Session proposals

Disclaimer: The sessions are in alphabetical order based on the main organiser’s last name. Session content may be still subject to change.
1. Into the Blue: Connecting the diverse in water geographies

Organizers: Moritz Albrecht, University of Eastern Finland and Jani Lukkarinen, SYKE/ University of Eastern Finland

Chair: Moritz Albrecht, University of Eastern Finland


Despite the often-repeated fact that 71% of the earth surface is covered by water and the pivotal role that aquatic resources play in societal processes the (geographical) academic treatment of the topic remains sporadic. Additionally, while the recent policy agendas, like the EU Green Deal, emphasise the economic and sustainability role of “blue” (resources) as a solution to many societal challenges, there are several fault lines dividing this realm, such as marine/freshwater or water/society dichotomies (Albrecht & Lukkarinen 2020; Linton & Budds 2014). Much current political and academic treatment of water (re-)produces related processes as a chimera, taking different forms through either blue growth, marine/coastal planning or watershed management paradigms that lack interconnectivity. In order to bridge this gap and to evaluate the processes, potentials and challenges of water at the core of societal transformations Winder and Le Heron (2017) have called for a relational conceptualisation of the blue economy. Echoing similar concerns, Steinberg and Peters (2015) suggest employing an epistemology of wet ontologies that integrate the fluidity and multiplicity of aquatic materiality into the evaluation of water related processes. Both these accounts urge scholars to address the relational make up, hence the assembling processes that link multiple “waters” and use narratives under a blue framing, and further connect them to largely land bound societal processes such as policy design, socio-economic developments or place making. Following and not restricted to the integration of the aforementioned conceptualizations the session aims to engage in an aquagraphic reading of assembling socio-economic processes. The multiplicity of waters in socio-spatial processes can be addressed from the perspectives of water governance, resource use, conflicts and cultural roles. The session calls contributions (yet is not restricted) to three interconnected themes:

  • Societal engagements with water, such as conflicts or collaborative water governance
  • Spaces of blue economy that entail natural resource exploitations, blue growth policies as well as competing interpretations of sustainability
  • Water and place,for instance water related narratives in place making and use cultures.
2. Hydrogeography: fluvial and coastal processes

Organizers: Petteri Alho, University of Turku and Eliisa Lotsari, University of Eastern Finland

Chair: Petteri Alho, University of Turku


Hydrogeographical research includes studies of water, its quality and related processes in hydrologically different regions. The studies of past, present and future coastal and fluvial process magnitudes will enable sustainable land use planning, river restoration, watershed management and flood risk mitigation, as knowledge of changing seasonal flow, extreme floods, erosion-sedimentation, water quality, water ecosystems, sea level, and hydrological cycle are gained. According to the climate change projections, the changes in future sea water levels,discharges, and river channels will vary between regions in northern high-latitude regions, and elsewhere in the world. For being able to assess and mitigate the natural hazards caused by joint impacts of present and changing future fluvial and coastal processes, research based on high-accuracy field measurements, modelling and geospatial analyses are needed. The Hydrogeography sessions will invite presentations, which deal with fluvial and coastal processes and their impacts on natural environment and societies. Natural hazards, particularly related to the hydrogeography, are thus also included in this session. We also welcome presentations related to the methodological enhancements in hydrogeographical research. Also researchers tackling hydrogeographical questions related to land use planning, flood mitigation, watershed management, ecological questions and ecosystem services are welcomed.

3. From global pandemic to sustainable transformation

Organizers: Stephen Axon, Southern Connecticut State University and Allie Smith, Southern Connecticut State University

Chair: Stephen Axon, Southern Connecticut State University


The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted numerous social inequities and vulnerabilities with current systems unable to adequately improve the resilience of those disproportionately affected by disruptive changes. Despite this, the pandemic also presents a window of opportunity to address the inadequacies of current system responses, replacing them with effective responses to a range of multifaceted, and multiple, disruptions. At all costs, a return to ‘normal’ or ‘business-as-usual’ should be avoided. To forge new visions and pathways to a more sustainable future, the disruptive change caused by the pandemic allows for policies and interventions to be implemented as part of a sustainable transformation.

This session seeks to bring together papers that offer conceptual, practical, and applied approaches towards moving towards a sustainable future following disruptive changes (as represented by the COVID-19 pandemic). Abstracts are invited from a broad array of geographers, as well as researchers from other academic disciplines e.g. political science, psychology, sociology, business studies, and economics to name just a few. With the overall aim of the session to promote a comprehensive academic discourse on the ways in which a sustainable transformation can be fostered during, and after, disruptive changes, both theoretically-informed and empirically-based papers are invited to address (but are not limited to) the following areas:

  • Governance and/or management strategies, visions, and transition pathways,
  • Visions, visualisations, representations, spatial variations and process, of disruptive changes and pathways to sustainable transformations,
  • Policies that may support radical changes towards sustainability,
  • Regional variations or scale mismatches in responses to disruptive changes e.g. Global North / Global South,
  • Support systems (e.g. welfare, social, educational, economic, and environmental) as part of spatially varied transformations adapting to disruptive changes,
  • Approaches that address existing systemic socio-economic inequalities and inequities,
  • Changes to supply chains that may be applied in times of disruption,
  • Socio-economic and environmental pathways that foster sustainable transformation,
  • Technological, political, ecological, economic, and social concepts, methods, and approaches to help address disruptions and adapt to transformations,
  • Engaging the public (and other stakeholders) with sustainability transformations following disruptive changes resulting in more inclusive, engaged, and participatory democratic systems (of governance),
  • Wider transformation challenges e.g. security, poverty, food production, and unsustainable consumption.

We intend to also develop an edited volume or special issue on the topic of post-pandemic sustainable transformations. We would like to invite interested researchers to contribute to this should they be looking to publish their research. More information to follow on this in the session.

4. Exploring contemporary governance of society, land-use and tourism in Arctic regions through a spatial lens

Organizers: Dorothee Bohn, Umeå University and Doris Carson, Umeå University

Chair: Dorothee Bohn, Umeå University


Since the early 1990s, the idea of governance, broadly understood as a shift from power exercised in a unilateral manner by governments towards more interactive decision-making and policy delivery in public-private networks and partnerships, gained not only firm traction in the public policy sphere but also advanced to one of the most frequently used concepts in social sciences. Characteristic of this ‘governance revolution’ (Klijn & Koppenjan, 2020;Pierre & Peters, 2000) are the intrinsic tensions between competing actors, interests, resources, ethics and time frames (Fawcett et al., 2017; Kwiatkowski et al., 2020; Torfing, 2019). As an analytical framework, governance assists in understanding our contemporary world (Ansell & Torfing, 2016) and directs us back to the classical political science question raised by Lasswell (1936) – ‘who gets what’? Theorists, such as Harvey (2006) or Lefebvre(1974), remind us also that the way governance constellations respond to, solve or amplify current social,economic and environmental challenges, is essentially a socio-spatial concern. Hence, governance is a key aspect in the production of multiple geographies. This session aims at bringing together current research that explores this crucial but oftentimes underappreciated spatial dimension of governance with a specific focus on the Arctic. The Arctic offers an interesting context to examine the interplay between governance and different notions of space,referring to absolute, relational and representational space, because of the plurality of actors and organisations involved in governing this region, which is of increasingly global geopolitical, geoeconomic and ecological significance. Arctic governance research is commonly associated with high politics, international security and energy resources. In order to broaden this field of research, this session seeks to provide a forum for discussing governance in terms of the local societal, economic and land-use challenges and possibilities that lie ahead. We invite contributions that adopt different levels of analysis, scales and methods in the spatial contemplation of governance in the realms of society and the changing economic landscape and land-use priorities, as seen for example in the increasing prominence of tourism within traditionally resource-dominated economies. Papers might look for instance into:

  • Governance and land-use conflicts, e.g. between reindeer herding, tourism, mining and energy production -
  • Governance from below: grass-roots initiatives that shape alternative spaces
  • Good governance and governance innovations towards sustainability
  • Practices of knowledge-sharing between different stakeholders for spatial governance
  • New governance approaches to mitigate uneven regional development
  • Spaces of entrepreneurship, livelihoods and governance
  • The spatial effects of public funding as an instrument of multi-level public governance
  • Governance and spaces of social inclusion/exclusion
  • Impacts of COVID-19 governance on tourism entrepreneurs/communities in the Arctic
  • Impacts and practices of multi-scalar governance on local communities, e.g. effects on social reproduction or consequences of resource extraction
  • Critical perspectives on Arctic governance, such as the spatial consequences of governance inertia or failures, the deteriorating effects of neoliberal governance, aspects of depoliticisation and governance.
5. Challenges and opportunities for small scale agriculture and food industries - lessons from the Covid 19 pandemic and beyond

Organizers: Madeleine Bonow, Södertörn University and Paulina Rytkönen, Södertörn University

Chair: Madeleine Bonow, Södertörn University


The agricultural and food sectors in the Nordic and Baltic States stand in front of a number of upcoming challenges, some of which were previously known while others were exposed by the pandemic. In recent decades, societal expectations on large scale agriculture include producing more food and contributing to produce raw materials to substitute fossil fuel.

As a contrast, societal expectations on small scale agriculture and small agricultural industries, such as dairies, breweries, mills, etc. are to create new post-industrial jobs that can prevent further depopulation of rural areas and promote rural cohesion by creating new post-industrial work opportunities in rural tourism and other rurally connected services. One of the main trends in small scale agriculture during the last decades is diversification, driven by new policies, changes in demand and farmers need to find new rural sources of income. Moreover, as a result of the same process a number of small food industries have been established both as a result of diversification of agriculture, but also answering the rise of rural tourism as a key element in local and regional development. The mentioned changes led to the articulation of new patterns of distribution and selling points, along with various types of quality schemes that connect rural sellers and urban buyers.

During the pandemic year, international tourism has dropped while at least in some countries, national tourism has increased. In which way has this affected or promoted small-scale agriculture and small agricultural industries? Which challenges and innovative solutions to production, distribution and sales issues have been developed during the pandemic year?

Moreover, during this recent year spatial relations between Nordic and Baltic States have experienced difficulties when migration has become restricted. How has this affected small scale agriculture and small rural industries? To which extent is inter regional rural labour migration linked to small scale agriculture?

There is a need to analyze the main drivers behind recent change. We therefore invite scholars from all participating countries to contribute with theoretical and empirical insights on the challenges and opportunities for small scale agriculture and small agricultural industries in the Nordic and Baltic States.

Participants will also be invited to participate in a special issue in the journal Agronomy on rural development, public policies and socio-economic and environmental sustainability in Europe and the Nordic countries.

