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Bridging European Urban Transformations Workshop Series 2016-2018



The latest volume of UT Connect, following on from previous editions such as the Habitat III special issue and a UK-themed edition, showcases the outcomes of the Bridging European Urban Transformations initiative. Organised in collaboration with a range of European partners, including the Brussels Centre for Urban Studies, Cosmopolis and Brussels Academy at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels, it covered a total of four seminar series between 2016 and 2018, encompassing a range of issues including smart cities, urban living labs (ULLs), migration and mobility, and the ‘urban commons’. Hosting a variety of leading academics and practitioners in different urban fields, each event showcased some of the latest thinking on some of the most pressing challenges facing European cities today. This edition brings together in one volume the four pieces published by Professor Michael Keith and Dr Igor Calzada on the series, summarising the discussions and drawing out the implications for urban planners, policy makers and businesses today. Read Report:
Urban Transformations Digest
Fourth edion
September 2018
Bridging European
Urban Transformations
Welcome to this issue of @
utconnect, a digest that
summarises the activities of a
collaborative workshop series
that took place between 2016
and 2018 in Brussels.
While there were considerable
uncertainties in the research
landscape with regards to future
connections within the EU, even
before the results of the Brexit
referendum became known,
in the spirit of building bridges
a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on
15 June 2016 – just a week before the vote took place -
between the University of Oxford, Urban Transformations
ESRC Programme and Brussels Centre for Urban Studies
(BCUS) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). The MoU,
besides pledging close collaboration between the two
institutions, also launched a series of workshops, ‘Bridging
European Urban Transformations’, lasting from June 2016 to
February 2018.
During this time, a wide range of debates and inspiring
conversations took place in dierent locations within
Brussels by bringing together a variety of speakers, projects
and initiatives. This functioned as an active approach to
research, by building a roadmap of some of the key issues
and priorities – outlined in more detail below.
The rst workshop [1], entitled ‘Unplugging Data in Smart
City-Regions’ (#UnpluggingData), was held in the Brussels
Centre for Media Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. In
overcoming the ‘smart city’ buzzword, the event focused on
the implications of smart urbanism and the use of big data
for citizens by presenting leading initiatives in Europe (Future
Cities Catapult, HackAIR, Flamenco, and City of Things,
among others).
The second workshop [2], entitled ‘Experimenting
Urban Living Labs (ULLs) Beyond Smart City-Regions’
(#ExperimentingULLs), explored in-depth the potential
opportunities of ‘living labs’ and urban laboratories as
means for more democratic and transparent city-making.
The turnout of this event in the European Delegation of
the Basque Country in Brussels was impressive, including
government representatives and members of the European
Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN), drawing
signicant attention and bringing together a large number of
regional governmental delegations from the EU.
The third workshop [3], entitled ‘Scaling Migration through
the European City-Regions’ (#ScalingMigration), blended
very diverse perspectives and techniques. The macro
scale examined the nation-state’s role in this global crisis
of migration and the emergence of city-networks. Moving
towards the meso scale, newcomers and refugees’
integration programmes were examined before arriving
at the micro level, analysing grounded projects set up in
neighbourhoods and districts. The event took place in the
neighbourhood of Molenbeek.
Finally, the fourth workshop [4], ‘Rethinking the Urban
Commons in European City-Regions’ (#RethinkingCommons)
revolved in practical terms around the core idea of the
‘commons’, which was developed by Ostrom and Hardin,
among many others. The event, which took place in Visit
Brussels, piqued the interest of a wide range of stakeholders.
As a general nal reection, the ‘Bridging European Urban
Transformations’ has contributed to enhance and focus
the European Urban Agenda regarding (i) the awareness
of the technopolitics of data in the post-GDPR realm, (ii)
the increasingly experimental approach toward the smart
city evolving policy agenda, (iii) the challenge in addressing
the complex multi-scalar migration European scheme,
and ultimately, (iv) the vital role of the ‘urban commons’ in
regenerating the political economy of cities and regions in
Dr Igor Calzada, MBA, FeRSA
Related references:
1. Keith, M. & Calzada, I. (2016), European Smart Citizens
as Decision Makers Rather Than Data Providers, Urban
Transformations ESRC report on 14th November 2016
Workshop entitled ‘(Un)Plugging Data in Smart City-Regions‘.
DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.11175.14240/1.
2. Keith, M. & Calzada, I. (2017), European Urban Living
Labs As Experimental City-to-City Learning Platforms,
Urban Transformations ESRC report on 13th February
2017 Workshop entitled ‘Experimenting with Urban Living
Labs (ULLs) Beyond Smart City-Regions’. DOI: 10.13140/
3. Keith, M. & Calzada, I. (2018), Citizenship in a Changing
Multi-Scalar Post-Brexit European Context, Urban
Transformations ESRC report on 11th September 2017
Workshop entitled ‘Scaling Migration through the European
City-Regions’. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.21119.71842/1.
4. Keith, M. & Calzada, I. (2018), Back to the “Urban
Commons”? Social Innovation through New Co-operative
Forms in Europe, Urban Transformations ESRC report on
12th February 2018 Workshop entitled ‘Rethinking the
Urban Commons in European City-Regions’. DOI: 10.13140/
in this edition
(Un)plugging Data in Smart City Regions
Michael Keith and Igor Calzada
European Urban Living Labs as Experimental
City-to-City Learning Exchanges
Michael Keith and Igor Calzada
Citizenship in a Changing Multiscalar
Post-Brexit European Context
Michael Keith and Igor Calzada
Back to the ‘Urban Commons’? Social Innovation
through New Cooperative Forms in Europe
Michael Keith and Igor Calzada
Michael Keith
Michael Keith’s
research focuses
on migration related
processes of urban
change. His most
recent work is
the monograph
China Constructing
Economic Life and
Urban Change
(2014) and his next
book will be Press,
Power, Identity and
Race, Governance
and Mobilisation in
British Society.
Emma Newcombe
Head of External
Emma is helping
to develop the
ESRC Urban
and oversees
work, including
events, website/
social media,
publications, user
engagement and
impact activities.
Mikal Mast
PR and
Mikal manages and
monitors online
for the Urban
portfolio and assists
with design and
training activities.
UT team
UT researchers
Nicholas Simcik
& Future of
Cies Research
Nick is coordinating
aspects across the
UT international
portfolio. His
research interests
include aordable
mortgages as
aid, governance
in public-private
partnerships, and
speculative forms of
plural ownership.
Andreza de Souza
Andreza developed
an interest in cities,
and especially
those in the global
south, from her
previous experience
living, studying and
working in Brazil,
South Africa and
India. Her activities
include linking
Newton funded
ESRC cities research
projects in Brazil,
China, South Africa
and India.
Peter Grant
Peter is a researcher
specialising in
climate change
and migration. He
has worked for a
variety of academic
organisations and
NGOs as a writer,
editor and analyst.
Igor Calzada
Dr Igor Calzada,
MBA, manages
the European
focussed knowledge
work for Urban
He is a researcher
on the Programme
for the Future of
Cities, working
primarily on the
European regional
Nicola Headlam
Research Fellow
Nicola is working
to develop links
across the Urban
portfolio to the
Foresight Future of
Cities programme
run by the
Government Oce
for Science within
the Government
Department for
Business, Innovation
and Skills.
Paul Cowie
Foresight: Future
of Cies Research
Paul is investigating
the complex
relationship between
forms of knowledge;
public innovation
and legitimacy.
UT Event 1
On 14 November 2016 the Urban Transformations
programme, funded by the Economic and Social Research
Council (ESRC), brought together a range of academics and
practitioners from across Europe for a knowledge exchange
event on smart cities. This workshop, which took place
at the Centre for Studies, Media and Telecommunication
(SMIT) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), was
the rst of a series entitled Bridging European Urban
Transformations established in partnership with the VUB
and its Brussels Centre for Urban Studies, with support from
the RSA Smart City–Regional Governance for Sustainability
Research Network. In this post-Brexit era, cooperation
across borders and disciplines seems more important than
ever before. Consequently the series, which runs from
November 2016 to October 2017, emphasises the value of
connections between institutions and key players in the eld
of urban transformations, in the UK and in the rest of Europe.
