Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Winner 2020

The Developing Areas Research Group in conjunction with Routledge offers an annual prize for the most promising dissertation concerning ‘Development Geographies’. The author of the winning dissertation receives £100 worth of Routledge books of their choice.

We are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2020 prize is Rai Saad Khan from the University of Oxford with the dissertation title: ‘Lahore’s Performative Statehoods: A study of the form and practices of statehood of the Walled City of Lahore Authority in Pakistan’. Many congratulations, Rai!

We would also like to congratulate Wafia Yahyaoui from Queen Mary, University of London whose dissertation was highly commended. Wafia’s dissertation was titled: ‘”Life is Expensive…” Navigating Waithood in Oran, Algeria’. 

The prize will be running again at the end of the 2020-21 academic year, the deadline is usually 1 July. Please check our website and twitter for updates.

RGS Annual Conference 2020 DevGRG Sponsored Sessions

Please see below for information about the sessions we have sponsored at this year’s Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Annual Conference:

Trafficking (and) Borders

Session Convenor: Ayushman Bhagat (Durham University, UK)

On October 23, 2019, dead bodies of 39 Vietnamese nationals were found inside a refrigerated lorry in Essex, UK. These people were considered to have been trafficked by several media personnel, politicians, and NGO workers. Paradoxically, the narrative of trafficking would have placed the burden of victimhood on them, if they would have found alive in the UK. Further, the same narrative would have transformed them into subjects of detention, deportation, and prosecution, if the UK border police would have intercepted the lorry before its entry inside the territory. These are some of the repercussions of the dominant narrative of Human Trafficking which demands strict border controls, restrictive immigration practices, greater migrant policing and surveillance as preventive measures to avoid such incidences.

Whilst celebrities, politicians, activists, consultants, responsible corporate staffs and some academics endorse this ever-burgeoning narrative of Trafficking (Kempadoo, 2015), critical scholars from several disciplines repeatedly highlight the ambiguity of the term ‘Human Trafficking’ which is often invoked by different actors to render their respective political agendas (O’Connell Davidson, 2010). Critical scholarship unfailingly problematizes the politically contested definition (Anderson, 2007; Chuang, 2014), shoddy researches (Tyldum, 2010), exaggerated numbers of victims (Feignold, 2010; McGrath and Mieres, 2014), unethical representations (Andrijasevic, 2007), global politics of rescue (McGrath and Watson, 2018) and counterproductive interventions (Kempadoo, Sanghera and Pattanaik, 2012), which render rightlessness, oppression, and exploitation among the very people the narrative anti-trafficking promises to protect (O’Connell Davidson, 2015). This is what is known as the ‘collateral damage’ of anti-trafficking interventions (GAATW, 2007).

In Geography, these concerns are reflected in the debate over how labour regimes (Strauss and McGrath, 2017), citizenship regimes (Richardson et al., 2016) and immigration regimes (Aradau, 2008) are conceptualized. However, the consequence of this politically charged multi-disciplinary arena of ‘Human Trafficking’ on the wider conceptualization of borders remains relatively unexplored (see: Laurie et al. (2015)). Hence following a call to study “Geographies of Trafficking” (Laurie, Richardson, Poudel and Townsend, 2015; Smith, 2018), this session aims to bring together scholars from different sub-disciplines – border, migration, citizenship, security, labour, gender – to problematize (anti-)trafficking through borders and, at the same time, conceptualize borders through (anti-)trafficking. Through this, we aim to explore:

1. To what extent can we understand and position Human Trafficking as border producing narrative?
2. How do the interventions following the discourse of Trafficking structure and multiply borders for the people on the move?
3. How could we utilize insights from critical border/migration/security studies to analyze the collateral damages of anti-trafficking interventions?
4. How can we conceptualize rescaling, respatialisation, and reconfiguration of borders through trafficking discourse?
5. What are the Northern and Southern perspectives of understanding (anti-)trafficking through borders or understanding borders through (anti-)trafficking?
6. How do people on the move, or in the labour relation respond to these borders of (anti-)trafficking?
7. How can we study borders and trafficking together to avoid ‘methodological nationalism’ and ‘methodological individualism’ in the research?

Incorporating borders as an analytic to examine (anti-)trafficking could offer new insights on (re)production of contingent forms, sites, agents and practices of exploitation. The aim here is to advance the call of studying “Geographies of Trafficking” through the analytic of the border.

