Conference Details

We live in an increasingly urban, globalised and unequal world facing multiple crises: from financial and political to infrastructural and ecological. In this context, cities have become both the locus of economic growth and development, and the principle site of social conflict and political contestation over spatial inequalities, belonging, environment and sustainability. Yet many of the forms these dynamics and contestations take are captured only partially or inadequately in both conventional mainstream and radical urban theory. Drawing on past RC21 conference themes, we want to call attention on ‘global urban justice’ as a term to focus our scholarship and research impact on society.

In particular we welcome sessions that will challenge and advance our knowledge and practice around the three mutually connected concepts of Global | Urban | Justice. We suggest the following sub-themes and questions:

GLOBAL: Our world is at the same time global and also rooted in particular places. Migration and refugee flows, global terrorism, climate change, financial capital, social media are all stretched out and expanding as well locked-in particular spatial arrangements mediated through uneven power geometries. How can urban studies capture the multiplicity and simultaneity of global and territorially embedded processes? Which theoretical progress may expand the learning on global urban developments and further de-colonise knowledge production? What methodological advances are best suited for this theoretical endeavour?

URBAN: The urban condition is not contained in cities; it overspills into rural or cybernetic spaces, and it is increasingly mediated through physical and virtual infrastructures. Urban studies have the advantage of bringing together a multitude of disciplines, but how can different theoretical corpus and methodological traditions effectively communicate with each other, thus providing a better understanding for urban studies? Which are the key challenges of the contemporary urban condition and how do they advance paradigmatic transdisciplinary shifts?

JUSTICE: A multitude of calls for justice are being orchestrated by movements and grassroots groups from cities: against displacement and eviction, racism, police violence, climate change and lack of urban democracy. At the same time people are coming up with their solutions from Rojava’s experimental democracy, grassroots solidarity for refugees and migrants, self-built and cooperative housing, reclamation and self-management of food, water, energy and land in cities. How can urban scholarship engage with these struggles in a novel way and co-produce emancipator knowledge in and beyond the academy? Which new insights can we gain from the multiplicity of social struggles taking place around the Globe? What is the role of the state in creating and/or solving these injustices and how can urban scholars engage in policy making?


RC 21 is organized in a two-step process. Unlike some conferences, we separate the organizing of sessions from the choosing of papers. This allows scholars with smaller social networks to organize sessions, and those not part of certain networks to gain access to important panels.

Step 1:

First is a call for sessions. Session organizers propose sessions based on key themes or topics, and submit them to conference organizers by 31st December, 2016.

While we anticipate that the majority of sessions will have a traditional format with four or five papers, we welcome a variety of types of sessions, including dynamic workshops, roundtables, authors meet critics panels, sessions with audio-visual material or some combination. Each individual session is 2 hours. For paper sessions which are accepted and subsequently receive a large number of abstracts, we will allow for multiple sessions.

When you send your session proposal, indicate clearly what type of session/s you are planning, including the format. Proposals for sessions will then be selected by the local organising team in collaboration with RC21. The committee may also offer feedback and suggestions to session proposers, including combining sessions if there is significant overlap.

Step 2:

Notification on which sessions have been chosen will be made by 15 January 2017. The sessions will then be announced on our website. For sessions with papers, the session proposals will be posted as a Call for Papers on 6 February. Scholars will then have until 10 March to submit abstracts to specific sessions. Decisions on which papers are accepted will be made in collaboration between session organizers and conference organizers, and notification will be made by early April.

Responsibilities of session organizers
Session organizers will participate in the process of abstract selection for their sessions and the exact process for this will be discussed with the local organising team. Convenors chair their respective session(s), and can select discussants. Convenors should not submit abstracts to their own sessions. For sessions that prove extremely popular and receive a large number of quality abstracts, more than one 2-hour block can be given.

Limits on Participation

  • You are limited to two appearances: one paper, and one other role such as a panelist or session chair, or any combination of these.

Important Deadlines

  • 31st of December 2016– deadline for session proposals
  • 15th January 2017– notification of selected sessions
  • 6th February 2017- Call for papers open
  • 10th March 2017- Deadline for abstract submission for paper sessions
  • 10th April -notification of abstract approval
  • 11th April – early bird registration opens
  • 31st May 2017- Deadline for early bird registration
  • 31st July 2017 – Conference programme

The Schools of Geography and Sociology/Social Policy at the University of Leeds are thrilled to play host to the 2017 edition of the RC 21 Conference. The Research Committee 21 of the International Sociological Association focuses on Urban and Regional Development, and is open to all scholars, researchers, and practitioners regardless of academic discipline.