Contested Knowledges for Just Urban Futures

Tuesday, December 10, 2019 - 10:00 to 17:00
Channing Hall, 45 Surrey Street, Sheffield S1 2LG

For urban scholars to be committed to more just urban futures is not new; yet the conditions and contexts from and in which academics engage are constantly changing. From means concerning ourselves with the context of the university itself, the distancing and / or proximity afforded by the university, the dynamics of the spaces from which we engage and the implications for our understanding of and relationships between knowledge and action. In means recognising that a commitment and/or engagement to realising just urban futures is often practiced in the interstices, boundaries or margins of intersecting domains, in liminal spaces between the university and the urban context.

Working from and in these different spaces requires reflexive engagement (May and Perry 2017) and adaptiveness and creativity in academic practice, as knowledge claims are challenged and contested in intentional and unanticipated ways. A range of issues are brought into focus: how we think about time, space, positionality and power; how competing or contesting knowledge claims affect our sense of belonging and our commitment; if (and how) these are mediated through inter-referential reflexivity. We need to pay attention to the peculiarities of these spaces and how these are navigated, negotiated and with what effects. This seminar asks:

How does our commitment to just urban futures specifically manifest in practice, in the context of the wider co-productive turn and interest in different ideas about what it means to be an ‘engaged’ academic?

This seminar is explicitly aimed at established academic researchers working in universities, with a commitment to socially just and sustainable futures, to share and learn from practice. It will take place over one day with propositions, presentations and discussions and include an early evening dinner (1730-1900).

The seminar is organised by Professors Tim May and Beth Perry with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council and the Realising Just Cities Programme ( It is also part of the Urban Institute's Co-producing Urbanisms theme.

Provocations will be made by

  • Professor Beth Perry, Urban Institute, University of Sheffield
  • Dr Zarina Patel, University of Cape Town
  • Dr Michele Lancione, Urban Institute, University of Sheffield
  • Professor Felicity Callard, Birkbeck Institute for Social Research, University of London
  • Dr Sally Lloyd Evans, University of Reading
  • Professor Rowland Atkinson, Urban Studies and Planning, University of Sheffield
  • Dr Lee Crookes, Urban Studies and Planning, University of Sheffield
  • Dr Hayley Bennett, University of Edinburgh and Dr Richard Brunner, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Doina Petrescu, University of Sheffield

Click here for a detailed seminar programme and abstracts.

Places will be limited and booking is essential. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to with name, university and a couple of lines on your urban research and engagement activity.