The Streetscape as a Site of Urban Governance and Contestation II

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: China Specialty Group, Urban Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/7/2020
Start / End Time: 2:25 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Tower Court B, Sheraton, IM Pei Tower, Second Floor Level
Organizers: Samuel Kay, Julia Harten
Chairs: Samuel Kay

Call for Submissions

The session invites papers that problematize the aestheticization of the urban built environment. We are particularly interested in papers that address, but are not limited to, the following questions:

• What are the spatially diverse ways in which the urban environment is understood and problematized as a domain of governance?
• In what ways is (im)migration testing the dominance of techno-scientific approaches to urban governance? And is aesthetic governance a response?
• What ideological work do aesthetics perform?
• How can design be understood as an interface between ideologies about the city and techno-scientific planning?
• In what ways are aesthetics and design supporting and legitimizing urban governance projects through the power of affect?
• What is the role of the political system and form of government?
• Given the design governance approach, what are alternative narratives, or “counterplans”? How are the diverse spatial needs of city-dwellers with unequal power reflected or contested?

We are seeking papers from a wide variety of contexts and with a diversity of methodological approaches to these questions.

Please submit an abstract of 300 or less words to Sam Kay ( and Julia Harten ( no later than October 20. Participants will be notified no later than October 25.

Works cited:

Carmona, M. (2016). Design governance: theorizing an urban design sub-field. Journal of urban Design, 21(6), 705-730.

Ghertner, D. A. (2010). Calculating without numbers: aesthetic governmentality in Delhi's slums. Economy and Society, 39(2), 185-217.


This session searches for the role that aesthetics and design play in (re)writing the dominant urban spatial order given our current moment of rapid urbanization. State interventions in the built environment through design have a long history (Carmona, 2016). But with rapid urbanization, growing cities are seeing an influx of migrants that are challenging “global city”-aspirations with immigrant urbanism (Ghertner, 2010). Informal uses of the street as major public space –vending, construction, transportation– are inspiring a resurgence of aesthetic normativity in the midst of re-negotiations of state–society power relations. This has taken varied forms, including appeals to historical preservation, futurism, and greening.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Aline Chevalier, Tongji University Shanghai, Julia Harten*, University of Southern California, Mobility Practices, Micro-economies, and the Street: Beautification and Design Governance in Shanghai 15 2:25 PM
Presenter Jonathan Bratt*, Arizona State University, Beautifying the Street: The Demise of Street Vegetable Markets in Tianjin, China 15 2:40 PM
Presenter Leif Johnson*, University of Kentucky, Affects of urban non-citizenship: “Low-level” labor and underground infrastructure in a Shanghai urban upgrading project 15 2:55 PM
Presenter Samuel Kay*, Ohio State University, Tactical greening and the more-than-human politics of urban environmental risk, resilience, and scarcity 15 3:10 PM
Discussant CP Pow National University Of Singapore 15 3:25 PM

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