The workshop, ‘(Un)Plugging Data in Smart City-Regions’,
focused on the necessity of unpacking and deconstructing
the ‘smart cities’ paradigm that has been so inuential in
structuring the European policy agenda. The core idea
that drove the discussions was the need to dene the
European smart cizens
as decision makers
rather than data
by Michael Keith and Igor Calzada
interconnections between ‘hard’ and smart’ infrastructures
and the broader economic, political and social systems at the
metropolitan and regional scales. The workshop was broken
down into three themes: addressing new sources for data
collection, storage and usage; urban expertise for citizen/
user involvement; and nally, smart knowledge and expertise
to tackle urban inequalities.
According to Gartner, 1.6 billion connected devices will be
hooked up to the larger smart city infrastructure worldwide
by the end of this year. However, as was highlighted in the
discussions, some uncertainties remain at the centre of the
debate around what Yuval Noah Harari has described as
dataism’. The workshop showcased how various projects
within the ESRC Urban Transformations portfolio were
exploring innovative strategies of data collection, storage
and usage to harness urban and regional smart governance
models to guide decision-making processes.
Richard Tus, the director of the European Regions Research
and Innovation Network (ERRIN), a platform that connects
academics and practitioners in a wide diverse of research
elds within the European regions, introduced the workshop,
emphasising the importance of citizen concerns regarding
data policies and the role of institutions to foster ecosystems
of experimentation via what are known as Triple/Quadruple/
Penta Helix approaches, thinking through stakeholder
interdependencies engaging not only the public sector,
private sector and academia but also civic society, social
entrepreneurs and activists.
In the rst thematic discussion, addressing new sources of
data collection, storage and usage, Peter Triantallou, from
the Urban Big Data Centre in Glasgow, presented the major
obstacles to fostering a people-centred design of data that
he called the ‘human in the loop’ – the acquisition, sharability
and licensing restrictions of the obtained data. He advocated
closer collaboration between computer scientists and social
and political researchers in developing stronger evidence-
based research on how tackle unexplored data issues so far.
Paul Cowie,
an Urban
Fellow based
at Newcastle
and Future
Cities Catapult,
on the need to consider individuals not only as citizens
deliberating on their material conditions, but also as
consumers agreeing and disagreeing to the particular
terms of a service. In this respect, there he advocated a
more human-centred approach to the smart city – one that
fosters interplay and interdependencies among multiple
Citizen interaction, engagement, involvement, participation
and deliberation are at the centre of the debates around
smart cities and big data. How should we deal with the
lack of trust, apathy and open outrage that has become
increasingly evident in popular political attitudes today? The
misalignments between technology and the social needs
of citizens in data generation were identied as a common
dilemma today: will data-driven devices continue to serve
citizens or vice versa? As a consequence, dierent forms
of engagement were discussed.
However, as Morozov has argued,
despite the plethora of technological
solutions to social problems, key questions
remained unanswered: ‘Who gets to implement
data?’, for example, and ‘what kinds of politics of
data do technological solutions smuggle through the back
door?’. Discussions highlighted how the calls for data to be
‘open’, while apparently simple, in reality challenge existing
legal norms and pose profound implications for users along
the chain. For example, liability risks might be passed to the
end user of open data – but what if end users cannot bear
the risk? In the internet of things (IoT) generates continuous
monitoring and commonly individualised data, how should
we theorise, regulate and make visible the ethical choices
that have now emerged around the legal liability surrounding
the ownership of data?
The second thematic discussionshowcased two participatory
smart city projects: HackAIR and Flamenco (Flanders Mobile
Enacted Citizen Observatories ). The rst, HackAIR, is a
social innovation project and open technology platform for
citizen observatories on air quality. The discussion focused
on the levels of citizen engagement and related strategies
such as crowdsourcing (citizens as sensors), distributed
intelligence (citizens as basic interpreters), participatory
science (citizens as participants in data collection) and
extreme collaborative science (citizens as participants in
problem denition and data analysis). The call to transit
from the conception of citizens as data providers to
citizens as decision makers provoked a powerful debate
on the ethical dimensions of participatory innovative
technologies. Flamenco developed this theme further,
exploring how citizens can be empowered to tailor their own
observatories based on participatory sensing and citizen
science principles. An inter-disciplinary team presented
a demonstration on the applicability of the project from
computer science and social science perspectives.
In the nal thematic strand of the workshop, the discussions
focused on socio-economic developments and institutional
capacity. The City of Things, presented by Pieter Ballon from
SMIT-VUB, explored the experimental dimensions of data-
driven living labs. In the presentation, these were related
to multi-stakeholder co-creation processes for business,
user design, prototyping and product development (aspects
that will be explored at the next workshop on 13 February
2017 in Brussels). To conclude the workshop, Joana
Barros from Birbeck, University of London, based within
the Urban Transformations project RESOLUTION: REsilient
Systems fOr Land
Use TransportatION,
highlighted the
diculties involved
in gathering and
comparing data in two
distinct metropolitan
regions, London
and São Paulo.
The workshop
demonstrated that
in one sense what was once novel has become received
wisdom. It is now ‘common sense’ to suggest that the
nature of the metropolis demands forms of knowledge that
transcend old boundaries between humanities, natural
sciences and social sciences. It has become almost self
evident to assert that a model of knowledge production
that is produced ‘upstream’ in the academy and then
exported ‘downstream’ to city hall and local governance
structures is inadequate for the metropolitan challenges of
the 21st century. Instead we have moved towards a stronger
sense of co-production between research and practice.
The sense that the questions arise in the real world, but
the answers are to be found in the academy, is less plausible
than ever.
And yet, at worst, at times the ‘smart’ agenda, particularly in
journalistic form and at times in spite of itself, can look like a
return through the back door of a technocratic determinism
whereby all urban ills are resolved through scientic
solutions. Complexity can be analytically generative,
simplicity narratively powerful. Such naïve arguments are in
reality more often the belief of second rate technocrats and
third rate academic critique.
More interestingly we see a situation where the complex
and open systems of urban life are disrupted by rapid social
change and powerful economic forces. Recognising that
such change is unpredictable in its disruptive form and
uneven in its social consequences, one function of academic
research is to speculate, to test, to map and to trace how
disruptive technologies restructure the relationship between
the individual and the city. The smart citizen at the heart of
the new city needs to understand both the emancipatory
potential and the divisive consequences of dierent moments
of disruptive innovation. As Ballon suggested in the case of
his living lab in Brussels, it is the duty and function of Urban
Living Labs to surface and make visible the choices at stake
rather than provide singular solutions to problems. How we
make these choices then becomes a mediation of scientic
expertise and deliberative democracy.
ESRC investments and collaborative links in Brussels at the
workshop highlighted how data-driven issues presented
new pathways to conduct research and implement policy.
However, if we want to unplug data we must consider also
deeper the underlying social and ethical questions and policy
implications alongside those aecting the technical capacity
to store and distribute bits of information and the power of
data science. This workshop sparked a provocation as well
as an eective knowledge exchange. Dystopian visions and
technocratic utopias alike demand rigorous research scrutiny
and public debate to optimise the chances of shaping a
better future city.
On 13 February 2017, the Urban Transformations programme
brought together a range of academics and practitioners
from across Europe for a knowledge exchange event - the
second in the ‘Bridging European Urban Transformations
ESRC Workshop Series’ on urban living labs and smart
cities. As Professor Michael Keith and Dr Igor Calzada, MBA
highlight, the event highlighted the value of urban living labs
in encouraging innovation and the need to move beyond
‘smart’ approaches to embrace an ‘experimental’ urbanism.
The workshop Experimenting Urban Living Labs (ULLs)
Beyond Smart City-Regions explored potential transitions,
feasible pathways, and missing links between the smart
cities paradigm and the experimental urban living lab
approach. Despite the underlying critical discussion from
academia regarding the technocratic discourse derived from
the smart city mainstream policy agenda, the workshop
facilitated not only a critical but also a constructive collective
joint reection by European academics and regional policy-
makers examining the potential of the ‘lab’ concept. The
workshop considered how the ‘living lab’ approach might
nuance technocratic framings of the ‘smart city’ and open up
more democratic and open systems of making cities.
