CfP: International Workshop – Lisbon, 25-26 May 2023

What makes urban life worth living? (Re)evaluating the value of urban life

Whenever we speak of values, we speak under the inspiration—from the perspective—of
life: life itself forces us to establish values; life itself evaluates through us when we posit

What is a quality of life, construed as a value? The answer is simple: a qualitative life
value is something that is lived for its own sake; something that is a value in and of itself,
in the unexchangeable “currency” of experience

Notions of quality, happiness and value concerning urban life are as old as cities are. Many ancient and modern utopias have typically imagined their ideal of a happier, safer, healthier, and better life in an urban form. Regardless of the inequality, precariousness, stress, and violence that often characterise urban existence, cities keep holding this promise, translated in a widening array of imaginaries (smart, safe, healthy, green, beautiful, creative, resilient, etc.), and quantified via various indicators, most notably liveability indexes.iii Popularised by glossy magazines, branding campaigns and programmatic documents, such indexes reductively frame cities vis-à-vis quantitative standards that play a relevant role in orienting the way urban politics are planned, perceived, evaluated, and compared. As a result, global hierarchies of worthy and unworthy urban lives are drawn, whose colonial flavour is unmistakable.

Critiques of liveability indexes usually emphasise their quantitative reductionism and blindness to socio-economic inequalities, proposing more complex and refined sets of criteria to assess urban liveability, including such notions as participation, equality, integration, right to the city, spatial justice and so forth. Such critiques, however, tend to share with those indexes an implicit assumption, ‘that a definitive and unyielding image of urban efficacy and human thriving exists’, an image with respect to which the people living in those ‘less liveable’ places are normatively framed in a condition of lack, as lives that are less worth living.iv The consequence of that assumption is to erase alternative paths, forms of life and experiences of collective production of value.v While these other paths should not be naively romanticised, nor the structural conditions that impinge upon these lives be cloaked under rhetorics of resilience and the likes, different conceptual and methodological ways of attending to them are called for. This means complementing the necessary reflections, critiques, and struggles around urban liveability, with an engagement with an oft-overlooked question: what is urban life, and what does make it ‘worth it’?

As various directions of contemporary thought and experience have shown, urban life does not only belong to individuals, let alone humans, but is better understood as a complex, manifold, emergent configuration – an assemblage, or atmosphere – that is constantly brought into being by the coming together and falling apart of humans and non-humans, organic and non-organic, beings. If we begin to think about urban life in these processual, dynamic and relational terms – that is, if we draw the full consequence of so-called relational, affect, post-human, material etc. ‘turns’ – what does it mean then to speak about its value and quality? Novel epistemological, ethical, and ontological enquiries may open up possibilities to rethink notions of value, quality and urban life away from pre-constituted understandings of what is ‘good’, ‘desirable’, and ‘liveable’, towards ‘attending to recalibrating the purported needs of urban human inhabitants to actions capable of sustaining nurturing intersections of various forms of life and non-life’.vi This may entail understanding the city neither as a space that must be cured from its ills, nor as a space of aesthetic and logistical curation, but as a common that must be maintained, repaired, and cared for.vii Needless to say, this requires a speculative effort, aimed to conceive novel sets of values, obligations, and commitments.viii

What makes urban life worth living? This is the question this workshop poses, challenging participants to rethink, theoretically, methodologically, and politically, the relation between quality, value, and urban life, via a speculative, experimental, and creative approach. We do not simply aim to deconstruct the notion of liveability and their various applications, but more significantly to construct novel, strategic and non- normative ways to conceptualise and produce quality of (urban) life that are alternative to existent notions of urban liveability; as well as resistant to immediate translation to economic and financial value. We welcome proposals from all disciplines – including, but not limited to, urban studies, geography, social theory, philosophy, legal theory, architecture, history, biology, neurology, etc. – willing to address the question from various angles, from the artistic to the legal, from the economic to the cultural, from the activist to the institutional, from the geographical to the biological, from the technological to the financial. We are particularly interested in contributions that, either theoretically, methodologically or experimentally, speak to the concerns of the workshop and seek to address its overarching question. Authors may wish to pursue the workshop topic by taking inspiration from any of the tracks listed below, or from whatever else they feel relevant:

