Projections of uncertain futures pervade public and political debates around the world. Spectres of natural disaster, disease outbreak, economic crisis, infrastructural breakdown and violent conflict persistently threaten to disrupt city life. Social, economic and political stability have become central concerns for urban governance, development and planning. With future projections, calculations and imaginings increasingly shaping space, politics and everyday life throughout the contemporary urban world, there is a political imperative to plan for and manage uncertainty. But with what effects, and for whom?
The launch of the Urban Uncertainty report explored these issues in the context of an LSE Cities research project led by Austin Zeiderman from 2012 to 2015. The research team, which included Sobia Ahmad Kaker, Jonathan Silver and Astrid Wood, incorporated anthropology, geography, politics and planning to focus on the environment, security, infrastructure and transportation in Latin America, Africa and Asia. It aimed to conceptualise uncertainty and better understand how, and with what effects, uncertainty interacts with and shapes urban life. The report launch involved a presentation of the project’s key findings by three of the lead researchers, commentary by Adriana Allen and a panel discussion chaired by Ricky Burdett.