Instructions for Authors
We invite contributions for a paper session and a roundtable discussion to advance geographical perspectives on Human Trafficking and identify new conceptual and methodological arena within this multi-disciplinary field of study. Please send your title, abstract (of approx. 250 words), affiliation, and expressions of interest to ayushman.bhagat@durham.ac.uk . We will notify presenters by 12 February.

Call For Papers Deadline: 05-Feb-2020

Digitising Geographies of Indigenous Folklore in the Global South: Colonial and Decolonial Praxis

Session Convenors: Dumisani Moyo (University of Glasgow, UK)
Deborah Dixon (University of Glasgow, UK)

“The emphasis is on respect for tradition as well as nature in general. The respect for tradition goes along with the belief that everything, according to the elders’ vision of the world, trees, animals, rivers, stones, mountains, are endowed with life, hence the interaction of humans and non humans in the folktales. Mountains, trees or stones were believed to be the abode of the spirits. Because today respect for these has disappeared, we see the wanton cutting down of trees, the destruction of sacred places and the disinterest in oral traditions” Boston Soko, Professor of Oral Literature, University of Mzuzu.
(see https://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/csr/ForTheNextGeneration/malawi/).
The study of Indigenous folklore has recently benefited from a heightened impetus. UNESCO in particular has signified the importance of this with two key documents: the (1982) Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Traditional Culture and Folklore, and the (2003) Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Contemporary to this shift are 21st century efforts to develop and deploy a digital humanities; efforts that intersect with some lines of research in a creative geohumanities. In the Global South, the United Nations (through its agencies including UNDP and UNESCO) is partnering with national government agencies and philanthropocapitalism to research, document and digitize folklore, to conserve, protect and promote cultural heritages.
To borrow Betiang and Akpan’s (2018) phrasing, this convergence of media technologies, industry and markets, has, among other consequences, altered spaces of being and knowledge production for all persons involved, and the modes/technologies for the creation, production, distribution, and consumption of Indigenous knowledges. While the digitisation of Indigenous knowledges has received considerable attention in traditional humanities, arts, literature studies, linguistics, media studies, journalism, law, history and other fields of study (for example, Betiang and Akpan, 2018; Broadwell & Tangherlini, 2017; Chisiza, 2017; Hagedoorn & Sauer, 2018; Hunt and stevenson, 2017; Pomadaki, Dimoulas, Kalliris, & Paschalidis, 2019; Risam, 2018; Sauer, 2017; van Krieken, 2018), geographers have arguably, and rightly, remained cautious.
Folklore has been a space of ontological, teleological and epistemological escape/freedom from colonial/imperial negativities, and negativism more generally (see Mbembe, 2017: Ch. 5). Reading Mbembe in conversation with his interlocutors, including geographers, a decolonial reading of and approach to digitizing folklore would unsettle a ‘capturing’ or ‘preservation’ of Indigenous knowledges. What teleologies, ontologies and epistemologies come to bear in these interactions? How do these questions reflect in the digitization process itself, and in the results – viewed as pluriversal for the digitizer, the narrative and the storyteller, their environments and communities (see Blank, 2009; Thairu, 2007; Sauer, 2017)? Such a nuanced reading might help awaken new sensibilities that could reshape geographical methodology, as well as the ethical considerations of digitization. With this in mind, this session calls for papers that address themes and questions including but not confined to:
1. What happens when Indigenous knowledges are demarcated as a valuable ‘cultural heritage’? What kind of geopolitics, and ongoing colonialities, are at work in framing Indigenous knowledges?
2. How are organisations, individuals, technologies, and sites enrolled into digitisation efforts, such that a logistics of preservation is designed and enacted? And what epistemological frameworks does a digital humanities bring to bear in identifying, collecting, translating, preserving, storing, analysing and disseminating folklore?
3. How do Indigenous folklores on, for example, agriculture, land use and environmental management, resist, challenge, escape and/or lend themselves to digitization?
4. How might a substantive focus on the digitisation of Indigenous folklore facilitate decolonising epistemologies and practices more broadly?

Instructions for Authors
Please send your title, abstract (max. 250 words), and full contact details to Dumisani Moyo (d.moyo.1@research.gla.ac.uk) and Deborah Dixon (deborah.dixon@glasgow.ac.uk) by 10th of February 2020. We will respond to you about the selection of papers by February 14th.