6. Geographies of marginality and territorial stigmatization in an era of policy schizophrenia

Organizers: Kristian Nagel Delica, Roskilde University and Troels Schultz Larsen, Roskilde University

Chair: Kristian Nagel Delica, Roskilde University


The spatialisation of advanced modes of marginality comes in multiple forms and has been a point of departure for a range of transdisciplinary studies – from urban ethnography to economic geography. In recent years, one of the most fruitful concepts inspiring such studies has been the concept of territorial stigmatization (Wacquant 1993; 2008; 2011; Wacquant 2014). The breadth and depth of the studies concerning territorial stigmatization illustrate that it is a highly versatile concept which is applicable to a range of different scales, cities and types of places across the globe (Wacquant et. al 2014; Kirkness and Tije-Dra 2017; Schultz Larsen and Delica 2019). Presently we see an increasing interest in territorial de-stigmatization strategies and practices (Schultz Larsen and Delica 2019; Kärrholm and Wirdelöv 2019; Horgan 2018, Kudla and Courey 2018; Norris 2019). Taking stock of this research, we see the contours of a number of recurrent themes and problematics in how territorial stigmatization links to urban policies and planning initiatives concerning destigmatization. In the Nordic countries - and especially in Denmark – but also in a wider European context we observe a particular combination of degradation from above (in national policies and public discourses) and alleviation of the worst hardship from below (through area based social work and initiatives sparked by civil society and urban activists). This fragmentation, we argue, is not an ‘unfortunate development’ of trying to deal with a wicked problem but must be understood as both conditional and integral to contemporary urban policy (Schultz Larsen 2018). As such we claim that this foreshadows the contours of a new regime of urban governance of marginality characterized by what we term ‘policy schizophrenia’ (Delica and Schultz Larsen 2021). Policy schizophrenia conceptualizes both a novel policy regime and a societal diagnosis and point to the systematic fragmentations and de-couplings in contemporary modes of governance. In the Danish case, we find that ‘policy schizophrenia is characterized by:

  • De-contextualization. Which separates the neglected housing estates, from the surrounding city and itsparticularities including flows of people and resources
  • De-historicization. Which erases the historical, social and political struggles that shaped the neglected housing estates over time
  • De-temporalization. Which combines short-term ‘project logics’ with ‘evidence based statistics’ in order to promote that which work statistically in one place, works in all ‘areas’
  • De-coupling. Which polarizes different scales of urban governance by centralizing the right to define the ‘problems’ at the national level while peripherilizing the responsibility of dealing with them to the local level

We invite and welcome cross-disciplinary contributions that specifically connects to/critically engages the concepts of territorial stigmatization and destigmatization (methodologically, empirically, theoretically) and how these can be understood as integrated parts of forms of urban governance and planning. This may be conceptually, through comparative analysis or case studies of mismatches between spatial scales, of local complexities meeting national policy fixes or fragmentations between structural conditions and local practices etc.

7. Revisiting Global value chains, production networks and development: the production of value, power and participation from alternative angles

Organizers: Javier Revilla Diez, University of Cologne and Niels Fold, University of Copenhagen 

Chair: Javier Revilla Diez, University of Cologne 


In the last two decades, plugging into’ global value chains (GVC) or production networks (GPN) has turned into a developmental paradigm which has increasingly been promoted by international organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, or, most recently, the World Bank in its World Development Report 2020 as a promising path to economic development. Interestingly, what seems to be a panacea for development contradicts many studies on GVC-related research, showing that the integration into the global division of labor can have very variegated outcomes and does not necessarily result in beneficial economic effects for producers at the local levelIn reference to the previous session 2019 on “Global value chains, production networks and development in the Global South” the goal could be:

  • Looking for conceptual alternatives/improvements/adjustments  
  • Reconceptualisation of common terms such as “value” and “power”, e.g. from Marxist theory, spatiality of capitalism, political economy etc.
  • Who has the power to govern value chains, what are new power regimes?
  • Examples of (non-) participation and alternative pathways such as regional value chains that have emerged
  • Consideration of local and global/international linkages and extra-chain actors  
  • How to stimulate rural transformations “from below”? Potential of place-based approaches 
  • Formulate comprehensive policy implications and consequences for practitioners following this nuances understanding in research/new dynamics in regions
  • Examples from the global south 
8. Nordic craft-beer geographies (and beyond)

Organizers: Richard Ek, Karlstad University and Svante Karlsson, Karlstad University 

Chair: Richard Ek, Karlstad University 


The last thirty years, small-scale craft-beer breweries have popped up in the Nordic countries to an extent that only the craft-beer brewery industry in North America can match. For some reason, Nordic geographers have addressed this to a humble extent (in comparison to American geographers, as everyone who have tried to get a seat in an AAG session on craft-beer geographies know). This notwithstanding that Nordic craft-beer breweries by now is established agents in local community and regional economic development as well as attractions in a tourism and hospitality context. In the cities, brewpubs are a visible part of the urban landscape and in the countryside craft-beer breweries have become fix points in increasingly de-populated and touristified landscapes. As agents of place marketing and city branding, craft-beer breweries actively represent everything from neo-local pride to the re-mystification of nature and Nordic mythologies. In this session we do not attempt to chisel-out a particular Nordic craft-beer geography as something distinct from, say, Anglo-Saxion beer geography, but unfold multiple Nordic craft-beer geographies. Consequently, the session invites all kinds of theoretical, thematic, conceptual and empirical approaches to Nordic craft-beer geographies (and beyond, as craft-beer geographies are globally extended topographically as well as topologically). Some possible themes could be:

  • Craft-beer breweries as agents giving signification to places and localities through identity-work, marketing and branding, often working in the tradition of neo-localism. Cans and bottles become place marketing devices that invoke geographical imaginations and understandings among the consumers.
  • Craft-beer breweries as agents on growing markets characterized by new conditions of production as well as new business models, entrepreneurial and innovative approaches towards for instance the building of corporate brands (Mikkeler in Copenhagen comes to mind).
  • Craft-beer breweries as geomedia agents, through social media and apps like Untappd, that increasingly offer a geographical panoramic view on a urban ‘beerscapes’ of tastes and distinctions.
  • Craft-beer breweries and new consumption practices and cultures that increasingly challenge stereotypical representations of gender at the same time as they enhance stereotypical understandings regarding consumer demands and behavior, in real life as well as digitally (take a quick look on how many beer bloggers with beards you can find in a Google search).
  • Craft-beer breweries as agents in destination management and marketing of increased significance, at the same time as DMO’s on occasions have a difficulty taking them seriously.
  • And so on and so forth...
9. Post-COVID19: whither the borderless world?

Organizers: Paul Fryer, University of Eastern Finland and Joni Virkkunen, University of Eastern Finland 

Chair: Paul Fryer, University of Eastern Finland 


The ongoing global pandemic of 2020-21 has raised many questions about the future of continuing global and regional integration. Even before the devastating impact of the virus that elicited varying degrees of border closures, economic shutdowns and societal isolation and distancing, many other challenges such as climate change, unlimited travel and much-debated ‘waves’ of refugees and immigrants raised questions about the viability of our globalised societies. Even in the long-integrated Nordic region, the questions of immigration, international travel, joint labour markets and everyday realities of border communities were severely impacted by the sudden bordering of the Nordic and other nation states. This panel invites speakers who wish to discuss the future of globalisation and regional integration considering these challenges. What is the new ‘normal’ post-pandemic integrated Europe? Is a borderless world still possible or desirable?

10. The urban and the rural -(two) stories of multiplicity

Organizers: Per Göransson, Karlstad University and Sofia Billebo, Karlstad University 

Chair: Per Göransson, Karlstad University 


Urbanization as the normative path of human life at global scale has created space for a multiplicity of geographies within and across place and space. The planetary processes of spatial re-organization for the individual and the collective, both locally and globally, stress the importance in knowing how human life interplays with the notion of the urban and the rural. In a globalized world, the organization and spatial distribution of population in one locality still requires other types of social, economic, and environmental spatial activities in another. Urbanization, as relocation of individuals, also connects to the production of various types of ruralities such as agricultural landscapes and wildernesses. In turn, these activities relate to various issues from individuals everyday lives to the categorization of nature and non-nature. In other words the rural and the urban are separate yet connected. 

The spatial processes of urbanization and globalization create changes which unfold both on a personal and societal level. These changes have a lasting social and political impact on human life as well as on how spaces are produced and reproduced. This leads to an increasing importance in the understanding of the everyday struggles, potentials and choices that are made in different spaces.

In this session, we seek to understand how these planetary processes influence human lives and how these spatialities are lived, organized, politicized, negotiated, and felt. The multiple challenges the world is facing in relation to climate change, loss of biodiversity as well as political and economic instability, create the possibility of polarization. In a polarized world, geography is essential to understanding the processes of human lives, as people create a sense of belonging and meaning in relation to their localities. 

By working with the above themes of spatial variation, multiplicity, and processes in space, we seek to engage with new forms of the multiple geographies of urban and rural studies in the Nordics and beyond. In this session we welcome researchers specialized in urban or rural studies as well as those focusing on topics intersecting these concepts in various fields such as ecology, politics, migration, urban and regional planning, art and emotional aspect of human life lived in urban and rural spaces. 

11. From centralisation to decentralisation? Reevaluating space and scale in sustainability transitions

Organizers: Maija Halonen, University of Eastern Finland and Irene Kuhmonen, University of Jyväskylä 

Chair: Maija Halonen,University of Eastern Finland 


Sustainability transition is currently on the agenda of almost all policies, strategies and roadmaps envisioning the future pathways of the developed economies. It implies a fundamental shift of the contemporary fossil-based economy towards an economy based on circular and renewable materials, in order to address the current sustainability challenges from climate change to biodiversity loss and environmental degradation. In terms of cyclic behaviour of economic development, sustainability transition can be seen as the driving mechanism or basin of attraction for a new economic wave that is assumed to radically transform the ways of acting, values, and policies as well as the positions of current industries and livelihoods. Judged by their resource-base and socio-economic metabolism, a fossil-based economy has a centralised form. The fossil-based economy is based on accelerating economies of scale driven by abundant and cheap energy, and results in a steep divide between cores and peripheries. An economic model based on circular bioeconomy differs decisively from this fossil-based model due to the nature of its resource-base. Transition to a circular bioeconomy can thus imply a radically different, decentralised trajectory, which can open up a window of opportunity for the rural and peripheral areas and decentralised actors especially in resource-rich regions abundant in the Nordic countries. However, as the previous transitions have shown, the diffusion of new solutions is nothing but straightforward or consistent. The practical solutions and impacts can be expected to vary between different localities in terms of their natural, constructed or human resources, the heritage of the development, their power and market relations, online and transportation connections––within and across a certain spatial economy. Moreover, divergent views and interests anticipate conflicts which are likely to divide actors and localities into winners and losers rather than create win-win configurations. So far, the research on sustainability transitions and geography of transitions has focused on urban or regional dimensions in general, but only touched upon the role of different kinds of rural and peripheral areas with few exceptions. Even though the need for a radical structural transformation of societies is acknowledged, this understanding does not seem to extend to the spatial configurations of the social systems. We argue that sustainability transition might entail such structural changes that affect the relationships between cores and peripheries, the rural and the urban, and ultimately disrupt the economic model that leads to extreme forms of centralisation and accumulation benefits. Therefore, in this session, we invite empirical, theoretical and methodological contributions that address the spatial and scalar dimensions of sustainability transitions. 

