/ Forschung

Call for Abstracts: Panel "Emergency Urbanism"

Swiss Geoscience Meeting (ETH Zürich, 7 November 7 2020)

Panel organized by: Maren Larsen, University of Basel
Stream: “Cities, Regions, Economies” organized by Sven Daniel Wolfe and Julio Paulos


Even before the world was gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic, urban scholarship has demonstrated an increasing attention to “emergencies” and the multi-scalar responses to them as they shape our cities. This highly trans-disciplinary work has explored socio-spatial as well as political impacts engendered by the nexus of natural disasters and relief efforts; violent conflict and peacebuilding initiatives; and humanitarian crises and intervention. For instance, the population displacement effects of several of these emergencies have generated a particularly rich literature on camps, particularly as they alter urban geographies and provoke wide-reaching socio-spatial transformations (Malkki 1995; Hailey 2009; Herz and ETH Studio Basel 2013; Agier 2014; Jansen 2019). While emergency infrastructure is often a fleeting feature of crisis landscapes, camps, other “states of exception” (Agamben 1998), and their consequences have often outlasted the emergencies during which they are established. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has renewed urban scholars interests in such bio-political paradigms and effects (Lancione and Simone 2020).

This panel is interested in exploring the relevance of this broad research space in light of the current global emergency in all its dimensions. We therefore invite contributions that reveal insights into the ways that social, economic, environmental, and political emergencies transform our urban environments and their socio-spatial tissue. Topics may include the discursive framing of emergencies, the scales of action and responses they garner, or the lived experiences of emergency-affected populations in so far as they relate to or shape urban space. Contributions are not limited to physical consequences such as camps and other temporal sites of dwelling, but should nonetheless explore urban interfaces of emergencies and the responses that they engender.

Please email your ~250-word abstract or any questions you may have about the panel to The deadline for submissions is June 30, 2020.

Works Cited


  • Agamben, Giorgio. 1998. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
  • Agier, Michel, ed. 2014. Un monde de camps. Paris: La Découverte.
  • Hailey, Charlie. 2009. Camps: A Guide to 21st-Centruy Space. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
  • Herz, Manuel, and ETH Studio Basel, eds. 2013. From Camp to City: Refugee Camps of the Western Sahara. Zurich: Lars Müller Publishers.
  • Jansen, Bram J. 2019. Kakuma Refigee Camp: Humanitarian Urbanism in Kenya’s Accidental City. Politics and Development in Contemporary Africa. Zed Books.
  • Lancione, Michele, and AbdouMaliq Simone. 2020. “Bio-Austerity and Solidarity in the Covid-19 Space of Emergency.” Society+Space, March 19, 2020.
  • Malkki, Liisa H. 1995. Purity and Exile: Violence, Memory, and National Cosmology among Hutu Refugees in Tanzania. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.