‪Urban futures and the austerity politics of regeneration by Rob Imrie

  tescoCUCR will be attending the final seminar in the Rethinking Centres and Peripheries seminar series on 15th November at Global Urban Research Unit, University of Newcastle, on Cities, Resilience and Regeneration. The final seminar will explore connections between the resilience and ‘regeneration’ of contemporary cities, especially in the north-east of England. Key themes to be addressed here include: sustaining consumption and public-sector-driven urban economies – especially in the UK peripheries—in a world of radical austerity; linking the latest thinking on sustainable regeneration with wider concepts of urban resilience in a world of rapid climate change, sea-level rise, biodiversity collapse and resource exhaustion; and drawing on the latest innovations in critical urban theory about questions of urban, infrastructural, ecological and human security, as well as demographic ageing, to sustain new urban and policy thinking in a ‘post-regeneration’ world.


Rob Imrie from CUCR will be discussing : ‘Urban futures and the austerity politics of regeneration’: 

The future of cities appears to be mapped out by an austerity politics that, in its most extreme versions, has led to the street lights in Detroit being turned off and encouraged waves of accumulation by dispossession as speculative investors land grab valuable pieces of real estate. Selling the city has never been more extensive and popular, nor capitalism so wide-ranging and pervasive in shaping the socio-spatial patterns and relations of urbanism. The paper outlines the dimensions of the austerity politics of regeneration, characterised by its illusory character, its entwinement with a technocratic appeal to a post politics, its rolling out of new forms of corporate-led regeneration, and its insinuation of symbolic violence. Drawing on Fry’s (2011) notion of de-futuring, the paper speculates about what a ‘futured’ regeneration ought to be, premised upon the development of what Fry refers to as ‘redirective practices’. Such practices need to resist ‘strong theory’, to identify the political within regeneration, and foster the potential for transformative (political) engagement through practice.


RECAp is a The Rethinking Centres and Peripheries research seminar series and contributes to important debates in the area of economic and urban geography, urban sociology, public policy, planning and environmental studies surrounding the uneven geographic development of cities especially in the wake of the financial crash of 2008. Lead by the Centre for URBan Research at the University of York (CURB) and with partners from Goldsmiths (Centre for Urban and Community Research) and Newcastle (Global Urban Research Unit), there have been a total of three seminars, one at each institution.


Rob Imrie is Professor with a background in geography, sociology, and planning studies and he has a doctorate in industrial sociology. He was previously Professor of Geography at Kings College London and at Royal Holloway University of London, prior to that.

In 2004, Rob was awarded the ‘Back Award’ by the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers), in recognition of ‘contributions to research on national and local policies in urban development and local governance’, June 14th. Between 2003 and 2007, Rob was visiting professor in Department of Geography at University of Strathclyde. He has since held visiting professorships in the Urban Research Centre, University of Western Sydney (2008), and the Department of Applied Social Studies, University of Cork (2009). He is a former member of: the Department of Communites and Local Government’s (DCLG) Working Party advising on changes to Part M of the Building Regulations; the DCLG’s Housing Research Network, with responsibility to develop links between housing research and policy; and, the Lifetime Homes Group, Joseph Rowntree Foundation. He is an editorial board member of the ‘Access Journal’.

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