UT Event 2
European Urban Living Labs
as Experimental City-to-City
Learning Plaorms
by Michael Keith and Igor Calzada
In this sense, how we make the future visible might
be as signicant as the ways in which we make the
future possible. The former might emphasise a greater sense
of choice, trade os, uncertainties and conicts; the latter
might emphasise a greater sense of determinism, eciency
and inevitability. The former might foreground ethical
choices, the latter technological drivers. Social science
needs to bridge the normative logics of the former and the
analytical logics of the latter. In this context the workshop
asked how the notion of the living lab might dier from some
of the ideas of the smart cities paradigm that has strongly
inuenced research and innovation funding in recent years.
So then, in what ways are ‘living labs,’ as the new
experimental initiatives from the applied social sciences,
the right—or at least, a feasible— kind and/or scale of
intervention? According to Athlestan Spilhaus, ‘the city is
a completely interacting system and thus, the experiment
must be a total system. Nobody knows the answers to
city living in the future, and, when answers are unknown,
experiment is essential.’ The notion of the city as a space
of experimentation can morph easily into a particular way
of seeing the urban. Gillian Rose has argued in an Urban
Transformations blog that followed the workshop that ‘the
whole notion of a “lab” on the face of it continues that
commitment to technocratic solutions to urban challenges.’
The notion of ULLs is normally credited to Professor
William Mitchell from the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT). MIT Living Labs aimed to bring “together
interdisciplinary experts to develop, deploy, and test—in
actual living environments—new technologies and strategies
for design that respond to this changing world”. People from
the world outside were to be invited into living laboratories
where ethnographers and other researchers observed
how they used newly invented information technology.
Popularised in the USA, the notion generated particular
traction in Europe as diverse practices complicated what
dierent actors considered the lab concept to involve. There
have been numerous attempts to dene what a ULLs is, but
there is no rm consensus in the literature.
We see living labs as
innovation platforms
where the stakeholders
develop and exchange
ideas in a community.
According to the
European Network of
Living Labs (ENoLL), ULL
projects present active
user involvement, real-life settings, multi-stakeholder
participation, multi-method approaches and co-creation. The
workshop showcased how various projects within the ESRC
Urban Transformations portfolio had moved towards an
experimental laboratory approach to how they organise
research and policy. This transition from a smart to
experimental approach is partly in response to a fragmented
discourse on sustainability. As such, the concept of the ULL
emerges as a means to speed up socio-technological
innovation by involving stakeholders in co-production
processes. Nevertheless, the workshop concluded with an
open question: Ultimately, what will the implications of ULLs
be for society and for research?
Two policy professionals set up the discussion of the
workshop by providing an understanding of the democratic
dimensions of urban experimentation. The director of
ERRIN, Richard Tus, introduced the workshop and
highlighted the regional leadership of the Basque Country in
the EU, particularly through two H2020-Smart Cities and
Communities projects: Replicate and SmartEnCity, led by
St. Sebastian and Vitoria respectively. Tus particularly
emphasized the key value of citizen science via ULLs for
the current socio-economic development of the European
regions, given the importance that engaging citizens in
specic action domains has for their local communities.
Thereafter, Tuija Hirvikoski, the president of the European
Network of Living Labs (ENoLL), elaborated on the history
and denitions of living labs. In her opinion, the core
challenge was how to engage citizens in innovation and
research to shape the urban and regional agenda decision-
making process. In a nutshell, ENoLL considers that ULLs
are forms of collective urban governance that can positively
inuence our European communities through more eective
citizen engagement. Some critical voices advocated, by
contrast, that such a notion of cities as ‘smart’ or ‘labs’ is
much easier to support in places with long histories of social
democracy and welfare state. Thus, context-and-culturally-
driven ULL experimental designs seemed to be required for
broader and more comprehensive interventions.
The three thematic discussions and the whole workshop
were led by eight fundamental questions, as follows:
1. What does inter-disciplinary integrating place-making
mean? How can we bring together expertise in areas
such as computing, mapping, politics, economy, digital
anthropology, spatial analysis and urban planning?
2. What are the roles of the private sector, public
authorities, academia, civil society and entrepreneurs/
activists in these ULL initiatives? What should the roles
be? In the policy literature these congurations are
known as ‘helix’ formations. How can we deal with these
multi-stakeholder ‘helix strategies’?
3. How can ULLs, as a form of collective urban
governance, positively inuence the smart policy agenda
in Europe by going beyond its governance implications?
4. What makes the ULL approach attractive and novel?
5. How are ULL initiatives being operationalised in
contemporary urban governance for sustainable and low
carbon cities?
6. What prospects are there for alternative funding and
business models for cities and regions in Europe?
7. What are the practical and political interventions needed
within multi-stakeholder approaches, and what are the
potential concerns about data technopolitics?
8. Is another urban governance model possible, a ‘third
way’ of urban experimentation between state and
In order to address these open questions, the workshop
was broken down into three themes: rst, consideration of
ULLs and smart cities in the making; second, comparison
of specic ULL and smart city cases; and nally, the move
towards experimental cities.
In the rst thematic discussion, addressing urban
sustainability transitions between smart cities in the making
and ULLs, Prof Simon Marvin (Director of the Urban Institute
at the University of Sheeld) from the GUST ESRC-
funded project presented an overview of the context that
is producing ULL experiments everywhere via JPI Urban
Europe and H2020 projects. According to Marvin, there
are three types of ULLs to be found in real interventions:
strategic, civic, and organic ULLs. As such, what makes
ULLs distinct are the place-explicit (urban) focus and the fact
that they experiment with future solutions through dierent
modes of change.
Following Prof
Marvin, Prof Gillian
Rose (Professor of
Cultural Geography at
the Open University),
presented the ESRC-
funded project
entitled Smart Cities
in the Making: Learning from Milton Keynes. She suggested
that currently, although local community and citizen
participation is repeatedly asserted to be a prerequisite for
a successful smart city, very little is known about how the
development and roll-out of smart policies and technologies
actually engages city residents, workers and visitors. Rose
elucidated on the importance of recognising conict and
culturally-observed urban experiments when discussing the
notion of smartness.
The second thematic discussion showcased two projects
that intertwined smart city and ULL approaches: on the one
hand, Nicola da Schio from the VUB/Cosmopolis presented
a JPI-funded SmarterLabs project, and on the other hand, Dr
Nicola Headlam (Knowledge Exchange Research Fellow
at the Urban Transformations programme) discussed the
‘urban living global challenge.’ Despite having dierent
orientations and purposes, both presentations highlighted
the contribution of ULLs as a new collaborative institutional
settings to solve urban problems. The rst presentation
focused on the environmental politics of air pollution by
reecting on the dierent modes of citizen engagement
in various locations including Santander (Spain), Istanbul
(Turkey), Helsinki (Finland), Maastricht (Netherland), Graz
(Austria), Brussels (Belgium) and Bellinzona (Switzerland).
The second presentation gave an overview of a desk
research analysis of the urban living global challenge, made
up of two forthcoming reports produced by the Urban
Transformations ESRC programme: ‘The Urban Lens:
Research Ecosystem, Innovation and Interdisciplinary
Research’ and ‘Comparative International Urban and Living
In the nal thematic strand of the workshop, a recent
book entitled ‘The Experimental City’ was presented by
one of its co-editors and a co-author. The rst speaker, Dr
Andrew Karvonen from the KTH in Stockholm, delivered a
talk on the ‘politics of monitoring, assessing and scaling.’
In order to establish a link between the smart city policy
interventions and the potential of the experimental city,
the speaker elaborated on a former participation of an EU
funded H2020-Smart Cities and Communities lighthouse
project called ‘Triangulum’. According to the speaker, after
participating in an H2020 Smart City lighthouse project, there
are three unanswered questions from the technopolitical
perspective of European policy making: who determines
the scope of experimentation; who monitors and assesses
the experiments; and how the insights are scaled up and
rolled out. In response to these thought provoking issues,
the debate was developed around the diverse critical
implications of urban politics in growing numbers of smart
city interventions. However, very little constructive policy
advice was oered to link up the mainstream notion of smart
city policy-making processes with more experimentally-
driven and laboratory-based experiments. Finally, Dr
Federico Curugullo from Trinity College Dublin provided a
metaphoric narrative based on the idea of the ‘Frankenstein
city’ to explain why smart cities are characterised these days
by patchworked or de-composed urbanism.