Some of the key questions we wish to explore include, but are not limited to: 

  • What are the roles of the rural areas and peripheries in sustainability transition? 
  • How should the research on sustainability transitions address the scale of transitions, especially in the continuum from centralisation to decentralisation? 
  • How does the changing socio-economic metabolism affect the structural configurations of social systems? 
  • What kind of power contestations are likely to arise in the course of the transition? 
12. COVID-19, second homes and the development of Zoom-towns 

Organizers: Olga Hannonen,University of Eastern Finland, Katri Pitkänen, SYKE and Dieter Müller, Umeå University 

Chair: Olga Hannonen,University of Eastern Finland 


The outbreak of the world pandemic has drastically changed ways of and forms of everyday mobilities and travel. National borders have been closed and except compulsory work-related and emergency travel, every other mode of relocation has been classified by national governments as non-essential mobility. The advice to limit any non-essential travel has come with the shift to remote work and a digital leap towards place independent work. These developments are also reflected in the rural-urban interactions.  

The pandemic outbreak has facilitated domestic and international rural escapes, making rural lifestyles more attractive, and (perceived) safer in different parts of the world. In particular, second homes have become a centre of attention during the first waves of the pandemic. The rush of the urbanites to rural areas raised heated debates about potential health risks to local residents and pressure on the social and healthcare system. Nevertheless, second home sales and rentals all over the Nordic countries and world are peaking as people are investing in a safe getaway.   

Advised and/or required remote work during the first wave of the pandemic facilitated the rural exodus and has created “getaway communities” and “zoom towns” in the areas that were previously considered as vacation getaways. In Finland, among others, the popularity of second homes in Finland combined with remote work has developed a new type of domestic tourism - etätyömatkailu or remote work travel, in which private and rental cottages in rural areas have becoming popular for longer getaways.   

This session invites empirical and theoretical papers on various facets of interrelation between COVID-19 and the rural and urban. We welcome discussions on the following questions:  

  • Does the interest towards second homes and the development of zoom-towns signal a new trend towards counterurbanisation?  
  • Is the peak only temporary or does it signal a new normal in leisure mobilities in favor of domestic short-haul and close-to-nature destinations?  
  • Does it imply “new” rural and urban futures? Do changing mobilities trigger a restructuring of how rural areas are consumed? 
  • Is the urban-rural nexus in change and what kind of mobility patterns does COVID-19 create in relation to being remote and having a second home? 
  • Does COVID-19 create new regional disparities favouring certain rural areas, only?

Other perspectives on second home tourism, both in domestic and international context, travel and remote work, urban-rural mobility and relocation during COVID-19 are welcome as well.  

13. Sustainable transformation through the lens of rural-urban divide and synergies 

Organizers: Brita Hermelin, Linköping University, Daniel Keech, University of Gloucestershire Margareta Dahlström, Karlstad University 

Chair: Brita Hermelin, Linköping University 


This session invites papers on sustainable transformation that integrates this topic with discussions on rural-urban divide, rural-urban relations, and/or rural-urban synergies. We welcome researchers from different disciplinary and cross-disciplinary specialisations and hope to gather papers with different approaches and focus. Papers may be related to how models for collaborative governance or networked governance combine local and extra-local relations and to how aspects of multi-locality of population, agency and organisations impact rural-urban synergies for sustainable transformation. Papers may address the ways in which discourses of sustainable development are urban or rural biased and become unevenly relevant for those environments. This refers to varying concepts and models for sustainable development such as foundational economy, smart specialisation, food production and food systems, societal risks and resilience.

We invite papers that expand on the discussions about methods for knowledge development – for instance transdisciplinary knowledge production – and innovative methods for planning – for instance living labs, with relevance for the topic of rural-urban divide and synergies.

14. Developing earthly attachments in terrestrial crises

Organizers: Edward H. Huijbens, Wageningen University & Research and Martin G. Gren, Linnaeus University

Chair: Edward J. Huijbens, Wageningen University & Research


This session is premised on the understanding of the present as a state of interwoven terrestrial crises, including the looming prospect of a catastrophic earthly near future for the human species. The aim is to explore the development and significance of an Earth-oriented progressive approach fostering planetary wellbeing and inclusive terrestrial societies.

In this session we challenge presenters to articulate earthbound geographical perspectives that engage with all kinds of earthly attachments under these terms of planetary crises. The session will thereby examine the ways in which the concept of the Earth can appear in various guises and as a source of political, social, and cultural mobilization in times of the climatic regime, and how the Earth may contribute to the creation of a regenerative planetary common that could engender both humans and more-than-humans. Engaging with multiple articulated geographically variegated earthly agencies the session will probe and inspire ways of making spatial sense of our earthly attachments and planetary predicament. Both conceptual and empirical papers are welcomed, but all should critically address questions around the need, and possibilities for, mapping and reconfiguring earthly attachments that can help us to navigate our present planetary state, including not least the climate emergency.

Papers are thus invited offering perspectives ranging from geopolitical geographies of uncertainty, hope and belonging to those drawing conclusions from somber research findings of our current state of terrestrial crises.

15. Localising welfare. Public facilities, social equity and community building

Organizers: Ebba Högström, Blekinge Institute of Technology and Lina Berglund-Snodgrass, Blekinge Institute of Technology and Maria Fjellfeldt, Blekinge Institute of Technology

Chair: Ebba Högström, Blekinge Institute of Technology


In this session, we invite empirical and theoretical contributions for discussing the localising of public ‘welfare facilities’, (e.g. facilities for care and support of the elderly, people with disabilities and small children, facilities for education; supported accommodation for asylum-seekers and immigrants, facilities for communal use such as community centers, libraries and youth clubs).

We focus both on the preconditions for localising such facilities in the urban landscape, including ideas in relation to urban restructuring, gentrification, urban renewal, NIMBY-processes, and the social consequences of the localising for individuals (e.g. access, recognition, pride ) and for the long term social sustainability of the wider community. We are interested in contributions that tackle localisation of welfare facilities in their historical, contemporary and, possible, future dimensions.

Traditionally, welfare facilities such as hospitals, schools and alike have been located in the midst of the urban (and rural) fabric, occupying prominent places, and seconded by high quality architecture. Today, the welfare facilities landscape appears as dispersed and somewhat elusive as one, for example, finds new purpose-built schools located centrally in new urban developments, retrofitted in derelict industrial buildings in the outskirts of housing districts, or located in generic office spaces, as one among many exchangeable tenants, while facilities for care and support purposes often appear architecturally insignificant, and disregarded locational-wise.

In the post-war era in the Nordic countries, welfare facilities played an important role in the development of the welfare state (e.g. common laundry rooms, community centers, libraries, schools), used as ‘tools’ in the overarching neighborhood planning paradigm for conveying democratic values and promoting social equity.

Localising welfare includes both spatial/geographical and administrative/legal dimensions. It also includes a multitude of actors as well as – over time – shifting responsibilities, from e.g. state responsibility to local and/or regional, or third- and private sector – making localising a complex matter of interactions and collaborations. What welfare facility is localised where and on what ground? What political decision-making process has framed the localising strategy? Which social inequalities and/or stigma will be brought to the fore by a certain choice of location? What effects do we see in the way localisation strategies are formulated for these different kinds of societal institutions? How will that affect citizen’s sense of belonging, identity and sense of community? Localising welfare is a truly geographical question, however, at the same time, questions about collaborations between actors with different agendas and strengths put the social justice question to the fore. For example, while one group has powerful stakeholder representatives acting as advocates for their cause, others stand merely alone with weaker voices.

In addressing the topic in this broad vein, this session seeks to chart the geographies of localising welfare facilities in the Nordic context. We welcome proposals taking on board welfare facilities localisation from many perspectives and angles (e.g. discourses, legal aspects, stigmatisation, political dimensions, fringe-belts, buffer zones, left-over spaces), but also as decision-making processes regarding urban development and regeneration and/or public spending. We welcome both theoretical and empirical papers looking into the role of localising in the nexus of spatial structures and socio-political processes.

16. The Politics of Parks and Recreation

Organizers: Erik Jönsson, Uppsala University; Lisa Larsson, Uppsala University and Thomas Wimark, Uppsala University

Chair: Erik Jönsson, Uppsala University


Parks illuminate a number of key questions and debates for geographers. At the national scale particular landscapes are said to represent the nation in national parks, while at the local scale pocket parks can offer refuge in dense inner-city environments. Park planning has been, and remains, tied to place-marketing, property speculation and green gentrification. But parks simultaneously often offer environments where people can spend time without necessarily spending money, as well as places to which people feel attached. Furthermore, parks can both refer to enclosed greenspaces, in Victorian style parks, and more open spaces, common in a Scandinavian tradition. Originally referring to land that was not publicly available, such as royal game reserves, parks have from the late 18th century onwards often either been made publicly available or produced for the public. Consequently, parks have become important platforms for a variety of activities, from large-scale political rallies, to festivals, and everyday recreation. At the same time, both those designing park landscapes and those devising park rules have frequently had clear ideas concerning what kind of publics that would be welcome, the kind of public life that parks should spur, and the kind of subjects that would consequently emerge. Unintended behaviours have thus continuously been pruned in parks. But rules and regulations have never succeeded in fully deciding what people do in parks. Actual park usage has therefore often been a combination of proscribed and unintended behaviours, partly correlating with parks’ shifting diurnal and nocturnal dynamics. Meanwhile in urban political ecology, parks have become illustrative focal points for scrutinising the political role of greenspaces in cities, and the ways that these spaces are struggled over. In policy discourse and environmental planning, parks have simultaneously become prominent focal points within ecosystem service strategies, for example as protection against urban heat islands, as spaces for outdoor recreation, or as surfaces suited for managing urban runoff. In this stream we invite papers engaging with different aspect of parks and recreation, from any theoretical perspective. Above all, we hope to spur a fruitful discussion on the governance, practice and meaning of urban parks, from a historical and contemporary perspective.

17. Housing in Crises: A European Perspective, COVID-19 and Beyond

Organizers: Defne Kadioglu, Institute of Urban Research, Malmö University and Myrto Dagkouli-Kyriakolglou, Institute of Urban Research, Malmö University

Chair: Defne Kadioglu, Malmö University


Taking into consideration the three consecutive crises of 2008 (the global financial crises), 2015 (the so-called refugee crisis) and the current pandemic (a public health crisis), which all had differential effects on the European housing market, we explore the implications of “crises” on housing and its diverse dimensions. Housing financialization and commodification was exacerbated during the turbulent period of the GFC. New disruptive housing trends emerged under austerity, increasing precarity and sharpening housing inequality.