The Development Geographies Research Group run a paper prize for early career scholars, awarded with IDPR Journal. Early career contributors to this session thus qualify to submit for the prize; seeing it is a DevGRG sponsored session. Early career is defined as researchers not on a permanent academic contract within 10 years of their PhD or within 5 years of completion with a permanent contract (plus any relevant extensions to this period for parental leave or other necessary career break).

Call For Papers Deadline: 10-Feb-2020

Intergenerational boundaries and migratory borders

Convenors: Dr Tanja Bastia and Matthew Walsham (University of Manchester)

Migration can reshape relations between generations, with profound consequences for families that span national borders or internal boundaries.  The challenge of caring for children in these contexts has often overshadowed the issues that older people face – whether it is they or other family members who move.  Migration may also transform how younger generations perceive ageing and plan for their own old age.  Research on intergenerational relations in transnational families is often disconnected from debates on similar dynamics within national borders.  

This panel welcomes contributions which explore changing intergenerational relations in the context of migration including:

·         The processes of intergenerational change in contexts of international and/or internal migration, including comparative perspectives

·         The strengths and weaknesses of different conceptual framings for understanding relations between generations e.g. transnational care, multi-local households, translocal families, global householding, etc.

·         The challenges faced by older people in mobilising care and other forms of support in translocal settings and policy responses

Although we are open to papers that focus on both the Global North and the Global South, we are particularly interested in those focusing on the latter.

Instructions for authors

Please email paper proposals (title, author affiliation and 250 word abstract) toTanja.Bastia@manchester.ac.uk and Matthew.Walsham@Manchester.ac.uk

The deadline for proposals is 31st January 2020.

Rethinking barriers to sustainable rural energy access

Natalie Boyd Williams (University of Stirling – n.a.boydwilliams@stir.ac.uk)

Hannah Mottram (University of Sheffield – hfmottram1@sheffield.ac.uk)

Globally, over 10% of the world population does not have access to electricity, and 40% do not have access to clean fuels for cooking – and levels of access are much lower in rural areas. At the same time that political pressure to improve access globally is increasing, however, the rapid onset of climate change imposes structures on the type and intensity of energy access globally. 

Despite technologies continually developing and achieving economies of scale, global energy access targets continue to be unmet. Projects are too often engineered through the lens of technological and economic aspirations rather than attending to the specific needs and aspirations of individual communities. 

In this session we would like to address questions that explore this idea further as well as investigating the critical importance (and limitations) of the social scale of energy access, with a view to extending practical social methodologies. We would also like to explore reasons for the slow progress towards universal energy access and interrogate how energy access is defined or understood, as well as questioning the premise of the existing energy access goals. 

This session will include 4-5 presentations with time for discussion between speakers and session participants. We encourage speakers to consider the following questions, and how these relate to your research or projects. 

  • How can we identify and cross the borders we have in our understanding of user experiences and realities to enable more sustainable access? 
  • What are the limits of current research approaches?
  • How can research be done differently?
  • What are the effects of not fully understanding the energy capabilities, understandings and aspirations of communities?
  • How do issues of energy justice materialise for communities?
  • How are energy access policies and projects evaluated, and is success measured appropriately?
  • What issues arise from conflicting approaches and understandings of different stakeholders, including the role of actors in the ‘Global North’?
  • Are current understandings of and ways of measuring energy access  appropriate?

We hope to be able to support distance/virtual participation in this session. If you would not be able to travel to London for the conference, please indicate this in your abstract submission. We also encourage participation from groups and individuals outside of universities and academia. 

Please send your paper title, abstract (up to 150 words) and full contact details to both session convenors by 30th January 2020. We will confirm participation in early February.

Crisis in Latin America: symptoms and consequences for urban Children and Youth

Session convenors: Maria Jesus Alfaro Muñoz (University of Birmingham) and Natan Waintrub Santibáñez (University College London)
Sponsorship: Geographies of Children Youth and Families Research Group (GCYFRG) & Development Geographies Research Group (DevGRG)

Latin America is experiencing a profound process of social change. In different forms and with different intensities, the social unrest has challenged models of development which, despite achieving relative progress in recent decades, are still reproducing historical divisions and injustices. The social discontent is (re)shaping relationships of power, the public sphere, and the everyday experiences of children and young people in the urban realm. This sequence of events asks for us to rethink the place of children and young people within local and global processes (Aitken, 2013). Moreover, it makes us rethink the role of children and the youth as part of this social process, either as passive agents who cope with injustices and obstacles in urban public spaces, or as active protagonists of public citizenship demonstrations, claiming for their right to better societies.

