Cambridge “Urbanism in the Global South” new term card

The inter-departmental Cambridge Urbanism in the Global South (UGS) working group, founded by CSC member Giulia Torino, is hosting a new series of talks, roundtables, and workshops in the Lent term (January-March 2019).

All welcome!

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Giulia Torino to organise a panel at the RC21 2019 in Delhi, 18-21 September

CSC’s PhD student Giulia Torino will co-host the panel “Negotiating urban space beyond ‘in-formality’: The aesthetics and politics of infrastructural configurations” at the RC21 conference in Delhi, 18-21 September 2019. 

Please find the Call for Papers below. Papers are accepted until 20 31 January 2019.


Negotiating urban space beyond “in-formality”: The aesthetics and politics of infrastructural configurations

Scholarship on urban informality has grown significantly over the last two decades, often postulating new ways of looking at the production of informal economies (Roy and Alsayyad 2004), regimes of cultural relationalities (De Boeck 2012), and their sustaining social infrastructures (Simone 2004). Within such scholarship, researchers have emphasised the need to re-conceptualise informality as practice, enacted by various stakeholders in the urban milieu. On the other hand, the theoretical filter of “informality” remains widely employed across both academic and non-academic realms, often failing to grasp the different modes of production, subjectivities, and the complex aesthetic and political configurations, that take place outside of institutional regimes of planning and scholarly totalising categories, and that give shape to the majority of urban economies and spaces in dense urban environments around the world.

We seek contributions which engage with a range of theorisations that include, but are not limited to: critiques to the “illusion of transparency” and of “state-imposed normality” (Lefebvre 1991); decolonial and anti-colonial epistemologies (Cusicanqui 2012; Mignolo 2006; Santos 2014); feminist, black, and queer geographies (hooks 1990; Knopp 2007; Price 2010); hybrid infrastructures and heterogenous configurations (Jaglin, 2016; Larkin 2013; Lawhon et al. 2018). Topics can include themes such as: regimes of simultaneity and non-binary contestation in spatial negotiations; socio-spatial infrastructures beyond formal-informal dualities; modes of discipline; social engineering and modes of control in the city; et al
Some sub-themes we invite contributions to reflect on are:

  • How do urban realities transform linear planning regimes?
  • Which is the fundamental ontological gap between top-down approaches by the state and international organisations, and grassroots interventions? And how do we situate these state-society relationships in research on “urban informality”?
  • What types of productive negotiation and mediation take place among state, communities, and non-state actors, in the production or reconfiguration of urban infrastructures?
  • How are political and social subjectivities formed and negotiated through claim-making practices by urban residents? Which is the relation between (i) the making and un-making of citizenship and identity, and (ii) the cyclic production of space and infrastructure?

Please send your abstracts (up to 300 words) to the session convenors Giulia Torino ( and Noura Wahby (, Cc’ing in the email. Abstract will be received until the 20th of January, 2019.

Please also include in the e-mail Subject: the stream number (P50), the panel title, all author(s) last name(s). Abstracts should contain and clearly articulate: title, research questions, original empirical and theoretical contributions, connection to the panel theme. Please make sure to include in the e-mail the details and institutional affiliation of all authors, too.

Further information on abstracts submission can be found at:

General information on the RC21 Conference 2019 in Delhi can be found at:

Dr Felipe Hernández appointed new director of CLAS at the University of Cambridge

CSC’s Chair, Dr Felipe Hernández, has been appointed Director of the Centre for Latin American Studies at the University of Cambridge (CLAS), becoming the first Latin American to have held that office. As the new Director, Felipe will sustain a tradition of high level interdisciplinary research and will bring along his interest in urban studies.

Congratulations, Felipe!!!

Giulia Torino to present a paper at ACIUR 2019: the annual conference of Urban and Regional Studies in Colombia

CSC’s PhD student Giulia Torino, currently in Bogotá for her doctoral fieldwork, will be presenting a paper at the annual meeting of ACIUR (the Colombian Association of Urban and Regional Studies) on 24-26 September 2019, in Barranquilla. The paper is entitled Re-ubicando la injusticia espacial en las ciudades colombianas: Raza, clase, y colonialidad en el urbanismo de Bogotá (“Relocating spatial injustice in Colombian cities: Race, class, and coloniality in Bogotá’s urbanism”). In her paper, Giulia will present a critical overview of some debates in decolonial and critical race theory and how they can be applied to the Colombian case, in order to contextualise Edward Soja’s definition of “spatial justice” in a capital city like Bogotá — characterised by racial injustice, sharp socio-spatial hierarchies and thresholds, and unequal power relations.

Cambridge “Urbanism in the Global South” doctoral workshop

The Cambridge Urbanism in the Global South working group, based among the departments of Geography, Architecture, and POLIS (Centre of Latin American Studies-CLAS; Centre of Development Studies) and co-founded by CSC’s Giulia Torino, is hosting a doctoral workshop on Publication of Research on Global South Urbanism(s) on 12 June, at POLIS, University of Cambridge.
The invited speakers include Prof Matthew Gandy (Department of Geography, University of Cambridge; Editor of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research-IJURR), Dr Sian Lazar (Department of Anthropology, University of Cambridge; Editor of the Journal of Latin American Studies) and Rebecca Bowers (South Asia Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science), Editor of the South Asia @ LSE Blog.

