Call for Participants: China’s Global Urban Presence

Call for Participants

China’s Global Urban Presence

Manchester Urban Institute

The University of Manchester

Manchester, UK

15th November 2019

This workshop is being organised under the auspices of the AGORA project (‘The age of infrastructure: China as a global urban agent’, funded by the University of Manchester Research Institute), which seeks to explore how Sino-centric visions and activities around connectivity and infrastructural development reconfigure relations between cities, regions and nation states.

AGORA investigates initiatives that integrate frontiers of resource extraction with dedicated centres of production (such as special economic zones), linked to China via a growing global intermodal logistics network. It highlights the existence of a particularly urban form of transregional development, where growth is achieved through connectivities between economic hubs. Our starting point is that understanding China’s global infrastructural presence can reveal wider contradictions and contingencies in the changing planetary relationship between cities, states and market-led development. The project involves case study work and network building among relevant stakeholders in academia, government, business and the third sector.

The workshop will offer opportunities for discussing current intellectual challenges, creating a transnational network on the topic, as well as developing joint research funding proposals.


Professor Susanne Brandtstädter, University of Cologne

Presentation Title: BRI and the ‘Chinese Dream’: Roads and Civilizational Projects in China

Dr Rocco L. Bubbico, European Investment Bank

Presentation Title: Infrastructure investment: the double challenges for Europe

Dr Ferenc Gyuris, Eötvös Loránd University

Presentation Title: East Central European perspectives on large-scale Chinese infrastructure projects

Professor Giles Mohan, The Open University

Presentation Title: Below the belt? Territory, infrastructure and development in China’s international rise

Professor Anupam Nanda, The University of Manchester

Presentation Title: Multi-dimensional Impact of Large-scale Infrastructure on Real Estate Market

Dr Ijlal Naqvi, Singapore Management University

Presentation Title: CPEC, Sahiwal Coal, and the Infrastructural State in Pakistan

Professor Marcus Power, Durham University

Presentation Title: China-Africa engagement and the emergent spatialities of post-development

Dr Alexander Roy, Manchester Airports Group

Presentation Title: Developing the Manchester–China relationship: a case study of Manchester Airport

Mr Sheng Ying, UN-Habitat China

Presentation Title: Smart infrastructure promotes urban sustainability

Call for participants

A limited number of places are still available, and we are able to provide bursaries for early career participants. To express your interest in attending please email Dr Helen Zheng at by the 25th October 2019, noting your name and affiliation and a short paragraph about why you would like to attend.

The featured image of the Belt and Road Initiative map on the post cover is from:

Transformative infrastructures symposium, Manchester, February 2018

Participants at the symposium

The final symposium within the EVALUATE project was held in Manchester, on the 1st and 2nd of February. The symposium featured ca. 30 participants and speakers from across the world. Its purpose was to advance thinking on low carbon futures in relation to energy equity and justice concerns. More broadly, the symposium gave a stronger voice to the socio-material, political and vulnerability dimensions of energy transformations. Recent research has, for example, highlighted the multiple and uneven implications of energy-system dynamics, informed by, inter alia,political ecology, assemblage, precarity, and justice-based frameworks. We see such contributions as only the beginning of a more theoretically-informed conversation on the (re)production of inequalities during socio-technical shifts and transformations. We sought to explore the political moments and materialities associated with the enactment of alternative, more emancipatory energy futures. An overarching aim of the symposium was to draw greater attention to the geographical elements of energy system transformation, by exploring their multiple material and spatial pathways and highlighting the role of contingencies such as place, scale and territory.

The agenda and abstracts of the symposium can be found here.

Conference: Understanding and addressing energy poverty in Europe, 6-7 March 2018, Athens


The European Co-operation in Science and Technology (COST) Action titled ‘European Energy Poverty: Agenda Co-Creation and Knowledge Innovation (ENGAGER)’ is holding a conference on ‘Understanding and addressing energy poverty in Europe’ in Athens, on the 6th and 7th of March.

The conference aims to examine the state of the art on the issue, as well as new research and policy agendas. It includes a public workshop on energy poverty in Greece and Europe on the 6th of March. The workshop starts from the premise that Greece is one of the European Union countries where energy poverty has expanded at record rates during the past decade. As such, the workshop brings together energy poverty experts (policy makers, stakeholders and researchers) from Greece and from the EU to analyse recent developments regarding energy poverty in Greece and Europe more widely, and to discuss options for tackling energy poverty in the future.

There is now a significant body of knowledge on energy poverty, and several policy options have been elaborated to deal with the issue in European countries and at the EU level. However, significant differences still exist between countries with regard to the way in which the problem is viewed and addressed. There is also a need to integrate knowledge on energy poverty in different countries, while identifying and disseminating good practice in the field. By bringing together energy poverty experts from Greece and from several other European countries, we expect that this workshop will produce new insights on how to deal with energy poverty in the specific context of Greece and on how energy poverty research can  developed to go beyond the state of the art.

The workshop is followed by a ENGAGER working group consolidation meeting on the 7th of March. ENGAGER has 4 working groups: on integration, indicators, dialogues and innovation around energy poverty.

A number of fully funded participation places are available. Please click here to register your interest.

ENGAGER network issues call for Visiting Fellowships

The recently-launched COST Action titledEuropean Energy Poverty: Agenda Co-Creation and Knowledge Innovation‘ (ENGAGER 2017-2021) is announcing its first call for Visiting Fellowships (also known as Short-Term Scientific Missions – STSMs). These international exchanges aim to support individual mobility, strengthen existing networks and foster collaboration between researchers. More broadly, STSMs are expected to contribute to the scientific agendas of COST Actions.

