Members of the Imagining Urban Futures team have organised a number of sessions on urban politics and policy mobilities at international conferences. Find out more about these below…

From everyday proper-politics to institutional activism: Exploring the landscapes of political resistances and mobile policy. RGS-IBG Annual Conference, Cardiff, August 2018.

Current geographic interest in the spatial dimensions of policy has focused largely on mobility, examining how policy models and best-practice exemplars are circulated, mutate and get assembled within particular places. Much of this literature has focused on positive mobility, how policies have been successfully mobilized and implemented elsewhere. Yet, the implementation of new policies from elsewhere is not without contention, debate and resistance, the result of which can be policy mutation, and/or failure. This session seeks to examine such frictive elements within policy mobilities research. What are the actual practices of resistance to the implementation of policies from elsewhere and what political possibilities do such practices hold? Alternatively, how have mobile policies been used by activists to engage social and political change? This session calls for papers that analyse how everyday ‘properly political’ acts are mobilised in response to ‘fast policies’ (Peck and Theodore 2010) and entrenched neoliberal hegemony across public, institutional, and private spaces. We seek to understand and consider what possibilities there are for ‘counter-mobilities’ and alternative policy experiments (Temenos 2017).

Challenging the bounded and nation-statecentrism of policy transfer literature, work on policy mobilities has focused, among other topics, on policy assemblages across multiple overlapping and interconnected sites and spaces (Prince 2010, Cochrane and Ward 2012), the significance of institutional infrastructures such as conferences (McCann 2011, Cook and Ward 2012) and the influence of global management consultants, middling bureaucrats and ‘policy gurus’ in shaping major urban development projects and mega-events (Larner and Laurie 2010, Rapoport 2015, Chang 2017). We ask what insights might emerge when the social processes of resistance by actors working within and between institutions are examined. What is their role in negotiating, slowing, or resisting neo-liberal or authoritarian forms of policy mobility? What possibilities are there to incorporate alternative, progressive, or radical ideas into governance institutions or even rethinking the institutions themselves?

Paper topics can address, but are not limited to the following questions:

  • What forms of solidarity, movements, and resistances exist in relation to mobile policy?
  • How are transnational solidarities contesting policy organized through everyday political acts and urban politics?
  • Where are policy activists located within resistance networks?
  • What are the spatial dimensions of resistance, reform, progressive and more radical politics as they relate to policy mobility?
  • What role do institutional actors play in resistance to imported neo-liberal or authoritarian policy?
  • In what ways do formal local and national governmental decision-making channels and political procedures slow, resist or re-shape the rapid circulation of transnational policy mobilities?
  • Are new opportunities opened up for local opposition and resistance to policy churn through processes of devolution and state re-scaling?

Please send abstracts (<250 words), title, author affiliation and email address to Cristina Temenos ( and Colin Lorne ( by January 31.


Chang, I.C.C., 2017. Failure matters: Reassembling eco-urbanism in a globalizing China. Environment and Planning A, p.0308518X16685092.

Cochrane, A. and Ward, K., 2012. Researching the Geographies of Policy Mobility: Confronting the Methodological Challenges, Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 44(1), pp. 5-12

Cook, I.R. and Ward, K., 2012. Conferences, informational infrastructures and mobile policies: the process of getting Sweden ‘BID ready’. European Urban and Regional Studies19(2), pp.137-152.

Larner, W., and Laurie, N. 2010. Travelling technocrats, embodied knowledges: Globalising privatisation in telecoms and water. Geoforum41(2), pp. 218-226.

McCann, E., 2011. Urban policy mobilities and global circuits of knowledge: Toward a research agenda. Annals of the Association of American Geographers101(1), pp.107-130.

Peck, J. and Theodore, N., 2010. Recombinant workfare, across the Americas: Transnationalizing “fast” social policy. Geoforum41(2), pp.195-208.

Prince, R., 2010. Policy transfer as policy assemblage: making policy for the creative industries in New Zealand. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space42(1), pp.169-186.

Rapoport, E., 2015. Globalising sustainable urbanism: the role of international masterplanners. Area47(2), pp.110-115.

Temenos, C., 2017. Everyday proper politics: rereading the post‐political through mobilities of drug policy activism. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers42(4), pp.584-596.


Previous conference sessions on urban politics and policy mobilities

Policy mobilities in and beyond the Nordic countries. Nordic Geographers Meeting, Stockholm, June 2017.

Critical policy mobilities: Thickening theorizations of circulated knowledge, Association of American Geographers’ Annual Conference, San Francisco, March 2016. View session one and session two.

Uncovering policy worlds: The social and spatial lives of policy. Institute of Australian Geographers and the New Zealand Geographical Sociey conference, June-July 2014, Melbourne.

Assembling the contemporary Latin American City: South-south circuits, planning exchanges, policy mobilities. Latin American Studies Association Congress, Chicago, May 2014.

The politics of urban policy circulation: Towards a territorial/relational understanding of urban politics. Urban Affairs Association’s 43rd Conference, San Francisco, April 2013.

The multiple geographies of policy mobility. Association of American Geographers’ Annual Conference, Los Angeles, April 2013.