Month: August 2014

Lorenzo Pezzani

Liquid Traces; Lorenzo Pezzani of Forensic Architecture, In Person

Liquid Traces, Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani

Liquid Traces, Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani

Pleasure Dome, Co-presented with the Department of Geography, University of Toronto

Tuesday, September 23
7.30 pm
CineCycle, 129 Spadina Avenue

This special event is PWYC (Pay What You Can) – no one will be turned away!

Liquid Traces offers a synthetic reconstruction of the events concerning what is known as the “left-to-die boat” case. In 2011, 72 Passengers left the Libyan coast heading in the direction of the island of Lampedusa on board a small rubber boat. After sending several distress signals, they were left to drift with no assistance for 14 days in NATO’s maritime surveillances area, despite repeated interactions with other vessels including at least one military helicopter visit and an encounter with a military ship. As a result, only 9 people survived.

In producing this reconstruction, research has used against the grain of the “sensorium of the sea” — the multiple remote sensing devices used to record and read the sea’s depth and surface. It turned data generated through surveillance into evidence of responsibility for the crime of nonassistance.

Directed by Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani, it is part of the research project Forensic Architecture, funded by the European Research Council and hosted by the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London.

For more information, visit Pleasure Dome.

Michelle Drylie of rePlan

Friday, September 26
3 to 5 pm
in Sidney Smith Hall 2125

Michelle is a Senior Planner and has a strong focus on stakeholder engagement. She has played an integral role in a number of comprehensive planning projects since she joined the firm in 2008. She was Project Manager for the award-winning Lawrence-Allen Revitalization Study in the City of Toronto, and is currently managing the preparation and implementation of the Thompson Economic Diversification Plan in Northern Manitoba. Michelle’s strong technical planning skills are complemented by her ability to manage complex, multi-stakeholder dialogue processes. Michelle holds a Master of Science in Planning from the University of Toronto. She is a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and a Registered Professional Planner.

Inge Stupak

Drivers of very intensive biomass harvesting in Denmark and implications for carbon balances

Wednesday, 15 October
4 to 6 pm IngeStupak
in Sidney Smith Hall, Room 2125

The first energy policies in Denmark were developed in 1976 as a consequence of the 1973 oil crisis. These policies proposed to replace oil with other energy sources including e.g. forest and agricultural biomass. Prior to 1976, farmers had already started to install individual straw-fuelled stoves. In 1993, a political agreement mandated use of biomass in large-scale electricity production. As a result, intensive harvesting of residual biomass is taking place today in both forestry and agriculture to meet the goals of a fossil fuel independent energy system by 2050.

Studies have examined how biomass production for energy from Danish landscapes can be doubled. More intensive harvesting of biomass will decrease the input of carbon to soil. If forest rotations are shortened and management is intensified, ecosystem carbon in living and dead biomass is also expected to decrease. As a result, Denmark must deal with the tradeoffs between de-carbonization of energy production and related climate change mitigation goals and carbon storage in ecosystems. Intensive management and harvesting of biomass may also compromise other ecosystem services such as biodiversity.

This seminar will discuss the rapidly evolving situation in Denmark related to policies designed to mitigate climate change, intensive utilization of biomass in agricultural and forested landscapes, and the tradeoffs involved.BiomassStupak

Inge Stupak is Associate Professor in the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management at the University of Copenhagen.

Geoff Mann


Keynes Resurrected? Saving Civilization, Again and Again

Friday, 17 October
3 to 5 pm
in Sidney Smith Hall, Room 2125

Every time capitalism is beset by crisis, many of its most engaged critics clamour for Keynes. Why does Keynesian reason have such a hold on “progressive” thought, and why, at moments of “crisis” like the present, does a knee-jerk Keynesianism always seem to reappear? What makes Keynesianism make so much sense to so much of the Left at times like this? What facts of the varieties of Keynesianism reproduce a wisdom that seems so consistently appealing, and on what historical premises could it possibly deliver on its promises? This is an attempt to answer these questions, tracking the fundamentals of Keynesianism not only in the explicit endorsements of Keynes in the years immediately following the fall of Lehman Brothers (September 2008), but also across a longer trajectory of thought, from Robespierre to Hegel, through Keynes to Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. I take up this argument via a discussion of the core of the Keynesian theory of modern market-based civil society, its relation to Keynes’ and Keynesian economics, and the intimate ties between these ideas and the broad range of contemporary progressive thought.

Geoff Mann, Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University

Stuart Kirsch

Presents “Corporate Science”, a talk based on his new book Mining Capitalism: The Relations Between Corporations and Their Critics.

