Urban Anthropology

For open discussion related to the anthropology of cities and urban space.

Members: 418
Latest Activity: Feb 10


Urban anthropology addresses the social and cultural complexities of cities and urban life. Although generally seen as a subset of socio-cultural anthropology, urban anthropology overlaps with many other areas, such as economic, political and environmental anthropology, human geography, architecture, globalization, transnationalism, immigration, urbanization, and development studies. Due to their expansive size, population density and often multicultural nature, urban spaces provide distinct methodological challenges for anthropologists and ethnographers.

It is hoped that this group will foster beneficial discussion to enrich the practice of urban anthropology and to highlight the importance of understanding human societies of any scale. Please feel free to join and contribute.

Discussion Forum

Investigation of Privacy and Space in contemporary art

Started by Nicole Rademacher Mar 9, 2013.

Athens: Social Meltdown VIDEO

Started by Dimitris Dalakoglou Sep 30, 2012.

Material Culture/Anthropological Literature on a specific Ethnographic Area? 4 Replies

Started by Jannik Friberg Lindegaard. Last reply by Tracey Pahor Feb 3, 2012.

Background music in the public space, the "horror vacui" of perception. 4 Replies

Started by luca silvestri. Last reply by Rachelle Annechino Jul 4, 2011.

Getting Physical in the Field 2 Replies

Started by John McCreery. Last reply by paulrchalmers Jun 18, 2011.

Weimar Cities? 2 Replies

Started by John McCreery. Last reply by John McCreery Dec 28, 2010.

The exclusion of fishermen from the sea (Durban. South Africa) 4 Replies

Started by Sjoerd van Grootheest. Last reply by Sjoerd van Grootheest Nov 22, 2010.

Urban Anthropology-related blogs, sites and publications. Send me a link to add your blog to this list!

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Comment by Dimitris Dalakoglou on February 10, 2016 at 3:28pm

EASA Panel on Roads

The winding roads: infrastructures and technologies of (im)mobility

Location [TBD]
Date and Start Time [TBD] at [TBD]


Dan Podjed (Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU)) email
Dimitris Dalakoglou (Vrije University Amsterdam) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

How do we develop and use transport technologies and design the infrastructure? How did we plan, understand, and interpret roads and routes? And how will we travel and make the technologies of mobility (and immobility) in the future?

Long Abstract

Spatial mobility is an essential part of human existence in the world that has determinant role in shaping human society and culture. The technologies and infrastructures of spacial mobility change over history radically causing a metamorphosis on social organisation and cultural formations. Given the large population flows that still going on e.g. around the Mediterranean basin and which employ some of the most primordial techniques of mobility (e.g. walking) or e.g. the more common but massive phenomenon of commuting from increasingly larger distances on daily basis; questions around the future of techniques and technologies of mobility are posed anew. How do we develop and use transport technologies and design the infrastructure? How did we plan, understand, and interpret roads and routes in the past? And how will we travel and make the technologies of mobility (and immobility) in the future? These are some of the questions of the panel, focused on legacies and futures of transportation, infrastructures and mobility. In this panel we are looking for ethnographic examples and theoretical explanations about the modes of travel and types of infrastructure and what they can tell us about people and their practices. 

Comment by Tom Knoll on January 6, 2016 at 4:04am

My research background has focused on urban health and fitness among new immigrant and minority communities in the U.S. and slum development in Bombay. My more recent interest is in the emerging culture of Digital Nomads - those who make a living online and are, to varying degrees, location-independent. I'm particularly interested in the cities that are emerging to accommodate this population. What are the array of sites, services and geography that entices and nurtures and, based upon this, can we predict which locales will emerge in the future  to be Digital Nomad Hubs? Moreover, what impact does this have on local populations, environment, economy, policy and spatial development?

Comment by Elise Billiard on November 26, 2014 at 1:29pm

Call for Papers

SIEF 12th Congress (June 2015, Zagreb)

Dear all, please consider propsing a paper for our Panel: "Public Space as Utopia"

Short Abstract

Questioning utopias, this panel seeks to explore the different utopias behind the recent calls for public spaces - both as physical places of social encounter as well as in their conceptual dimension as politicized spaces of thought and action.