Wells (2017) suggested that the political and economic structures surrounding children and young people’s  everyday lives is increasingly constraining their agency. In this sense the session invites papers that aim to critically question how children and young people experience urban constrains, navigate local landscapes and engage with social movements within their own agency in Latin America.

We seek to explore the practical and theoretical implications of the changing Latin American landscape for children and the youth. We aim to discuss urban childhoods in convoluted times examining the interconnectedness of their lives (Holloway and Valentine, 2000) and the way their everyday lives are structured and shape by local processes.

Papers may include but are not limited to:

  • The role(s) of children and young people in the process of social change
  • Children and young people’s urban everyday experiences within a local landscape of social unrest.
  • Living in social unrest and the coping strategies in which children navigate the urban space
  • Civic and social participation of children/youth in public space
  • Children everyday use and appropriation of the public space.
  • Spatial discourses of children and young people everyday subjective and emotional experiences.
  • Dreams and expectations for children and young people’s future societies.
  • Children and young people’s perspectives and vision for the urban realm.

Keywords: Latin America, Social Unrest, Children, Youth, Everyday Experiences, Urban Childhoods

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to Maria Jesus Alfaro Muñoz <MXA964@student.bham.ac.uk> or Natan Waintrub Santibáñez <ucesnwa@ucl.ac.uk> by February 5th 2020. This should include title, author affiliation and email address.

We want to encourage the wider community of children’s geographers within UK and overseas tackling Latin American contexts to participate. In that sense, do keep in mind that whilst attendance to the session is ideal, we are also considering video-conferencing for up to a defined 20% of the authors if needed.

Urban Inequalities and the Social Contract in The Global South

“Social contract theory dates back to writings of Rousseau, Locke, and Hobbes and, in a newer definition (Loewe et al 2019), refers to “the entirety of explicit or implicit agreements between all relevant societal groups and the sovereign (i.e. government or any other actor in power), defining their rights and obligations towards each other”. With the dismantling of the welfare state, recent political narratives focus on reframing and realigning the relationship between government and governmental institutions and, thus, the respective contract between citizens and the state. Claims to renegotiate the social contract also seem to be causative regarding recent mass protests in Latin America, Northern Africa and Asia. We argue that massive urban transformations play a significant role in this. Therefore, using an urban lens one can argue that the local social contract in many cities in the Global South is under threat by:

• Retreat of the state from social housing and the production of an affordable centrally located housing stock
• Gentrification and mega housing projects
• Displacement
• Segregation and marginalization

We seek papers dealing with urban transformations in the Global South through the perspective of the social contract and the impact of these on state-society relations on a local scale. Papers may address – but are not limited to – the following aspects:

-How the concept of the social contract can be used to explain urban inequalities in the Global South
-Provision of social services (or the lack thereof) during processes of urban transformation (i.e. social housing, municipal/legal services, health care, education).
-Withdrawal of state protection (i.e. property rights, use of police force, landlord harassment, forced evictions)
-Recognition of the state’s legitimacy (trust in the state and its institution)
-What can be done to increase social cohesion or strengthen the social contract for cities under scrutiny

If you would like to propose a paper presentation, please send abstracts of up to 250 words to Aysegul Can (aysegul.can87@gmail.com) and Yannick Sudermann (y.sudermann@gmx.de) by Friday, February 7th, 2020

Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Winner 2019

The Developing Areas Research Group in conjunction with Routledge offers an annual prize for the most promising dissertation concerning ‘Development Geographies’. The author of the winning dissertation receives £100 worth of Routledge books of their choice.

We are delighted to announce that the 2019 winner of the prize is Lucy Petty from Newcastle University. Lucy’s dissertation was titled ‘Responsible Volunteering: A Viable Solution? A Postcolonial Reading of International Volunteering in Jambiani, Zanzibar.’ The committee noted that Lucy made exceptional use of chosen methods and that the dissertation structure was excellent. Many congratulations, Lucy!

We would also like to congratulate Helen Cussans of Durham University whose dissertation was highly commended. Helen’s dissertation was titled ‘‘Now is the time for change and it starts with our girls’: Exploring the practice, effects and attitudes towards Female Genital Mutilation amongst women from Isiolo, Kenya.’

The prize will be running again at the end of the 2019-20 academic year, the deadline is usually 1 July. Please check our website and twitter for updates.

DARG Travel Prize Winner 2019

The DARG committee is delighted to announce the winner of the 2019 DARG travel prize. The winner is Chidinma Okorie who is a PhD candidate at Loughborough University.

