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Workshop on Urbanization and Identity-Based Conflict: A Global Perspective 

This Workshop on Urbanization and Identity-Based Tension is also an important part of the International Conference on Chinese and African Sustainable Urbanization (ICCASU 2015)  which will be held at the University of Ottawa, Canada, on October 24-25, 2015.



  Today, more than 50% of the global population lives in cities. These rapid urbanization patterns have revealed increasing challenges related to urban development and identity-based tension. As elaborated in the UN Habitat report Urban Indigenous Peoples and Migration (2010), there are serious international issues related to rural-urban migration of ethnic minorities, specifically in regard to quality of life and the protection of rights. In nondemocratic countries such as China, unprecedented levels of economic growth and urbanization have occurred alongside social unrest over inequalities between ethnic groups. In Central Africa, colonial histories and the Congolese civil wars of the 1990s have contributed to persistently low levels of human development. The ongoing effects of civil conflict are apparent in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country with large linguistic and ethnic diversity. The relationship between China and various African countries bears consideration, as Chinese investments will have substantial impacts on economic growth, urbanization, and identity politics in African states.

  However, the tension between urban development and identity-based tension is also apparent in developed countries, particularly in regard to indigenous people. In Canada, higher birth and urbanization rates among Aboriginal people compound their alarmingly lower levels of well-being compared to non-indigenous populations. These significant inequalities, coupled with the continuing effects of indigenous dispossession have led to increasing calls for urban governance processes that fundamentally include indigenous people and their cultures. Similar identity-based tensions are evident in post-Communist states such as Romania, where Romani populations face substantial discrimination in urban areas, and Caribbean islands such as Martinique, where tension exists between European Martiniquais and minority groups.

  In each of the contexts described above, indigenous and ethnic minority groups have significant historical attachment to the regions in question. The presence of inequalities in urban areas, and failure to address identity-based tensions can reinforce discrimination, increase vulnerability, and lead to socio-political unrest. The complex nature of these problems, and the dearth of action-oriented research, speaks to the need for cross-disciplinary partnerships and research focusing on this issue from an international perspective

  This workshop, organized in partnership with UN-Habitat, will bring together academics, policy-makers and practitioners to share their expertise on the relationship between urban development and identity-based tensions. In particular, this workshop will begin an international, interdisciplinary dialogue on inclusive urbanization, with the empowerment of indigenous and minority people at the forefront of the discussion. Ultimately, this workshop is intended to explore the sources of social tension under urbanization processes and contribute to socially sustainable and inclusive urbanization. Some key questions guiding this workshop, among others, are as follows:

  1.  How do the complex issues of economic growth, urbanization, inequality, and social tension intersect in cities?
  2.  How do different identity groups affected by urbanization perceive their relationship to urban space?
  3.  What solutions are socially or politically feasible in cities to address these problems?
  4.  How do different regions/cities compare?
  5.  What are the possibilities for global cooperation between local communities, national governments and international organizations on these issues?

Keynote Speakers:

  • Alioune Badiane, Director, Programme Division, UN-Habitat
  • Jack Jedwab, Executive Vice-President of the Association for Canadian Studies
  • Tambwe Musangelu, Executive Director, Diku Dilenga (NGO), DRC
  • Evelyn Peters, Canada Research Chair, University of Winnipeg
  • John Zacharias, Chair Professor, Peking University, China

Special Panel Speakers:

  • Kevin Depault, PhD student, University of Ottawa, Canada
  • Ruibo Han, Faculty member, University of Maryland, USA
  • Cezar Morar, Professor, University of Oradea, Romania

Training Instructors:

  • Saeid Homayouni, Professor, University of Ottawa, Canada
  • Jean-Philippe Leblond, Professor, University of Ottawa, Canada

Roundtable Moderator:

  • Huhua Cao, Professor, University of Ottawa
  • Jeffrey Cyr, Executive Director, National Association of Friendship Centres

Workshop Official Languages: English and French

Important Dates:

  • Deadline for submission of abstract (maximum 250 words): 30 June, 2015
  • Deadline for Registration: 30 August, 2015 (No registration fee for this workshop)

Contact: ICCASU@uottawa.ca

Website: http://chinaeam.uottawa.ca/ICCASU/

Downloadable Version

Tentative Agenda