§ urban life: concept, critique, speculation etc.
§ quality of life: value, measure, normativity etc.
§ urban liveability: happiness, well-being, comfort etc.
§ urban life, value and valorisation: ethics, extraction, financialization etc. § smart life: logistics, efficiency, functional stupidity etc.
§ liveable atmospheres: affects, aesthetics, breathing etc.
§ unliveable cities: normativity, power, resistance etc.
§ the time of urban life: quality, value, temporality etc.
§ composing urban life: commons, solidarity, care, etc.
§ regulating urban life: law, value, police etc.
§ commons: more-than-human, collectives, urban natures etc.
§ transvaluation of urban life: creation, experimentation, recuperation etc. § violence: conflict, vulnerability, liveability etc.
§ urbanising lives: planetary urbanisation, anthropocene, extinction etc.

The workshop will take place the 25-26 of May 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal, between the ISCTE [University Institute of Lisbon] and the ICS [Social Science Institute, University of Lisbon]. Its structure will eschew the classic presentation-plus-Q&A model, and rather focus on discussing and problematising key issues in a constructive, creative and strategic way. More details will follow closer to the event.

If interested, please send us a short abstract (350/400 words) about what you intend to present/propose, and how, by the 15 of January 2023, at the following emails:;



i Friedrich Nietzsche. Twilight of the Idols, V, 5
ii Brian Massumi. 2018. 99 theses on the revaluation of value: A postcapitalist manifesto. U of Minnesota Press, T28
iii Harm Kaal. 2011 A conceptual history of livability, City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action, 15:5, 532- 547, p. 534. See e.g. Andrea Mubi Brighenti., 2018. The social life of measures: conceptualizing measure–value environments. Theory, Culture & Society, 35(1), pp.23-44
iv We are paraphrasing AbdouMaliq Simone. 2016. The uninhabitable? In between collapsed yet still rigid distinctions. Cultural Politics, 12(2): 135-154, pp. 135-6). See also Didier Fassin, 2009. Another politics of life is possible. Theory, culture & society, 26(5), pp.44-60, pp. 50, 52
v An example of such a solution-oriented approach: e.g.
vi ‘Sustainable urban development requires recognizing these fundamental interdependencies and attending to recalibrating the purported needs of urban human inhabitants to actions capable of sustaining nurturing intersections of various forms of life and non-life.’ AbdouMaliq Simone and Vanesa Castán Broto, ‘Radical unknowability: an essay on solidarities and multiform urban life’, p. 6
vii Needless to say, also notions such as care should be subjected to an adequate reconceptualisation. See e.g. Chatzidakis, A., Hakim, J., Litter, J. and Rottenberg, C., 2020. The care manifesto: The politics of interdependence. Verso Books
viii Maria Puig de La Bellacasa. 2017. Matters of care: Speculative ethics in more than human worlds.



CfP: The Lisbon Early-Career Workshop in Urban Studies. November 23-25, 2022

We are happy to announce that the second edition of the Lisbon Early-Career Workshop in Urban Studies, organised in collaboration with the AESOP YA Network, will take place on November 23-25 at ICS-ULisboa.

The topic of the second edition is “Social Mobilisations and Planning through Crises” (full text of the call below).

Some 40 PhD students and early-career scholars will have the opportunity to
present and discuss their research projects and/or findings during a 3-days event organised as a space of exchange, debate and learning.

Keynote speakers

Margit Mayer (Center for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin), Miguel Angel Martinez (Uppsala University)

Local mentors

Marco Allegra (ICS-ULisboa), Olivia Bina – (ICS-ULisboa), Pedro Neto (ICS-ULisboa), Andrea Pavoni (Dinâmia’CET- IUL), and Lavínia Pereira (ICS-ULisboa).

Organising and scientific committee

Luisa Rossini (ICS-ULisboa), Roberto Falanga (ICS-ULisboa), and Mafalda Pereira (ICS-ULisboa)

Conference fees

Regular: €150; PhD candidates €120

Key dates:

– Abstract submission (max 500 words + short letter of motivation to be sent to June 21st
– Selection of Abstracts: 10th of July 2022
– Submission of long Abstract / Articles: 10th of October 2022.

NB: in case of prohibitive COVID restrictions, we reserve the option to hold the workshop online. If this is the case the event will last 4 days (instead of 3), and the fees will be reduced.

You will find the full call for papers and program here; below the keynote speakers’ short bios. For any additional information you can contact Luisa Rossini at

Keynote speakers’ short bio

Margit Mayer is a political scientist. She is Senior Researcher at the Center for Metropolitan Studies, CMS (Technical University Berlin, TUB) and Professor Emerita at the Free University of Berlin. She has been a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Santa Cruz and at the New School for Social Research, New York. Since 1987, she has been a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the Free University of Berlin, and since 1990 also at the JF-Kennedy Institute for North American Studies. Mayer is considered today one of the most important scholars in the field of Comparative Neoliberal Urban Politics; the Role of Local Movements and Resistance and Solidarity City. Moreover, her contribution has touched on US parliamentary and extra-parliamentary politics, new social movements in the USA and Germany, urban development and urban development policy, the restructuring of the welfare state and homelessness in the USA and Germany from a comparative perspective. Her publications are a key reference for the analysis of urban social movements and neoliberal politics in urban development dynamics. We mention some of the most cited: Cities for people, not for profit: Critical urban theory and the right to the city (Brenner, Marcuse, Mayer, 2012, Routledge); “The ‘Right to the City’ in the context of shifting mottos of urban social movements” (Mayer, 2009 – City. Analysis of Urban Trends 13/2-3, 362-374); “The onward sweep of social capital: causes and consequences for understanding cities, communities and urban movements” (Mayer, 2003 – International journal of urban and regional research 27/1, 110-132); “First world urban activism: Beyond austerity urbanism and creative city politics” (Mayer, 2013 – City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy , Action , 17/1, 5-19); “Contesting the neoliberalization of urban governance” (Mayer, 2007 – in: H. Leitner, J. Peck, E. Sheppard, eds., Contesting neoliberalism; The Urban Frontier. New York: Guilford Press, 90-115). Many of her publications are freely available here.

Miguel A. Martínez is a Professor of Housing and Urban Sociology at IBF (Institute for Housing and Urban Research), Uppsala University (Sweden). His research focus has been mostly related to urban sociology and social movements. He held teaching positions in different universities of Spain, Portugal and Hong Kong. In addition, he participated in various social movements and was one of the founders of the activist-research network Squatting Everywhere Kollective. From 2011 he widened his critical approach with the study of anti-neoliberal, pro-democracy and pro-commons movements such as the 15M / Indignados in Spain and the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong. In his present research projects, he is studying intersectional outcomes of the housing movement in Spain and urban struggles across Brazil and Europe. He is the author of Squatters in the Capitalist City (Routledge, 2020), editor of The Urban Politics of Squatters’ Movements (Palgrave, 2018), and co-editor of Contested Cities and Urban Activism (Palgrave, 2019). Most of his publications are freely available at:

CfP: Urban Studies Research Workshop for Young Scholars (23/6/22).

We are happy to announce the call for papers for the first edition of the Urban Studies Research Workshop, organised by the Young Scholars Team of the Urban Transitions Hub. It will take place on 23 June 2022, 14h – 18h.

The event is open to everyone carrying out research within the scope of urban studies, with an interest in discussing methodological challenges related to their project, including master’s, doctoral students, postdoctoral and independent investigators. This workshop aims to create a space for the exchange of ideas and debates.

This workshop will consist of:

  1. a seminar session on qualitatitive methodologies;
  2. working groups on research and methodological concerns;
  3. rotating working groups;
  4. a final discussion.

Registration process:

The applicants need to fill in a form (here), which includes three research questions emerging from their current investigation. The event will take place in Portuguese, at ICS-ULisboa and it will focus on qualitative research methods.

Important dates:

24/1/22 – 31/3/22 – Registration via google form.

25/4/22 – Decisions on applications.

23/6/22 – Urban Studies Research Workshop for Young Scholars.

If you have further queries, please contact:

Jessica Verheij –
António Gori –

Housing in Europe, from Financialization to Mobilization / videos online

The Urban Transitions Hub of ICS-ULisboa has organised, in June 2021, two online events to discuss past, present and future trajectories of housing in Europe, moving from a critical analysis of historical trajectories of housing financialization toward a prospective reflection on housing struggles in times of, and beyond, Covid-19.

The video recordings are now available on ICS-ULisboa’s YouTube channel.

Event 1, June 9: Presentation of the report “Financialization of Housing in Southern Europe: Policy Analysis and Recommendations” (with Manuel B. Aalbers, Melissa García Lamarca, Sonia Arbaci, Thomas Maloutas, Simone Tulumello. Chair: Luisa Rossini).