Friday, October 24Kirschvegetation dieback ok tedi
3 to 5 pm
in University College (UC) 140


This presentation examines how corporations strategically produce and deploy science. Building on critiques of tobacco industry sponsored science and the research practices of the pharmaceutical industry, it draws on long-term ethnography of the mining industry to argue that the problems associated with corporate science are intrinsic to contemporary capitalism rather than restricted to particular firms or industries.


Stuart Kirsch is an anthropologist who works in the Pacific and the Amazon on indigenous politics and environmental issues. He is professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan. Kirsch is the author of Reverse Anthropology: Indigenous Analysis of Social and Environmental Relations in New Guinea (Stanford 2006) and the recent Mining Capitalism: The Relationship between Corporations and their Critics (California 2014). He has also consulted widely on indigenous rights and environmental problems, work that is the subject of his current project on engaged anthropology.

For more: Stuart Kirsch’s website.

 Co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and the Development Seminar

** Stuart Kirsch will be leading a workshop on “The Politics of Engaged Research” on Thursday, October 23. For more information, please visit the Development Seminar’s event page.**

Josh Lerner

Making Democracy Fun: What Game Design Can Teach Us About Participatory Planning and Politics

TUESDAY, 4 November
3 to 5 pmLernerMakingDemFun
in Sidney Smith Hall 2125

Anyone who has been to a public hearing or community meeting would agree that participatory democracy can be boring. Hours of repetitive presentations, for or against, often with no clear outcome or decision. Is this the best democracy can offer? In Making Democracy Fun, Josh Lerner offers a novel solution for the sad state of our democracy: the power of good game design. Lerner shows how we can use the tools of game design to make community meetings, campaigns, policy-making, and other democratic processes work, by making them more engaging and fun.

Josh Lerner is Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project, a non-profit organization that empowers communities across North America to decide how to spend public money. He completed a PhD in Politics at the New School for Social Research and a Masters in Planning from the University of Toronto. He is the author of Making Democracy Fun: How Game Design Can Empower Citizens and Transform Politics (MIT Press, 2014) and Everyone Counts: Could Participatory Budgeting Change Democracy? (Cornell University Press, 2014).

Kam Wing Chan

China’s New Urbanization Blueprint and Hukou Reform

Friday, November 7
3 to 5 pmIMG_4896 SH
in Sidney Smith Hall 2125

China released its first national urbanization plan in March 2014. The plan outlines a bold move to grant urban hukou (household registration) to 100 million people in the next six years. If successfully implemented, the plan will help China to achieve genuine urbanization and alleviate some major social and economic problems. The plan has also brought forth a new vision of urbanization with an emphasis on the human aspect. This presentation examines the relationship between urbanization and hukou reform, the feasibility of the plan and the problems.

Kam Wing Chan is Professor of Geography at the University of Washington. His main research focuses on China’s cities, migration, employment, and the household registration system. He is the author of Cities with Invisible Walls: Reinterpreting Urbanization in Post-1949 China, and some 60 articles and book chapters. He has served as a Consultant for the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, United Nations, and McKinsey & Co. and worked with the Chinese Government on a number of policy projects. His recent commentaries and interviews have appeared in the public media such as Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Economist, South China Morning Post, BBC, CBC, Caixin, and China Daily. He is a graduate of the University of Hong Kong and the University of Toronto.

This event is co-sponsored by the East Asian Seminar Series at the Asian Institute.

John Robinson

Emergent Dialogue, Municipal Climate Change, and Imaginary Worlds: Exploring Climate Change Innovation and Engagement Processes at the Community Scale

Joint Seminar Hosted by the Department of Geography and School of the Environment

Wednesday, 19 November
4.10 pm
Earth Sciences Building, ES 149 (basement), 5 Bancroft Avenue