In 2015, the arrival of a new wave of migration from the Middle East and North Africa was not only instrumentalized by populist, alt-right movements across Europe, but also laid bare the fact that we are not experiencing housing shortage across the continent, but a lack of affordable housing. Just as the political and academic debate turned to the question whether we are finally in a post-crisis/post-austerity era, a new crisis, possibly even more impactful than the previous ones, is adding new challenges. COVID-19, as the previous crises, has disproportionally hit the working class, immigrants and part of the precarious middle-class in European cities, rendering visible the intricate link between housing and public health. On the one hand, this has led to even more punitive, racist and exclusionary measures and discourses targeting neighborhoods inhabiting the urban poor. On the other hand, critical voices arguing against further privatization, deregulation and financialization are becoming louder. These contradictory tendencies are indicating that we might be at a crossroads, prompting the question how public and private housing regimes and markets will develop across Europe in the upcoming decade.

With this question in mind, and taking into consideration developments on European housing markets since 2008, we seek to address the following topics:

  • Crises as enablers for financialization and other novel housing trends (short- term rentals, Golden Visa in Southern Europe)
  • Housing and welfare state in crises
  • Housing/rental debt and crises
  • Temporary rent regulations during moments of crises (eviction-stops, subsidies etc.)
  • Gendered and/or racialized dimensions of the housing crises
  • Crises in refugee settlements and migrant communities
  • Informal housing and informal housing arrangements under crises
  • Housing struggle during crises/ crises as opportunities for radical change

We particularly welcome papers with a comparative perspective.

18. Mobilising, producing and contesting transport and mobility from below: NUMTOTs, metrophiles, revolutionaries

Organizers: Wojciech Kębłowski, Vrije Universiteit Brussel & Université libre de Bruxelles and Wladimir Sgibnev, Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography

Chair: Wojciech Kębłowski, Vrije Universiteit Brussel & Université libre de Bruxelles


While transport and mobilities are multi-layered and complex phenomena, research into transport continues to be dominated by economistic and technocratic approaches geared towards efficiency and rationality. This, supposedly, justifies the predominantly top-down fashion in which transport is designed, produced and managed (Kębłowski & Bassens, 2018). We would, however, advance that mobility should also be viewed as a site of bottom-up interests and contestations organised by diverse social actors, groups and movements. Many of them approach transport as a means of discussing broader patterns of uneven regional development, struggle for more democratic decision-making and appropriation of space in Global North and South (Armano et al., 2013; Barghouti, 2009, Larrabure, 2016), and propose governance alternatives. We argue that embracing bottom-up actors opens up pathways towards researching mobility as intense and intimate sites for encountering cultural diversity, negotiating normativities, shaping mobility futures, and bringing socio-economic cleavages into the spotlight of academics and practitioners alike – all what makes public transport a truly public and collective endeavour.

This conviction builds on an expanding body of critical literature in transport geography and mobilities, which situate movement in the context of space and power (Sheller & Urry, 2006; Kwan & Schwanen, 2016). In this vein, we side with approaches conscious of how class, race, or gender shape mobility practices, alongside social relations and contestations. This includes an exploration of regulatory frameworks, divergent logics and discourses of governing mobility, and the capacity of citizens and workers to participate in shaping transport policies (Timms et al., 2014; Rekhviashvili & Sgibnev, 2018).

With this in mind, we invite contributions addressing any of the following underlining themes and objectives: 

  • Not only to criticise prevalent technocratic and a-political transport policies, but also to augment the conceptualisation of transport by emphasising its aesthetics, normativities, political economies, complexity and non-linearity;
  • To learn how diverse bottom-up actors engaged in transport pursue (conflicting, normatively understood) goals in environmental, economic, political or spatial/social justice terms, and which conflicts, structures and actor constellations are involved in this process;
  • To expand spatial and ethnographic analyses of bottom-up transport and mobility actors across scales (urban/rural/local vs. trans-local/international) and across geographical contexts, including transport consultants and lobbyists, passengers, workers, activists, NGOs, enthusiasts, collectors, online forum participants, or public intellectuals;
  • To understand which ideologies, assumptions, knowledge inequalities govern our ideas of present and future mobilities;
  • To critically reflect on the “publicness” of public transport as a particular type of transport mode, as compared to other forms of “collective” and “commoned” mobilities;
  • To empirically explore experiences, normativities, contestations, self-positionings and knowledge flows, and their roles for the construction of different policy trajectories, and (lack of) attempts at socially and environmentally just mobility transitions.
19. No austerity, new austerities, Nordic austerities? Comparative geographies of health and social care in pandemic times

Organizers: Ed Kiely, University of Cambridge and Sander van Lanen, University of Groeningen

Chair: Ed Kiely, University of Cambridge


The Covid-19 pandemic consists of three entangled crises; economic, social and fiscal. Firstly, the global economy has plunged into its worst recession for a century, with deleterious consequences for labour and knock-on effects for physical and mental health. Secondly, an unprecedented public health crisis resulted in soaring death rates and the suspension of day-to-day operations, pushing health care systems in many countries to the brink of collapse. Thirdly, tax revenues have collapsed just as these shockwaves necessitate vast increases in social spending. Together, these economic, social and fiscal crises have seen states dismantle and remake health and social care systems in Nordic countries, and around the world. Across much of Europe, the 2008 financial crisis was followed by a wave of austerity. A discourse of ‘virtuous’ belt-tightening (Wilkinson & Ortega-Alcázar, 2019, p. 156) was one of the more visible modalities of austerity. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the mood seems different: the cheerleaders of deficit reduction have failed to make their voices heard while governments throughout Europe came out to spend money on income support, health care, and to keep businesses afloat. Yet this current silence does not mean that austerity is absent. Cuts and budgetary restraint are shuffled around the different arms of the state; processes of state rescaling ‘dump’ fiscal crises on different geographic levels of government (Gray & Barford, 2018, p. 558; Peck, 2012). Critics of austerity policies have often turned to the ‘Nordic model’ of social democracy as an alternative, whether celebrating Iceland’s decision to jail bankers or arguing for Scandinavian income distribution and public service provision (Bergmann, 2014). Post 2008, the idea of Scandinavian difference shaped alternative visions on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet Nordic countries also implemented austerity (Hansen & Mailand, 2013; Huijbens & Þorsteinsonn, 2017; Nyby et al., 2018), while some scholars have even argued that Nordic states are entering a ‘post-welfare’ phase (Baeten et al., 2015, p. 209). Within this phase, once-generous Nordic welfare states are diminished through exposure to the market, and the devolving of welfare provision and financial pressures to local government – a process defined by Peck (2012) as austerity urbanism (Baeten et al.,2015). What can previous crises tell us about the current one? Has Covid-19 driven austerity from Nordic (and European) polities? Or are new austerities lurking within states’ responses? This session takes a comparative approach to health and social care geographies in the time of Covid-19. We welcome proposals which respond to these questions, or to themes of austerity, fiscal crisis and state rescaling in relation to health, wellbeing and social care. This could include case studies centring on Nordic countries, comparisons between Nordic countries and/or other geographies, and theoretical and/or speculative pieces.

20. Analysis of flows, dynamics, and accessibility

Organizers: Ossi Kotavaara, University of Oulu and Olli Lehtonen, University of Eastern Finland

Chair: Ossi Kotavaara, University of Oulu


Individuals, regions, and nations are more urbanised and networked, as well as dependent on mobility and transport than ever, from local to global scales. Our use of time and activity in environments follows deeply the routines of work, education, residence, leisure and consumption. New data sources give opportunities to scrutinise larger patterns and individual perspectives related to mobility, accessibility, physical activity, logistics and travelling more deeper than ever. Analytical perspectives serve urban and regional planning, social and environmental sustainability and economy.

Presentations related to ideas, results, development, methodology and critical thinking in this context are invited form all the fields of geography, geoinformatics and cartography.

21. Future health geography and geospatial health

Organizers: Olli Lehtonen, University of Eastern Finland

Chair: Olli Lehtonen, University of Eastern Finland


Health geography is a timely field globally and in the Nordic world. Firstly, the population in Nordic countries is ageing, which increases the need for health care services. Additionally, one part of the population has concentrated in metropolitan areas and other large cities while the other part has dispersed in more sparsely populated rural areas, creating challenges for organizing health care services now and in the future. Secondly, the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic have generated interest and need for health geographical research. This session invites contributions to the following themes including, but not limited to:

  • What kind of health inequalities exist between population groups and different regions?
  • How can geospatial and other geographic approaches, such as space-time patterns and cluster detection, be utilized to tackle health issues?
  • How to use innovative geospatial technologies to reduce health care costs?
  • How are pandemics, such as COVID-19, spreading and how do they affect different population groups and their movement patterns?
22. Advances in GIS and open source approaches

Organizers: Eliisa Lotsari, University of Eastern Finland and Nora Fagerholm, University of Turku

Chair: Eliisa Lotsari, University of Eastern Finland


Geographical Information Systems (GIS), including also approaches of remote sensing, geospatial analyses and modelling methods, have experienced great enhancement during the early 21st century. Recently, the development of the GIS has particularly related to the advances of technology, but also to the increasing amount of open source softwares and open data. Thus, the open source nature of the softwares has enabled increasing amount of developers to take part into advancing these methods and their application in topics related to both physical and human geography. Along with these developments, database management and data security require attention. Recently, GIS has become more and more close to everyone and as part of everyday life and geomedia. This session consists thus on two themes,

1) the prospects of methodological advances of GIS and open source approaches, but also the

2) challenges related to the developments.

Therefore, this session invites presentations about the latest advances in GIS methods, but also about the opening of the data for research and applications in both physical and human geography. Also, the presentations related to the encountered difficulties on the way towards open source methods and data are welcomed. Thus, talks related to the application of these advanced GIS methods and data are invited from any fields of geography.

