Geographies of Improvisation, Rapid Adaptation and of the Temporary (2)

Type: Virtual Paper
Theme: Geographies of Access: Inclusion and Pathways
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 39
Organizers: John Bryson, Lauren Andres
Chairs: Lauren Andres


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 John Bryson University of Birmingham 5 9:35 AM
Presenter Lauren Andres*, , Paul Moawad, University College London, Bartlett School of Planning, Immobility of lockdown and ill-health places of exception: control and fear in Syrian Informal tented settlements in Lebanon during the pandemic crisis. 15 9:40 AM
Presenter Stuart Denoon Stevens*, University of the Free State, Lauren Andres, University College London,Bartlett School of Planning, Paul Moawad, University College London, Bartlett School of Planning, Bricolage and improvisation in the process of everyday 'place-shaping': learning from informal settlements in South Africa and Lebanon 15 9:55 AM
Presenter Ritu George Kaliaden*, , Negotiating otherness and place attachment in a peripheral city: Adaptation and bricolage strategies of skilled international migrants in Görlitz, Germany 15 10:10 AM
Presenter Fanny COTTET*, Géographie-Cités, Temporary urbanism as an urban commons’ prefiguration tool. The case of « Les Grands Voisins » (Paris). 15 10:25 AM
Discussant Lauren Andres 10 10:40 AM

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