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Conf/CfP - Experimental Recipes for a Radical Municipalism, 28-30 August 2019, UK

Publish Date: Feb 06, 2019

Deadline: Feb 08, 2019

Event Dates: from Aug 28, 2019 12:00 to Aug 30, 2019 12:00

Call for Papers: Experimental Recipes for a Radical Municipalism

In June 2017 Barcelona hosted ‘Fearless Cities’, the first gathering of an embryonic global movement dubbed ‘new’ or ‘radical municipalism’. At this years Royal Geographical Society's annual conference - Wednesday 28th August to Friday 30th August 2019 - we'll be hosting a session to engage with some of the central questions about power, scale, and the role of the city in transformative social change. Session convenors: Dr Bertie Russell (University of Sheffield) and Dr Matthew Thompson (University of Liverpool). Sponsored by the Participatory Geographies Research Group (PyGyRG) and the Urban Geography Research Group (UGRG).

From Rosario, Argentina to Jackson, Mississippi, these initiatives see activists developing strategic approaches to municipal institutions with the aim of transforming urban-economic governance in resistance to growing inequalities, democratic deficits and social injustice. This builds on a long and ideologically-diverse history of municipalism(s) – from pre-Westphalian city-states; through paternalistic ‘gas-and-water’ municipalism of nineteenth-century English local authorities and their turn, in the 1980s, to New Left municipal socialism; to Marxist, anarchist and feminist thinking on federalism (Kropotkin), libertarian municipalism (Bookchin), right to the city (Lefebvre) and commoning (Federici). 

What is arguably ‘new’ – and ‘radical’ – about the present moment is the geographical breadth and speed of replication of comparable experiments worldwide; their shared vision to ‘feminize’ decision-making processes; the blurring of state/civil-society boundaries; the decentring-without-jettisoning of the state in theories of social change; an emerging politics of scale that challenges conventional hierarchical interpretations; and the radical democratization of urban economies through co-operatives, commons and re-municipalisation.

This session invites paper and oral presentations exploring diverse experiences, practices, theories, geographies, histories and futures of new/radical municipalism from any geographic angle including, but not limited to:

  • Municipal democracy, democratization
  • Urban commons, commoning
  • Feminism, feminization of politics
  • Social movement-building/institutionalisation transitions
  • State theory, rethinking the place of the local/municipal state in socialist/communist strategy
  • Scalar questions around the ‘city’/‘municipal’/‘local’
  • Activist/community organising experiences
  • Global North-South comparison/theory
  • Policy mobilities, mobile urbanism, travelling ideas
  • History of ideas, historical precedents
  • Transitions/systems theory and social innovation/change
  • New economies, platforms, co-operativism
  • Political economy of re-municipalisation/public ownership

The session format begins with a roundtable discussion, with presentations limited to 10 minutes to allow more time for dialogue amongst all participants/collaborators in the room. We especially encourage presentations from (scholar-)activists, policy-makers and practitioners involved in municipalist movements; at least half will be from women and non-binary. Principal contributions must pose a genuine question/provocation – a real uncertainty that presents challenges both for the contributor and for municipalist movements – which will be shared and openly discussed in the session. The aim is to galvanise new thought and action, through exploratory questioning, rather than find definitive answers.

Please send abstracts (approximately 250 words) to and by Friday 8th February.

We don’t expect to see polished abstracts – so don’t worry too much about wordsmithing. We’re interested in the central question you feel would benefit from collective discussion, and some indication of how you would contribute to this debate. Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to discuss the session further.

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below.

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Democracy Studies




Eligible Countries


Host Countries

United Kingdom

Conference Types

Call for Papers