Latin American Urban Research in Dialogue – Urban Knowledge Production from the Region

Latin American Urban Research in Dialogue – Urban Knoweldge Production from the Region

School of Architecture Bremen
Gefördert durch
Fritz Thyssen Stiftung
Vom - Bis
19.10.2020 - 20.10.2020
Christian von Wissel, Theorie der Stadt, School of Architecture Bremen, Hochschule Bremen

International Online Conference
19th–20th of October 2020. Hosted by the School of Architecture at Hochschule Bremen (HSB, City University of Applied Sciences).

The conference aims at contributing to the ongoing dialogue on the current state of art of Latin American urban research and its contribution to a locally grounded, ‘ordinary’ as well as ‘global’ urban theory.

Latin American Urban Research in Dialogue – Urban Knoweldge Production from the Region

The world is turning urban – and it is in cities that we need to find answers to the challenges that this wholesale urban transformation of our planet and society brings about.

Yet apart from urgent action, the complexity of the matter also requires us to work on a common language for the perception and interpretation of the processes involved – since only what we are able to see and describe together can serve as the starting point of any empowerment to act also together. This is the objective of a global, ordinary urban theory (Robinson 2006, Robinson and Roy 2016), a theory of the city that attempts to develop meaningful ways to see and interpret our changing world from the ‘ordinary’ everyday experiences of ‘ordinary’ cities, in order to investigate global urban transformations from multiple perspectives and to develop suitable, location-specific as well as communally valid approaches to formulate both criticism and possible solutions.

The conference is free of charge. Please contact christian.von-wissel[at] for registration. For additional information please refer to the website


chaired by Christian v. Wissel (SoAB, Bremen)
To commence our debates on the production of urban knowledge in/from Latin America, this first panel directs the attention to the role of “promissory things” (Kemmer), to the affordances of space and to the social power of images. How do infrastructures, houses or ruins produce collectivities, foster lived relations or speak of society as a whole? And why do these questions emerge in particular temporal and spatial settings (i.e. in Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Mexico City)?
- Laura Kemmer: Bonding: Infrastructure, affect, and the emergence of urban collectivity.
- Riccarda Cappeller: casa chorizo – narrations of a social and urban character.
- Peter Krieger: Images of decay: Life in hyper-urbanised earthquake zones.

chaired by Clara Röhrig (Uni Bremen) and Christian v. Wissel (SoAB)
In the second panel we ask about different practices of appropriation (or domestication) of space and about their corresponding “ways of living”. Questions include: How do policies influence such practices and do they reflect everyday interactions within urban spaces? Or: what happens when (public) space is being withdrawn from being practiced/lived (e.g. during the Covid19 pandemic)? With regard to comparison, this panel also asks about the concepts that help relating between one urban experience and another.
- Angela Giglia: Ways of living, types of spaces and witness places in contemporary metropolises.
- Fernando Gutiérrez: The lockdown of public spaces in Mexico during the COVID-19 pandemic: Social, economic and spatial consequences.
- Juliana Hutai, Liza Minely, Gaitán Ortiz and Maira Yesenia: “Stay at home”. Socio-Spatial Reflections on ways of living in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. A comparative analysis of Bogotá and Berlin.

chaired by Álvaro Sánchez (UCL, London)
This panel explores postcoloniality as a specificity of the Latin American context. It seeks to understand where (urban) knowledge and concepts are produced and therefore pictures a liberation from Euro-American knowledge production. How precisely does this liberation take place in theory and in practice? Approaches vary from historical reappraisal of urban knowledge, to the formation of new concepts and the de-colonisation of established ones (such as “urbanisation”, “indigeneity” and “modernity”).
- Joel Outtes: Cities and Knowledge in Brazil.
- Simone Vegliò: “Postcolonizing” Planetary Urbanization? A Latin American Genealogy.
- Erick Vaca Benavides: Compact City in the Latin American Context.
- Angus McNelly: Urban Indigeneity and Baroque Modernity: A View from a Bolivian City.
- Monika Streule: Popular urbanisation as an urban strategy. Decentring the vocabulary of urbanisation.

chaired by Catalina Ortiz (The Bartlett DPU, London)
Panel 4 explores the potential of an “urban knowledge production from the region” by turning around the point of entry to the discussion: not a particular concept, concern or theoretical field is where this panel departs, but a particular regional situation and context: the transformation of cities, countryside and society in Colombia. From the forced movement of people to the modernising movements of the state, and from holding people in place to annexing villages into the city... this session asks about the production of space, the peace process, migration and the Anthropocene in Colombia, and the learning they offer.
- Melanie Lombard: Between Pacification and Dialogue: Critical lessons from Colombia's territorial peace.
- Alissa Diesch: The Production of Metropolitan Space: The Rural Heritage of Bogotá.
- Evelína Cihlarova: Forced displacement and internal migration to Colombian cities from an intersectional perspective.
- Simón Uribe: Suspension: Conflicting relationship between humans, nature and infrastructure.

chaired by Tania Guerrero and Álvaro Sanchez (both UCL, London)
Who is governing Latin American Cities and how are the ambivalences and fractures of governance being addressed and navigated? This panel focuses on the relationships between state and non-state, between global and local actors when producing urban space. In particular, it looks at the connections between urban informality, neoliberal restructuring and the Covid19-pandemic, at the relation between physical violence, international trade and urban rhythms, and at the emplacement of global processes of financialization at the urban scale. In addition, the panel reviews how temporal and material dimensions act on urban governance and asks about the comparison of urban processes.
- Hanna Hilbrandt: Everyday perspectives on municipal financialization in Mexico City.
- Alke Jenss: Everyday Scalar Politics: Navigating the Insecure City in Times of Austerity.
- Pilar Mendoza: Informality and social inequality as a product of the neoliberal model now facing a pandemic.

chaired by Camila Saraiva (UFABC/Urban Studies Foundation, São Paulo)
This last panel turns our attention to practices of planning, and formulates a critique of top-down operation modes by exploring the potential of alternative, “social” and “community-driven” approaches. Like in the previous panels, questions are being raised with regard to who is producing urban knowledge (here: planning knowledge) for whom? The session discusses how notions like “co-creation”, “community”, “commons” and “resilience” inform theories and practices of planning and how the Latin American urban experience shapes our understanding of these concepts.
- Carlos Leite: Social Urbanism in Latin America.
- Moritz Ahlert, Max Becker, Cielo María Holguín, Albert Kreisel, Nina Pawlicki and Matthew Crabbe: Urban Coding Strategies for the Informal Neighbourhoods of Moravia, Medellín.
- Isabelle Mollinger, Anne Kennes and Christien Klaufus: Intangible commons and community resilience in urban Colombia.