Session 40

I2 Urban Assemblage: Interrogating Transdisciplinary Methodological Approaches to Researching the City Environments

Over the years, there has been a growing interest in thinking about how cities are positioned, assembled and even imagined. There are multiple criteria for how cities ought to be envisioned, structured and inhabited. These criteria are all evaluative and normative; they form the benchmarks against which cities are compared and judged. They construct powerful mental maps of the world of cities that, themselves, influence policy-making and city-making (McCann, Roy and Ward, 2013: 581). An assemblage is a fundamentally relational concept which sees a given phenomenon as composed of heterogeneous entities which can be seen as human and non-human, organic and inorganic, technical and natural (Anderson and McFarlane 2011: 126). Assemblage is a concept used to describe the practices of actors who assemble policies by engaging with various policy networks and communities, stretched across the globe, to learn, teach, and share knowledge about best practice models McCann et al. (2013: 583). Assemblage looks at the processes and practices through which urban life is produced; by foregrounding how the socio-materiality of cities shapes urban lives and inequalities; and by inspiring new critical urban imaginaries (Swanton, 2011). In urban studies, the assemblage can be perceived as a way of thinking to provide a theoretical lens for understanding the complexity of the city problems by emphasising the relations between sociality and spatiality at different scales (Kamalipour and Peimani, 2015). For Swanton (2011), contemporary urbanisation demands radically different ontological and methodological foundations. As highlighted in the foregoing, we welcome contributions from all disciplines dealing with urban spaces since the issue intends to propose an interdisciplinary dialogue about the methodological dilemmas in researching the assemblage of the city environments, that is, its meaning and also its processes of construction, interpretation, transformation and translation. The non-exhaustive list of themes for this includes: (1.) Urbanisation in the wake of epidemics; (2.) Environmental/ecological systems and the city; (3.) Urbanisation, Poverty and the marginalised; (4.) Re-assembling the city and migration; (5.) The complexities of land ownership; (6.) The city and decolonisation; (7.) Digital and futuristic cities; (8.) Digital heritage and smart cities; (9.) Natural disasters and urban assemblages; (10.) Contesting historical Statues and Monuments; (11.) Semiotics, Politics and Cultural Heritage in urban spaces; (12.) Designing Methods for the Semiotics of Cultural Memory in Urban Spaces; (13.) Cultural memory in urban spaces; (14.) Urban ‘history’ preservation and vandalisation; (15.) Media discursive representation of urban heritage (16.) Media practices, social actors and urban conflict.