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Panel 50. Decolonise the periphery: where the urban North meets the South


  • Penny Travlou (University of Edinburgh)
  • Anna Papoutsi (University of Birmingham)
  • Antonis Vradis (University of St Andrews)


This session is inspired by the transformative power of creative arts for research in the social sciences, and in particular their capacity to provide more inclusive and intersectional tools for the study of mobility, difference and belonging in the cities of the global periphery.

Recent scholarly advances have seen a growing focus on participatory and interdisciplinary arts-based methods in approaching urban peripheries (Trafí-Prats and Castro-Varela, 2022, Widener 2020). At the same time, a major transformation is underway in the social sciences, where decolonial knowledge, practice and epistemology are, however gradually, introduced as legitimate academic knowledge coproducers.

This session now proposes reading the two in tandem. Following the theoretical trajectories of decolonial epistemologies, the panel session invites contributions that explicitly aim to decolonise urban peripheries, indicatively using transdisciplinary, decolonial or intersectional feminist approaches. We are particularly keen to hear from colleagues directly working with urban communities on the ground.

This idea of urban difference and belonging is changing rapidly in a time of extreme global shifts in population, technology and governance. The polycrisis has emerged and differentially impacted communities and individuals across the globe (Tooze 2022). This polycrisis has produced a socio- demographic diversification (Vertovec 2021), shaping new urban identities, subjectivities and politics of difference that give rise to new struggles and claims in the city, especially in the periphery. Most recently, the health crisis of Covid-19 impacted cities (high rise of poverty, collapse of health provision infrastructures to name a few) while the climate crisis forces many to move to urban centres. Along these lines, we must ask ourselves as researchers and activists how we can move beyond dichotomies of Global South vs Global North, while recognising that these conditions are experienced and lived differentially across the Global periphery. One such example that deconstructs the above narrative is forced migration. At the same time, we can see that the urban peripheries share strategies and tactics of resistance where relational infrastructures tackle the impact of neoliberal policies that have driven communities to the verge of collapse.

The criticism against the Global North academic research canon of extractivist knowledge production is at the core of this session. In this panel, our aim is to problematise fundamental questions on inclusive and decolonial urban-focused research. For example, while decolonial research methods have mostly been used with a focus on indigenous and racialised communities in the Global South, we propose that urban research with migrant communities could also benefit from using decolonial research methods.

Rather than specifically indicating potential papers or case studies, we will be inviting papers with a broad array of case studies, methodological approaches, and theoretical foundations. We envision our panel as a meeting point of research and activism beyond disciplinary, geographical and/or socio-political dichotomies.

Centro de Estudios de Conflicto y Cohesión Social.

Diagonal Paraguay 257,
Torre 26, Oficina 1504
Santiago – RM

Los Navegantes 1963
Providencia – RM