The locus of innovation and much activity on climate change and sustainability has strongly shifted to the municipal or community level around the world. Yet we still have much to learn about how best to engage communities and citizens in exploring sustainable futures. This paper reports on two streams of work. The first is recent and ongoing work on community scale climate innovation in British Columbia, Canada and elsewhere. A recently completed study has developed 11 case studies of community climate leadership in British Columbia (BC), Canada and implemented a number of processes of peer-to-peer learning and information exchange.  Lessons from the case studies and our attempts to involve local governments in such exchanges will be discussed. More recently, three related projects have been funded: the development of additional BC case studies and more processes of community engagement; a study of the emerging eco-districts movement around the world; and a study of climate change governance with particular reference to small and medium sized businesses. Each will be described. The second stream of work focusses on various processes of engaging citizens on climate change and sustainability issues. In particular, the paper will summarize the results of several decades of work in BC on using landscape visualization and participatory backcasting techniques for such engagement, focusing on recent work on multi-channel (landscape visualization workshops, scenario tools, social media, tabletop games, art, mobile apps, computer games) engagement processes. The “Sustainability in an Imaginary World” project, which will combine art and scenario analysis in an attempt to destabilize conventional views of sustainability and human-nature relations, will also be described. A theme running throughout the paper is the desirability of moving away from engagement tools and processes focused on what might be called ‘persuasive communication’ approaches intended to create pre-determined understandings or behaviour changes, and towards tools and processes based on ’emergent dialogue’ approaches where the understandings and desirable behaviours must be co-produced by the participants and researchers. It is argued that this approach is particularly important when considering larger questions (e.g. the desired future for a community), the answers to which are still very much up in the air.

John Robinson is Professor of Geography and Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia

Ken Greenberg

City Building: A New Convergence

Friday, 14 November

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in Sidney Smith Hall, Room 2125

While not without major challenges these past decades have seen a revalidation of the city and a reversal of the post-war exodus as important demographic cohorts – immigration and in-migration; young people and empty nesters (and increasingly now young families) voting with their feet are repopulating city centers and older neighborhoods, seeking what cities have to offer, convenience, urbanity, cultural life, sociability etc. The renewed interest in cities is also driven by the increasing globalization of economic activity. Since choice of business location is not only among cities in the same region cities but international, site location decisions, especially for the knowledge-based industries that are increasingly driving the North American economy, are to a significant degree based on the value that a particular location offers. This in turn relates directly to the concept of place and the quality of the public realm. New more dynamic place-based models are emerging that that stress mix, overlap, shared space and flexibility and integrating ‘concepts’ at the intersection of economy, community, and environment identified by Jane Jacobs and others. This more ‘ecological’ understanding of connectedness favors solutions that bring together many kinds of skills and knowledge, challenging disciplinary silos and generating new practices and tools.

Ken Greenberg is an urban designer, teacher, writer, former Director of Urban Design and Architecture for the City of Toronto and Principal of Greenberg Consultants. For over three decades he has played a pivotal role on public and private assignments in urban settings throughout North America and Europe, focusing on the rejuvenation of downtowns, waterfronts, neighborhoods and on campus master planning, regional growth management, and new community planning. Cities as diverse as Toronto, Hartford, Amsterdam, New York, Boston, Montréal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary, St. Louis, Washington DC, Paris, Detroit, Saint Paul and San Juan Puerto Rico have benefited from his advocacy and passion for restoring the vitality, relevance and sustainability of the public realm in urban life. In each city, with each project, his strategic, consensus-building approach has led to coordinated planning and a renewed focus on urban design. He is the recipient of the 2010 American Institute of Architects Thomas Jefferson Award for public design excellence and the author of Walking Home: the Life and Lessons of a City Builder published by Random House.

Mona Atia

Building a House in Heaven: Pious Neoliberalism and Islamic Charity in Egypt


Friday, November 21
3 to 5 pm
in Sidney Smith Hall, Room 2125

Islamic charities occupied a critical space in Mubarak-era Egypt. While there are a plethora of organizational types and categories, Mona Atia describes a particular type of work performed by Islamic charities as a merging of religious and capitalist subjectivity, or pious neoliberalism. Pious neoliberalism describes how Islamism works in conjunction with neoliberalism rather than as an alternative to it. It represents a new compatibility between business and piety that is not specific to any religion, but rather a result of the ways in which religion and economy interact in the contemporary moment. In Egypt, pious neoliberalism produces new institutions, systems of knowledge production and subjectivities. This lecture explores the relationship between Islamic charity and Egypt’s variegated religious landscape. The author will discuss how Islamic charities helped spread Islamic practices outside the space of the mosque and into everyday life/spaces and their impact on development in Egypt.

Mona Atia is Associate Professor of Geography and International Affairs at the George Washington University. She received her PhD in Geography at the University of Washington, where she received the 2008 Distinguished Dissertation Award. She holds a MSc in Cities, Space and Society from the London School of Economics and a BS in Business Administration from the University of California at Berkeley. Professor Atia is a critical development geographer whose areas of expertise include Islamic charity and finance, philanthropy of humanitarianism, and the production of poverty knowledge. She is author of Building a House in Heaven: Pious Neoliberalism and Islamic Charity in Egypt (University of Minnesota Press, 2013).

Co-sponsored by:

Centre for Critical Development Studies, University of Toronto

Institute for Islamic Studies, University of Toronto

Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto