Transgressing dividing lines: making and unmaking of urban grids / Stream E – Contested cities

Organizer: Fran Meissner (European University Institute, IT); Tilmann Heil (University of Konstanz, DE). 


Cities are divided in numerous ways: class, race, gender, physical landscape, administrative units, and the geographies of transport. This is both visible and invisible, culturally marked and unmarked, situationally different, and depending on the time of day and constellations of both human and material interactions. They form grids of social division. Can we find concurrent divisions in researching the city and compare multiple seemingly unlinked instances of social discordance?

People inhabiting cities are not only subject to the existing infrastructure and top-down planning. They have their own conceptions and ideals of the city, their lives within them, and how they negotiate everyday social divides. Social mobility is a major aspect of this and implies the navigation of social and economic class and of other categories of difference. People often take divisions for granted, but at the same time many inherently aspire to the possibility to transgressing them. We invite papers on the following and similar questions:

  • How does the utopian equal city relate to the inevitably divided condition of any city? Is the ideal city one without divisions? Where is the line between social contestation and conflict?
  • What are the mechanisms that facilitate the navigation of dividing lines in the city? What are the everyday practices that constitute social rifts and what are the practices that create rapture in the routines of their reproduction?
  • Are the transgressions globally the same or do city infrastructures provide distinctive corridors of social mobility as well as stability and order?
  • What is the vocabulary we can use to describe, on the one hand, the fragmented character of large cities and, on the other, people’s practices to engage with it?

The session seeks to develop a discussion around these grids that span cities and how they are engaged by city dwellers

E6 Transgressing dividing lines: making and unmaking of urban grids

Chairs: Fran Meissner (European University Institute) Tilmann Heil (University of Konstanz).


Cody Hochstenbach
The all-dividing Amsterdam ring road: Emphasising social divisions to justify state-led gentrification

Anna-Britt Coe
Constructing and contesting gender in public safety activism: A qualitative study of on-line mobilization in Sweden

Yutaka Iwadate
Reconfiguration of Things Driven Transgression: Case Study on Crisis of Water Supply in Tokyo

Alexis Malefakis
The invisible market: Practices of street vending and the creation of an epistemic landscape in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Distributed papers

Friederike Fleischer
Traversing the City. Space and Stratification in the Lives of Female Household Employees in Bogotá, Colombia

Nele Van Doninck, Karel Arnaut
Ordinary diversity: conviviality as class performance in an inner-city Brussels’ housing estate

Ponce de LeónJimena
Women facing paradoxes: Street Art in Buenos Aires and the boundaries of transgression

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