23. Climate mobilities

Organizers: Päivi Lujala, University of Oulu and Eeva-Kaisa Prokkola, University of Oulu

Chair: Päivi Lujala, University of Oulu


Human mobility is both a consequence of climate change and one possible means of adapting to climate and environmental change. Climate change and related environmental hazards and predicted to increase in the future. The World Bank report Groundswell (2018) on climate mobility highlights three regions that are particularly vulnerable to climate change: Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Without concrete climate and development efforts, up to 143 million people in these regions may be forced to migrate due to progressing climate change. The narrative of climate mobilities that heralds a major migration from the Global South towards the Global North is often repeated by politicians and media. Research shows, however, that the majority of climate-induced mobilities will take place within the countries, whereas cross-border mobilities to the Global North usually result from complex socio-economic stress situations and conflicts. The fact that the most vulnerable regions to climate change and increasing environmental hazards are located in the Global South does not mean that the Global North or the Nordic countries do not need to bear any responsibility in addressing challenges related to climate change and climate mobility. Contrary, there is an urgent need to improve our understanding and knowledge about how Northern societies and countries in partnership with other actors can support climate-vulnerable regions, countries, and their populations. Which mechanisms and approaches best enhance adaption, migration with dignity, and resilience? How can climate-vulnerable communities and communities hosting climate migrants be supported? How can sustainable development be ensured in this context? For this session, we invite paper proposals that empirically or/and theoretically explore how climate mobility can be addressed from the Nordic countries’ perspective. The possible topics – in relation to climate mobilities – include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Agriculture, food security, and displacement
  • Nature based solutions
  • Involuntary immobility
  • Social stress and vulnerability
  • Human security and resilience
  • Host societies and communities
  • Urban planning and adaptation
  • Climate justice and activism
  • Development work international relations and governance
  • Role of media and education
  • Cross-border migration and migration to the Global North
24. Reconjugating recreational and residential mobilities in the North: How COVID-19 is changing the ways we move (in) the landscape

Organizers: Nik Luka, McGill University and Mattias Qviström, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Chair: Nik Luka, McGill University


COVID-19 has layered itself onto the climate emergency and social polarisation, arguably changing everyday mobilities at various temporal scales. This session explores empirical and/or theoretical questions concerning resource-efficient, just, and sustainable mobilities in the Nordic countries and in the northerly Anglo-American world (the UK and Canada). How is the pandemic is reshaping everyday social practice (including changing atttitudes to walking, cycling, and public transport as well as motoring) and longer-term housing careers (how individuals and households enact strategies of residential mobility, i.e., how they choose where to live vis-à-vis services, workplaces, and amenities)? Some mobilities have garnered more attention than others in both scholarship and public policy; home-to-work commuting and active transportation are high on many agendas, yet recreational mobilities seem to be 'poor cousins' receiving much less attention---notably in OECD countries, where discretionary travel accounts fora great many journeys. This is especially true for studies of (sub)urban landscapes, in which everyday recreational mobilities are encouraged (or not) by existing contextual affordances, both material and immaterial in nature. We wish to (re)conjugate these questions with renewed interest in residential mobilities, including so-called 'amenity migration'. Our session thus seeks to address three overlapping sets of concerns and questions:

  1. On how instrumental (planning) ideas of 'walkability' for public health intersect with everyday behaviour in diverse contexts---including urban, suburban, and periurban settings---where decisions about how to move within and through the landscape are not primarily driven by routine patterns of commuting to and from places of work... How are expectations of local amenity and the 'milieu de vie' changing as more of our daily lives are centred on the dwelling and the very notion of a fixed 'workplace' is being challenged?
  2. On how changing patterns of use and satisfaction vis-à-vis residential mobility that seem to express the imperative of 'social distancing' in the built environment, including the widely-observed surge in demand for second homes and larger dwellings in dispersed suburban/periurban settings following decades of policy measures encouraging 'densification 'and 'compactness'... How are decisions about when and where to move house being transformed because of the pandemic?
  3. On how the State should respond to new recreational and residential mobilities, given current debates on public health and wellbeing as well as infrastructure provision, energy budgets, and social justice... How are 20th-century notions of the Welfare State being revisited and brought once more to bear on shaping everyday landscapes in terms of how people move around in space?

Central to our discussions will be matters of seasonality---the effects that long, severe winter conditions can have on how people situate themselves in space (often dwelling through multiple places)---and the need to get beyond utilitarianist functionalist policy perspectives to also focus on the ways in which people engage in movement for pleasure at various temporal and spatial scales, i.e., the importance of the experiential qualities of landscape and how these are changing because of concerns over vector-borne diseases such as COVID-19.

25. Towards resilient cross-border regions

Organizers: Teemu Makkonen, University of Eastern Finland

Chair: Teemu Makkonen, University of Eastern Finland


This session aims at shedding light upon the question of how resilient cross-border regions are to sudden disturbances in socio-economic conditions. Examples of such disturbances (or shocks) are the restrictions on border permeability of people, goods and knowledge caused by the EU-Russia sanctions, Brexit and Covid-19. In economic geography cross-border integration is commonly perceived as a linear process proceeding towards a state of increased interaction, which, in turn, is perceived as something positive. Border scholars object to this linear notion set by economic geographers and remind that at times the role of border can be decreased (e.g.Schengen) and at times reinforced (e.g. reinstated border control). This discussion leads to the concept of regional resilience defined, within economic geography, as the capacity of a region to withstand or recover from shocks. The aim of this session is to extent the concept to the border context to tackle, conceptually and analytically, the issue of how vulnerable border regions are to shocks in border permeability and cross-border cooperation. Participants from various geographical backgrounds are encouraged to present both conceptual papers but also empirical ones that utilize or combine data from, for example, document sources, statistical databases, interviews, and surveys. Thus, the session recognizes the importance of both qualitative and quantitative methods in tackling the issue. The contemporary macro-political climate and the impacts of Covid-19 underlines the timeliness of the topic, which will be of high significance to the 1) academic community, 2) for policymakers in border regions interested in their regions’ future in terms of sustainable (economic) growth and 3) at the EU-level when designing EU-cohesion policies and cross-border cooperation. Thus, the participants are also encouraged to discuss the wider positive societal implications for recovering from the negative impacts of border-related shocks (such as the Covid-19) on border regions.

26. Shrinking regions as welcoming spaces: Opportunities and challenges of attracting migrants for revitalizing rural Regions

Organizers: Marlies Meijer, Utrecht University and Bianca Szytniewski, Utrecht University

Chair: Marlies Meijer, Utrecht University


For this panel we are interested in contributions that focus on international (non-EU) migrants in rural and depopulating regions. International migration has been a typical research topic in urban and metropolitan areas. Lately, this topic is however receiving attention in rural areas as well. Not only do we see an increasing number of cases reported about international migrants making a living in the rural periphery, but we also see that these cases lead to new directions in studies on migration and rural areas (Aure, Førde, & Magnussen, 2018; Hedberg & Haandrikman, 2014; Hedlund, Carson, Eimermann & Lundmark 2017; Bock, Osti & Ventura 2016; Nienaber & Roos 2016). Recently Michael Woods (2018) coined ‘rural cosmopolitanism’ as a new perspective on rural areas and international migration; and Janine Dahinden (2019) calls for a ‘de-migrantization’ view, based on her research after migrants in the rural periphery. As a panel we would like to bring together the diverse views on studying migration in relation to the revitalization of rural shrinking regions. The panel is related to a new Horizon 2020 project called ‘Welcoming Spaces’. Its point of departure are existing examples of ‘welcoming spaces’ for migrants – refugees and other migrant groups – in ‘shrinking regions’; regions that are undergoing demographic and economic decline in Europe. Initiatives for (co-)creating ‘welcoming spaces’ and building new types of government-citizen-migrant engagements are often citizen-driven. However, these initiatives can equally be the outcome of efforts by local governments, NGOs, businesses, or they can be migrant-initiated. Going against ‘antimigration’ currents, initiatives are often highly contested. Their success seems to depend on combinations of collective action, multi-stakeholder collaboration and novel approaches in governance. Given the local scale of most of these initiatives, the dispersion in space and political sensitivity, much of what is happening around these ‘welcoming spaces’ remains under the radar. The possibilities for upscaling (research after) such initiatives are hence under-explored. This panel aims to answer the following question: How can revitalization, inclusive and sustainable development in shrinking regions be achieved while providing opportunities for migrants to build meaningful lives? The panel welcomes research papers on topics including, but not limited to, the following themes:

  • Empirical papers analysing (cases of) international migration in shrinking regions, including perspectives of the wider (rural) community, local governments, businessesand of course migrants themselves. We are interested how this leads to novel governance approaches, collective action, multi-stakeholder collaborations, new economies and other ways of revitalizing shrinking regions.
  • Theoretical papers on diverse aspects related to migration and community development in rural and shrinking regions. We are especially interested in emerging and alternative (conceptual and theoretical) views on migration and rural studies.
  • Papers that foster discussion and reflection on methodological issues.
27. Messy smart cities: Comparative perspectives and methodological challenges 

Organizers:Lorena Melgaço, Lund University , Claudia Fonseca Alfaro, Malmö University, and Chiara Valli, Malmö University

Chair: Lorena Melgaço, Lund University


Critical scholarship on smart cities has rapidly grown in the past years. From studies of smart imaginaries and discourse to the challenges posed by technocratic governance and neoliberal governmentality (Söderström et al., 2014; Vanolo, 2014), scholars have problematized the use of big data and its impacts on privacy (Kitchin, 2014) and highlighted the dangers of corporate interests shaping the design and planning of cities (Hollands, 2008, 2015). Turning to the global South, scholars such as Ayona Datta, Nancy Odendaal, and Vanessa Watson have looked at how the smart paradigm seems to ignore the basic infrastructural needs of local communities through a reproduction of Eurocentric models of modernity and development. Gillian Rose (2017), on the other hand, has drawn our attention to how the smart city reproduces a white male-centered model that privileges already mobile groups and hinders local forms of agency and governance.

The literature has also focused on highlighting the methodological shortcomings and knowledge gaps within the field. Emphasizing the difference between imaginaries and implementation, Shelton et al. (2015) ask us to ground and situate projects in time and space to study the “actually existing smart city” and understand what the actual effects are on, for example, the everyday, housing, planning, etc. Following a similar line of argument, the work of Kitchin (2015) and Luque-Ayala and Marvin (2015) highlight the need for more case studies and comparative research not only from locations in the global North but also the global South. The latest research has begun to fill this knowledge gap. Examples include a) an edited volume by Karvonen, Cugurullo and Caprotti (2019) Inside Smart Cities: Place, Politics and Urban Innovation which includes several empirical cases from the global North and South, and b) the Special Issue Worlding smart cities: Towards global comparative research which addresses the concerns of postcolonial urban studies and tries to fill the gap in comparative research. However, work remains to not only continue addressing these concerns, but also expanding our lens of research to medium-sized cities and rural areas.

