Key Dates

Abstract Submissions

Now Closed

PhD Symposium

28-29 November 2021

SOAC Conference
1-3 December 2021

City Economics and Economies  

Track Chairs: Carl Grodach, Declan Martin

Australasian cities have ridden a long wave of economic growth driven by the export of resources, international education, tourism, and immigration. Far from being equally shared, this growth has instead produced widening disparities within and between cities, suburbs, and regions. This is apparent in the contrasting fortunes of high amenity city centres and sprawling outer suburbs, as well as the boom-and-bust cycles of resource and tourist towns. Overheated urban property markets have progressively eroded job and land use diversity, putting pressure on scarce industrial lands for new housing and consumption space. Covid-19 has further laid bare the fundamental problems with urban economies driven by consumption and real estate development. Alongside concerns over the ongoing viability of dense city centres, the pandemic has pulled the curtains back on longstanding workforce inequalities. While high-wage professionals comfortably work from home, others must rely on precarious, part-time employment that depends on physical proximity.  

Despite many challenges, the pandemic has also called attention to cities as leading a green and just economic recovery. Responding to the challenges of climate change may deliver new jobs, generate innovations in renewable energy, and reduce our dependence on resource exports and offshore manufacturing. Are economic development strategies in Australasian cities capable of supporting economic resilience in the face of Covid-19? Can we plan urban property markets and infrastructure in a way that delivers access to a diversity of jobs, workspaces, and amenities? Can the planning system support economic growth while responding to rising sea levels and increasing heat and bushfire risk? This track welcomes papers, pre-organised panel sessions, and alternative research proposals that address the economic challenges facing Australasian cities and regions and develop strategies to support more resilient economies in the context of a warming planet and global pandemic. 

Reckoning with settler colonial cities 

Track Chairs: Libby Porter, Lara Daley, Michelle Thompson-Fawcett, Michele Lobo, Jamal Nabulsi 


How can we speak of the “State of Australasian Cities” without examining the conditions in which we are here, speaking? Reckoning with the complicity of the urban fields and professions with colonialism is long past due. Racism, coloniality and dispossession are the State of Australasian Cities. Yet cities are also spaces of Indigenous strength, survivance and connections with and as urban places. What does it mean to grapple with these complex realities? To speak about such matters, especially within a space like a conference, also demands a reckoning with questions about who can speak and how we are heard. Who is speaking and in what forms. 

Preparing this track theme demanded confronting some difficult questions. How to speak into the silence about race, coloniality, and dispossession in the urban fields - bring that silence to an end - without that being a further burden placed on those marked by the experience of colonial injury? Can white or non-Indigenous people do this work? Why do many of them/us avoid it? Should those who have to keep surviving that colonial injury be the only people to take on the vulnerability that comes with ending that silence? Are there ways of doing this work together, in solidarity, without losing sight of the power relations that structure this project or the accountabilities that power produces? 

These questions matter. But if our research and urban interventions continue as if colonialism is not a function of our urban histories and our imagined urban futures then the silence just keeps getting louder. If urban fields and professions fail to engage more broadly and deeply with urban Indigenous lives and knowledges, we will only continue to sideline and silence Indigenous voices. Choosing to remain silent is a practice of colonial power in and of itself. 

In this track, we refuse that silence and rise to the challenge of a reckoning. This track welcomes proposals for research papers, provocations, panel discussions, or other forms of knowledge sharing and creation related to: 

  • Understanding the conditions, mechanisms, practices and experiences of settler-colonial urbanism 

  • The praxis of addressing/sharing the burden of settler colonial injury – spaces of urban resistance, refusal and resurgence 

  • Piercing the silence – polyvocal, multilingual but also more-than-human literacy and storying. This can include digital echoes - images, videos, films (including 3D), zines, comics, artworks; also blogs, poetry, musings, sketches, maps, collages, experimental theatre, dance, songs 

  • Indigenous life, Indigenous cities and Indigenous radical thought and praxis 

  • (Un)settling the urban archive of genocide and ecocide 

  • Decolonising urban governance 

  • Undoing the violence of racial capitalism and extractive economies 

  • Experimenting with urban infrastructures of everyday and institutional racism 

  • Migrant voices of colour and the settler colonial city 

  • Listening and walking with urban Country – atmospheric, subterranean, oceanic, celestial, elemental, spiritscapes 

  • Solidarity in the city – forging bonds between diverse struggles 

  • The passion of anti-colonial dissent – emotion and urban resistance 

  • Settler colonial fragmentation – exploring ways in which the settler colonial city shatters lives as it renders others seamless 

City and Nature

Track chairs: Niki Frantzeskaki, Judy Bush 

Australasian cities are hotspots where increased urbanisation and nature collide, hotspots for threatened biodiversity and degradation. They are experiencing unprecedented pressures of climate extremes, including droughts, heatwaves and floods. The climate pressures require integrative urban solutions to re-connect people with nature, provide novel approaches to plan with nature, for nature and be inspired by nature. In this context of climate-proofing cities, research on nature-based solutions can showcase pioneering concepts and solutions/pilots on hybrids or integrative designs between nature-based solutions and grey infrastructure, and smart cities technologies. 

In this track, we invite urban researchers to contribute critical research on how to best ecologically design and maintain nature-based solutions in Australasian cities to sustain their potential in delivering multiple benefits. Contributions to this focal area will advance evidence on the understanding of nature-based solutions to urban climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as showing how by fostering nature in the city we can support well-being, social cohesion and appreciation of First Nations knowledge and culture. Through research from urban scholars focused on Australasian cities, the evidence can serve as a useful base to further research and inform NBS’ application across the world’s cities, especially those in fast-changing climate and rapidly changing urban fabrics and demographics. This track will be therefore an opportunity for researchers and practitioners to learn from each other, as well as position and present Australasian research on city and nature with global relevance. 

City Health and Liveability 

Track Chairs: Takemi Sugiyama, Melanie Lowe 


Creating healthy and liveable cities in Australasia is a major challenge, made more urgent by the current COVID-19 pandemic, population shift due to urbanisation, ageing, growing health inequities and climate change. City planning decisions made today will impact on the health of urban populations for generations to come. Many sectors are involved in shaping city health and liveability: urban design, transport, land use planning, housing, economic development, parks and recreation, urban agriculture, community services and energy/water management. This track will bring together academics, tertiary students, policymakers and practitioners from diverse disciplines to explore how our cities are impacting health behaviours, risk factors and outcomes, and how cities can be more resilient and equitable in the decades ahead. We invite researchers to showcase recent studies on city health and liveability and practitioners to present possible solutions, multi-sectoral engagement and best-practice examples to create healthy, liveable communities. This track will be an opportunity for researchers and practitioners to learn from each other and to build a collaborative relationship in which health-related research can inform the policies and practices of relevant sectors. 

City Movement and Infrastructure 

Track Chairs: Crystal Legacy, Laura Aston, Elizabeth Taylor  

Infrastructure is critical to achieving just urban and regional transitions. The intersecting crises of climate change and COVID-19 will likely position infrastructure at the centre of economic recovery and planning for climate justice. Everyday infrastructures such as energy, water, sewage, tele-communications and transport all need to play their part. Occurring alongside these crises are evolutions in smart technology, mobility behaviours and sharing economies that are already shaping Australasian urban infrastructures and movement. To nurture just transitions, attention needs to be placed on unsettling dominant knowledge systems through which to see infrastructure establish deeper connections with place, urban ecologies and diverse communities.  Our cities need big thinking, new conceptual and methodological practices, as well as research and advocacy to place just infrastructure transitions at the centre of urban and regional planning. To that end, this track welcomes research outputs that address these complex challenges. Topics include, but are not limited to:  

  1. Smart infrastructures and sharing mobilities; 

  2. Equitable infrastructures and mobility justice; 

  3. COVID-19 mobility and immobility;  

  4. Decolonising infrastructure knowledge;  

  5. Equitable and accessible infrastructures and mobility justice;  

  6. Climate just infrastructures;  

  7. Ethical planning of just infrastructures; 

  8. Pedestrian and active mobilities;  

  9. Public and common infrastructures; 


This track aims to provide a forum for cross-pollinating ideas on infrastructure and movement, as well as delivering constructive feedback on research-in-progress. We invite a variety of traditional and non-traditional research outputs including traditional research papers, provocations, workshops bringing together multi-faceted research projects and special sessions dedicated to recently published books. 

Urban Social and Housing  

Track Chairs: Ilan Wiesel, Wendy Stone, Karien Dekker, Kate Raynor 


Australasian cities' housing landscape and social and care infrastructures are adapting in response to rapid changes across many domains: population change and diversification; climate change and emergencies; the COVID19 pandemic with economic uncertainty and border closures; ongoing neoliberalisation, welfare state restructuring; digitisation and technological disruption; housing markets booms and busts; population ageing and generational change. This track seeks papers that address the following issues:


(i) housing affordability and its impacts on inequality, and social advantage and disadvantage;

(ii) urban sprawl and associated housing and social infrastructure needs across cities and regions;

(iii) homelessness, houselessness and crisis accommodation;

(iv) housing system reform, and the futures of homeownership, the private rental sector, and social and community housing sectors; (v); social and cultural diversity (gender, age, disability, Indigeneity, ethnicity, class and others) and its implications for housing and social/care infrastructures; and

(vi) transformative models of housing innovation. 

City Governance 

Track Chairs: Andrew Butt, Alan March, Annette Kroen, Alexandre Faustino 


Dominant modes of decision-making regarding city form and function are not easily disrupted.  Assumptions about the cultures of city life, the motives of powerful actors in shaping cities and city futures are embedded in socio-political discourses and may seem largely immutable. – However, cities do change, and our expectations of our cities and their form can change rapidly through disruptive processes: material, social, pandemical or environmental.  Presently, popular and political discourses in Australasian cities openly describe a need for transformation, for opportunity capture, and for a reconsideration of the norms of city life. Within this context, an apparent energy for new ways of doing things has emerged, with infrastructure investment, settlement geographies, attention to the environment and governance open for discussion. There is a need for critical reflection about how these new elements intertwine with dominant and traditional modes, as well as further enquiring what landscapes, structures and relations are being produced by these emerging sets of hybrid governance practices. The background challenges of social and environmental justice remain, and deserve more prominence, in debates on city governance, spatial distribution of services and benefit to citizens, and the responsibilities that various actors must take on. Questions emerge about the democratic deficit in city shaping investments, even when many ostensibly appear more people-centred. Whether the threads of solidarity apparent in the global and local resistance are sufficient to address institutional failure on climate and on justice in our cities remains unclear. The are many opportunities for scholarly research to reflect on these long-standing challenges, while considering if and how disruptive tendencies are emerging in a time of crisis and opportunity, and if they have longevity.