CSC Workshop in Krakov

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CSC’s Chair Felipe Hernández participated to a workshop in Krakov with a group of nine local students from the Academy of Arts, who designed a public space under the supervision of local professor Bartolomé Struzky, Dr Felipe Hernández, Australian landscape artist Charles Anderson.



CSC for the magazine of academic journalism “King’s Review”

CSC’s doctoral researcher Giulia Torino and CSC’s Chair Dr Felipe Hernández interviewed the Colombian architect, urbanist, and professor Jorge Pérez-Jaramillo for the magazine of academic journalism King’s Review based at King’s College, University of Cambridge.

The conversation touched upon a range of key topics for Colombia and its cities, from urban conflict and the Colombian peace process, to the Venezuelan migration and the role of the academia in shaping long-term urban transformation.

You can access the interview for free at:



Angela Franco’s narratives from the “field”

CSC’s PhD student Angela Franco has recently completed over twelve months of fieldwork in Cali, Colombia. Here she shares an excerpt from her field-diary.

DSC01231.JPGThe children of the Llano Verde Biblio-Casa. Credits: Angela Franco

Building communities with books
By: Angela Franco

A few days ago, I was visiting Llano Verde, a social housing complex in Cali, Colombia, with 3,500 homes that were granted free of charge by the government to victims of the armed conflict. There live more than 15,000 people of which 98 percent are victims of forced displacement that came from different regions of the country. Despite the laudable intention of the free housing program, living in Llano Verde has not been easy. Having a home of your own is not enough to overcome poverty and definitely does not contribute to improving the employment situation of a displaced family. In fact, Llano Verde is a peripheral neighbourhood with little connectivity and few community services.

However, not everything I found in my visit was modest houses and modest businesses… I have found a house with a library, too! Dora, a social leader and her little neighbour Mabel, a 13-year-old girl who dreams of becoming a teacher, created the Biblio-Casa for the children of the neighborhood. Every Friday afternoon Dora opens the doors of her home and receives for free about thirty children who come spontaneously to read and play with the books that she has obtained with the help of people who have believed in her project. Thanks to the warm climate of Cali, the children sit in the front yard and spend the afternoon amongst books, in the company of Dora and Mabel.

With this project, Dora hopes to contribute to the construction of peace in a neighbourhood of victims of the internal conflict’s violence. She is clear that with the Biblio-Casa she can contribute to the collective construction of this new neighbourhood that has become for many of its inhabitants the opportunity to start a new life.

CSC at the 2019 Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH)

Dr Felipe Hernández and Giulia Torino will co-chair a panel entitled “Historicizing Race and Urban Space in Latin American Cities” at the 72nd Annual International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH), which will take place in Providence (USA), 24-28 April 2019.

The Call for Papers is below, and there is time until June 5 at 11:59 pm CDT to submit an abstract!

“Since their foundation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, black and indigenous populations have occupied different positions in the city vis-à-vis the colonizer’s centrality. These populations remain poor, under-represented and excluded today, they are most likely to live in slums, and significantly less likely to emerge out of poverty.

ECLAC indicates that 8% of the region’s population are indigenous and 30% are black, more than a third of the region’s total. These estimates do not include mixed-race people (Mestizos, Zambos, Mulatoes, etc.). The 2010 Brazilian census showed that Afro-Brazilians make 7.6% of the country’s population, while 43% identified as preto. These two groups, which together amount to half of the Brazilian population, represent almost 80% of those living below the poverty line and contribute under 20% of the national GDP. In the 2005 Colombian census, 10.6% of the population self-identified as Afro-descendant, 70% of whom live in peri-urban areas.

This session proposes that the conditions of exclusion and marginality in most Latin American cities today are magnified expressions of a segregationist approach to urban planning initiated during the colonial period. We address the question of racial discrimination as a key-contributing factor to the formation of particular urbanisms that have not been rigorously historicized and remain excluded from urban and architectural debates. We aim to develop new understandings of the diverse processes of urbanization taking place in Latin American cities focusing on the contribution of racial minorities to the continuous production of urban space, ‘non-white urbanisms.’

We seek contributions that search for alternative ways of theorizing ‘non-white urbanisms,’ embracing multiple methodological agendas to analyze these pressing urban realities. We are also interested in papers that articulate the prevalence of colonial forms of urbanism with twentieth- and twenty-first-century processes of urban growth, which facilitate the historicization and theorization of ‘non-white urbanisms.’”

Dr Felipe Hernández to give a talk on “Urban Spaces of Internal Displacement” at CRASSH

CSC Chair Felipe Hernández will be giving a talk on urban spaces of internal displacement and the reproduction of inequalities at the Power & Vision Seminar Series of CRASSH (University of Cambridge), on February 21st.
The talk is part of a panel entitled “Visual Production of Alterity in Urban, Digital and Genetic Spaces”, in which Dr Paulo Drinot (Senior Lecturer in Latin American History, UCL) and Dr Sarah Abel (Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Iceland) will also speak.
The panel will discuss the production of alterity, racism and inequalities in urban spaces, digital technologies and genetic science. Their presentations will approach from different, yet complementary, perspectives the idea of difference and its constitution and representation through images. More importantly, they will shed light on how these images are materialised in our everyday interactions and make us reflect on the consequences of this. Their presentations will be followed by an open discussion with the public.

All welcome!