Second Edition of the Lisbon Early-Career Workshop in Urban Studies 2022

By: Luisa Rossini

The Urban Transitions Hub (as part of the SHIFT research group) hosted, from the 23rd to the 25th of November 2022, at ICS-ULisboa, the second edition of the Lisbon Early-Career Workshop in Urban Studies, with the support of the AESOP Young Academics Network. 16 PhD students and early-career scholars from all over Europe and abroad gathered for the opportunity to present and discuss their research projects and/or findings during a 3-day event organized as a space of exchange, debate and learning. The topic for this second edition was “Social Mobilisations and Planning through Crisis.”

Figure 1: First plenary session of the Lisbon Early-Career Workshop in Urban Studies. Photo by author.

Taking the current conjuncture of social pressure generated by COVID-19 pandemic and war, the aim was to reflect on recurring cycles of systemic and (today) parallel crises that are affecting societies and economies on a global scale. In this context, the increasing social polarization and impoverishment of territories, at the back of increasing conflicts in multiple and interconnected fields (e.g. climate change, wars, flows of migrants and refugees, economic crisis and recession, crisis of the social state and of democracy, etc.), are deeply interlocked with global processes of financial accumulation, dispossession and extraction of collective and natural resources, spatial transformation and social reproduction. The result is the emergence of a variety of new mobilized groups and strategic claims (e.g. concerning housing, see Martinez 2019 on strategic vs tactic claim-making) as well as bottom-up practices.

A stimulating debate on new forward-looking perspectives brought by grassroots practices individuating alternative solutions to the ongoing crises has been generated by the necessity to muddle through these volatile times, contributing with visions, charts and plans for a more sustainable planetary future. During the workshop, we discussed critical approaches to urban planning and social mobilizations, with a focus on two main interlocked lines of inquiry:

  1. Extractivism and dispossession and systemic capitalism crisis in times of post-politicization of the public debate – mentored by Miguel Martinez, Andrea Pavoni and Olivia Bina, and moderated by Tjark Gall (AESOP Young Academics);
  1. Urban social movements and citizens’ participation resisting competing hegemonic visions – mentored by Margit Mayer, Marco Allegra, Pedro Neto and Lavínia Pereira, and moderated by Lavínia Pereira

As the main goal of the workshop was to offer a space for discussion and improvement of ongoing research, the participants were asked to bring theoretical questions and their potential development, preliminary analyses of empirical findings and reflections on epistemological/methodological dimensions, to be addressed by the mentors. Moreover, a pair-wise peer-review was assigned to each participant in order to engage with the exercise of reviewing an article with critical questions and the evaluation of other presenter’s research structures and goals.

The workshop was organized as follows: 2 plenary keynote sessions (by Miguel Martinez and Margit Mayer), followed by an interactive debate; 2 Breakout parallel sessions, in which each participant had 1 hour assigned to present his/her paper and ‘defend’ it from comments by mentors and other participants; a Q&A session on strategies and tips for academic publishing, and post-PhD challenges; and finally, a wrap-up session with discussion on lessons learned.

Figure 2: Margit Mayer mentoring one of the breakout sessions. Photo by author.

Moreover, collective activities were organized to promote discussion among participants on a more informal level. Among them, a field-trip (a two-hour walk, from Rossio to Praça das Novas Nações), conducted by Marco Allegra, to discuss key urban issues of the most recent Lisbon developments, including issues related to migration, gentrification, touristification and their relation to the city transformation patterns and problems.

Participants’ feedback at the end of the event has been extremely positive, both because of the similarity among the research topics presented and the stimulating discussions that ensued, thanks to the high level of mentoring received and the ample space dedicated to the presentation and discussion of each research project.

Luisa Rossini is a post-doc researcher at ICS, University of Lisbon. She received her PhD in Urban and Regional Planning and has been a member of an international collective of researcher/activists called Squatting European Kollective. Her research focuses on the analysis of cases of insurgent reappropriation of urban public spaces and housing rights movements.


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