SpaceLab presents at UK conferences

This week, SpaceLab is attending two conferences in the UK.

At the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) in London, SpaceLab is very much present. Håvard Haarstad, Stefan Bouzarovski, Tarje Wanvik, Kristin Kjærås and Siddhart Sareen are all attending the conference and presenting their research.

Simultaneously, Jakob Grandin is presenting at the Transformation conference in Dundee, Scotland.

Reimagining Urban Energy Futures: Transformative Low Carbon Infrastuctures

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Stefan Bouzarovski and Håvard Haarstad are leading a session at the RGS conference Wednesday, 30 August.

The RGS conference takes place at the Royal Geographical Society in London, from Tuesday 29 August to Friday 1 September 2017.  This years’ conference theme is: ‘Decolonising geographical knowledges: opening geography out to the world’.

On Wednesday, 30 August, Håvard and Stefan are leading a session on sustainable urban energy transformations. The session seeks to give voice to re-imaginings of sustainable urban futures that lie beyond the conceptual mainstream. Here, the underlying dynamics of power and inequality – and how such dynamics may underpin urban energy transformations – is addressed. The session also seeks to provide a stronger geographical sensibility towards urban energy reconfigurations, by emphasizing the non-linearity of low-carbon urban change, and role of contingencies such as place, scale and territory in this process. Basically, it argues that geography matters in energy transitions.

In this session, Håvard and Stefan are presenting their paper Towards transformative low-carbon urban reconfigurations: a relational ontology. Here, they aim to open the space for an innately geographical conceptualization of low carbon urban transformations, in which cities are not seen as rigid and passive physical containers for decarbonization initiatives, but rather as key nodes within vibrant socio-technical networks operating across multiple material sites. Using a case study of the transnational and translocal REACH (Reduce Energy use And Change Habits) project as illustration, Håvard and Stefan will show that low carbon urban transformations are immanently constituted of three sets of relational processes across multiple material and social sites; (1) politicization, (2) enrollment and (3) the hybridization of human and material agencies.



PostDoc Siddharth Sareen is presenting on the RGS conference, asking how geography can approach the study of solar energy politics.

SpaceLab PostDoc Siddharth Sareen is also presenting his research in this session. Siddharth will present his paper on ‘Bridging concepts: applying a geography of energy transition to the empirics of urban solar uptake’. Here, he asks how geographical concepts can better address solar energy uptake in relation to sustainable energy transitions. Siddharth applies approaches seeing urban landscapes as assemblages – where instabilities might create opportunities for change and transformations – to the concrete question of what key factors characterise solar power uptake in cities. He proposes structural, relational and technological points of analytical entry to a focus on grid coordination and spatially distributed generation. The intent is to mobilise recent conceptual advances in energy geography towards application in the politically-charged urban settings where such transitions are being governed, contested and implemented.

Geographies of subalternity and counterhegemonic globalization

Also on Wednesday, 30 August, SpaceLab PhD’s Kristin Kjærås og Tarje Wanvik are leading another conference session, exploring alternative circuits of knowledge that (1) provide critical perspectives on established ‘truths’ in the field(s) of geography and (2) explore how subaltern geographies are lived, assembled and mobilized with reference to counterhegemonic globalization. The session’s focus on alternative circuits of knowledge seeks to explore a research agenda that engages more critically with the relationality of subaltern and hegemonic production.

In this session, they are both presenting their research.


Kristin Kjærås will present her research on the mobilization of subaltern geographies of urban densification and housing in Oslo at the RGS conference.

Kristin will present her paper on Contradictory production of alternative urban development: Subaltern geographies of urban densification and housing in Oslo, Norway. This paper explores the mobilization of subaltern geographies of urban densification and housing in Oslo. While high-density mixed-use developments have become favored political projects within the dominant sustainability discourse, emerging criticism regarding affordability and the overall carbon footprint of compact urban livelihoods questions the potential for achieving sustainability through compact city strategies alone. In Oslo, growing interest and concern for socially just urban development represents an emergent capacity for the mobilization of alternative solutions to questions of housing and densification. Here, Kristin analyses alternative housing and densification initiatives in Oslo to conceptualize how the articulation of difference is sought achieved and the ultimate outcome of such subaltern mobilization.

Tarje Iversen Wanvik

Tarje Wanvik is presenting his research on the Métis communities in Alberta, Canada, and how Métis advocacy efforts might gain from the instabilities of carbonscapes.

Tarje is presenting his paper on Wildfire politics – Understanding Métis pragmatism through the case of the Fort McMurray wildfire. For centuries, marginalised Métis communities in the carbonscapes of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada have been struggling against prospectors, governments and industry for recognition as rights-bearing communities. By considering the notion of “disaster politics” in conjunction with pragmatism and multidimensional assemblage theory, Wanvik explore how Métis advocacy efforts might gain from the instabilities of carbonscapes. Through the case study of the 2016 massive wildfire in the regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in northern Alberta, he reveals the fragile characteristics of carbonscapes, analysing how assemblage instabilities interfere with conventional ideas of power relations within carbonscapes, showing how the impact of the fire transforms into social and political mobilisation among local Metis communities of Wood Buffalo, and ultimately leads to a renegotiation of the assembled order of the oil sands of Alberta.

The full RGS program is available here.

Transformation as dependent on nodes of innovation


Wednesday 30 August, Jakob Grandin will present his paper on innovation and transformation at the Transformations conference.

While the other SpaceLab’ers are in London, Jakob has gone a bit further north to attend the Transformations conference in Dundee, Scotland. The conference is hosted by the Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience (CECHR) at the University of Dundee.

Transformations 2017 focuses on transformations toward sustainability: addressing contemporary challenges and creating conditions for enhancing people’s well-being, today and in the future, while strengthening the Earth’s support system.

At this conference, Jakob will present the paper ‘Theorizing transformations: from bounded systems to relational mobilization’ at session 2S14: “Conceptualising Transformations – Scale, Uncertainty and Complexity”. The presentation draws on geographical debates on the relationalities and spatialities of politics to discuss how transformation depends on interconnections between multiple geographically dispersed nodes of innovation.

Read more about the conference HERE.