Call for Papers: The Lisbon Early-Career Workshop in Urban Studies

Governing the city: polity, politics, policy 

4th edition – November 18-20th, 2024 - Instituto de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa (ICS-ULisboa), Lisbon


Keynote speakers:

  • Ugo Rossi (Gran Sasso Institute, Italy)
  • Gabriel Feltran (Centre for European Studies and Comparative Politics – SciencePo, France)


Call for proposal

The Urban Transitions Hub and the AESOP Young Academics Network, with the support of Research Group SHIFT: Environment, Territory and Society of ICS-ULisboa, will host the fourth edition of the Lisbon Early-Career Workshop in Urban Studies (November 18-20th, 2024).

Some 30 PhD candidates and early-career scholars will have the opportunity to present and discuss their research projects and/or findings during a 3-days event organised as a space of exchange, debate and learning.

The topic of this years is “Governing the city: polity, politics, policy”, pointing to the multi-faceted nature of the political urban governance.

Governance is understood here in broad, relational, and de-centered terms. It thus encompasses both “the experiences, the interactions, the uncertain rules that regulate everyday life”, and “the efforts to build structures, to create a social order, to deal with authority, inequalities or incremental change, with the goal of keeping the city in line” (Le Galès & Vitale, 2015: 10).

Against this background the triad “polity, politics, policy” represents a system of coordinates for describing the contradictory, never-ending, and contested efforts of “keeping the city in line” – and respectively, the jurisdictional shape of urban territory; the degrees and venues of access to decision-making; and the frame and contents of public policies. 

Specifically, the idea of “politics” relates not only to the formation of consent and the access by individuals and groups to decision-making arenas and procedures but, more broadly, to the framing and encounter of “normative regimes” (Feltran 2020) in urban life. This opens up the debate to the idea of ‘‘politics of citizenship’’ (defined as ‘‘a major institutional control mechanism that regulates the distribution of rights and obligations in a society, including access to decision-making arenas and state-controlled economic resources’’, Butenschøn 2000: 5) and to the observation of the plurality of spaces of contestation, conflict, and even violence, that make up urban life. 

The idea of “polity” relates to the design of the legal political geography of urban systems. State borders, administrative lines, planning blueprints, and so forth, all have a powerful impact over the social process of the production of urban space. Jurisdiction is ‘‘a set of social practices, a code of etiquette […] performed by individuals and groups’’ (Ford 1999: 856) which provides a primary territorial definition of governance. The recent growth of global and comparative approaches to urban studies (e.g. Rossi 2017; Robinson 2022) has focused, inter alia, to the implications of different polities, and different multilevel governance arrangements, in shaping urban government at the local level (cf. Tulumello 2018).

The idea of “policy”, finally, relates to the way resources and services are redistributed to individuals, groups or areas. For example, David Harvey famously described a shift ‘‘from government to governance’’ (Harvey 1989) trying to capture both the erosion of the welfare state during the ‘‘neoliberal revolution’’ of the 1980s, and the qualitative change in urban policies – from the Keynesian paradigm of redistribution of resources to a new, growth-oriented pattern of investment. In this context, global urban studies have been particularly interested in understanding policy travels and mobilities (e.g. Peck 2011), that is, how horizontal and vertical power relationships and networks influence the shaping of policies at the local level.

As in all past editions, the Workshop’s title is meant to inspire participants to creatively think about urban studies in general – and their work in particular. We thus invite contributions that engage with a broad range of urban phenomena and governance issues, and do that through different methodological and epistemological perspectives.

Workshop activities will include:

  • Plenary keynote sessions.
  • Breakout parallel sessions – divided in groups, participants will present their paper (~20 min) and receive comments by a mentor and other participants (~40 min.).
  • Wrap-up session with discussion on lessons learned.
  • Q&A session on “academic survival” (strategies and tips for academic publishing, and post-PhD challenges).

Who can attend the workshop

The workshop is open to PhD students and early-career scholars in the fields of urban studies, planning and geography, and all the social sciences and humanities with an interest on space.

A minimum of 8 seats will be reserved to members of the AESOP Young Academics, please mention in your motivation letter whether you are a member (registration to the YAs is free and open to all early-career scholars).

Application and registration

Applications open from February 1st to March 30th, 2024.

Send an abstract for your presentation (max 500 words) and a short letter of motivation to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Decisions will be sent by April 30th, 2024.

Registration by June 30th, 2024.

Submission of long abstract or short paper (max 5,000 words, to be distributed among participants) by September 15thth, 2024.

Registration fee: 200€.

Thanks to the support of Research Group SHIFT: Environment, Territory and Society we will be able to offer at least four fee waivers, and possibly also some full bursaries (covering travel + accommodation) – we are actively seeking funds in order to be able to do that. Thus, if you have no research funds and are interested in applying for a fee waiver or a bursary, please mention this in your motivation letter, briefly explaining the reasons why (priority will be given to scholars from low-income countries and/or from research institutions with little or no research funds).


Find more information here.