We invite theoretical or empirical contributions that carry out comparative approaches or address methodological/epistemological challenges to understand the messiness of smart cities. We welcome contributions which discuss, but are not limited to, the following questions:

  • How do we carry out comparative research between smart examples across and between the global North, global South and global East?
  • What are the methodological challenges of implementing comparative approaches?
  • How do we carry out the epistemological and methodological process of “worlding” the smart city?
  • What are the forms of the “actually existing smart city” in the global North and South?
  • How does the actually-existing smart manifest in medium-sized cities or rural areas?
28. Forests and capital in the urbanizing Nordics

Organizers: Eija Meriläinen, University of College London and Ville Kellokumpu, University of Oulu

Chair: Eija Meriläinen, University of College London


The fabric of capitalist urbanization (Brenner 2012) has engulfed the Nordic state spaces. While there are differences between the countries, the general tendency particularly in Finland and Sweden has been to steer resources towards densely-populated urban areas, with the sparsely-populated rural areas serving as “sacrifice zones” (c.f. Klein 2015) whose nature can be exploited to fuel the economy. The reductionist rural-urban dichotomy captures poorly the present configurations of Nordic capitalist urbanisation, where various types of cities, towns and country sides co-exist. The relationship between rural and urban is rather a continuum than a dichotomy. Yet the increasing polarization of material realities across this continuum explains to a degree the political polarization between different regions on matters ranging from conservation to voting behaviour. From the perspective of livable Nordic futures, there is a clear need for radical political visions, but the understandings of the material basis of the economy and visions for sustainable society diverge heavily across society. A key contradiction propelling both the political crises of polarization and ecological crises, is the contradiction between the knowledge-based economization of urban areas and the resource economization of rural areas. Thus, state spaces are being divided and developed through two distinct economic logics: one increasingly premised on “immaterial” growth, the knowledge economy and global financialization and the other on cheap nature fixes through mining and bioeconomy booms. The former is typically associated with “urban” and the latter with “rural”. Transnational supply chains further obfuscate the interconnections between land, production and consumption that bind the rural and urban into an extractivist political economy. In this session we strive to imagine alternative Nordic political economies through a focus on forest use politics. The session explores diverse connections between Nordic forests, capital and urbanization. Forest use is framed as a key threat and source of hope amidst climate change and ecosystem collapses. Historically, the forest industry has been a central capital fraction in the Nordic countries and it has occupied a pivotal role in terms of state economic policies, export-led growth and regional development. Current forest bioeconomy models also have spatial implications for rural/urban relations. The debate about the future of forest use has been active in the Nordics in recent years. For instance, the forest fires catalyzed debate in Sweden in 2018, while in Finland climate change together with alterations to forest legislation have served to animate the discussion. Despite the debate, the current visions for Nordic forest use remain connected to capitalist futures where the dichotomy between the rural and the urban is not resolved, and forests remain commodified either as protected forests to be enjoyed, or as tree fields to be extracted. We welcome various contributions that analyse the politics of forest use in and across the Nordic countries, ideally connecting the topic into the broader theme of urbanization and/or (alternative) political economics.

29. Cultivating urban agriculture: Assessing success

Organizers: Geneviève S. Metson, Linköping University; Rebecca Laycock-Pedersen, Blekinge Institute of Technology; and Giles Redding Thomson, Blekinge Institute of Technology

Chair: Rebecca Laycock-Pedersen, Blekinge Institute of Technology


As the majority of people come to live in cities, urban agriculture has taken up a more important place insustainable city discourses. In addition to its capacity to contribute to food security, especially with regards tofresh fruits and vegetables, urban agriculture can have positive social, economic, and environmental outcomes.However, a body of critical work is emerging highlighting that while these positive outcomes have been demonstrated in some cases, in other cases urban agriculture can be a tokenistic expression of sustainability, and one which benefits the sensibilities of the elite more than the environment or society at large. It is vital that we have a better understanding of what contributions urban agriculture can actually make to wellbeing and a justurban sustainability if it is to be taken seriously. In order to meet these ideals and maximise desired benefits it is essential to track outcomes over time. Without information on performance it is not possible to adapt management practices. Similarly, without monitoring, learning from other projects and locations is challenging. Inparticular, rapidly growing and large cities of the Global South often have more experience with diverse forms of urban agriculture from which the Global North could learn a great deal from. For instance, many cities in North America have put forth that using temporarily vacant land for urban agriculture solves two problems at once: limited land availability and the unattractive nature of vacant lots. However, experiences in some areas of the Global South would indicate that insecure land tenure which actually one of the barriers to sustainable management and taking full advantage of urban agriculture. Goals and outcomes are different in different parts of the world, however without assessing impact within and as it relates to specific contexts, it will be difficult toenable cross-context learning. To address this need, several tool kits have been developed to assess urban agriculture and the sustainability of urban food systems. These initiatives show considerable promise, but to date their uptake is not commensurate with the apparent demand and need to assess urban agriculture, and it is unclear why this is so. As more cities invest in formal urban food system planning with urban agriculture as a fixture, it becomes even more important to select and measure indicators that can support nimble investment and policy adaptation. In this session we will critically discuss how the impact of urban agricultural and food initiatives have been, or could be, assessed. The focus is on exploring this issue through the pluralistic nature of geographic sub-disciplines, and case study cities, because urban food system plans and projects are diverse and multifunctional. We welcome theoretical contributions, but also encourage empirical contributions using quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods, especially contributions that consider impact assessment in multiple ways, including through pluralistic epistemologies and methodologies, as well as both process-oriented and outcome-oriented assessments. Questions related to the process of impact assessment, how such assessments serve a purpose and for whom, as well as the barriers to assessment are also welcome.

30. Nordic Geography Education: Educational continuum from school geography to higher education and continuous learning

Organizers: Sanna Mäki, University of Turku and Minna Tanskanen, University of Eastern Finland

Chair: Sanna Mäki, University of Turku


Geography is taught as school subject and at universities all over the world. It has evolved from travel stories and depictions of regions and cultures into a sharp and modern discipline and school subject that has tools for both theoretical and practical analysis of wide range of world phenomena, processes and regions. However, education must constantly evolve to better meet the changing requirements for knowledge and competences at the society and the access to learning must be improved. Far too little research data is available to support the development of education, and it often seems that even big educational changes are made based on inadequate data and understanding and the consequences cannot be sufficiently predicted. Our session invites the Nordic community of geographers to collaborate in research and knowledge-based education development. We are especially interested in the continuum of education from basic education to continuous learning. We invite presentations on education-related research, educational innovations and development ideas related to all levels and all aspects of education.

The presentations can vary in topic, form and strategy. You can for example:

  • Present a research paper or tell about interesting preliminary results of your research
  • Share interesting observations from interaction with a group of students, pupils or professionals attending your courses
  • Present novel methods for teaching or supporting learning processes with special focus on distance learning
  • Present your ideas to improve assessment
  • Share your analysis of challenges or needs and ideas for improvements in teaching-learning environments
  • Tell about your experiences in participating educational development or administrative processes such as student admission, curriculum design, degree programme development, employability skills development, open university teaching and so on
  • Share your insights about the educational system and the roles and goals of different levels of it.

The form of the presentation may vary depending on whether you want short comments on it or spark a genuine discussion. The main goals of the session are to learn from each other and find opportunities.

31. Emergent practices of social distancing and its critical consequences for cities and housing

Organizers: Maja de Neergaard, Aalborg University Copenhagen and Marie Stender, Aalborg University Copenhagen

Chair: Maja de Neergaard, Aalborg University Copenhagen


Among the global responses to the Covid-19 pandemic were for societies to take on new measures of hygiene and for humans to practice social distancing in order to stay safe. In this session, we wish to encourage contributions and discussion that reflect on such different measures of staying safe and their impact on the constitution of cities and dwellings, housing markets and urban-rural interrelations.

One of the dominant ways of staying safe is to practice social distancing and, most manifestly, to stay at home. However, early into the pandemic we were confronted with how staying home is not necessarily a means of staying safe; while schools and day care institutions were closed, numbers of domestic violence grew. This is a critical testimony of the extensive power relations that plays out in the home and we shall recall it here as a manifestation of the impossibility of drawing any simple boundaries between home and away, safe and unsafe, private and public, inside and outside. Inhabitation practices are made-up of myriad relations between humans and non-humans, things and places many of which may exist far beyond the individual dwelling in both time and space. As some habits change, others are affected too, and the balancing act that inhabitation involves, become suddenly visible – and perhaps vulnerable.

During the past year, practices of staying safe have emerged, and perceptions and uses of the home and the city has undergone change. In this session, we wish to use the pandemic as a critical case that have brought to attention distinctive features of seemingly well-known phenomena and/or introduced indications of changes that question present norms in the built environment. For instance, while modern architecture and urban planning promoted separate spaces and division of functions, recent decades have favoured multifunctional spaces, sharing functions and mixed use in both domestic and urban space. Meanwhile, during the pandemic and the practice of social distancing, these features have become synonymous with danger of contamination. Other examples are contemporary values of downscaling, co-housing (collectives, senior-housing etc.) and small living. The motives for these are usually associated with consuming less, joining forces and/or accommodating to exuberant housing prices in the cities. Such engagements does not fit the idea of a singular household in a closed-off home that is currently reflected in the notion of staying safe.

Finally, the pandemic has been a reminder of the major role hygiene played in the early development of the industrialized city as well as to the modern home with its sanitized kitchens and bathrooms. The pandemic has reinserted the importance of hygiene and cleanliness in our awareness of the city and the home and have again become an important dimension of everyday life. What are the consequences of this re-insertion and is it likely to affect the future development of the city and the home?

32. Rurbanity in Nordic landscapes

Organizers: Raili Nugin, Tallinn University and Hannes Palang, Tallinn University

Chair: Raili Nugin, Tallinn University


The dichotomy of the rural and the urban is one that has been cultivated and reproduced for a long time. One concept is defined by the other and their contestation affects everyday practices, biographical decisions and even institutional arrangements and political agenda. The concepts have long been in the focus of geographers in different research contexts. This session, however, is interested in the mingling of the two and calls for contributions that theorise and inquire empirical data through the prism of rurbanity. Rurbanity (Masuda & Garvin 2008) here is understood not only as a territorial indication, but also includes fusion of practices, movement, lifestyles, interactions, assemblages, hybridities etc. Thus, we call for papers that would assess enacted and experienced rural-urban differences and coexistences. This can include community relations, mobilities, narratives, mnemonic practices, heritage management, landscape change, bordering dynamics, institutional reforms, ruralisation of the urban as well as urbanisation of the rural. We encourage the papers to delve on the following questions:

  • Do we still have rural and urban landscapes or is it more beneficial to tackle them as rurban landscapes as the logic behind their operation is similar?
  • How has the development of mobilities changed the structural and spatial processes in rural and urban areas?
  • Do these mobilities reproduce the concepts and make them more distinct or do they blur the conceptual borders between the two?
  • What are the relations between everyday practices and the rural/urban conceptualisation?
  • How are the recent social and technological developments affecting the community relations in the context of the rural/urban borders?
  • How are the people sensing these borders?
  • How are migration processes shaping the understanding of the rural/urban borders?
  • How are the contemporary urban elements shaping the rural everyday and what rural elements are affecting the urban lives?
  • How have institutional reforms been shaping the urban/rural dichotomies?
  • How much have institutional regulations been driven by these opposites?
  • How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected the rurban dynamics?
  • Have the borders between rural and urban sharpened or blurred? Why?
33. Varieties of Nordic Neoliberalisms: Changing Urban Political Economies in Northern Europe 

Organizers: Lina Olsson, Malmö University and Özlem Çelik, University of Helsinki

