OpenSpace: 1st mtg 19th Nov + PGR masterclass with SUSAN PARNELL, 26th Nov

We would like to invite you to the first OpenSpace meeting of the semester on Thursday 19th November at 4-6pm in room G.019 in Arthur Lewis Building and a Postgraduate Reading Group Masterclass with Professor Susan Parnell on Thursday 26th November from 12- 2pm in room G.035/36 in Arthur Lewis Building.

For our usual PhD discussion session on 19th November, we are very pleased to have

Kelvin Charles from Politics speaking on “Occupy and the Biopolitics of Encampment“.
“My research approaches the 2011 Occupy movement through the theoretical framework of biopolitics. Specifically, I investigate the claim that the Occupy movement was the emergence of the multitude on the streets. I claim that the theoretical framework and the practical experiences of protest centre around three issues that I highlight as democratic organisation, digital dissemination of information and the contestation of the urban. I situate the camp as integral to the abilities of activists to draw together these various processes of protest. I argue that the biopolitical approach enables a complex and nuanced discussion of the ways in which the movement is able to create interrelated accounts of political, economic and social critiques through a reconceptualization of the political.”

Jon Las Heras from Politics speaking on “From Bad to Worse: Mapping (Spanish) Trade Union Strategies within the (European) Automotive Industry“.
“The globalization of industrial production has been accompanied by the increasing automation, outsourcing and off-shoring of the labour process with the aim to increase corporate profitability while, simultaneously, dis-empowering labour’s collective power. Within such general framework, my research focuses on understanding and explaining (Spanish) trade union strategies within the (European) automotive industry. First, I will briefly explain how Trade Unions and Trade Union Power may be conceptualised by building upon the literature on State Theory. Thus, we may define Trade Unions as a social relation that institutionalises the collective power and strategies of particular (hegemonic) working class fractions vs. capital and other working class fractions. This definition may be a useful theoretical twist to de-reify working class power in order to understand better the structural limits that it confronts. Second, a three dimensional map (along space-scale, wage-scale and employer-scale dimensions) will be presented in order to understand the socio-spatial dimension of Trade Unions and Industrial Relations in general. This will help us to generate a stylized map of both capitalist pressures to divide and rule the capital-labour relationship and, as well as, to identify trade union strategies that seek some monopolistic power in the labour market. Finally, the construction of this “war-map” will be supported with a brief presentation of three case studies that reveal the steady dis-empowerment of the working class as different collective bargaining rounds were played out. The historical account will help us to generate a deeper and more complete understanding and explanation for the limits that particular trade union strategies dealing with globalization pressures face.”


In our Postgraduate Reading Group Masterclass with Sue Parnell on 26th November, we will have the opportunity to discuss Sue’s article (co-authored by Jennifer Robinson), (Re)theorizing Cities from the Global South: Looking Beyond Neoliberalism, and what we can learn from urban developments in the Global South. Our hope is to bring researchers of Global South in particular and urban studies in general closer with Sue Parnell to create a scholarly debate on the issues of inequality, neoliberalism and urban theory.

Sue Parnell is Professor of Urban Geography in the University of Cape Town. She is centrally involved in the African Centre for Cities, an interdisciplinary research and teaching program on the dynamics of unsustainable urbanization processes in Africa. Her recent publications include A Routledge Handbook of Cities of the South; Africa’s Urban Revolution; Global Urbanisation, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and Climate Change at the City Scale: Impacts, Mitigation and Adaptation in Cape Town. More information on her research can be found here:


We look forward to seeing as many as of you there for what looks to be a fascinating discussion.

OpenSpace is an interdisciplinary forum for PhD researchers in SEED and beyond to discuss ideas and present their research in a critical but friendly and relaxed environment. The typical format is two presentations of approximately 20 minutes without powerpoint followed by questions and open discussion of ideas. We also provide a little food and drink to help us get into the spirit! You can find a little more info here on our website:

We are still looking for presenters for some of the meetings, so if you are thinking about presenting or would like to know more about it then please do contact us with any questions. Invitations to present are open to anyone in the mid to final stages of their PhD and we encourage presentations from across a broad range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.

Looking forward to seeing you on the 19th and 26th!

Caglar (Planning), Matt (Planning), Nadim (Politics), Sabrina (Politics), Caroline (Politics), Joe (Geography), Phaedra (Anthropology)

OpenSpace is kindly supported and funded by cities@manchester (


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