The workshop curated a
rich debate regarding urban
interventions. An implicit
commitment at the workshop
to the democratisation of
experimental approaches in
urban policy was not always
matched by a practical
prescription of the means
and mechanisms for simultaneously safeguarding citizen
interest and promoting progressive change. This opens
up an interesting domain of future research questions. In
critical discourse ‘smartness’ may not be very appealing,
while the ethical rules of the experimental have yet to be
established. Meanwhile the pluralisation of experimental labs
structured by private sector interests, less open to research
scrutinity, require a return on capital investment and yet
engage in diverse ways with city government implementation
and public regulation. Likewise, culturally diverse contexts
of collaboration and co-operation across Europe in cities
such as Bilbao and Barcelona are generating interesting
niches in social and economic innovation that demand
further exploration. It might also be useful to explore how
the Scandinavian social democratic traditions that attempt
to reconcile public interest and private sector motivation
compare with more free market alternatives in structuring the
logics of the experimental city.
In this light, discussion at the workshop considered the
role of local authorities in fostering public innovation and
procurement – even a new approach to the governance of
the urban commons – as a way to overcome the simplistic
separation between the state and the market. In fact, many
experiments are actively moving away from the ‘smart’
trend that has so far been hegemonic. Cities and regions in
Europe are embracing alternatives and testing new methods
to address the failures of the exclusively techno-rational
approach to smart cities. Optimistically we might hope that,
sooner rather than later, the experimental trend will take
the lead in favour of more sophisticated and democratically
powerful transformative alliances that will encourage a
city-to-city learning among European regions and cities.
It may be not just a matter of time, but also a question of
connecting ongoing experiments and labs around Europe, for
ideas and knowledge to be shared eectively.
ESRC investments and collaborative links in Brussels at
the workshop emphasized how urban laboratories could
complement new methodologies and tools to reorient
research and policy interventions. Nevertheless, a number
of urban political questions remain unanswered regarding
the multi-stakeholders’ interdependencies and related
interventions. This workshop opened up a transition from the
‘smart’ to the ‘experimental’ by connecting dierent cases
around Europe, representing another small step forward in
connecting the public interest with rigorous research and
democratic policy-making.
By Michael Keith and Igor Calzada
UT Event 3
Cizenship in a Changing Mul-
scalar Post-Brexit European
The third workshop from the series ‘Bridging European
Urban Transformations’ took place in the neighbourhood
of Molenbeek in Brussels on 11 September 2017. Entitled
‘Scaling Migration Through the European City-Regions’
(#ScalingMigration), it blended very diverse perspectives and
techniques. The macro scale examined the nation-state’s
role in the global crisis of migration and the emergence of
city-networks; at the meso scale, the workshop examined
newcomers’ and refugees’ integration programmes; and
at the micro scale, it analysed grounded projects set up in
neighbourhoods and districts.
In 2017, according to Franck Düvell (Allen et al., 2017, p.
11), the number of globally displaced persons reached a
record 65 million. Over a third, around 22 million, were from
the wider neighbourhood of the European Union. Of the 21.3
million who ed to other countries and were categorised as
refugees, around 3 million resided in Turkey, 1.1 million in
Lebanon, 980,000 in Iran and 660,000 in Jordan.
As a backdrop to this phenomenon, solely in the European
Union (Burridge, Gill, Kocher, & Martin, 2017, p. 3),
migration and border policies have produced complex
spatial dynamics: the bounding of Europe’s Schengen Area;
simultaneous freeing of internal mobility for EU citizens
and ‘hardening’ of external boundaries; the harmonization
of border and immigration controls as a condition of EU
admission; Good Neighbor Agreements with non-EU
members tying aid to immigration and border policing
requirements; and the expansion of long-term detention as a
mobility control practice.
Hence, in the workshop, considering that the post-Brexit era
is still characterised by doubt over what Brexit entirely means
for British and European citizens – amidst mass migration,
a refugee crisis, rescaling nation-states, state-city relations,
transnational networks, ethnic and non-metropolitanised
right-wing populist nationalism, politics of austerity and
division, spatial segregation and inequalities, and diversity
integration policies in neighbourhoods and districts – we
asked how migration can be scaled throughout European
city-regions (Bürkner, 2017; Burridge et al., 2017; Calzada,
2015; Hoekstra, 2017).
In response to this general concern, according to Keith
(2013), the city has historically been seen as an ‘integration
machine’, the site where most people can describe
themselves not only as ‘citizens of the city’ but also
increasingly—as we have recently observed—as ‘citizens
of the non-city’: invisible citizens of the visible city. Thus,
migration is a changing multi-scalar and multi-territorial
phenomenon that has become a constitutive principle in the
public’s understanding of the city.
However, no less importantly, in the United Kingdom (Keith,
2013, p. 3), even after the 2008–09 global nancial crisis,
migration remains a top political concern, and in mainland
Europe, anti-migrant sentiment has driven both the rise of
extremist parties and at times mainstream debates.
In Europe, cities and regions represent the closest level of
government to citizens. This is the case with EUROCITIES,
which represents the leaders of 137 of Europe’s largest cities,
encouraging them to stand together to deliver real solutions
for their citizens. The impact of the British public’s decision
to leave the EU is a wake-up call for international, national,
regional and city leaders in Europe and beyond. Surprisingly,
neither the New Urban Agenda released by the Habitat III
Conference in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016, nor the
White Paper released by the European Commission in March
2017, entitled ‘Reections and scenarios for the EU27 by
2025’, mention the possible impact of external eects such
as Brexit. Thus, in these urgent circumstances, cities and
regions must be equipped with the tools to connect people
and places to growth, wealth and equality (Cohen, 2016). The
Urban Agenda for the EU and Eurocities foresees a future for
UK cities in this process too, as demonstrated by many UK
city leaders from the UK Core Cities initiative. As such, in the
midst of re-scaling the UK nation-state, cities, regions and
their devolutionary claims have become active drivers in their
own rights – increasingly independent of the connes of their
respective nation-states (Calzada, 2015).
Furthermore, some interpretations (Johnson, 2017, p. 1)
are considering the rescaling and relocation of border
enforcement in the European Union in relation to state
sovereignty by arguing that existing “soft” conceptualisations
of the EU’s relationship to sovereignty and bordering –
“shared”, “joint”, “multi-level”, “consociational” – are
inadequate for understanding the ways that the exercise
of sovereign power in European borderlands have been
Hence, in this messy and complex migration context, Europe
is at a crossroads, and its cities and regions are bearing
the brunt of multiple challenges from macro, meso, and
micro scale perspectives. This workshop was an invitation
to rethink how migration can still ensure that the cities
and regions of Europe are
international conduits for the
passage of trade, commerce,
and most importantly,
This workshop considered
how a broad scope of
participants such as activists,
policy-makers, academics,
companies, social
entrepreneurs, and citizens
reacted to the challenges
migration is posing to
European cities and regions by not only overcoming the side
eects of the lack of vision and humanitarian aid regarding
migrants but also empowering city-to-city learning in order to
remodel Europe through its cities and regions.
Despite the burdens for citizens in Europe, cities and regions
should continue to work cooperatively across borders to
secure the economic, social, and environmental future that
citizens deserve. Cities are also central:
At the macro scale, guaranteeing the right to live and work
for EU nationals and British citizens in the post-Brexit era.
At the meso scale, facilitating the integration process of
refugees and newcomers in reinforcing and enhancing
social cohesion.
At the micro scale, setting up intervention projects and
exchange programmes in neighbourhoods and districts.
Building on the emerging body of ongoing initiatives, the
workshop brought together a group of European academics
and policy-makers to reect on and debate the current
potential for scaling migration throughout European cities
and regions.
The workshop began with questions about the macro
interpretations of this changing context. Macro migration
issues such as Brexit are not only re-scaling nation-states
but also altering the whole understanding of migration at the
supranational scale, insofar as there is a growing disconnect
between citizens and EU institutions. Citizens are asking
politicians: What does the EU really do for us? Why does it
Richard Tus, director of the European Regions Research
and Innovation Network (ERRIN), a platform that connects
academics and practitioners in a wide diverse of research
elds within the European regions, introduced the workshop
by presenting the migration policy framework of the EU. In
particular, he presented the Future of Europe White Paper by
underlining the migration section, which argues that the EU
must protect ‘our borders while preserving the right to free
movement within Europe’. In the same direction, he said that
more than 8 in 10 Europeans consider unemployment, social
inequalities, and migration as the top three challenges for the
Union. Nonetheless, he also argued that legal immigration
has generally boosted the economies of receiving
countries and can provide the EU with the skills needed to
address labour market shortages. By contrast, where local
infrastructure and integration eorts have not kept pace with
the increased scale of migration, migration can lead to social
tensions in communities.
