Annual RC21 Conference 2011

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

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

13. Urban politics between contention and control

The defining features of cities – density, heterogeneity and size – make them prone to political conflicts of various kinds. They are spaces where grievances emerge, emotions are harnessed, ties are forged, and collective identities are constructed. Urban movements crystallize when people organize to exercise control over the built environment, the social fabric of the city, and the local political process.
In their ongoing struggles to maintain order and power, local states are required to develop strategies and techniques to direct the ebbs and flows of contentiousness constantly bubbling up from the urban grassroots. The city is a generative space of mobilizations and because of this, it is also the frontline arena where states constantly create new governmental methods to produce orderly political behavior. These techniques include surveillance, clientelism, corporatism, new participatory and citizenship initiatives, etc. These different techniques can combine in very different ways from one city to the next and produce effects that vary as well. In certain instances, state strategies may certainly contain and co-opt movements and undermine their abilities to expand beyond their point of origin. In other instances, state capacities to co-opt local civil society may collapse, opening up political spaces for mobilizations to grow and scale up beyond their points of origin. Lastly, states may play a role in accelerating social movements by providing supports for them or by deflecting them to a broader geographical scale.
We invite papers that identify state strategies and techniques, discuss how such strategies and techniques are produced and implemented in different localities, and lastly, identify the multiple effects of such techniques on actual urban mobilizations.

Walter Nicholls, University of Amsterdam. Email:
Hans Pruijt, Erasmus University Rotterdam. Email:
Justus Uitermark, Erasmus University Rotterdam. Email:

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21 December 2011
Deadline for abstract submission

10 January 2011
Notification of selected abstracts

1 March 2011
Registration open

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

15 May 2011
Deadline for paper submission

15 June 2011
Papers online

7-9 July 2011