Chair: Lina Olsson, Malmö University


The various ways that cities and city-regions are reshaped politically, socially, and spatially by the forces of contemporary global capitalism constitute a key research area in geography. Since the 1980s, there has been a growing literature on what roles cities and city-regions play in adopting neoliberal policy, and adapt to, as well as support, local and global processes of accumulation. Involving analysis of global cities, city boosterism, urban entrepreneurialism, urban governance, glocalisation, state rescaling, and austerity urbanism, the emergence of new forms of local and regional governing has been extensively covered in the literature on geographies of neoliberalism, and also in the recently growing literature on the geographies of financialisation. While processes of neoliberalisation in Nordic cities and city-regions are covered in a small but growing body of literature, studies on what role Nordic welfare states and the Nordic tradition of local autonomy and political alliances play in facilitating neoliberal transformation and forming specific Nordic varieties of neoliberalism are strikingly few. Internationally, the Nordic welfare states are often regarded to represent examples of the success of the welfare-state model, with steady economic development combined with extensive redistribution and a strong focus on sustainability. This view on the Nordics prevails not only in policy circles and media but also within the academic community. Reflecting this, there is a tendency to view Nordic forms of urbanisation and urban governing as an exemplary. Yet, the forces of global capital circulation and neoliberalisation are increasingly at work also in the Nordics, giving a reason to question the hampering capability of the Nordic welfare model and to explore how it contributes to facilitate neoliberal urbanisation. This session invites papers adopting a critical approach to urban political economy to scrutinise and offer interpretations that flesh out the neoliberal urban transformation in the context of the Nordic welfare states at the national, regional and local scales. We welcome contributions on a broad array of topics, in particular, but not limited to contributions focusing on varieties of urban entrepreneurialism, restructuring of the local state, state rescaling, sustainability, and financialisation of built environment, including housing, real estate, and infrastructure. We encourage also the submission of papers dealing with less covered topics, such as social reproduction, the local state, climate adaptation, resistance, and struggles against neoliberalisation, and less covered geographies, such as urban hinterlands and rural areas.

34. Racism and far right in times of crises: The political ecology of the far right

Organizers: The Zetkin Collective, Sonja Pietiläinen, University of Oulu and Ståle Holgersen, Uppsala University

Chair: Sonja Pietiläinen, University of Oulu


Far-right political parties, ideologies and social movements are increasingly exercising influence across the world. At the same time, ecological crises, such as climate change, deforestation, land use change, biodiversity loss, pandemics and toxic waste are intensifying in their urgency. What happens when the two phenomena meet? How, when and why do they intersect?

In the recent and authoritative Oxford Handbook of the Radical Right (2018), chapters covered a range of themes such as media, gender, youth, violence, euroscepticism and globalization, to name a selection – yet the topic of ecology was absent. Likewise, in Cas Mudde’s (2019) recent survey of ‘The Far-Right Today’ ecology was invisible. Histories of fascism have analyzed past dark green connections with racialized Malthusian thinking, eugenics, conservation, and blood-and-soil romanticism (Armiero & Graf Van Hardenberg, 2013, Uekötter, 2006). Building on the emerging literature on such interactions (Zetkin Collective, forthcoming 2020, Forchtner ed. 2019) we ask: what of far-right environments today and their genealogies? How does this relate to crises? And how can we study this intersection within the discipline of geography?

In this session we want to discuss the role of racism and the far right in relation to various crises. The escalating climate crisis is our point of departure, but we welcome contributions on other ecological crises – as well as how these intersect with economic crises.

What is the role of the far right in climate denialism? In what ways are the far-right capturing and re-orientating environmentalist discourses in new unholy alliances between green and xenophobic, nativist ideologies? How can we understand the causes of far right rejection of mainstream environmentalism where it occurs? What might the implications be for ecological futures if far-right parties continue to amass power? How can the climate justice and other environmental movements and anti-racist, anti-fascist activists ward off the spectre of green nationalism and its greater extremes? Possible topics include:

  • Environmental history of green ideas in far-right politics, scenarios of a far right ecological future
  • Historical role of far right in various moments of crisis: ecological, economic, social.
  • Ecofascism, bio-nazism, green nationalism, role of religion
  • Climate denialism/climate change, fossil fuels and the far right
  • Covid-19, the far right, conspiracies and racism
  • Racism, xenophobia, nature, conservation, ecology, landscape, wilderness and far right
  • ‘Cultural marxism’, conspiracy theories and the environment
  • Gender, sexuality, the far right and environment (eco, hegemonic or industrial masculinities, anti-feminism, normative heterosexuality, patriarchy)
  • Renewable energy, veganism, vegetarianism, animal rights, agriculture, toxic waste, land use change, biodiversity extinction, etc and the far right
  • Environmental science, epistemology and the far right
  • Spatialities of (anti)-fascism, political geography of the far-right, authoritarianism, populism, alt-right
  • Industry links, capital and funding for alt right and links with environment
35. Lively terrains and matters of care in socioecological transformations

Organizers: Tarmo Pikner, Tallinn University

Chair: Tarmo Pikner, Tallinn University


Actualities about troubled living environments and calls for sustainable Europe and better planet are constantly expressed. Emergent crises render visible differentiated agencies of change and of maintenance along Anthropocene era. Earth-centred design is seen as an aspect of sustainability transition. These and similar dynamics trigger a general issue that how presented actualities of facts relate and became translated into embedded matters of care about actual and contingent transformations. ‘Care’ as concrete work of maintenance includes ethical and affective implications in complex life-sustaining processes, which could be allied to nature cultural relations (Puig de la Bellacasa 2018). These relations situated in the middle of socio-ecological transformations reveal differentiated agencies and temporalities in coping with change. There is challenge to approach emergent spatiality as affective terrains beyond land territories (Peters et al. 2018, Amin and Thrift 2013). Climate change becomes linked to diverse vulnerabilities as riskscapes having temporal implications through politics of scaling. Uncertainties are tackled, for example, through commoning and interscalar stewardship. The relationships between urbanisation and deep time are important for understanding global environmental change (Gandy 2018).

This session will address these issues through theoretically and empirically informed approaches in context of Nordic terrains and beyond, which can (but not limited) elaborate following sub-themes:

  • Commoning dynamics and shared environmental matter
  • Multiplicity of care entangled with terrains, landscapes and more-than-human assemblages
  • Associations between urbanities and non-city
  • Rethinking scales in sustainability transitions
  • De/territorialisation of risks and everyday
  • Maintenance and nature-culture relations in shrinking cities/towns
36. Farming, farmers, and food: transformation towards sustainable and resilient agricultural livelihoods

Organizers: Annika Pissin, Lund University and Pontus Ambros, Uppsala University

Chair: Annika Pissin, Lund University


Large-scale, industrialized, monoculture/annuals-based, high-external-input-dependent, and global-market-oriented corporate agriculture has turned food production into one of the largest drivers (by some accounts, the largest driver) of unsustainable global environmental change. While experts call for a rapid paradigm shift towards multiple mosaics of soil-regenerative, low-and-local-input, diversified, and perennial-based agroecological systems, enhancing the role of small-scale farms in providing food for local/regional markets, there is barely a trace of any corresponding shift in agricultural policies. Barriers to sustainable and resilient agricultural livelihoods appear to grow, rather than diminish, not least in the Nordic countries, which have experienced rapid structural change in recent decades towards large-scale industrialized farming. Yet multiple social movements, the emergence of new markets, and growing interest in alternative food systems create conditions supportive of sustainable and resilient small-scale farming. Farmers who practice diversified, regenerative, and local-knowledge-based ways of farming face an array of obstacles, but many persevere, and resist pressures to scale-up and industrialize. This session welcomes papers that critically address issues surrounding the entrenchment of industrialized agribusiness and its environmental, social and economic consequences as well as papers analyzing ways to transform agriculture into a sphere of activity conducive to sustainable and resilient livelihoods. This includes, for instance (but not only), research that relates transformation of agricultural livelihoods to: small-scale farming in a specific region, food security, agricultural local knowledge systems, community-based agriculture, agricultural social movements, degrowth, corporate agribusiness, the CAP, urban farming, or the now so topical matter of agriculture in the rise of pandemics.

37. Health and well-being from nature

Organizers: Riikka Puhakka, University of Helsinki and Kati Pitkänen, Finnish Environment Institute

Chair: Riikka Puhakka & Kati Pitkänen


The concept of planetary health acknowledges the complex and inextricable links between human health and the health of natural systems. It focuses on understanding the human health impacts of human-caused disruptions of Earth’s natural systems, such as biodiversity loss. In urbanized societies, possibilities for everyday connection with diverse natural systems has decreased. This has caused concern over the alienation from nature and the need to rethink the multiple human-nature relationships. Meanwhile, nature contacts are increasingly recognized as positively contributing to our psychological, social and physiological health and well-being. Interaction with nature has been shown to increase self-esteem and mood and contribute to attentional recovery and the reduction of mental fatigue. Natural environments and shared nature experiences provide an opportunity for social interaction and strengthening of bonds within families and communities. Contact with nature alleviates the negative effects of various stressors in urban environments and encourages people to exercise. Exposure to natural systems is also associated with benefits to the immune system, which can reduce the risk of immune-mediated diseases. Previous studies linking population health with natural environments have demonstrated positive associations between neighbourhood green space and measures of health and well-being. Outdoor recreation has become crucial in providing nature contacts in the urbanized societies. Natural environments have become valued primarily for the aesthetic and recreational experiences they afford. The concept of planetary health emphasizes the importance of nature for human health and well-being. In this session we are looking for papers that focus on the multiple relationships between natural systems and the human health and well-being. Research can target any user group and context and any form of contact with nature. Both quantitative and qualitative research papers as well as theoretical contributions are welcome. The complexity of the relationships between nature and the human health and well-being requires multiple geographies to provide the conceptual understanding and practical solutions to tackle the increasing health problems related to human-caused disruptions of natural systems.

38. ‘Autonomous’ Geographies

Organizers: Ilkka Pyy, University of Eastern Finland

Chair: Ilkka Pyy, University of Eastern Finland


The current global-capitalistic world order emphasises geopolitical relations as geo-economic interactions. Therefore, states are forced to restructure to meet objectives of competitiveness. For example, in Finland large structural reforms are, however, repeatedly rejected by Constitutional Committees as being contrary to the principles of local self-government. Social and health reforms are being proposed to be removed to the new provincial self-government level, paradoxically funded by state taxation. Legally, local/regional self-government is underpinned by the principles of independent tax-raising power, local democratic processes (e.g. local elections), as well as the subsidiarity principle upholding the decision-making rights of local authorities. The neoliberal economic ideology and (alt)right-conservative values would in turn challenge these principles in many ways, seeking greater individual autonomy to meet basic needs of freedom, independence, self-reliance, and dignity. Thus, on the one hand, state sovereignty and human rights in Europe are in conflict in the Schengen area through,e.g. newly constructed barbed-wire fences. On the other hand, civic associations, local development networks and neighbourhood groups (e.g. street patrols) around the world seek to carry out public works in those areas ignored by authorities. Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic provides increasingly ground for populist nationalism and other excluding identity politics as well as structural tension between levels of decision-making and implementation of restriction policies. Autonomy is a topical theme at the personal to global scales, but does geography have anything to add to what specialists of politics, administration and law already contribute to this field of research? The working group welcomes both theoretical and empirical contributions that highlight new geographical perspectives on the continuing development of autonomy or expand the geographical view of self-governance. The unifying and underlying idea of the working group is as follows: the analysis of regional self-government should develop to include the analysis of increasing individual autonomy (’citizen self-governance’).