Chidinma’s research project, ‘The Geographies of Nigerian Commonwealth Scholars and the Migration Education-Development (M.E.D) Nexus’ was noted by the committee as research that will make an important contribution to development geography. Chidinma will receive £800 towards her fieldwork in Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria. Many congratulations, Chidinma!

The DARG committee thanks all candidates for their applications, they really do show the strength of early career research in development geography. We would like to say a particular well done to our runner up, Floor van der Hout from Northumbria University. We wish all candidates the best of luck with their fieldwork.

The DARG travel prize will run again next year, please keep an eye on our website and twitter account for updates. Questions can be directed at the prize co-ordinator Dr Cordelia Freeman at cordelia.freeman@nottingham.ac.uk

DARG Sponsored Sessions at the RGS-IBG Annual Conference

Postgraduate Careers Event, March 15th 2019

Developing Areas Research group (DARG) Call for Sponsored Sessions, RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London

DARG invites proposals for sponsored sessions at the upcoming 2019 RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, to be held in Wednesday 28th to Friday 30th August. This year we will be launching a paper prize, offered for the best paper presented during a DARG sponsored panel.

The 2019 Conference Chair is Professor Hester Parr (University of Glasgow, UK) and the conference theme is Geographies of trouble / Geographies of hope. We invite proposals for sessions that engage with the conference themes and extend contemporary debates within Development Geography. These can be pitched as paper panels, roundtables and sessions that include Development practitioners.

Please contact DARG Chair Dr Jessica Hope with any questions about proposal for a sponsored session (Jessica.hope@bristol.ac.uk). The deadline for proposals is Friday 21st December 2018. These should include:

1. Title of session

2. Name of co-sponsoring groups (if applicable)

3. Name, affiliation, and contact details for session convenors

4. Session abstract (max 300 words, excl. references)

5. Indication of any non-standard arrangements.

We will notify you about your proposal by January 4th. The deadline for full session details to be sent by conveners to DARG (including sequence of papers, paper titles, abstracts and full author details) is 11th February 2019.

For more information on DARG see: http://www.darg.rgs.org For more information on the conference see: https://www.rgs.org/research/annual-international-conference/

Full call for sessions can be found here: https://www.rgs.org/research/annual-international-conference/programme-(1)/

DARG Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Winner

We are delighted to announce the winner of this years Undergraduate Dissertation Prize; Miles Harrison from UCL for dissertation titled ‘Empowering the poor?: The effects of formalising informal settlements in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’. Many congratulations Miles!

The DARG committee were impressed with the amount of data Miles collected through his reflective, mixed methods approach using interviews and questionnaires. Miles’ analysis and findings are presented clearly and he makes important contributions to work on housing tenure in Dar es Salaam.

We would also like to highly commend two runners up who also wrote excellent dissertations. They are:

– Charles White (Durham), dissertation titled: An investigation of the hydropolitics of conflict and modernity: a case study of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
– Katharine Gardiner (Oxford), dissertation titled: A Nascent Nation: the stateless Dominicans of Haitian descent and their constructions of nationality.


We received many fantastic dissertations so we would like to acknowledge all of the hard work and enthusiasm from all the students whose dissertations were submitted.


The Developing Areas Research Group in conjunction with Routledge offers an annual prize for the most promising dissertation concerning ‘The Geography of Developing Areas’. The author of the winning dissertation receives £100 worth of Routledge books of their choice, and 20% discount on any further Routledge books ordered.


The prize is open to any student taking a first degree in Geography. Students taking joint degrees are eligible to enter for the prize, provided that at least half their course is in Geography. It is suggested that no Department of Geography submits more than one dissertation for this prize. Dissertations will be evaluated by three members of the DARG Committee.

DARG Postgraduate Travel Prize Winner

We are delighted to announce the winner of our DARG postgraduate travel prize, Kavita Dattani who is an MRes student at Queen Mary, University of London. We received a very strong set of applications so congratulations Kavita!

Kavita’s research project is entitled “Digitising Domestic Work: investigating the role of digital technologies and on-demand platforms in the work-lives of Delhi’s domestic workers“. The prize is £800 toward fieldwork costs and Kavita will be spending the summer in Delhi where she will conduct interviews and focus groups. We wish Kavita the best of luck with her research and are looking forward to her report on her return.

If you are interested in applying for future funding, our travel prize closes on 1 June every year. More information can be found on our funding page. We look forward to receiving your submissions.

