16 February 2012

Laboratories of Assembling: Experimentalism and Regeneration in
Newcastle-Gateshead. Sean Knox, Durham University.

In this paper I offer an account of the (re-)making of urban futures in Newcastle-Gateshead. I do so by examining the emergence, composition and enacting of the '1PLAN' - a spatial and economic master-plan for Newcastle-Gateshead – which acts as a heuristic device for the assembling of urban futures. In the paper I develop three entangled orientations to understanding such processes. First, I conceive the making of the '1PLAN' as emerging from and as driven by an array of urban desires, whose roots are geographically diverse, politically embedded and that act as the productive force of assembling. Second, I construct the doing of the '1PLAN' as a set of creative and calculative experimental practices situated in laboratories of assembling. In doing so, I visit the laboratories of the architect, planner and regeneration officer as a means to describe the taking-place of the differing experimental modes through which the urban is learnt, known and produced. Third, I emphasise the role that technologies and their artefacts – here I am thinking, among others, of physical models, virtual models, visualisations, commercial feasibility and institutional reports - play in the constructing of urban futures. Specifically, I highlight their function as tools of learning and devices of persuasion that enact and reflect urban desires. As means of illustration I story the moments in which the three orientations are entangled in the assembling of the '1PLAN'.

Reflections from Fieldwork: Space, Security and Circulation in an
Archipelago of Enclaves.  Sobia A. Kaker, Newcastle University.

Using different types of enclaves (enclosed neighbourhoods, gated communities, and ethnic/sectarian enclaves in informal settlements) as the lens of analysis, Karachi is seen as a fractured city where space (political and social) is highly contested, security is an imperative (and an obsession), and circulation creates paradoxes of inclusion and exclusion, security and insecurity, openness and restriction. The city is a flashpoint of various forms of violence, which are wholly attributed to sectarian, ethnic, and political violence.

This presentation dissects space, security and circulation in selected enclaves of Karachi. The internal dynamics are put in context of external dynamics to understand contests of space at the local, national, and international level. The argument presented is that a careful analysis of the spatial structure of the city, and closer attention to the geography and politics in different enclaves might offer an alternative approach to viewing violence in Karachi as the eruption of tensions in space, security and circulation in the city. At a wider level, the presentation will aim to highlight the manner in which cities are evolving in today’s globalised world as fractured entities which become sites of local, national and geopolitical struggles.