This applies to city regions as well, where recent challenges such as the pandemic or rising energy prices add to ongoing problems caused by the scarcity of housing, social inequality, or longer-term issues such as climate change. Governments and city-leaders are increasingly asked to resolve acute problems, while simultaneously trying to deal with such long-term challenges. This leaves the institutions in charge with a profound dilemma: first, policies considered to be sufficiently ‘integrated’ (spatially, cross-sectoral) suffer from their inherent complexities; second, established practice hardly fits with the very temporalities of these challenges. While it seems common sense that a simple return to pre-pandemic conditions (the ‘old normal’) might be unlikely, it remains open what the ‘new normal’ in this respect could be, and how cities and regions could get there."
  We call upon both established and early-career researchers working in geography and related (inter-)disciplinary contexts to send in their abstracts. These are invited to relate to the five key domains of the current Mandate of the IGU-Urban Commission mentioned below, but do not necessarily have to be confined to them. Cities as driver of, and driven by, transformational change Cities, urban systems and nation states Urban areas under pressure of transformation Climate change, resilience, urban health and well-being Governance, institutions, urban policy.
All the information about the congress and about our commission is available on the IGU Urban Geography Commission website: https://www.igu-urban.org/
As part of its 2024 Annual Meeting the IGU Urban Commission once again offers a paper competition for Early Career Researchers in urban geography. For more information https://www.igu-urban.org/emerging-scholars-committe/ 
For information concerning the fees and the abstracts submission:
Therese Kenna: t.kenna@ucc.ie
María Jose Piñeira Mantiñán: mariajose.pineira@usc.es
We look forward to seeing you in Cork! 
María José Piñeira
Chair IGU Urban Geography Commission

06 February, 2024

Professor Michael Wegener R.I.P.

Michael Wegener died on 2 February 2024. An architect by training, he joined the Faculty of Spatial Planning at the (Technical) University of Dortmund already in 1977 and became Professor of Spatial Planning in 1996. He served as deputy head and head of IRPUD, the faculty's body for the preparation and coordination of externally funded research projects. He pursued a highly regarded research portfolio (even after his retirement in 2003) with both general interests in spatial development and planning and the introduction of time and the temporal dimension of spatial development. The simulation modelling of space-time relationships that he has developed has been the basis of his excellent reputation in the international communities concerned with land use and transport (see the illustration below, courtesy of S&W). In this respect he definitely set a standard.
    My personal memory of Michael Wegener is also very positive, as he was the chairman (“Prüfer”) of my doctoral dissertation-committee in spatial planning at the University of Dortmund in October 1997. Thanks to his careful moderation, we had an extremely inspiring debate on how to properly approach logistics as a research topic in urban contexts. Given the latent unsustainability of logistics operations at the time – which still seems to be an issue and a challenge today – we moved on to discussing more fundamental aspects of the system of flows, the spaces it affects in positive and critical ways, and where the limits to growth, circulation and resource consumption could be (set).
    His kind personality was made up of a rather rare combination of scientific rigor and ethos on the one hand, and a strong normative orientation towards equitable, sustainable development on the other. There is much to learn from him in this respect too.

Markus Hesse

07 January, 2024

Recalling December keynote invitations and a looking forward to a happy new year

Face-to-face meetings allow people to run into the unexpected: Luneburg University's Libeskind Building (photo:  Markus Hesse 2023).

Happy New Year Everyone, I hope you all had a relaxing, fun, or productive holiday (whatever suits you). My--Carr writing here--December was rather full, and then followed by 10 days of staycation.

Two highlights from December stand out in particular. The first was a trip to the University of Stavanger, where Anders Riel Müller invited me give a keynote at his final event of the Research Network for Smart Sustainable Cities. It was a treat to present alongside Jens Fisker, Ramon Ribera Fumaz, Maja de Neergaard, Casey Lynch, and Ugo Rossi. A big thank you to Anders for the fabulous conference and several days of extended dialogues on issues of digitalization, urbanity and (the likely death of) smart cities.

The second highlight was at the Center for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University Lüneburg where Armin Beverungen and Maja-lee Voigt invited Markus and me to talk about our work on large digital corporations. I had to attend online as the Virus that is unfortunately still among us. A perk of double authored papers, however is that one can go-thank you Markus(!) Another big thank you to Armin and Maja-lee and for the pleasure of thoughtful discussion with your colloquium. We look forward to more exchange.

Both talks discussed how powerful tech companies such as Amazon or Google drive urban development, and what the wider implications are that sit at the nexus of the relationship between territory, information technology and governance. Drawing inspiration from Richard Walker’s work on corporate geographies and Rosen & Alvarez León (2022) “digital growth machine” we discussed the role of big tech produce hegemonic relational geographies as “urban makers” (Sidewalk Labs); Tech as “urban users” (HQs), and Tech as an urban “power system” (Amazon.com).