David W. Smith Essay Prize Winner 2018

The Developing Areas Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) annual essay competition is in memory of David W. Smith. David W Smith, who also published under the name of David Drakakis Smith, was an outstanding scholar committed to researching on Third World cities. He died in 1999.


The competition is open to A2 level students in England and Wales and Advanced Higher students in Scotland who are invited to write an essay of up to 1500 words to a title chosen by DARG. This year’s essay title was:

With reference to one city in the Global South and one key theme (gender, health or sexuality) answer the following question: To what extent (& in what ways) does the city ensure the safety of its citizens?


We at DARG are delighted to announce the winner of the David W. Smith Memorial Prize 2018, Antonia Hogan from St. Mary’s School, Ascot.  Antonia wrote a wonderful essay to the title; With reference to Cairo, Egypt and Gender: To what extent (& in what ways) does the city ensure the safety of its citizens? She wins £100 in book vouchers from Routledge Publishers.




Many thanks to all who submitted an essay. We hope you will continue with your work on development geography and your engagement with the important issues of gender, health and sexuality.


The 2019 competition will be announced in Autumn this year so please keep an eye out for details.


DARG Sponsored Sessions at the RGS-IBG Annual Conference

We are currently sponsoring four sessions for the RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2018. Please see information below and do consider submitting an abstract to one of them.


Sustainable Landscapes: how is the sustainable development agenda (re)working and (re)producing landscapes?


Jessica Hope

Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, Department of Geography, University of Bristol



This DARG sponsored panel interrogates reiterations of sustainable development, as it becomes a guiding principle for global development following the 2015 launch of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is in response to increasing recognition of human-induced climate change, and despite the concept being much critiqued as a buzzword “unavoidable, powerful and floating free from concrete referents in a world of make-me-believe” (Adams 2009). In this panel, we will debate the contemporary landscapes being changed and (re)produced by the sustainable development agenda, as well as the extent of its power in relation to wider shifts in development (Mawdsley 2016, 2017). Firstly, we will question what kinds of landscapes are being created and how – for example, through discourse and transformative imaginaries (Foucault 2002; Cosgrove 2008), assemblages, networks and actors (Braun 2006; DeLanda 2006), its methods for data collection and measurement (Jerven 2013), and the ways it encounters and values the non-human (Lorimer 2012; Sundberg 2014). Secondly, we will identify, examine and assess the practices that constitute emergent and dominant forms of sustainable development and thirdly, consider the knowledges, natures, debates and conflicts that are being overlooked or actively excluded.


Please send a 300 word abstract to Dr Jessica Hope by Wednesday February 14th along with a brief biography.


Adams, W.M., 2009. Green Development: environment and sustainability in the Third World. Routledge.

Braun, B., 2006. Towards a new earth and a new humanity: nature, ontology, politics (pp. 191-222). Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Cosgrove, D., 2008. Geography and Vision: Seeing. Imagining and Representing the World (IB Tauris, London).

DeLanda, M., 2006. A new philosophy of society: Assemblage theory and social complexity. A&C Black.

Foucault, M., 2002. The order of things: An archaeology of the human sciences. Psychology Press.

Jerven, M., 2013. Poor numbers: how we are misled by African development statistics and what to do about it. Cornell University Press.

Lorimer, J., 2012. Multinatural geographies for the Anthropocene. Progress in Human Geography36(5), pp.593-612.

Mawdsley, E., 2017. Development geography 1: Cooperation, competition and convergence between ‘North’and ‘South’. Progress in Human Geography41(1), pp.108-117.

—-2016. Development geography II: Financialization. Progress in Human Geography, p.0309132516678747.

Sundberg, J., 2014. Decolonizing posthumanist geographies. cultural geographies21(1), pp.33-47.



