International PhD seminar Urbanism & Urbanization edition:5 location:Leuven date:1-3 October 2009
The international U&U seminar invites PhD work which addresses the discipline of urbanism, and encourages contributions that highlight its trans-disciplinary nature. Urbanism is grounded in various practices, discourses and realities with respect to the city. The seminar will focus on multiple approaches – from historic enquiry to project-led analysis – and cover a wide range of spaces and scales - from territories to neighborhoods, from landscapes to cityscapes. The seminar seeks contributions that address innovative practices or research and [re]define urbanism as a trans-disciplinary field. The increasing importance of territorial urbanization processes has added new analytical
techniques to the vocabulary of urbanism, including a [re]new[ed] focus on landscape. Likewise, infrastructure has reappeared as a primary dimension of urbanism, due to the increasing importance of networks in structuring the territory. Nodes in the network are strategic locations for urban projects. Both dimensions, landscape and infrastructure, continue to gain importance. World-wide, recent socio-economic and ecological transformations bring sustainability and environmental concerns to the fore. Such issues as the management of natural resources and water, new patterns and modes of mobility all necessitate the trans-disciplinary repositioning of urbanism. Furthermore, urbanism requires a [re]positioning vis-à-vis its historical Western biases. Urbanism is more and more informed by anthropological or sociological approaches
in general and by postcolonial theory in particular. As many parts of the world are presently embroiled in the process of urbanization and modernization, the discipline
needs to think through alternative modes of urbanization and non-western paths of modernization. This plurality of the process of modernization is not limited to the non-western context. New narratives make visible ‘other modern traditions’ within which infrastructure, housing,
real estate development, business location, agriculture, governance, material culture, technology, rather than architecture or urbanism per se, are the leading agents
in the urbanization process. Models and concepts used in these disciplines convey alternative views on urbanity, urban form or regional development that further [re]define
urbanisms trans-disciplinary character. The importance of landscape and infrastructure and the impact of ‘other’ traditions and contexts on urbanism and urbanization are but a few examples of how urbanism as a discipline continuously acts as a receptor of new practices and discourses, adapting to ever-changing urban realities. This edition of the U&U seminar aims to draw the contours of this trans-disciplinary repositioning of urbanism, transcending accepted definitions.