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Urban Planning Studies - Shifting and Persisting Realities of Urban Planning in CEE and Beyond

Conference venue: Cities After Transition Conference in Kyiv & Dnipro
Period: 26-29 September 2017
Deadline for submitting abstracts: April, 8th, 2017


Description of the Conference

Urban planning has been criticized - in some cases even stigmatized - for more than two decades in North and South, West and East Europe alike. Across different contexts two major concerns stand out: first, the insufficient consideration of local aspects of life quality and cultural identity (including environmental and cultural heritage concerns), and second, it's incapacity to steer and stimulate urban development.

In Central and Eastern Europe, the neglect of the environment and cultural heritage constituted a driver for civil opposition and protest in the late years of socialism. Whilst urban planning had effectively transformed cities, it was accused for one-sided agenda setting, overemphasizing the interests of the socialist party in industrialization, for instance. In consequence, urban planning faced rejection and stigmatization after the collapse of the socialist system. Confronted with the effects of the following 'neoliberal laissez-faire', however, a new surge of urban activism has been observed from the early 2000s onwards - together with a return of urban planning, which in many regards reflects Westerns planning ideas (e.g. informal planning instruments).

Similarly, in Western Europe growing concerns about ecology and cultural heritage questioned urban planning as a technocratic, rationalist process from the 1970s onwards and called for a 'democratization' of planning.
Furthermore, structural economic decline and deindustrialization questioned well-established instruments in the 1980s and 1990s. Under conditions of austerity and liberalization, urban planning was blamed for it's ineffectiveness to steer and initiate urban development. To regain its effectiveness, informal instruments (project- and co-operation-based approaches) were developed.

Thus, addressing the broader trends of democratization and liberalization, the principles of participation and effectiveness have gained shared attention among urban planners and further urban stakeholders in the last decades. Contemporary debates give the impression that concepts and practices of participatory and effective urban planning are well-implemented in Western European contexts, and take increasingly roots in post-socialist countries.

However, how far are we gone indeed? To what extent do local planning practices in different contexts reflect contemporary debates?

  • What are the main principles of urban planning among local stakeholders involved in urban development? To what extent have they changed, how and why?
  • What are the local impacts of these - adapted, new or persistent - principles on both, urban governance arrangements as the immaterial, and the urban fabric as the material dimension of urban development?
  • What are changing trajectories in urban planning in different European (and post-socialist) contexts? What are factors and mechanisms of change and/or persistence?


Guidelines for submission

In view of this broad set of questions, we are highly interested in evidence-based research as well as studies of elaborated theoretical grounding. In particular, we are happy to welcome contributions that show up a comparative stance on the aforementioned questions, i.e. in terms of comparisons in time (presence/past) and urban European contexts (e.g. post-socialist cities). We are looking forward to a session, whose presentations stimulate intense, interdisciplinary and critical discussions about the realities of urban planning in CEE and beyond.

Please submit your abstract (300-500 words) to carola.neugebauer@rwth-aachen.de until April, 8th, 2017.

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