Peripheral urbanisms: Exploring the significance of urban change and continuity across comparative peripheries


Dr Paula Meth & Prof Alison Todes

Reader & Director of Undergraduate Programme
Department of Urban Studies and Planning, University of Sheffield



This panel focuses on the spatial edges of large cities and city-regions across the world, with a particular, but not exclusive focus on cities in the global South. These edges present a complex mix of poorly understood, and often unresearched, urban transformations. Urban changes often signal new forms of investment, either by private sector interests, or in relation to geographically particular state-directed investment in infrastructure (including housing) or employment creation – sometimes part of national policy measures. Pressures on housing markets in other parts of a city can also have spill-over impacts on different peripheral locations. Lower land costs, particular forms of tenure and regulation may also underpin growth in these areas.  At the same time, parts of urban peripheries are subject to absences of investment, or declines in earlier interventions, tied to global shifts of capital or the repositioning of priorities, which may result in depopulation, loss of working age residents or rising poverty. These undulations have significant impacts on the everyday lives of local residents, affecting employment opportunities, and accessiblity to services, education and health, with some areas languishing while others evolve slowly under the steam of piecemeal local responses. Importantly, the nature of local, city and national governance structures shapes these changes and continuities, hence weakness or conflicting governance demands impact on these peripheral urbanisms resulting in poorly managed outcomes or the cherry-picking of particular localities over others. Urban peripheries are themselves varied, as land availability and ownership, environmental quality, transport links etc all work to differentiate urban living and urban change, with wealth and poverty evident.


Our panel aims to attract researchers (and other urban colleagues) who are interested in questions relating to particular or comparative urban peripheries. The panel will include papers from our African Peripheries project (see https://www.wits.ac.za/urbanperiphery/) but welcomes papers which draw on empirically-grounded material relating to other urban contexts. The panel welcomes papers focusing on spatial practices, political and governance trends and interventions, economic processes and social realities among other issues and reflects on the significance of these for urban theory. Papers which examine methodological or conceptual challenges of researching ‘Peripheral urbanisms’ are also welcome.





Interrogating relationships between spatial and social mobility in the Global South


Marta Bivand Erdal

Research Professor

 Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)






This session seeks to interrogate the variegated relationships between spatial mobility and social mobility in societies in the Global South. Relationships between migration and development have received substantial attention in recent years, notably foregrounding the salience of remittances at the household level (Carling 2008; Clemens and Ogden 2014; de Haas 2006). Scrutinizing the ways in which migration interacts with development processes, one conclusion appears to be that migration is an integral component to social change, whereas its exact functions and dynamics are highly context-dependent (de Haas 2010; Sana and Massey 2005; Skeldon 2014). Meanwhile, there also appears to be some potential for moving the understanding of relationships between spatial mobility and social mobility further, especially by juxtaposing analyses built on the specifics of particular contexts, and through constructive dialogue between different strands of scholarship.


This session’s engagement with relationships between spatial mobility and social mobility in the Global South, draws on scholarship at the intersections of geography, development and migration studies (de Haan 1999; Gibson et al 2010; Rigg 2007). Hence building on work which has explored the roles that migration plays in livelihood pathways for individuals and families (Myroniuk and Vearey 2014; Rigg et al 2014; Rigg 2007), some of which foregrounds the roles of education, intertwined with migration, for social mobility (Boyden 2013; Smith et al 2014). It also draws inspiration from the field of youth studies, especially in African contexts, where the interplay of spatial and social mobility emerges as crucial (Gough 2008; Langevang and Gough 2009).


In Africa, much as in Asian societies, urbanization is perhaps the most crucial process whereby spatial mobility and outcomes regarding quality of life and future prospects interact, making cities a crucial avenue for research (Gough et al 2015). Interrelated with urbanization, the rise of ‘new middle classes’ in African and Asian contexts, is receiving attention, where spatial mobility also matters (Page and Sunjo 2017). The multi-locality of livelihoods themselves is a further dimension of relationships between spatial mobility and social mobility, which merits attention (Thieme 2008; Schroder and Stephan-Emmich 2016); and associated with this, sustained transnational ties which migration might lead to, among other involving a potential insurance mechanism through remittances, as protection to various shocks (Mazzucato 2009).


For the purposes of this session, spatial mobility is understood to include rural-to-urban migration, internal and international migration, whether regionally or further afield. Social mobility, in turn, is understood in contextual, emic terms, as improvement, in terms of quality of life, the realization or promise of prospects for life, including but not limited to securing material wealth. Different units of analysis are of relevance, including individuals and families, notably with a lens sensitive to gendered dimensions, but also neighborhoods, communities, or cities. With appropriate data available, national level analyses, distinguishing between differing types of spatial mobility, and their connections with various economic outcomes, are important in order to better understand patterns at an aggregate level.


Papers addressing the challenge of ‘interrogating relationships between spatial mobility and social mobility in the Global South’, submitted for this session, might focus on – but need not be limited to – e.g.:

  • exploring the roles (and non-roles) which migration – past, and present – plays in the emergence of ‘new middle classes’ in Asia and Africa
  • exploring how education plays a role in quests for social mobility, where spatial mobility might also come into play
  • comparative analyses of the interplay of spatial mobility and social mobility, between several contexts
  • longitudinal intergenerational analyses of the interplay of spatial and social mobility in extended families (and/or households) over time



Beyond the standardised urban lexicon: Which Vocabulary Matters?

This panel is jointly sponsored by Royal Geographical Society’s (with the Institute of British Geographers) Developing Areas Research Group (DARC) and Postgraduate Forum (RGSPGF) Session Conveners: Shreyashi Dasgupta and Noura Wahby, University of Cambridge, UK

Session Abstract: The framing of the urban lexicon has been standardised and dominated based on the Euro American context. However, contemporary urban theories from Global Cities, World Class Cities, to Ordinary Cities, Comparative Urbanism and Southern Urbanism have indicated the shift in understanding the ‘urban’ and ‘cities’ from various perspectives. The urban vocabulary is continuously growing in an attempt to capture the complex power dynamics, changing geographical landscapes as well as urban processes. How we read cities and where we place them in a global lexicon is increasingly contested especially around basic questions, such as the meaning of ‘the urban’, boundaries of country and city, among others (Parnell 2014). In particular, the nature of the inclusion of experiences from the Global South is under great scrutiny and debate. These conceptualisations have resulted in an expansion of Southern vocabulary that is continually transformed as new ground realities emerge. Debates surrounding the use of the word ‘slum’, ‘smart cities’, ‘urban poor’, ‘legal’, ‘illegal’, ‘formal’, ‘informal’, ‘periphery’ and so on are especially indicative of the power idiosyncrasies inherent in the choice of vocabulary, where adoption of different types of definitions lead to discriminatory government policies, cosmetic donor programs and complex community identities.

It is thus important to trace how Northern-based theory and concepts are applied in spaces such as the Global South, or across new geographies of national spaces elsewhere. Similarly, we aim to bring to light in-depth analyses on the adoption of new lexicons, the dominance of certain voices, the capture of terminologies by powerful stakeholders, and the recycling of words from the ground-up or vice versa. This panel aims to bring together conceptualisation and interventions that bridge the divide between theory and practice to understand produced mismatches in applying standard urban terms to ground realities.



Bhan, G (2016). ‘In the Public’s Interest: Evictions, Citizenship and Inequality in Contemporary Delhi’. University of Georgia Press.

Parnell, S and Oldfield, S (2014). ‘The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South’. Routledge: New York. RGS-IBG 2018 Annual International Conference Page 2

Simone, A. (2017). ‘Living as logistics: Tenuous struggles in the remaking of collective’ in ‘The Routledge Companion to Planning in the Global South. Routledge: New York.

Schindler, S (2017). ‘Towards a paradigm of Southern Urbanism’. City. 21 (1) 47-64

Watson, V (2009). ‘Seeing from the South: Refocusing Urban Planning on the Globe’s Central Urban Issues’. Urban Studies. 46 (11) 2259 to 2275.


If you would like to participate in the session please submit an abstract (maximum 300 words) along with the name and affiliation to Shreyashi Dasgupta (sd681@cam.ac.uk) and Noura Wahby (nw352@cam.ac.uk) by Thursday 8th February 2018. The length of session will be of 1 hour and 40 minutes. It will be comprised of 5 papers that will be of 15 minutes each. A discussion of 25 minutes will follow as well as closing remarks by the session chair. We would also like to encourage scholars to explore different mediums of presentation, such as photo essays, short videos, among others.

RGS-IBG 2018: Call for DARG (Developing Areas Research Group) Session Proposals

RGS-IBG 2018: Call for DARG (Developing Areas Research Group) Session Proposals

The Developing Areas Research Group (DARG) would like to invite expressions of interest and proposals for sponsored sessions for the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference to be held in Cardiff, Tuesday 28th August – Friday 31st August, 2018.
DARG welcomes proposals that address both theoretical and empirical questions, changes and conflicts with regards to geographies of development, as well as those that engage directly with Professor Paul Milbourne’s the theme of Geographical landscapes /  changing landscapes of geography. See www.rgs.org/ac2018 for further details.
Each session length is 1 hour and 40mins and in addition to paper-based sessions we also encourage innovation formats to sessions, see here.
Please send a 300 word proposal to DARG Chair – Jessica Hope (jessicachloehope@gmail.com) by Monday Jan 15th 2018.