CFP: Redefining Cities in Post-Soviet Space


Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (IfL), Leipzig, Germany.
24-26 November 2016

Deadline: 10 June 2016

Rationale and foci

Highlighting economic, political, institutional and spatial urban reconfigurations in post-Soviet space, the conference aims:
Firstly, to stimulate broader critical thinking about urban redefinitions by linking the theoretical discourses, and methodological and empirical practices of post-Soviet urban research to other schools of urban studies, such as post-socialist and post-colonial ones. Covering a sixth of the Earth’s surface and counting more than 2000 cities, the post-Soviet space is until this day poorly integrated in European urban studies (even in those dedicated to Central and Eastern Europe), or scientific discourses pertaining to the Global North and Global South. As a potentially particular case of urban space redefinition, these cities can render, however, a valuable view on the comprehension and conceptualization of main drivers and processes of urban reconfigurations under uncertainty and increasing complexity.

Secondly, to reveal differences and specifications, potentials and challenges of contemporary urban transformations which have been underpinned, on the one hand, by the collapse of the Soviet regime and associated processes of nation building, and on the other hand, by increasing economic globalization, post-industrialism and neo-liberalism. Consequently, the contemporary post-Soviet urban space presents a great variety of urban adaptation models to new socio-economic and political conditions. Different presuppositions have led to multiform outcomes for cities with previously similar characteristics shaped by Soviet ideology and its forms of implementation. The comprehension of main factors, (pre)conditions, mechanisms and actor arrangements leading to such results from a comparative perspective might contribute to the comprehension of main drivers of urban reconfigurations for a wider range of cities.

Against this backdrop, the conference organizers are looking explicitly for multi-disciplinary contributions, which address different scales of spatial and urban studies and use various theoretical concepts to discuss forms of urban redefinition in cities of the post-Soviet space. The conference focus lies on the transformation and development paths of cities belonging to 15 FSU countries. In doing so, we are particularly interested in urban research, which enables or stimulates comparative thinking, by theoretical inputs or theory-led empirical research within and beyond the post-Soviet context.

The conference will embrace the following main themes:

Theme 1: The reconfiguration of city regions and city networks in the context of nation building and globalization
Considering city regions and city networks as a set of relations between various actors, seen as relations within and between cities where these actors are located, we are interested particularly in:
-Processes of reconfiguration of city regions and city systems and emerging patterns of city networks: What is ‘an urban order’ within the post-Soviet space? How have the links between cities and their hinterlands transformed? What are the outcomes of these intra-regional and inter-urban reconfigurations, e.g. in terms of socio-economic-spatial polarizations? What are the economic, political, etc. functionalities of networked cities and regions in their broader spatial context?
-Mechanisms, factors and stakeholder arrangements driving the reconfiguration of city regions and city networks: What are the main forces generating intra-regional and inter-urban dynamics? What are mechanisms influencing these reconfigurations of city networks and city regions?
-Specificities versus commonalities: What are valuable conceptual entry points to assess similarities and differences of these patterns, processes, mechanisms and discourses of post-Soviet urban reconfigurations in comparison to other urban contexts, e.g. in the global South and North?

Theme 2: Cities as scenes and products of domination, contestation and negotiation – housing, urban infrastructures and public space.
Selecting housing, urban infrastructures and public space as focal points of this conference, we take up current as well as ever-greening topics of urban development, which reflect both, the important material ingredients of the urban fabric, as well as the social, political, cultural, economic, ethnic etc. aspects of urban space. Thus, focusing on these three focal points, we are particularly interested in:
-Patterns and factors of material and non-material change, as observed for housing, urban infrastructures and public space in the last decades;
-Practices and power constellations of local and/or non-local stakeholders, using, appropriating, contesting and thus transforming incrementally or strategically these three dimensions of cities;
-Explicit agendas of these actors as well as implicit meanings reflected by and shaping the transformation of housing, urban infrastructures and public space;
-Specificities versus commonalities of post-Soviet urban reconfigurations in empirical or conceptual comparison to other urban contexts.

Abstract submission
Irrespective of your disciplinary background: if you are doing empirical or theory-led research on cities in post-Soviet countries based on a quantitative, qualitative or mixed method approach, this conference is a platform to share ideas on redefining cities in post-Soviet space. This conference is an opportunity to initiate a fresh debate regarding the future of post-Soviet urban studies through their engagement with the European and global context.
We welcome theoretical, methodological and empirical presentations from a variety of disciplines challenging the processes of urban redefinitions in post-Soviet space.
Potential contributors are invited to submit an abstract of about 400 words to Irina Slepukhina ( and Isolde Brade ( by 10 June 2016. Early career scholars are particularly welcome. The conference is free of charge and it will host max. 50 attendees.

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