Call for papers to our session in Urban Studies Days in Tampere // 28-29 April 2022

Welcome to join our session as part of Urban Studies Days:

Sustainability and Insurgent Spatial Practices

This session is inspired by a course on Urban Activism that we organized first time spring 2021. The aim of the course is to dive deep into local cases in Tampere, guided by the activists themselves. We thought we know our city, its disputes, and hidden jewels of grassroots, yet several new perspectives have opened to us. Cases mostly deal with taking vacant spaces into use, protecting spaces under threat as well as novel forms of social organization. Through these cases we started to see that insurgency plays important roles even in our contemporary cities.

Within the context of urban studies and planning, the notion of insurgent has been deployed to describe processes of urbanization, forms of urbanity and citizenship, and planning practices that happen outside, against, or indeed, as a result of state-sanctioned “spatialized policies” and professionalized practices, such as urban planning, architecture, and urban policy (Karaliotas & Swyngedouw, 2019, p. 374). We see insurgency in the whole spectrum from radical movements to everyday political action and soft change-making practices.

From the cases of the course, we noted that the roles of insurgency take shape around three main themes. First, insurgency criticizes the city, it contests and re-appropriates the processes of prevailing urbanization. It brings up what could be better. Second, it builds alternative realities, utopias enacted, and new spaces for action. In the places of insurgency people often experiment and show concretely through which practices things could be better. Third, insurgent spatial practices are very local. They reveal what is unfolding here and now, not least through contrasting with the dominant culture. They also reveal the precious local networks of people and their skills.

What kind of insurgency are we then actually talking about? How is it intertwined with sustainability? What kinds of conceptualizations do we have to understand current insurgency better? What methods of research or analyses work in this context? We invite presentations that deal with case studies of insurgent spatial practices. Aim of this session is especially to understand better their roles in the quest for more sustainable cities.

Paper proposals to this session should be sent to Elina Alatalo,, by 1st of March 2022.


Karaliotas, L., & Swyngedouw, E. (2019). Exploring insurgent urban mobilizations: from urban social movements to urban political movements? In Handbook of Urban Geography (pp. 369–382). Edward Elgar Publishing.

Session Chairs:

Elina Alatalo, Environmental Policy, Faculty of Management and Business, Tampere University

Mikko Kyrönviita, Environmental Policy, Faculty of Management and Business, Tampere University

Dalia Milián Bernal, Architecture, Faculty of Built Environment, Tampere University

(Image by Elina Alatalo during Urban Sense -course in Hiedantanta 2019)