The Urban Institute's Sheffield School delivers a musical piece in five movements

UI's Professor Maliq Simone and colleagues have recently published a collection of essays that arose from a series of curated online discussions initiated by the UI during lockdown with those working in urban labs across the global South.

Andriy Onufriyenko

These discussions, known as the Convocation, were wide-ranging and freewheeling, conducted not in pursuit of a specific agenda but rather to create an atmosphere of mutual care during a time of protracted professional and personal challenges. One theme or issue that was repeatedly raised by participants centered on all of the re-arrangements taking place across their respective urban landscapes. The UI thus mobilized a group of young interdisciplinary scholars to systematically look at such re-arrangements with a view to providing a salient conceptual architecture and collective method to set out a platform for ongoing research and engagement.

The essays have been published as an open access series in The International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.

ON URBAN RE-ARRANGEMENTS: A Suite in Five Movements

This movement introduces the ethos of the collective project: its conceptual and practical preoccupations. It focuses on our concern with urban processes on the cusp of change, in the midst of being re-arranged, and thus homes in on the various polyrhythms of intersections, how things come together and diverge, how possibilities open and close in urban contexts of continuously shifting horizons.

MOVEMENT 2. FORMALIZING ARRANGEMENTS: Re-signification and the Making of Governable Spaces

The second movement considers (re)arrangements as projects of formalization that seek to impose and even fix a form to spaces historically constructed as marginal. This impositional arrangement operates as a governmental desire to fix a form by re-signifying both subjects and spaces.


The third movement explores how (re)arrangements are made and re-worked as people navigate fractured, ever-shifting landscapes of urban opportunity, conflict and uncertainty. Drawing on fieldwork in Paris, Mogadishu and Abidjan, we point to the fragile, collective and anticipatory knowledges accumulated during navigations, and to how these knowledges become contained within and (re)constitute embodied archives.

MOVEMENT 4. BREATH SIGH TEMPEST: On the Temporal Dimensions of Re-arrangements

The fourth movement explores the temporal relationship between arrangements and re-arrangements, addressing the question of how an obdurate and ‘sticky’ temporal order may give way to palpable re-arrangement of the ways in which subjects experience time. Eschewing a concern with linear homogenous time, it addresses the processes of re-arrangement by understanding the dynamics of grave events, hauntings of the past, subtly changing rhythms of everyday life, and the force of potential futures in synchrony.


This final movement explores whether thinking with re-arrangements can help us account for that which is hidden, unseen or nested in the recesses and folds of urban practices. And if so, how we might then talk about and account for elusive parts of an arrangement that both exert an influence and are influenced. This essay uses sensibilities as an entry point into the intangible interactions between subjects and (re)arrangements.

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