Event 2, June 17: Webinar “Housing Crisis and Social Mobilization in Times of Covid-19” (with Armin Kuhn, Marco Allegra, Margherita Grazioli, Miguel Martinez. Chairs: Mara Ferreri, Simone Tulumello)


CfP: The Lisbon Early-Career Workshop in Urban Studies. 29/11-02/12, 2021

We are happy to announce that the first edition of the Lisbon Early-Career Workshop in Urban Studies, organised in collaboration with the AESOP YA Network and postponed because of the pandemic conjuncture, will take place from November 29 to December 02, 2021. Attending to the persistence of travel restrictions for participants outside Europe, this first edition will be held online – with max three hours / day of activities.

The topic of the first edition is Urban Futures, Urban Transitions.

The call is now open (deadline 30 August 2021) for ~10/15 available seats. Please find the full details on the event and call for paper here.

Researching Territories in Pandemic Times. June 24, 2021, 3pm

The Urban Transitions Hub from ICS-ULisboa and DINÂMIA’CET – ISCTE welcome you to the online seminar on the changing shape of Territories and Territoriality within and beyond the current condition. Please join us and the authors of the recently published book Animated Lands. Studies in Territoriology (University of Nebraska Press).

Coordination: Andrea Pavoni (DINÂMIA’CET – ISCTE; Urban Transitions Hub)


ID: 85795819829 

PASSWORD: 987773

Animated Lands. Studies in Territoriology introduces us to a science and topology of territory which seeks to rethink the concept of territory away from its historical fetishisation as mere space, tracing a trajectory which is also different from contemporary directions in geographical thinking wherein territory is assumed as an inert, static and merely extensive domain. Instead, with speculative craft and ingenious examples, Andrea Mubi Brighenti and Mattias Kärrholm foreground an understanding of territory that is able to account for its intensive, animated and becoming nature. This seminar aims to discuss the premises of the book within and beyond the current pandemic condition.


  • Andrea Mubi Brighenti (University of Trento)
  • Mattias Kärrholm (Lund University)


  • Andrea Pavoni (DINÂMIA’CET – ISCTE; Urban Transitions Hub)
  • Francisco Klauser (University of Neuchâtel)

Housing in Europe, from Financialization to Mobilization – June 9 and June 17, 2021

The Urban Transitions Hub of ICS-ULisboa organises two online events to discuss past, present and future trajectories of housing in Europe, moving from a critical analysis of historical trajectories of housing financialization toward a prospective reflection on housing struggles in times of, and beyond, Covid-19.

Event 1, June 9: Presentation of the report “Financialization of Housing in Southern Europe: Policy Analysis and Recommendations” (with Manuel B. Aalbers, Melissa García Lamarca, Sonia Arbaci, Thomas Maloutas).

Event 2, June 17: Webinar “Housing Crisis and Social Mobilization in Times of Covid-19” (with Miguel Martinez, Marco Allegra, Margherita Grazioli, Armin Kuhn).

Details of the two events below.

Coordination: Luisa Rossini and Simone Tulumello (ICS-ULisboa, Urban Transitions Hub).

Continue reading “Housing in Europe, from Financialization to Mobilization – June 9 and June 17, 2021”

LisGreen Life-Lab – Projeto H2020 CONEXUS – 12 março 2021

Em 12 de março é lançado o LisGreen Life-Lab no âmbito do Projeto H2020 CONEXUS, que tem na sua base a interação entre a  investigação, a ação e a política pública urbana. O seu principal  objetivo é produzir, estruturar e partilhar conhecimento contextualizado através da co-criação de Soluções Baseadas na Natureza (SBN) para apoiar o restauro de ecossistemas urbanos. Continue reading “LisGreen Life-Lab – Projeto H2020 CONEXUS – 12 março 2021”

Thinking and Researching Urban Futures amid a Pandemic – online seminar – November 18, 2020

November 18, 2020; 2-5PM (Lisbon time)

Online event:

The Urban Transitions Hub of ICS-ULisboa and the AESOP Young Academics Network are happy to invite you to an online seminar in preparation of the Lisbon Early-Career Workshop in Urban Studies (postponed to 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic).

Continue reading “Thinking and Researching Urban Futures amid a Pandemic – online seminar – November 18, 2020”