Call for papers: International Conference on Urban Planning, Governance and Design for Reducing Urban Conflicts and Violence

Ahmedabad, India Skyline

Deadline: 30 September 2015 - 6:00pm

Dates: 2 - 4 March 2016


Where: Ahmedabad, India

Venue: Centre for Urban Equity, CEPT University

Conveners: Centre for Urban Equity

The past two decades have witnessed an array of critical debates and perspectives on the role modern urban planning has played since its birth in the industrial city in the late nineteenth century in the global north, its transplantation in the global south and the impacts and the future role urban planning can play in bringing about inclusive, just and sustainable urban trajectories. For instance, in the global north, critiques of urban planning and policies in the United States have centered on its role in creating class and racial inequalities across its urban and suburban landscapes in the post-War period. In the global south, critiques have focused on how modern urban planning in the colonial period created dual cities based on colonialism’s divisions of class and race/ethnicity, which then continued in the post Independence era through the continuities of both colonial-era planning mechanisms / institutions and modernist visions rooted in notions of spatial order. These critiques have called attention to how urban exclusions in these cities are etched by modern urban planning in terms of formality / informality and legality / illegality. Additionally, some scholars have shown how urban planning in certain contexts has become a tool for ethnic domination. More recently, critiques in the Indian context have focused on the postcolonial state’s subversions of its own plans and stated welfare goals, as implementation of these came to be shaped by the interests of economic and political elites. We have also seen trenchant critiques of the paradigms of urban planning that have emerged in the wake of neoliberal globalization to attract global capital and make cities attractive to social and economic elites at the cost of social welfare and redistribution.

These and other critiques, in different ways, suggest that urban planning has lost its bearings as a discipline and profession that had primarily emerged to contain and redress the inequalities and multiple ills (social, economic, ecological, etc) that come from unrestrained capitalism. In fact, many of the dominant paradigms and practices of urban planning that we have seen over the past century have played a role in producing and deepening various inequalities. Furthermore, in different historical, social, economic and political contexts around the world, this has contributed to different levels and forms of violence, particularly against socially, economically and politically marginalized groups. This has also translated into varying forms of conflict and violence in their everyday lives.

In this context, there is a need to re-focus on the potential and possibilities of urban planning, design and governance to create inclusive, just and sustainable cities. Indeed, over the past century and even today, we see numerous interventions – linked to housing, water and sanitation, transport, public spaces, municipal budgeting, etc – that have revolved around these goals and have sought to work in this direction. Here, we refer not to the utopian ideals and visions of master planners and architects, but to deeply contextualized and publicly engaged efforts made by governments, architects / planners, civil society organisations, local 3 communities, or collaborations between them. Over the past two decades, some of these efforts have also consciously sought to reduce overt urban conflict and violence.

There is, in fact, an increasing sense that exclusive urban planning, design and governance can, and have, become the drivers of urban inequities, conflicts and violence. And conversely, that inclusive urban planning, design and governance can play a significant role in de-escalating urban tensions, conflicts, violence and inequities. There is now an emerging body of knowledge that points to the role that urban policies, planning, design and governance can play in making cities inclusive, healthier and safer places by first acknowledging the realities of unequal, divided, and conflict-ridden cities and then engaging with these realities through bottom-up and participatory approaches. In this context, policy makers, planners and designers have an important role to play as mediators and negotiators.

This international conference provides a platform for sharing and discussing the efforts made in this direction, identifying critical learnings from them, and debating the possibilities they hold for creating equitable, sustainable, just and violence-free cities. We invite scholars, practitioners and students to submit abstracts for papers that engage with any one or more of the following themes:

  1. Participatory planning, its practices and its possibilities for addressing urban equity and violence.
  2. Collaborations between planners and marginalized communities to address exclusion and violence.
  3. The role of transport planning in addressing urban equity and violence.
  4. Planning and designing streets and public open spaces to address exclusion and violence.
  5. Efforts and experiments in participatory / democratic urban governance and their role in specifically creating equitable urbanisms and reducing conflict and violence.
  6. Gender-inclusive planning for reducing violence against women.
  7. The role of urban planning in encouraging social diversity and reducing inter-ethnic / inter-religious tensions in cities.
  8. Planning mechanisms to include the concerns of informal housing and livelihoods in urban development agendas with a view to enhance inclusion and reduce conflicts and violence.

The first two days of the Conference will focus on the discussion of academic papers while the last day will focus on bringing the students of urban planning & design for an activity to sensitize them on these issues and seek innovative solution to given problem. One of the explicit objectives of the conference is to sensitize and critically engage the present and future generation of urban planners and designers on issues of urban inclusion, justice, violence and safety.

The conference is being organized by Centre for Urban Equity, CEPT University under a research project titled “Dynamics of Poverty, Inequality and Violence in Indian Cities: Towards Inclusive Policies and Planning”funded jointly by IDRC and DFID under its global programme on “Safe and Inclusive Cities” (Centre for Urban 4 Equity). The primary audience for the conference would be academics, policy-makers, urban planners and designers, and students of urban planning and design from various planning institutions in India.

Abstract submission

Abstracts for proposed papers should be 500 words and should be submitted at the following email.

The deadline for abstract submission is September 30, 2015 (6 pm E.S.T). Abstracts should include a synthesis of the issues to be addressed in the paper and the key arguments underlying them. Please also provide the following information for the author(s): Name(s), affiliation, address, and e-mail address.

Other relevant dates

Notification of selected abstracts: October 30, 2015 Submission of final paper (should be about 8000 words long): January 15, 2016 (6 pm E.S.T)

Travel and accommodation costs

The organisers would provide partial support to the selected paper presenters.

Contact Info
Reno Desai,

Centre for Urban Equity,

CEPT UNIVERSITY, Kasturbhai Lalbhai Campus, University Road, Navrangpura, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380009.

Phone: +91-79-26302470/26302740 Ext. 473

Conference Sponsors


Photo Credit: Chris Martino

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