Geographies of Improvisation, Rapid Adaptation and of the Temporary

Type: Virtual Paper
Theme: Geographies of Access: Inclusion and Pathways
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 39
Organizers: John Bryson, Lauren Andres
Chairs: John Bryson

Call for Submissions

This call for papers is intended to stimulate a debate on the ways in which people, households, communities, and organisations – including government – spaces and places, respond to the unexpected as well as the expected. We welcome papers that cover all dimensions of improvisation, adaptation and the temporary. Papers may examine topics including, but are not restricted to:
• Adaptation and improvisation in different contexts.
• Adaptation, skills, capacity, and capabilities.
• Bricolage and everyday living.
• Bricolage and social theory.
• Bricolage in the Global South.
• Governance responses to citizen improvisation.
• Improvisation and geographies of inclusion.
• Improvisation and higher education including the shift towards the virtual university.
• Improvisation and inequalities.
• Improvisation in the context of globalisation and financialization.
• Improvisation, ethnonationalism and exclusion.
• Innovation as a continual process of adaptation.
• Learning and adaptation.
• Micro-geographies of improvisation.
• Organisational improvisation and economic geography.
• Path dependency, path creation and improvisation.
• Survival and coping strategies in different contexts.
• Time and space including rhythms and duration.


There is a tension in the geographical literature between accounts that emphasise the permanent versus the temporary. There is another tension between geographical processes that emerge from longer-term processes that are intended to create planned or managed environments compared to geographies that are the outcome of rapid adaptations or improvisations. Sometimes these latter processes result in long-term adaptations and sometimes these are temporary solutions. This session is intended to develop a conversation across geography and urban studies on improvisation, rapid adaptation and of the temporary. There are perhaps two contexts to this. On the one hand, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of rapid and often radical improvisation by people, households, companies, organisations, and policymakers. On the other hand, there is an on-going literature on temporary urbanisms and on improvisation.

In 1978, Georges Perec published a postmodern novel under the title: Life: A User’s Manuel. This novel begins with a conceptual account of jigsaws and argues that “in isolation, a puzzle piece means nothing . . . the parts do not determine the pattern, the pattern determines the parts” (Perec, 1987). This account of life influenced Fassin, the French anthropologist and sociologist, in his account of the moral, political and economic processes involved in the treatment of human life (2018). Both Perec and Fassin, highlight the importance of exploring the interface between the biological and the biographical in accounts of social inequalities. This interface involves improvisation and rapid adaptation, but different people and places have very different capabilities, combined with differential opportunities, and this results in inequality. This then engages with ongoing debates on geographies of access including pathways to inclusion. Within geography, urban studies, and urban planning there is a long-term interest in alterity and diversity and more recent debates on temporary urbanism and in innovation studies on end-user innovation. This session engages with these and other debates.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Introduction Lauren Andres 5 8:00 AM
Presenter Sara Caramaschi*, Gran Sasso Science Institute, Robin Chang*, Technical University of Dortmund, Leadership and Temporary Uses: Exploring Opportunities and Opportunism through Commoning and Planning 15 8:05 AM
Presenter John Bryson*, University of Birmingham, Lauren Andres, University College London , Andrew Davies, University of Birmingham , Bricolage, Buffering, COVID-19 and the Reconfiguration of the Relationships between Church, People, Place and Home 15 8:20 AM
Presenter Dalia Milián Bernal*, Tampere University, Online arenas and narrative inquiry: Navigating the methodological challenges of studying temporary uses in Latin America 15 8:35 AM
Presenter Hannah Sender*, , Adolescents’ experiences of and responses to adaptation and abandonment in Bar Elias 15 8:50 AM
Discussant Maria Hagan University of Cambridge 10 9:05 AM

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