Annual Cities Talk Lecture: Comparative and Engaged Research in Urban Politics: Productive Tensions?

Where: Initiative on Cities, 75 Bay State Road
When: Monday, November 20, 2023, 4:00 – 5:30 PM ET

Comparative analysis of the politics of community mobilization has a long history in urban studies, revealing much about the role of urban movements in wider transformation processes in different times and places. At the same time, many urban scholars committed to social justice have sought to work closely with such urban movements to build insights on urban politics while also supporting community-based mobilization; however, this social justice work most characteristically rests on long-term commitments to particular urban contexts, specific developments, or neighborhoods. Bringing these two strong traditions in urban studies together – comparative social movements research and community-based research – might, therefore, be challenging.

Join us for our annual cities lecture featuring Jennifer Robinson, a Professor and Chair of Human Geography at University College London. Professor Robinson will explore both the historical value and current potential for synergies between comparative analysis and engaged research, drawing on examples from Johannesburg and London. She will consider how allowing understandings from one urban context to “speak” to another could provide a framework for activist and practitioner-led learning across contexts, initiate new trajectories of reading and theoretical analysis from one context to another, and contribute to comparative empirical research to extend the range of more formal insights on urban politics across diverse contexts.


Liza Weinstein is a historical and comparative urban sociologist whose research focuses on urban governance, development politics, urban informality, and housing justice with a focus on urban India. She is currently Department Chair and Associate Professor of Sociology at Northeastern University. She is the author of The Durable Slum: Dharavi and the Right to Stay Put in Globalizing Mumbai (University of Minnesota Press 2014), and is currently finishing a manuscript titled Genealogies of Dispossession: Cumulative Histories of World Class City-Making in Urban India.


Annual Cities Talk Lecture: Comparative and Engaged Research in Urban Politics: Productive Tensions?

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