After this presentation, Professor Sarah Spencer from
COMPAS, University of Oxford, kicked o the workshop
discussing cities as incubators of inclusion by reecting
on European city responses to migrants with legal and
irregular status and on evolving implications for multi-
level governance. In her presentation, Professor Spencer
stated that many migrants ourish while others experience
disadvantages across the EU, which can lead to their social
exclusion. She focused on integration processes and the
knowledge that we have gathered so far: integration as
a process, not an end-state, and integration processes
across domains (social, structural, cultural, civic, political
and identarian). According to Professor Spencer, cities
have a key role in facilitating integration insofar as they
have direct impact as convenors. Likewise, she pointed
out that development of local strategies has created an
appetite for research and knowledge exchange. However, the
divergence of local approaches can lead to tensions in multi-
level governance mechanisms, leaving one open question
open for the discussion: can city-regions use voice more
eectively to shift the terms and tone of national public and
policy debates?
Thereafter, Dr Ilke Adam from the VUB presented on ‘State-
city relations in migration governance from the state-of-
the-art perspective’. In her presentation, Dr Adam asked
‘how state-city relations and multi-level governance in
global migration issues could alter the current urban shape
of Europe’. Dr Adam bridges the gap between the political
party literature and the literature on immigration and
integration policies in cities. In her research on subnational
nationalisms, she relies on a more nuanced categorisation
of policy positions proposed by the immigration policy
literature, which is absent in research on subnational political
party literature. In this way, she presented the importance
of devolution and multi-level governance mechanisms to
inclusive policy frameworks on the city-regional level of
The second part of the workshop, the debate among
academics and policymakers focused on the gap between
citizens and institutions by suggesting the substantial role
of cities and region leaders in advocating transnational
networks, integration of migrants and refugees, and meso
initiatives, projects, and policies (Agier, 2016; Betts & Collier,
2017). In this section, transnational networks, integration of
migrants and newcomers, and the refugee crisis throughout
European city-regions were discussed. Professor Yasemin
Soysal from the University of Essex, presented her research
‘Transnational bright futures between China, Germany, and
the UK’, funded by the ESRC. Using this comparative study
of the internal and international mobility of Chinese higher
education students, she presented results from the main data
collected via large-scale surveys of a representative sample
of student groups, complemented by exploratory interviews
with students and parents.
The next speaker was Dr Sophie Withaeckx from the VUB,
presenting on ‘transnational migration networks in Europe’.
She particularly focused on transmigration, and the rise
of exible migration strategies as part of superdiversity.
She attempted to respond to how transnational migration
networks are the driving forces for these changes in
European cities and regions. She presented the concept of
‘superdiversity’, which implies increasing diversity within
diversity, including the rise of exible migration strategies:
complex migration trajectories implying serial cross-border
mobility between two or more countries. She explored
‘transmigration’ in the two main superdiverse Belgian cities
of Brussels and Antwerp, based upon in-depth interviews
with Brazilian, Ghanaian, and Moroccan transmigrants. She
analysed the social problems related to transmigration, and
how these problems
transcend borders and
challenge urban social
work and social policies at
dierent levels. Ultimately,
she explored why
transmigration requires
forms of multilevel
governance to deal with
people living beyond borders in the EU.
In the nal part of the workshop, the discussion
involved several policy interventions that require tailored
neighbourhood and district-level micro interventions in order
to enable real diversity by tackling segregation and social
inequality. The vitality and connections in super-diverse
streets in London, for instance, ‘demonstrates how important
migration has been to the UK’s development in the last few
decades’ (Hall, 2015; West, 2015).
In the nal thematic strand of the workshop, the discussion
centred around spatial segregation and neighbourhood
integration in European city-regions. Professor Gwilym
Pryce, from the University of Sheeld, provided a remarkable
presentation on the implications of migration and spatial
persistence by presenting the implications for urban
segregation and inequality. Professor Pryce described four
major concerns regarding immigration: (i) segregation and
social fragmentation, (ii) employment and wages, (iii) housing
prices at local and national levels, and (iv) inequality.
He explained that research has tended to concentrate on
the total number of migrants rather than on where in the
country migrants choose to live. Regarding some data on
London, he focused on the path-dependency of migrants
from poor countries, who are attracted to areas with low
housing costs and a high proportion of the same nationality.
As such, he showed that in London there has been a large
increase in areas where more than 30% of residents were
born outside the UK. He asked whether immigration leads to
a local net reduction or increase in available jobs. Regarding
the UK, he summarised that all migrants from beyond the
EU have zero or negligible impact on local employment.
EU migrants, on the other hand, have a signicant positive
eect on local employment, according to the provisional and
ongoing ndings of his ESRC-funded research. In another
strand of the debate, he argued that a large inux of poor
migrants may be more likely to result in social tensions in
areas that are already poor. A clear example was Rotherham
in England.
He concluded that migration is likely to have dierent
impacts on levels of segregation, employment creation
and housing prices, depending on the auence of country
of origin and local employment types in destination areas.
Likewise, he warned that path dependencies in location of
particular migration may increase divergence between areas
over the time.
Citation: Keith, M. & Calzada, I. (2018), Citizenship in a
Changing Multi-Scalar Post-Brexit European Context, Urban
Transformations ESRC report on 11th September 2017
Workshop entitled ‘Scaling Migration through the European
City-Regions’. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.21119.71842/1.
Agier, M. (2016). Borderlands. Cambridge: Policy.
Allen, W., Anderson, B., Van Hear, N., Sumption, M., Düvell,
F., Hough, F., . . . Walker, S. (2017). Who Counts in Crises?
The New Geopolitics of International Migration and Refugee
Governance. Geopolitics, 1-27. doi:10.1080/14650045.2017.
Betts, A., & Collier, P. (2017). Refuge: Tranforming a Broken
Refugee System. Milton Keynes: Penguin Random House
Bürkner, H.-J. (2017). Scaling and Bordering: An Elusive
Relationship? Journal of Borderlands Studies, 1-17. doi:10.1
Burridge, A., Gill, N., Kocher, A., & Martin, L. (2017).
Polymorphic borders. Territory, Politics, Governance, 1-13.
Calzada, I. (2015). Benchmarking future city-regions beyond
nation-states. Regional Studies, Regional Science, 2(1), 351-
362. doi:10.1080/21681376.2015.1046908
Cohen, M. (2016). ‘Brexit’: A wake-up call for the New
Urban Agenda. Retrieved from
Hall, S. M. (2015). Super-diverse street: a ‘trans-
ethnography’ across migrant localities. Ethnic and Racial
Studies, 38(1), 22-37. doi:10.1080/01419870.2013.858175
Hoekstra, M. S. (2017). Governing dierence in the city:
urban imaginaries and the policy practice of migrant
incorporation. Territory, Politics, Governance, 1-19. doi:10.10
Johnson, C. (2017). Competing Para-Sovereignties in the
Borderlands of Europe. Geopolitics, 1-22. doi:10.1080/1465
Keith, M. (2013). The Great Migration: Urban Aspirations.
Retrieved from
West, E. (2015). The Diversity Illusion: What We Got Wrong
About Immigration and How to Solve It. London: Gibson
Square Books
The fourth and nal workshop from the series ‘Bridging
European Urban Transformations’ took place on 12
February 2018. The title of the workshop was ‘Rethinking
the Urban Commons in European City-Regions’
(#RethinkingCommons), and it revolved around the core idea
of the ‘commons’, which was developed by Ostrom (2000)
and Hardin (1968) among many others. The event piqued the
interest of a wide range of stakeholders.
Although the ‘urban commons’ has increasingly appeared as
a topic of scholarly inquiry related to the urban politics and
governance of social innovation in austerity, the research
questions, methodologies, and disciplinary approaches
necessary to more fully conceptualise and develop the idea
of the ‘urban commons’ and the new challenges and facets it
introduces into the ongoing study of the commons in diverse
elds have had no sustained attention (Ostrom, 1990, 2000,
Generally speaking, the problem of governing resources
commonly used by many individuals has been long
discussed in economics, migration, data science, smart
urbanism, and environmental studies literature in certain
UT Event 4
Back to the ‘Urban Commons’?
Social Innovaon through New
Cooperave Forms in Europe
by Michael Keith and Igor Calzada
European city-regions (Calzada,
2015; Calzada & Cowie, 2017;
Keith & Calzada, 2016, 2017; Kitchin,
2015; Labaeye, 2017; McCullough, 2013;
Nordling, Sager, & Söderman, 2017; Parker
& Schmidt, 2016; Subirats, 2012). Depending on
the type of common resource, attributes of the group
of users, and the property regime, collective action can
either preserve the commons or deplete it. Privatisation and
deregulation of public services, as well as dismantling of the
traditional residential community due to rapid urbanisation,
currently aect the condition of commons resources in
urban areas. As cities become denser from large-scale
urban development projects, the ‘urban commons’ is either
privatised or left as open access. While the latter puts the
commons at risk of wasteful usage, the former limits access
to shared resources to a group of privileged users at the cost
of excluding others.
Based on the assumption the collectivity is incapable of
managing common resources, conventional solutions to
the tragedy of the commons (Hardin, 1968) have focused
on either centralised government regulation or privatisation
of common pool resources. However, Ostrom has shown
how collectivities (from locals in Africa to Western Nepal)
have developed institutional arrangements for eective
management of common resources, challenging established
economic theory.
Extrapolating (and somewhat expanding) Ostrom’s analysis
to the level of cities (Amanda, 2017; Bieniok, 2015; Bollier,
2015, 2016; Bollier & Helfrich, 2016a, 2016b; Borch &
Kornberger, 2015; Bruun, 2015; Dellenbaugh, Kip, & Bieniok,
2016; Foster, 2011; Foster & Iaione, 2016; Harvey, 2011;
Iaione, 2017), it seems evident that rethinking the notion
of the urban ‘commons’ will likely generate interesting and
diverse perspectives in the European city-regional scope:
How are the boundaries of the ‘commons’ dened in an
urban context dened? What processes regulate the use
of the urban ‘commons’? What exclusionary processes
are involved in such denitional and regulatory processes,
and what organizational and political implications follow
in the wake of such endeavours? What are the cognitive,
symbolic, technological, and material infrastructures that
render the ‘commons’ and citizens visible thus constituting
them as objects for governance not only individually but also
collectively (Calzada, 2018)? What conceptions of value(s)
constitute the urban ‘commons’, and how do managerial
‘smart’ technologies organise these values?
These days, it has become fashionable to talk about the
‘urban commons’, and it is clear why. Traditional conceptions
of the ‘public’ are in retreat: public services are at the mercy
of austerity policies, public housing is being sold o, and
public space is increasingly non-public. In a relentlessly
neoliberal climate, the commons seems to oer an
alternative to the battle between public and private. The idea
of commonly owned and managed land or services speaks
to a 21st-century sensibility of participative citizenship and
peer-to-peer production. In theory, at least, the ‘commons’
is full of radical potential to implement social innovations in
European city-regions.
Hence, the workshop sought to better understand the
idea of urban ‘commons’ as a way to reimagine the city
as a ‘commons’ and as a ‘platform’ (Bollier, 2016; Borch
& Kornberger, 2015; Foster & Iaione, 2016) at dierent
European city-regional scales. In addition, the workshop
explored the circumstances and contexts in which urban
commons emerge, what contributes to their durability and
eectiveness, and what undermines them. In the current
policy context, entirely dominated by urban data in the
realm of the so-called ‘smart city’ hegemonic discourse, the
workshop was presented as an invitation to reect upon and
think beyond the technocratic idea of the city by reclaiming
public space and urban ownership as an experimental
means. to address the urban ‘commons’ (Calzada, 2018;
Labaeye, 2017). This could be achieved through:
social innovation and anti-austerity public policy
that generates resources through alternative nance and
harnesses social energy through grassroots mobilisation, and
meeting needs through community provision in land use,
housing and rental cooperatives, food initiatives, etc.
The workshop stressed the importance of transitions as
a new urban ‘commons’ narrative for urban infrastructure
(housing, food, mobility, etc.), collaborative civilian
empowerment, network governance, alternative nance,
urban co-operatives, energy grassroots mobilisation,
data-driven sovereignties/devolution, urban welfare, and
urban development. Additionally, the workshop focused
on questions of urban governance and explored dierent
frameworks for governing common urban resources.
Hence, after considering the above, it was also discussed
whether another urban governance model is possible—a
‘third way’ of urban experimentation between state and
market (Keith & Calzada, 2016 and 2017; Dellenbaugh et al.,
The workshop kicked o by introducing its own concept of
the ‘commons’. The rst speaker was Professor Joe Painter
from Durham University, who presented the ndings of the
ESRC-funded project ‘The Urban Politics and Governance
of Social Innovation in Austerity’(PUrSI). By addressing
the elds of social innovation as ‘wicked problems’ – such
as rising life expectancy, growing diversity of cities and
countries, stark inequalities, rising incidence of long-term
conditions, behavioural
problems of auence,
dicult transitions
to adulthood, and
constraints on wellbeing
– Professor Painter
framed social innovation
as (i) innovation with
social purpose, (ii)
innovation by social
means, and (iii) innovation in the social. He went on to link
social innovation and the urban ‘commons’ as a way to
overcome risks of enclosure and exclusion through civic
crowdfunding. Moreover, he argued that the commons
enables social innovation by setting-up social hubs,
creative spaces, and knowledge-sharing platforms. Thus,
‘commoning’ could be seen as an aim of social innovation.
He then presented several projects and initiatives around co-
housing, communal gardens, swap shops, and free shops—
particularly ongoing cases in Berlin, Newcastle, and Athens
on nance, food, arts and culture, and refugees, which are
part of the PUrSI project. He concluded that the purpose of
the commons should be the re-shaping of social relations
and forms of social organisation as a means to respond to
austerity without being determined by it.
Nele Aernout then presented her PhD results on reproducing
housing commons. Her presentation discussed the
required government involvement and dierentiated forms
of communing in a rental cooperative. At the beginning of
the twentieth century, many countries in Europe adopted
Ebenezer Howard’s cooperative garden city model: this
combined collective land holding and participatory principles
with housing that aimed to connect qualities of urban and
rural living. Starting in the late 1990s, new literature on the
commons developed that was not based on natural resource
management but rather new types of commons in danger of
privatisation and enclosure, such as knowledge commons,
social commons, intellectual commons, and urban commons
(Bollier, 2015; Harvey, 2011). In her conclusion, rather than
arguing that commons will be destroyed or enclosed in
cases of an increased government involvement (Harvey,
2011) or free-ridership (Ostrom, 1990), she showed a
dierentiated understanding of governance and participation
within the commons. Building on the notion of ‘dierential
commoning’, she shed light on the way housing commons
were reproduced in a rental cooperative in the Brussels
Capital Region. The management of the cooperative
creatively used the new institutional arrangements of the
umbrella organisation to re-identify the cooperative notion,
turning a regular social housing company into a cooperative
via increasing resident involvement in the board of directors,
installing local management committees, and developing
social cohesion projects in line with co-operative values.
The next section of the workshop focused on critical
reections on the urban ‘commons’. Professor Jonathan
Davies from De Montfort University presented a paper on
governing in and against austerity as part of the CURAs
(Centre for Urban Research on Austerity) ESRC-funded
project ‘Collaborative Governance under Austerity: An
Eight-Case Comparative Study’. His paper focused on the
empirical case-studies of cities such as Athens, Baltimore,
Barcelona, Dublin, Leicester, Melbourne (Dandenong),
Montreal and Nantes. Professor Davies asked whether
‘communing with the State’ was feasible, to which he
responded with some ongoing initiatives such as fearless
cities and the international municipalist summit 2017 in
Barcelona. In the case of Barcelona, he underlined the
importance that Barcelona’s En Comú coalition (radical left)
took oce in 2015 by appointing Ada Colau, former leader
of the anti-evictions platform, as the city mayor. According
to Professor Davies, this case depicts a radicalisation
and democratisation of co-production and commons.
