Centre for Women's and Gender Research
Research project

Speculative Urban Futures: Inequality and Migration

This project, which is funded by the strategic unit Global Challenges at the University of Bergen, will explore possible futures of cities.

San Francisoc sett frå Berkeley
Decaseconds, Flickr

Main content

Global cities have always been sites of transnational imagination. These range from the imagining of utopian cities, being sites for development in the 20th century era of modernity to, in our current era, being the loci for adaptability, resilience and inequality in terms of smart cities, climate change and extensive migration.

Thus, cities are inextricably linked both to hopeful imaginings of the future and to being places of profound inequality. With the COVID-19 crisis, cities have again become places of contagion, risk, and deep uncertainty about the viability of the urban form. The need to speculate and probe possible urban futures is therefore more urgent than ever.

In order to disclose potential urban futures, the project will invite differently situated scholars, artists, activists and the general public to speculate about the possible futures. Speculation in this regard refers to a cross-disciplinary open-ended discussion bringing forth experiences, practices and perspectives that are often marginalized in hegemonic discourses on urban futures.

The project is particularly concerned with looking into unequal experiences of time, relations between human and non-human worlds and the emergence of new forms of urban agency in relation to migration.

Project partners and activities

Exploring inequality and migration the project weaves together the scholarly and artistic work of the three project partners – Brandon LaBelle, Christine M. Jacobsen and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen – in the fields of critical race studies, gender and queer studies, and anthropology.

Brandon LaBelle from the Department of Contemporary Art is an artist, writer and theorist working with questions of social life and cultural agency, using sound, performance, text and sited constructions. His current research focuses on sonic agency, poetic knowledge, commonism and the aesthetics and politics of invisibility. Brandon comments the upcoming project in a following way:

Christine M. Jacobsen from SKOK works in the fields of gender studies, international migration and ethnic relations. She is currently working on temporalities of irregular migration and on vulnerability and the governance of international protection. Christine notes that:

Bjørn Enge Bertelsen from GRIP is an anthropologist working on the issues of egalitarianism, urban transformation, future practices, violence, state, memory and tradition within political anthropology.

Among the various project activities, several workshops will be held throughout 2021 – 2022 and a creative lab as a pop-up workshop in Bergen’s city centre will be organized to draw in urban citizens in the project’s speculations about the urban futures.