In this initial phase, applications will be accepted until the 5th of February 2018. The Fellowships can start from the 15th of February 2018 and should be completed by the 20th of April 2018.

Young researchers – including PhD students and postdoctoral fellows – are particularly welcome to apply. The Fellowships should allow for the development of skills in the domain of energy poverty conceptualisation, measurement and knowledge integration; while generating innovative scientific approaches and developing inter-disciplinary links.

The duration of a standard Visiting Fellowship is between 5 and 90 days. The award usually covers economy travel and accommodation/subsistence. More details can be found in the full call document.

Applicants are encouraged to discuss details regarding the Fellowships (application procedure, STSM objectives, budget, duration etc.) with the ENGAGER STSM Co-ordinator, Dr Nikolaos Katsoulakos (

More information about the scope and the objectives of the ENGAGER 2017-2021 Action can be found here.

EVALUATE project issues final policy brief

The EVALUATE project has issued a policy brief focusing on the overall recommendations of the project as well as a list of indicators to measure energy poverty. The brief is numbered 5/6 as the overall recommendations and indicators were initially planned to be issued as separate policy briefs but for the purpose of clarity and consistency, these have now been combined into a single document. Read the brief here.

New policy brief from EVALUATE project

The fourth policy brief of the of the EVALUATE project is now available. The brief outlines some results from a detailed qualitative study with over 100 households in four Central and Eastern European cities, conducted during the winter, spring and summer of 2016. A number of novel findings are presented: the role of stigma and shame in the lived experience of energy deprivation; intra-household inequalities in energy poverty’s impacts (including along gender lines); and material drivers of excessively warm homes during the summer.

EVALUATE session and CURE presentations at 2017 RGS-IBG conference

CURE researchers had a strong presence at the 2017 RGS-IBG Annual International Conference in London. Alongside presentations given by Stefan Bouzarovski, Caitlin Robinson and Neil Simcock, the EVALUATE team also convened a session on “Energy poverty and vulnerability: developing a global perspective” that allowed worldwide participation via a webinar format, whilst Caitlin convened and chaired a session on postgraduate research into energy geographies.

Stefan opened our contribution with a presentation on ‘Air as an agent of social exclusion: interfacing the boundaries of home’, undertaken in the Thursday morning session on ‘Just air? Spatial injustices, contestation and politicisation of air pollution’. Stefan’s talk explored the ability of air to act as a social and physical agent of deprivation and injustice, via its role in the rise and experience of the multiple vulnerabilities associated with energy poverty. By unpacking the ability of air to permeate the socially constructed binaries of ‘indoor’ and ‘outdoor’ space, Stefan also challenged political and institutional imaginations that approach the indoor and outdoor via separate policy registers.

On Friday morning Neil then gave a presentation entitled ‘“Some people are really poor and some of them are lazy”: the role of (mis)recognition in the experience and reproduction of energy poverty’, in a session on ‘Governance, energy and injustice‘. Drawing on interviews, conducted as part of EVALUATE, with decision-makers, experts and vulnerable households in Poland, the core thesis of Neil’s talk was that a lack of due respect (‘misrecognition’) toward the energy poor – manifesting both as ‘non-recognition’ and ‘stigmatisation’ – is central to both the constitution and lived experience of domestic energy deprivation.

In the same session, Cait presented on ‘Composite fuel poverty indicators: Revealing, concealing and creating spatial injustices.’ Cait’s talk interrogated how the spatial distribution of energy poverty in England varies depending on the definition and indicator utilised, with different indicators both hiding and revealing specific and geographically contextual forms of vulnerability. She then discussed the implications of this in terms of distributional and recognition forms of (in)justice. In addition, on Thursday afternoon Cait co-convened and chaired a session on Energy Geographies Postgraduate Research. Featuring the latest in PhD and postgraduate research in the domain of energy geography, the session included a number of interesting presentations on, among other things, energy democracy, energy justice and the temporal dimensions of public attitudes toward wind and solar energy.


Spatial injustices revealed and concealed by different fuel poverty indicators (Source: Cait Robinson)


On Friday afternoon, the whole EVALUATE team then convened a session focused on conceptualising energy poverty as a truly global phenomenon. The session was connected to a forthcoming book edited by the team, ‘Energy poverty and vulnerability: a global perspective’, which will shortly be published by Routledge. It was also funded in part through the Global Development Institute’s conference support fund.

Alongside those attending the session in person, we also made it freely available to a worldwide audience through a webinar organised by Harriet Thomson. A further 35 people engaged with the session through this method, hailing from countries as geographically diverse as Mexico, Israel, Indonesia, India, Spain, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, and the USA. As well as listening to the debate, webinar attendees could also send in questions and comments that Harriet fed back to the room.


Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 15.33.52
Locations of the webinar attendees


In the first half of this session, Neil chaired a panel discussion with a group of experts featuring EVALUATE’s own Saska Petrova, Marilyn Smith from the Energy Action Project, Jiska de Groot from the University of Cape Town, and Irena Connon from the University of Dundee. In a rich discussion, the panellists debated core conceptual and empirical issues in the study of domestic energy deprivation, including the difference between ‘energy poverty’ and ‘energy vulnerability’, the kinds of theoretical tools that are useful in understand the persistence and emergence of poverty and vulnerability across diverse geographical settings, and the differentiated and unequal experience of energy poverty in different socio-spatial settings. As well as the panellists, the discussion also included input from several audience members and those listening via the webinar, making for a lively and productive debate. The second part of the session took the form of an informal gathering, where we discussed the unanswered and emerging questions for energy vulnerability research going forward.