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Encountering the City 
Alessandra Radicati (London School of Economics Political Science)
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Urban Space
Friday 18 September, 15:00-16:30

Short Abstract:

This panel examines how the city functions as a site of encounter between geographers and anthropologists and looks at how methods, concepts and the politics of knowledge production are shaped by an increasing interest in the study of world-class cities.

Long Abstract

Anthropologists and geographers often encounter each other (literally and metaphorically) in the city. But while the city may appear to be a "natural" site of theorizing and knowledge production for geographers, anthropologists have a much more fraught relationship with cities: urban settings are sometimes viewed as less "authentic" than rural spaces, or as mere backdrops to studies which happen to take place within a city. As cities increasingly market themselves as "world-class" or "global", anthropologists and geographers alike have an urgent interest in understanding various dimensions of urban life. Disciplinary relationships to cities as sites of knowledge production are transforming: geographers increasingly worry about the generation and direction of urban theorizing, while anthropological work on cities has begun to directly engage the large-scale visions that drive world-class city-making projects.

Bringing together ethnographically-minded geographers and anthropologists, this roundtable will examine interdisciplinary encounters in/about the city. Sites of encounter include exchange between scholars while conducting fieldwork; professional encounters within institutions; and theoretical/conceptual encounters. Some questions to be discussed include: what does it mean to see a city either as a "geographer" or an "anthropologist" and how do these labels define possibilities for knowledge production of different kinds? What concepts have travelled between our fields and how have they been transformed through usage in either geography or anthropology? What implications do these discussions have for the lives of our research participants - can a closer look at our own methodological and theoretical orientations change how we relate to our research sites?

Accepted papers: