Annual RC21 Conference 2011

The struggle to belong. Dealing with diversity in 21st century urban settings
Amsterdam (The Netherlands), July 7-9 2011


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The RC-21 2011 Conference will analyze how globalization and individualization have given rise to new forms of diversity—ethnic, religious, gender, sexual, class and otherwise—, and new deliberations and conflicts over citizenship and belonging in urban settings in both the Global South and North.  We want to know how people with diverse backgrounds locate themselves and others in new social hierarchies, how they struggle to create meaningful places, in what ways they develop strategies to belong, and with what consequences. Moreover, we aim to understand better what types of (new) policy responses and forms of governance have developed to manage diversity in urban settings.

The struggle to feel at home can be understood as a response to the process of globalization. On the one hand, there are indications that traditional loyalties evaporate, which seems to hold particularly for those who operate in what Castells has called the ‘space of flows’, for example for people involved in the tier of internationally oriented knowledge workers. On the other hand, there are also indications that traditional or local orientations and loyalties become more significant, and corresponding groups are strengthened. This is especially the case for those people who are, for Castells, in the ‘space of place’, and who often comprise the less privileged groups in society. In this way, globalization goes hand in hand with localization, i.e. a greater stress on the meaning of local traditions and practices. This process of ‘glocalization’ results in new societal cleavages to which new notions of citizenship have been viewed as a possible response. Some of the research questions orienting the meeting are: how do social, political, economic and cultural processes at the international or transnational level influence new forms of diversity and, consequently, new forms of belonging? What type of (new) policy responses and governance forms have developed to manage diversity in urban settings? How can we understand the recent culturalization and emotionalization of citizenship, e.g. by way of rising demands on feelings of loyalty, national or local pride and on the need to ‘feel at home’? How do these homogenizing tendencies relate to the development of transnational citizenship and multiple and hybrid identities?

Secondly, the struggle to belong can be understood as a response to individualization. There is considerable debate on the meaning and extent of individualization. Individualization is often understood as a socio-cultural phenomenon: the duty to behave as autonomous and ‘free’ as possible. While individualization processes are rooted in long term historical forces, neoliberal pressures have accelerate these processes by privatizing risk, making individuals financially independent, and requiring people to become calculating citizens. During the conference, we want to discuss how individualization influences identities, chances and tasks for individuals living in urban settings. How do citizens experience these changes? What new duties, rights and communities come into existence in response to (which kind of) individualization? Which emotions does individualization evoke or demand, e.g. joys or pains that come with autonomy and ‘freedom of choice’? What new forms of mutual help and solidarity are created or expected in local communities? How does individualization give rise to new social and political communities and to new notions of publicness?

In sum, the central concern of the 2011 RC-21 annual conference is the ways in which individuals and communities in an urban context respond to the major social processes of globalization and individualization: how do they articulate various forms of diversity and develop inclusive or exclusive strategies to ‘belong’?

Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research – Urban Studies
University of Amsterdam – The Netherlands


Session topics and organizers
# Title Organizer(s) E-mail
1 Neighbourhoods and individuals: advanced methodologies Karien Dekker
2 Social consequences of gentrification Erik Snel
3 Local responses to transnationalism Margit Fauser, Gery Nijenhuis
4 The end of urban neoliberalism (as we knew it)? Ugo Rossi, Stijn Oosterlynck, Sara Gonzalez, Ramon Ribera Fumaz
5 Governance and diversity in cities Marisol García Marc Pradel
6 Marketplaces as sites of Cosmopolitanism Ching Lin PANG, Jan Rath Sophie Watson
7 ‘Gated Communities’ from a Global Perspective Philip Lawton
8 World Cities Michael Timberlake
9 Invisible migrants in the cities of the South Giovanna Marconi
10 Negotiating social mix in global cities Gary Bridge, Tim Butler
11 Does Diversity Divide? Dealing with sexual diversity in 21st century urban settings Mattias Duyves
12 Belonging, exclusion, public and quasi-public space Peer Smets, Paul Watt
13 Urban politics between contention and control Walter Nicholls, Justus Uitermark, Hans Pruijt
14 Religion and Urban Space Martijn Oosterbaan
15 Urban Disorder and Social Cohesion Hilary Silver, Jaap Timmer
16 The challenge of global suburbanism Roger Keil
Ute Lehrer
17 Cities as learning grounds for citizenship Joke Vandenabeele, Maarten Loopmans, Stijn Oosterlynck and Nick Schuermans
18 Social Justice and the Right to the City Judit Bodnar
19 Scales of Citizenship Thea Dukes, Inge van der Welle
20 Housing Markets, Urban Transformations Richard Ronald, Manuel Aalbers
21 Ethnographic Interventions Anouk de Koning
22 Reconstructing Gender in Urban Space Sandra Huning
23 Political culture and contention in cities Luca Pattaroni, Tommaso Vitale
24 Housing and belonging in Latin American cities CEDLA / Christien Klaufus
25 Changing urban geographies of growth and decline Matthias Bernt
Marco Bontje
26 Urban neighborhoods as spaces of production and consumption Philip Kasinitz Ewald Engelen Robert Kloosterman
27 Urban order, crime and citizenship Gwen van Eijk Rivke Jaffe
28 Living with Difference Christiane Timmerman, Els Vanderwaeren, Nichola Wood
29 Slums, Ghettoes, and the Internal Periphery of the Global Urban Delario Lindsey Francois Bonnet
30 Youth geographies and spatial identities Femi Adekunle


21 December 2011
Deadline for abstract submission

25 January 2011
Notification of selected abstracts

16 March 2011
Registration open

15 May 2011
Deadline for early bird registration and for (some) hotel options

31 May 2011
Deadline for paper submission

15 June 2011
Papers online

7-9 July 2011