39. Nordic legal geography

Organizers: Päivi Rannila, University of Turku and Michael Jones, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Chair: Päivi Rannila & Michael Jones


Legal geography is on the verge of becoming an established field of human geography in the Nordic countries. Although the term ‘legal geography’ has not appeared widely in Nordic university geography, many scholars have addressed relations between law and spatial patterns although not necessarily being labelled as ‘legal geographers’. There is lacking an overview of earlier scholarly work and of the current state of Nordic legal geographical research. Legal geography includes theoretical, methodological and empirical approaches to studying the significance of legal institutions for ways in which people make use of and exploit their geographical and social environments. Legal institutions include formal law, common law, customary law, and legal practice. Legal issues have appeared, for instance, within historical geography, critical human geography, urban studies and planning, and feminist geography, dealing with a diverse set of questions concerning rights, responsibilities, properties, restrictions and carceralities. These offer up to now underutilised conceptual and methodological possibilities for addressing current social, cultural and environmental challenges. We invite scholars from different philosophical and methodological backgrounds to present papers, and to discuss the diversity and specificities of Nordic legal geography. The session provides a good opportunity to network with other researchers.

40. Biopolitics and the geographies of tourism

Organizers: Maartje Roelofsen, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Joseph M. Cheer, Wakayama University and Benjamin Lucca Iaquinto, University of Hong Kong

Chair: Maartje Roelofsen, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya


This session wishes to bring together and explore scholarship on the geographies of tourism approached from a biopolitical perspective. Whilst the “management of bodies” has always been a constitutive part of tourism and its spatialities, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the emergence of entirely new states of exception and emergency regimes, geared towards tight restrictions and control over the mobility and embodied practices of millions of travellers and tourists. Debates in tourism over the “politics of life”, now more than ever, concern health and wellbeing at the level of the individual and population, not in the least because tourism has provided in many instances the socio-spatial conditions for the virus to spread. Yet, whilst tourism infrastructures such as hotels and cruise ships have functioned as vectors of the virus, they have also become essential spaces for quarantine and containment. Relatedly, this global crisis has provoked discussion on new forms of intervention imposed on bodily conduct and the associated practices of surveillance exercised by authorities and industry.

In this session, we invite both conceptual and empirical papers that incorporate biopolitics as a form of analytics. We encourage both a re-visitation of classical biopolitical approaches to tourism, as well as re-imaginations of biopolitics (conceptually and politically) that foreground forms of affirmative ethics. We also welcome papers that push beyond anthropocentric understandings of biopolitics and reflect on how the biopolitical operates on/with more-than-human lives in tourism. Examples could include the bio- and necropolitical dimensions of conservation-based tourism, or, the entanglements of pathogens, environments and tourists in biosecurity regimes. Moreover, what role will digital technologies play in the reconfiguration of relationships between hosts and guests and the related spaces and practices of hospitality? And more generally, in this session, we would like to think through how a biopolitical lens is useful to analyse practices and regimes of mobility, security, in/exclusion in the context of tourism. Particularly but not exclusively in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

41. Peatlands and environmental change

Organizers: Antti Sallinen, University of Eastern Finland and Franziska Wolff, University of Eastern Finland

Chair: Antti Sallinen, University of Eastern Finland


Peatlands, or mires, characterize boreal landscape and other areas where production of organic matter exceeds its decomposition. Peatlands include a diversity of biotopes and biota adapted to special natural conditions. The state of peatlands and environmental changes are strongly intertwined. Thus, changes of environmental conditions directly affect peatland processes and development. Particularly wetness and vegetation are exposed to anthropogenic, climatic, and natural changes. On the other hand, alterations in peatlands influence the environment, since peatland ecosystems act as carbon storages and are involved in various biogeochemical cycles including water, carbon, and nutrients. Peat deposits can be used as physical, geochemical, and biological proxies to reflect past changes in peatlands and their environment. On larger spatial scale, remote sensing methods can be used for change detection and to monitor ongoing transitions within mires.

This session encourages submissions from geography and related fields of research dealing with peatlands or their connection to changes in the environment.

42. Multidisciplinary understanding of Forest Dynamics

Organizers: Topi Tanhuanpää, University of Eastern Finland and Sonja Kivinen, University of Eastern Finland

Chair: Topi Tanhuanpää, University of Eastern Finland


Forests cover about 30% of Earth’s surface. From continent to continent, their role and extent varies significantly. However different the forests may be, they can all be reduced to a basic unit of a single tree. This range from vast, continent-level scales to single trees sets up the framework for studying dynamics of forests, trees, and phenomena directly linked to them. Forests play a central role in maintaining carbon balance and form special biotopes that host 80% of world’s terrestrial biodiversity. In addition to the biotic features afore, forest also affect human everyday life directly both physically and mentally. Humankind is bound to the dynamics between forests and human and thus also forest dynamics. This broad interpretation of forest dynamics is an essential subject in our time of climate change, mass distinction, urbanization, and population growth.

There are various paths for gathering knowledge on forests and trees. Common operational methodologies providing various map products from forested areas concentrate on detecting and characterizing the trees and forests themselves. Here, detailed field measurements and various remote sensing data are often paired when seeking answers to physical properties of forests. Similarly, numerous studies have shown the potential of combining human preferences and forest characteristics in solving multi-objective problems, concerning, e.g., forest management or value of forests to mental well-being in general and forests and green zones importance to the comfort of living in urban areas.

Identification, characterization, and monitoring of forest dynamics is crucial for tackling current and future forest-related challenges. Although wide range of techniques and applications have been introduced for collecting and interpreting forest-related data, there are still remarkable knowledge gaps concerning data needs of landscape-level ecological and anthropogeographical research. Multidisciplinary approaches enable fresh viewpoints for the common and widely studied phenomena, thus leading the way when solving wicked problems. For this session, studies aiming at providing new knowledge and solutions related to the diverse field of forest dynamics and human-forest interactions are particularly welcome.

43. Land cover changes in (sub-) arctic regions

Organizers: Mariana Verdonen, University of Eastern Finland and Timo Kumpula, University of Eastern Finland

Chair: Mariana Verdonen, University of Eastern


Arctic and sub-arctic regions are experiencing various effects of rapid climate change. Climate warming is expected to have consequences for vegetation, permafrost, snow cover, hydrology, herbivories, and human activities, for example. Both natural environments and human livelihoods are affected by these changes and their feedbacks. Understanding the physical processes and their (inter)connections that are taking place is essential to mitigate the impacts of changing climatic conditions.

Therefore, we invite contributions tackling land cover and land use change issues from perspectives of physical and human geographies as well as other related disciplines. Studies that use a multi-disciplinary approach (e.g. field, airborne and satellite remote sensing observations, participatory, laboratory and modelling techniques) are especially welcome.

44. Beyond numbers and algorithms – deep-diving into the platform-mediated gig economy 

Organizers: Natasha Webster, Stockholm University, Qian Zhang, Uppsala University, Linda Weidenstedt, The Ratio Institute, and Andrea Geissinger, The Ratio Institute

Chair: Natasha Webster, Stockholm University


Platform-mediated gig work services are rapidly transforming urban lives around the world. The rise of platforms dependent on largely expendable labour relations with significant migrant involvement – must be seen as connected to, and as replicating and maintaining, larger social divisions. Research on platform-mediated gig work has, to date, mainly focused on algorithm-based social control, degraded working conditions, problematic employment relations, and the overall precariousness of gig work. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has amplified these issues both due to an increased demand of gig-work services, increased unemployment, and due to the danger of infection, thus intensifying the vulnerability of gig workers.

What has been missing from the debate so far is an attempt to build a deeper understanding of the social processes in the various spaces and places underlying platform-mediated gig-work and to actively investigate how social inequalities are being produced and/or maintained in/by these processes. This session therefore urgently calls for intersectional and social justice perspectives to understand the platform-mediated gig economy in contemporary urban/suburban/rural space. We want to emphasize, on the one hand, the need for a stronger recognition of interrelated and overlapping social categories, such as gender and migrant status; on the other hand, the need to explore how social inequalities, as central to the construction of mutually constitutive systems of oppression and discrimination, are produced in and through the platform-mediated gig economy.

We welcome presentations from both Nordic and global contexts that empirically, methodologically and theoretically offer new ways of understanding the platform-mediated gig economy. Presentations may explore, but are not limited to, topics such as:

  • Motivations behind engaging in platform gig work, the role of platform gig work in livelihoods, and gig workers' social reproduction – both in relation to their own social life and urban/suburban/rural space and place.
  • Platform gig workers' experiences of work relations, as well as their work/life practices, work-life balance, and physical and mental health.
  • Digitalisation of/and in work, labour and production and consumption of socio-economic spaces and places
  • Theoretically driven research as well as research advancing methodological questions regarding how to study the impact of platform gig work on workers' lives.
45. Current Developments in Tourism Geographies

Organisers: Malin Zillinger, Lund University, and Jan Henrik Nilsson, Lund University

Chair: Malin Zillinger


Tourism development has seen heavy distortions due the pandemic since spring 2020. This pandemic has accelerated a number of development streams and research has seen a large number of publications related to this issue. Examples of research interest are the deep crisis of urban destinations, the perceived (non-) importance of sustainability, the growth of importance in VFR, and the upswing of regional tourism, expressed in neologisms like Svemester in Sweden. Also digitalisation is said to receive a push forward, both from the producer and the consumer point of view. But of course, all developments that have been pushed forward by the pandemic have existed before, too. What the pandemic has done is to strengthen a development that would have come anyhow, in one way or another.

This is an extensive and inclusive session that aims to illuminate current issues in tourism geographies from a range of different perspectives. We aim to collect research studies from a variety of views to see where there are points of contact, and where new sorts of questions can be asked. The session aims to be a stage for the presentation of ongoing and recently completed research projects in order for participants to keep up to date with current research in our neighbouring countries. Presentations can be related to the pandemic, or not. But one should be able to place them in the borderlands between tourism studies and geography. Both empirical and conceptual presentations are welcome. Possible themes are:

  • Urban tourism in transformation
  • The current upswing of nature-based tourism
  • The digitalisation of tourism
  • Travel information search
  • Tourism and the everyday
  • Tourism and risk perception
  • The intersection between tourism and leisure
  • Recent developments in business travel