Long Abstract

The most controversial element today that connects different utopian visions is the fact that they are visions of public space, that is, conceptualizations of communal, political and social life. Whilst the dominant neo-liberal view rejects utopian visions for this precise reason, because utopias are regarded as totalizing projects, there has been a recurrent call for public spaces in urban planning and in academic research. Indeed, does not today's emphasis on a preservation of heritage, the protection of the environment and democratic ideals express a disavowed, nostalgic belief in utopia through organization of public space going back to models such as the ideal Greek city? Green parks, pedestrianized historical centers and regenerated river walks in big cities are praised to be the space where locals meet spontaneously, bridging their differences, allegedly fostering social cohesion. At a time when the loss of a sense of place as much as the loss of social cohesion is becoming worrying for many, public spaces are often seen to provide an ideal solution.

Can a democratic utopia become real through the planning of urban public spaces? If architects can provide the space of utopia to be materialized, does it mean necessarily that they can foster democracy, sustainable heritage or ecological cities? Finally, can utopia be realized by altering material spaces or should there be a stronger focus on the social production of utopia?

deadline January 14th 2015

More informations in the link below:

Comment by Neil Turner on July 6, 2014 at 12:23pm

A growing pandemic that does not receive the attention it deserves:

Children of the Streets: Into An Angel's Hands

Comments are welcome.

Comment by Jose Mansilla on March 21, 2014 at 5:11pm

Samantha, there is pretty much information about this issue. As an example, here you have an article of a college of mine. I hope you like it

Comment by Samantha Hyler on March 21, 2014 at 4:15pm

Hi all, I have another question. I've read different kinds of literature related to social sustainability, urban transformation, planning, etc often from related disciplines, but I'm now seeking urban ethnographies specifically. Any tips or leads in this direction, particularly ones related to urban transformation, visions, integration, or social sustainability (broadly defined)? Or perhaps I should ask my question more broadly, how are anthropologists writing up their urban research these days?

Comment by Samantha Hyler on November 16, 2012 at 4:07pm

Thanks everyone, for your responses! Eeva, thanks for the link and suggestions. I think they are actually quite helpful!

Comment by John McCreery on November 3, 2012 at 5:00pm
Eeva, thanks so much for the link to Dark Matter and Trojan Horses. Have read just under half of it so far but am finding it very stimulating.
Comment by Eeva Berglund on November 2, 2012 at 10:44pm

Hi Samantha,

Hope this isn't completely off the mark for you, but I'm finding that folks who incorporate the words design, strategic and/or urban into their professional titles have things to say about the planning process (of cities and other things) that might be construed as anthropological or sociological. At least in urban design/planning there are pretty sophisticated efforts to proceed in a way that "goes beyond the object" - one example might be this ebook by the folks at Helsinki Design Lab The other thing though is whether the short-term projects and collaborations or the highly thought-through ideas that do endless circuits of power points and (sometimes outrageously expensive) meetings, have the impacts they claim they do. So, here's work that's continuous with anthropology but could also be subjected to anthropological analysis.

For a different but definitely anthropological take, see the issue of the journal Focaal No. 61, 2011, with a section edited by Simone Abram and Gisa Weszkalnys, on planning.

Comment by Hannah Knox on November 2, 2012 at 10:22pm

Hi Samantha,

If you are interested in looking at planning from an anthropological perspective one good place to start would be James Scott's Seeing like a State. You might also find it useful to look at the anthropology of development literature. Whilst not exactly about urban planning it should give you a sense of what perspective or angle you might want to take on understanding urban planning from an anthropological perspective.

I haven't worked with architects or planners before but I have done anthropological fieldwork with people trying to develop cities through economic regeneration in Manchester, UK; with road engineers and local government officials in charge of local economic development in Peru and am currently doing fieldwork with people who are trying to tackle climate change through urban development policies back in the UK. I'm also supervising a PhD student who's working on the experiences of people living in a community which has undergone 'regeneration' - contact me off list if you'd like me to put you in contact with her.


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