Cook, I. R., Ward, S. V. and Ward, K. (2014) A springtime journey to the Soviet Union: Postwar planning and policy mobilities through the Iron Curtain. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38 (3): 805-822.


Abstract: This paper builds upon a relatively small but growing literature in geography, planning and cognate disciplines that seek to understand the variegated geographies and histories of policy mobilities.  The paper uses a case study of an exchange trip between town planners in the Soviet Union and the UK during 1957-58.  It focuses on the experiences of the British planners in the Soviet Union and sets the tour in the wider context of a fluctuating and sometimes turbulent history of Anglo-Soviet politics, travels and connections.  In doing this, the paper makes three arguments.  First, that there is much to be gained by bringing together the geography-dominated policy mobilities literature with that on the exchanges and visits by architects, engineers and planners.  Second, that the greater sensitivity to the histories of policy mobilities allows contemporary studies to be contextualized in the longer history of organized learning between different urban professions.  Third, that despite the long history to policy mobilities what differentiates the current era from previous eras is the prominent ‘knowledge intermediary’ roles now played by consultancies and think tanks.  As the paper will demonstrate, it was branches of government and professional bodies, rather consultancies and think tanks, that have tended to dominate such roles previously.

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