It is often asserted that we are living in ‘the urban age’. Although this justifies more intensively engaging in urban research, a major challenge remains finding the best ways to do so from an interdisciplinary perspective: the complexity of the city implies that no single discipline or vantage point can claim ‘the urban’ as its exclusive study object. Against this background, the KU Leuven Urban Studies Institute (LUSI) was established in 2021 with a double mission: (1) sharpening and structurally anchoring the interdisciplinary collaboration between KU Leuven researchers dealing with urban questions; and (2) giving KU Leuven a clearer identity and visibility within the urban research community on the one hand and the societal and policy context on the other hand.
By way of public launch, on January 20th, 2022 (17h, Provinciehuis Vlaams Brabant in Leuven) LUSI will host a public lecture focusing on what is regularly, but all-too-easily argued to pose a fundamental challenge to the very nature of cities: COVID-19. In this lecture, Prof. Colin McFarlane (Durham University) will draw on his ongoing research into urban densities to reflect on COVID-19 and the politics of urban value. Cautioning against simplistic claims of blaming the spread of the virus on urban densities, in this lecture he will advocate for more nuanced imaginaries focusing on connections, spatial conditions, domestic ‘overcrowding’ and poverty.
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