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Panel 54. Experimentation & Crisis: Researching Urban Policy Mobilities and Models Across the Global North and Global South


  • Cristina Temenos, University of Manchester
  • Paola Jirón, University of Chile
  • Jess Linz, University of Manchester


In over a decade of research on urban policy mobilities, examining the ways that best practice models for governance are socially formulated, transferred, and implemented across diverse territories, studies have largely assumed a steady-state arena in which policy making and policy implementation occurs. Yet cities are increasingly finding themselves in a state of polycrisis, managing intersecting ecological, economic, social and health crises that are shifting the terms of governance and politics in increasingly fast-paced intervals. Finding, developing, mobilizing and importing policy under crisis conditions brings into question assumed knowledge of how policy mobilization occurs. In this session we invite papers that seek to understand shifting forms of urban governance and the networked relations they entail under crisis conditions.

Crises are often seen as opportunities to challenge the status quo: what is revealed in crisis holds a grain of possibility for dismantling capitalist and colonial structures (Rivera Cusicanqui 2016) and making way for new futures to emerge from present contradictions (McNelly 2022, Zavaleta 2006). Enrolling cities as sites of experimentation is thus an attempt at solving the crisis at hand and either preventing or encouraging wider social change. It is often in urban space where systemic crises merge with mundane aspects of specific crises, enabling experimentation with new solutions to perceived and actual failures: failures of the economy, the environment, the social, or the biopolitical. And while the importance of understanding the situatedness of urban governance is clearly established within urban studies, it is also essential to examine and understand interscalar relationships between cities, municipal governments and their relationality to national and regional policy constellations. 

This session asks what it means to make policy under conditions of intersecting crises (Temenos, 2022)? We ask how mobilizing best practice can obscure local knowledges and expertise (Jiron et al 2022)? Simultaneously, we ask how might these practices and techniques be turned on their head to foreground place-based territorial expertise and how might this happen while maintaining dialogue with policies at other governance scales? The global-relational nexus of urban policy-making often valorizes cities in the global north as beacons of best-practice, yet urbanization is happening most rapidly across cities of the global south, with their own unique governance structures and situated relationships to wider national and regional governance infrastructures.

 We hope this session will open new fields of inquiry about policy making, governance, participation, and the resolution of urban problems from a global-relational urban perspective. We invite papers exploring how a mobilities perspective can help to analyse differing constellations of urban governance across cities in the global north and global south, focusing on new forms of government, networks and counter-networks that seek to shape cities and urban life despite increasingly crisis-prone states of existence.  

Centro de Estudios de Conflicto y Cohesión Social.

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