Furthermore, he described the long tradition and historical
conditions of leftist social and political movements with
strong municipalist and cooperativist orientations. Moreover,
this orientation sparked an emergence of a ‘youth precariat’
in employment and housing. Educated, politicised, and
networked populations suered and were hit ercely by the
crisis. In this set of factors, the success of new left populist
discourse blended politicised precarity, re-valorisation of the
local state, and the obstruction of the far right. Professor
Davies set out the priorities for such movements based on
the commons: (i) to reassert public leadership in economic
development by containing the private sector; (ii) put social
rescue, social inclusion, and the reconstruction of basic
rights at the heart of public action; (iii) rearm the right to
the city; (iv) enhance democratic control through citizen
participation and political co-production; and ultimately, (v)
emphasise recovery of ‘the common’ (state and non-state)
alternatives to neoliberalism. He concluded that Barcelona
was restoring the right to the city with programmes such as
the Special Tourist Accommodation Plan (PEUAT), where
regulation and public control of tourism have been identifying
areas to decrease and limit tourism through sanctions
on Airbnb. Likewise, regulations to stop licenses for new
hotels and bans on converting ats for tourists across the
whole city are, among many others, some of the strategies
that Barcelona has undertaken. In summary, he stated
‘commoning’ is political and operates in, with, and against
the state, and he argued that it is unclear when communing
is a sustainable end in itself or a step towards something
The next speaker, Line Algoed from the VUB, presented a
paper exploring processes of gentrication and displacement
in informal settlements in Latin America. Particularly, she
focused on solutions developed
at the neighbourhood level that
increase the security of land tenure
for residents of informal communities.
In her presentation, she showed how
collective forms of land ownership
can protect informal communities
from gentrication while promoting
participation in neighbourhood
improvement and local economic
development. Her main case study
revolved around the Caño Martín Peña
Community Land Trust in San Juan,
Puerto Rico, where residents from
seven informal communities have
established the world’s rst CLTs in an
informal settlement.
The third and nal section
of the workshop examined
several initiatives and methodological
advancements in the eld of the
‘urban commons’. To begin this section,
Professor Beth Perry from the University of
Sheeld presented on ‘Governing the Commons:
Tensions, Tyrannies and Types in Coproduction’. Her
paper argued that ‘the commons’ implies features such
as collective action, self-governing mechanisms, and a
high degree of social capital. From this point of departure,
she questioned whether coproduction could be seen as
a way to realise the knowledge commons. She dened
coproduction as a paradigm shift in the relationship
between science and society, and a term underpinning the
dierent practical manifestations of coproduction could be
either coproduction of service delivery and governance or
coproduction of research. Nonetheless, she noted some
criticisms on coproduction including the risks and limits
of coproduction, such as pollution, and coproduction as
a ‘tyranny’. Thereafter, she presented a methodological
framework entitled the ‘Action Research Collective’ (ARC)
as a pregurative space made up of a new organisation
formed for collective action: a space for institutional
innovation. In this methodological framework, she suggested
that coproduction often is based on trust and pre-existing
relationships. Thus, ARC seeks to embrace dierence and
diversity and forge a new collective. In this regard, she
presented four modes of coproduction: (i) liberal/rational,
(ii) communitarian, (iii) radical, and (iv) agonistic. She
concluded that the ARC reveals issues and tensions among
stakeholders and these struggles are part of the process of
communing. Professor Perry stated the knowledge commons
is always negotiated and it is made also through acting
together towards common goal through which pathways,
trade-os and compromises can be reached.
The last speaker, Alessandra Manganelli from the VUB,
presented a paper on ‘Food Commoning in Practice:
Investigating the Hybrid Governance of Local Food Networks
in Brussels’. She began with an introduction of food as
a commons and its relation to the urban by focusing on
examples from Brussels. Thereafter, she reframed ‘food
commoning’ initiatives through hybrid governance. The
examples presented from Brussels were collective gardens
in Etterbeek, Jardins de la Rue Gray, and Chant des Cailles,
among many others. A special analysis was made regarding
the initiative. The core concept was
‘Hybrid Governance’, which questioned what types of
governance tensions condition the development of local
food initiatives and their specic forms of out-scaling and
upscaling. These initiatives are not only driven by their
own value systems or organisational modalities but also
embedded in a net of relations with actors, organisations,
and multi-level institutional structures. She concluded by
stating that a number of diverse initiatives starting from
the bottom-up or local level always suggests the following
question: what kind of institutions are needed to facilitate
connectivity at dierent scales to foster food urban
And so, amidst discussions on social innovation, austerity
and the creation of entrepreneurial cooperatives, the
commons is again at the heart of the urban governance
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University of Oxford s 58 Banbury Road s Oxford s OX2 6QS
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... Wisely influenced by the research and policy findings conducted by the Urban Transformations ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) Programme at the University of Oxford (Calzada & Keith, 2018), we have anticipated this cleavage between the 'smart' policy urgencies and the early-entrepreneurialresearch-discoveries at the beginning of Replicate project to deconstruct the highly-technocratic smart city policy agenda (Calzada & Cobo, 2015). We initiated methodological advancements that could foster fruitful learning in and among cities by avoiding (and presumably overcoming) replicability as a technodeterministic principle based on so-called solutionism. ...
... We initiated methodological advancements that could foster fruitful learning in and among cities by avoiding (and presumably overcoming) replicability as a technodeterministic principle based on so-called solutionism. Not only are (smart) cities not mechanical machines (Amin & Thrift, 2017;Ratti & Claudel, 2016), but their internal implementations are directly and proportionally dependent on stakeholders interacting in a unique fashion with a dense set of power relationships (Calzada, 2018;Calzada & Cowie, 2017;Calzada & Keith, 2018). How should such a complex task called Replication be approached (European Commission, 2017)? ...
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The REPLICATE EU Lighthouse project (#ReplicateEU) has been working on its Replication main activity entitled ‘City-to-CityLearning Programme 2019′ (#City2CityLearning) led by the University of Oxford (Dr Igor Calzada, PI) with the participation of the Lighthouse (San Sebastián, Florence, and Bristol) and follower/fellow (Essen, Lausanne, and Nilüfer) cities and their related multitaskholder framework that would take place during the whole year of 2019.
... The smart city is a hyperconnected entity that bypasses human uniqueness, interaction capacity, and ability to self-organise transformational urban circumstances. In response to this hegemonic approach to the techno-centric smart city, the citizencentric, or experimental, city (based on unpredictable and creative psycho-political events, according to Han) is emerging through niche experiments that demonstrate far more nuanced democratic and co-operative service provision models for cities (Anastasiu 2019;Clamp and Alhamis 2010;Hacking Inside Black Box 2018;Keith and Calzada, 2018;Goldsmith and Kleiman 2017;Gupta 2014). This evidence reveals not only an awareness of data techno-politics and governance frameworks, but also a pursuit of alternative business models characterised by urban co-operative platforms, which may open up a new post-GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) wave of social entrepreneurial activity on the European city-regional realm European Data Protection Board 2018;Scholz 2016;Srnicek 2017). ...
... Conversely, at least half of all EU cities are home to fewer than 100,000 people. In between, city-regional configurations of 1-3 million people are increasingly shaping daily economic and political scenarios by deeply affecting citizens' lives in terms of mobility, energy, employment, migration, democracy, and connectivity (Calzada and Keith 2018). While cities like Lisbon and Florence radiate renaissance charm, cities like Barcelona, Amsterdam, Naples, Torino, Bologna, Vienna, Glasgow, Bristol, Helsinki, Utrecht, Dublin, and Brussels are continually experimenting with new ways to set up city-centric approaches. ...
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The hegemonic ‘smart city’ approach in the European H2020 institutional framework is slowly evolving into a new citizen-centric paradigm called the ‘experimental city’. While this evolution incorporates social innovations—including urban co-operative platforms that are flourishing as (smart) citizens are increasingly considered decision-makers rather than data providers—certain underlying ethical and democratic issues concerning the techno-politics of data remain unresolved. To cite this article: Calzada, I. (2018), Deciphering Smart City Citizenship: The Techno-Politics of Data and Urban Co-operative Platforms. RIEV, Revista Internacional de Estudios Vascos/International Journal on Basque Studies 63(1-2):42-81. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.24498.35524/6.
... The stakeholders fostered a shared participatory agora and a co-operative platform directly among Replicate stakeholders (regardless of their city of reference). Funnily enough, and most importantly, the Replicate project curated and warmed-up this programme with the active participation of the Wisely influenced by the research and policy findings conducted by the Urban Transformations ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) Programme at the University of Oxford [81], the fieldwork action research conducted until December 2019 allowed the author to anticipate the cleavage between the smart city as a mobile policy understood as "glossy stories, fragmented processes, and a random process" [82] (p. 133), and the early entrepreneurial research findings at the beginning of the Replicate project by deconstructing a somewhat techno-deterministic smart city policy agenda. ...
