UCL Urban Laboratory


Writing Comparisons workshop

02 December 2015, 2:00 pm–4:00 pm

Writing Comparisons Workshop

Event Information

Open to



UCL Pearson Building, Room 304, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

This workshop seeks to discuss and share how we can put recent developments in comparative urban research into practice.
Intended for PhD students and researchers working with and interested in comparative urban research, specific emphasis will be given to exploring relational and contrastive approaches and methods used in comparing across different cities.

The workshop is organised by Dr. Jonathan Rokem (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL) and Prof. Jennifer Robinson (Department of Geography, UCL).

Please register on Eventbrite.


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Situated and relational: Contextualising urban spaces in Amman and Tel Aviv-Jaffa

Sigi Atteneder, Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL

The paper addresses the question of what we compare in comparative urban studies. Following progressive conceptualisations of space as such, it suggests to direct more attention to the contexts urban spaces and their change are embedded in. Situated in Amman and Tel Aviv-Jaffa, the research looks at concrete urban spaces on the empirical side. Located in the contested area of the Middle East, the research claims that this setting is particularly fruitful for such investigations. It finds that more modest and thoughtful urban development policies support lively urban spaces while the dominating ones are rather disruptive.

Understanding urban crises through comparative strategies

Alvaro Sanchez-Jimenez, Department of Geography, UCL

In an ever-changing world increasingly prone to crises of all kinds, and allegedly affected by the financial and debt consequences of the 2008 global crisis, it is imperative to revisit the impact that such events might have at the urban level. My research explores local institutional transformations and urban policymaking processes in times of crisis from a comparative and historical perspective. In this session, I explore alternative ways to account for and bring into analytical conversation the experiences of cities across the North/South divide. The cases of Valencia (Spain) and Mar del Plata (Argentina) will serve such purpose and enable us to explore some of the urban dimensions of episodes of crisis. While the notion of crisis provides us with a common ground of departure, multiple place-specific narratives will help us to gain a more nuanced understanding of whether and how crises might shape local institutions, urban policy agendas and the long term urban development trajectories of cities more generally.

Beyond Incommensurability: Comparing Urban Difference in Jerusalem and Stockholm

Jonathan Rokem, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

Founded on a critical reading of the comparative return in urban geography and planning studies. This paper seeks to complicate our understandings of theoretical labels and categories attributed to cities.  The research explores how, in an era of growing neo-liberalization, ethno nationalism and international migration, cities are mixing and dividing in entirely new ways. In Jerusalem, despite an active ethno-national conflict, a lack of development in Palestinian areas is generating socio economic mixing of ethno-national groups. In Stockholm, failure of government led anti-segregation policies and mass privatization of the housing market has generated ethnic polarization of the inner city separating it from minority peripheries. The findings suggest that it is timely to start comparing across different contested cities to better adapt planning policy and practice to ethnic minorities and migrants in an ever more fractured urban reality.

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Image: Al-Isawiyyah, a Palestinian Neighbourhood in East Jerusalem