Research projects

Urbanisation and Insecurity

We know it : the world is being urbanized at an unprecedented rate. VESPA’s primary role is to understand the impact of this urbanity on political processes. We define urbanity as a historic condition unequally distributed geographically. Certain regions are more densely urbanized than others. This historic condition, closely tied to processes of globalization, is characterized by strong interdependencies, an intensification and acceleration of mobility, and great unpredictability. The originality of VESPA’s approach resides in the epistemological and methodological questions it poses in reaction to the fundamental transformations of politics in contexts of accelerated urbanization. Indeed, modern social sciences have been closely associated with the State. They have serve to generate/cultivate knowledge about societies considered as fixed and recognizable entities. We used to identify problems within the confined limits of a country, and the knowledge produced was used to solve these problems. Yet, these premises were strongly contested in the 1980’s by postmodernism. They were shaken all the more so by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and by the financial crisis of 2008. The permeability of state borders and the unpredictability of the actors make evident the fact that the reality studied by the social sciences is not fixed.

This becomes obvious when we observe the city. The current era, we know, is characterised by strong interdependencies and cities play a central role in the circulation of capital, ideas, people, goods and information. On the micro-sociological level, the numerous interactions in the city are also interdependent and generate unexpected situations, which in turn get diffused rapidly in other cities through communication technologies. Think for example of the news of the French suburban riots in 2005 that circulated throughout the world and provoked similar events elsewhere. These interdependencies are difficult to govern ; they are unpredictable. The swiftness of these exchanges makes analysing them in terms of cost-benefit illusory. It seems more efficient to us to understand them by following the multiple directions of chain-reactions. This means that we must think of reality in all of its mobility in order to follow the actors in their experimentations, in the logic of their actions. How to can we learn this fugitive action ? How can we study the mobile individual ? How to can we capture what he feels in real time ? How can we seize the logic of his actions ? At VESPA, we are developing an epistemology of urbanity by capitalizing on three characteristics : mobility, the emotional load related to sensory stimulations, and interdependencies.

Urbanity, for us, is also the interface with “rurality” ; it is why we give particular attention to hybrid spaces, to peri-urban spaces. Our work explores more particularly the case of Vietnam. Indeed, Vietnam is characterised by a very dense network of artisan villages in the periphery of major cities ; these villages play a central role in current urbanization processes.

  • Youth-friendly public spaces in a context of rapid urbanization(in Hanoi)
    This interdisciplinary partnership brings together Canadian and Vietnamese researchers and the NGO HealthBridge to examine the use of formal public spaces in Hanoi in relationship to the needs of urban youth - See more at : http://www1.labovespa.ca/english/di...
    This interdisciplinary partnership brings together Canadian and Vietnamese researchers and the NGO HealthBridge to examine the use of formal public spaces in Hanoi in relationship to the needs of urban youth. - See more at : http://www1.labovespa.ca/english/di...
    This interdisciplinary partnership brings together Canadian and Vietnamese researchers and the NGO HealthBridge to examine the use of formal public spaces in Hanoi in relationship to the needs of urban youth. - See more at : http://www1.labovespa.ca/english/di...
    Participating in this project : J.A. Boudreau (INRS), L. Charton (INRS), S. Geertman (INRS), D. Labbé (U Montréal), Pham Thi Thanh Hien (UQAM), Thi Kieu Thanh Ha (HealthBridge), Nguyen Dang Anh (Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences), Olivier Jacques (McGill), Alice Miquet (U Montréal).
  • Urbanization Processes at Work : Mobility and Local Development( in Hanoi) Funded by the International Initiatives Fund of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, with Jean-Pierre Collin, Julie-Anne Boudreau, Mélanie Robertson, Ha Huu Nga and Nguyen Duc Truyen of the Sustainable Development Institute for the North (SDIN) of the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS).

 

VESPA in 360 News

04.2012 | Epistemological reflections

Presentation of VESPA. For an Epistemology of Urbanity

Pour une épistémologie de l’urbanité, Tokyo

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03.2013 | Publications en ligne [WWW]

Nathalie Boucher co-écrit : " 100, Somerville"

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