... The stakeholders fostered a shared participatory agora and a co-operative platform directly among Replicate stakeholders (regardless of their city of reference). Funnily enough, and most importantly, the Replicate project curated and warmed-up this programme with the active participation of the Wisely influenced by the research and policy findings conducted by the Urban Transformations ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) Programme at the University of Oxford [81], the fieldwork action research conducted until December 2019 allowed the author to anticipate the cleavage between the smart city as a mobile policy understood as "glossy stories, fragmented processes, and a random process" [82] (p. 133), and the early entrepreneurial research findings at the beginning of the Replicate project by deconstructing a somewhat techno-deterministic smart city policy agenda. ...
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This article addresses the problem of replication among smart cities in the European Commission’s Horizon 2020: Smart Cities and Communities (EC-H2020-SCC) framework programme. This article initially sets the general policy context by conducting a benchmarking about the explicit replication strategies followed by each of the 17 ongoing EC-H2020-SCC lighthouse projects. This article aims to shed light on the following research question: Why might replication not be happening among smart cities as a unidirectional, hierarchical, mechanistic, solutionist, and technocratic process? Particularly, in asking so, it focuses on the EC-H2020-SCC Replicate project by examining in depth the fieldwork action research process implemented during 2019 through a knowledge exchange webinar series with participant stakeholders from six European cities—three lighthouse cities (St. Sebastian, Florence, and Bristol) and three follower-fellow cities (Essen, Lausanne, and Nilüfer). This process resulted in a City-to-City Learning Programme that reformulated the issue of replication by experimenting an alternative and an enhanced policy approach. Thus, stemming from the evidence-based policy outcomes of the City-to-City Learning Programme, this article reveals that a replication policy approach from the social innovation lenses might be enabled as a multidirectional, radial, dynamic, iterative, and democratic learning process, overcoming the given unidirectional, hierarchical, mechanistic, solutionist, and technocratic approach.
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This chapter focuses on the hegemonic smart city approach in the European H2020 institutional framework that is slowly evolving into a new citizen-centric paradigm called the experimental city. While this evolution incorporates Social Innovations—including urban co-operative platforms that are flourishing as (smart) citizens are increasingly considered decision-makers rather than data providers—certain underlying ethical and democratic issues concerning the techno-politics of data remain unresolved. This chapter deciphers the meaning of data-driven smart cities by helping to understand the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and the algorithmic disruption in citizens. This chapter helps to understand new forms of Social Innovation slightly surfacing in European cities and regions in light of the post-GDPR data-driven landscape. This data-driven landscape has become dramatically critical in the aftermath of the post COVID-19 era. Data and platform co-operatives as the most common forms of urban co-operative platforms may emerge as an alternative to challenge digital platform capitalism.
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This paper is a report on the recent special session of papers presented at the Regional Studies Association (RSA) Annual Conference in Dublin, entitled ‘Beyond Smart & Data-Driven City-Regions: Rethinking Stakeholder-Helixes Strategies’. The session was a collaboration between the Urban Transformations ESRC programme at the University of Oxford and the Future Cities Catapult.
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Recent migration ‘crises’ raise important geopolitical questions. Who is ‘the migrant’ that contemporary politics are fixated on? How are answers to ‘who counts as a migrant’ changing? Who gets to do that counting, and under what circumstances? This forum responds to, as well as questions, the current saliency of migration by examining how categories of migration hold geopolitical significance—not only in how they are constructed and by whom, but also in how they are challenged and subverted. Furthermore, by examining how the very concepts of ‘migrant’ and ‘refugee’ are used in different contexts, and for a variety of purposes, it opens up critical questions about mobility, citizenship and the nation state. Collectively, these contributions aim to demonstrate how problematising migration and its categorisation can be a tool of enquiry into other phenomena and processes.
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Polymorphic borders. Territory, Politics, Governance. Conceptualizing the respatialization, rescaling and mobilization of border work is a central problem in current borders research. Traditional and ubiquitous border concepts imply a coherent state power belied by much contemporary research. In this introduction to the special issue on ‘Polyphorphic Borders’ we suggest that not only do empirical studies of border work reveal a much more fragmented and chaotic world of bordering that is more guided by site- and agent-specific contingencies than by grand schemes, but also that representing borders as ubiquitous calls forth the state as coherent, monstrous, omnipotent and omniscient. Rather than being either strictly tied to the territorial margins of the states or ubiquitous throughout the entire territory of states, bordering takes on a variety of forms, agents, sites, practices and targets. We propose reconceptualizing borders as polymorphic, or taking on a multiplicity of mutually non-exclusive forms at the same time. In this introduction we propose the metaphor of polymorphic borders in order to account for the respatialization of border work beyond and within traditional borders in a way that avoids viewing borders as either lines, or everywhere. The articles that follow elaborate polymorphic borders through ethnographic investigations of border work at various sites and scales.
This excerpt describes the intellectual journey that I have taken the last half-century from when I began graduate studies in the late 1950s. The early efforts to understand the polycentric water industry in California were formative for me. In addition to working with Vincent Ostrom and Charles Tiebout as they formulated the concept of polycentric systems for governing metropolitan areas, I studied the efforts of a large group of private and public water producers facing the problem of an overdrafted groundwater basin on the coast and watching saltwater intrusion threaten the possibility of long-term use. Then, in the 1970s, I participated with colleagues in the study of polycentric police industries serving U.S. metropolitan areas to find that the dominant theory underlying massive reform proposals was incorrect. Metropolitan areas served by a combination of large and small producers could achieve economies of scale in the production of some police services and avoid diseconomies of scale in the production of others.
Participatory forms of park governance have been seen as means of empowering users, improving adaptation to local needs and harnessing local resources. Participatory governance has however also been critiqued for benefiting only select groups. The situation is ambiguous with participation held to be both empowering in the sense of developing use-values in locally relevant ways and exclusionary in representing select interests. This research addresses the question of if and how a particular form of participatory governance, park commons, may be compatible with inclusive public space. To do so the research explores boundary work of user groups and public sector enabling in two park commons using a multiple case study approach. We find that park commons may be understood to contain a mix of different types of shared resources. The specific mix explains different expressions of user-generated boundaries and particularly the extent that these boundaries are permeable. The research also identifies several forms of public sector intervention that influence the ways boundaries are constructed. The findings indicate a potential for public managers to strategically enable commons as a means to increase civic engagement and potentially increase rather than diminish inclusiveness of parks.
Focusing on undocumented migrants’ struggles over rights and representation in the city of Malmö, Sweden, this article argues that these practices constitute an enactment of citizenship. Drawing on the literature on autonomy of migration, we also explore acts of solidarity beyond the terminology of citizenship through the concept of ‘mobile commons’. We focus on experiences and activist practices of undocumented migrants as well as citizens in Malmö; the development of local guidelines extending limited social benefits rights to undocumented migrants; and a theatre performance involving undocumented actors. The analysis is organised thematically around the tensions emerging from these empirical cases: between visibility and invisibility, mobility and immobility and access to social rights. We argue that encounters between citizens and non-citizens can create situated spaces ‘in between’, by claiming citizen rights and by going beyond the language of citizenship.
This article is broadly concerned with how we conceptualise the geography of the tensions between the nominally stable orders of the modern state system against the turbulence of the past few decades in relation to that order, especially in the realm of border controls. Specifically, it considers the rescaling and relocation of border enforcement in the European Union in relation to state sovereignty. The article argues that existing “soft” conceptualisations of the EU’s relationship to sovereignty and bordering—“shared,” “joint,” “multi-level,” “consociational”—are inadequate to understand the transformations of exercises of sovereign power in European borderlands. Instead, we are witnessing the emergence of competing para-sovereignties acting within the same spaces, with both traditional states and the incipient state-like EU fulfilling particular bit roles in realms that were traditionally viewed as the exclusive responsibilities of modern, sovereign, territorial states. This dynamic is made visible in recent years in observing individual humans negotiate and subvert the fluid political geographies of European border space. Examples are taken from the activities of the EU border agency Frontex in southeastern Europe.