The economy and life in pandemic times. A dialogue on a painful opportunity for thinking 724 1024 Barbara Del Mercato

The economy and life in pandemic times. A dialogue on a painful opportunity for thinking

29 September, 6 pm (Rome time) on Google meet (Click here to join)

Bill Mauer (School of Social Sciences and Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion, University of California, Irvine), and Luigi Doria (Department of Linguisticsand Comparative Cultural Studies and Center for the Humanities and Social Change, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. Moderator: Shaul Bassi.

Humanities, Ecocriticism and Multispecies Relationships – international conference 724 1024 Barbara Del Mercato

Humanities, Ecocriticism and Multispecies Relationships – international conference

September 28-29, 2020 (full program below)

Aula Magna Silvio Trentin, Ca’ Dolfin – Dorsoduro 3825/e Venice

The conference, organised by the Department of Asian and African Studies in collaboration with our Center and the University of Turin, aims to investigate the interface of sustainability, ecology and the environment as reflected in religions, literature and folklore of indigenous people of Southern and Northern Asia, the Americas, etc.

Is it possible to declare that forests think? Are the stones moving? Can the mountains do politics? Who can speak for the non-humans? All these issues are becoming more and more relevant in contemporary debates, as they inevitably merge into the most global concerns for sustainability and exploitation of the planet’s resources.

The scholars taking part in the conference are expected to propose a reflection on the diverse ways the relationship human / non human (plant, animals, spirits) is imagined, produced and articulated in different contexts. At stake are the emerging challenges of climate change and environmental issues scenarios as dealt with by the humanities.
The conference is intended as an event which aims to stimulate a new international debate on the issues of ecocritcism.

(full description on Ca’ Foscari University calendar)

Due to current health regulations, seats are limited. If you wish to participate in person, please contact prof. Stefano Beggiora at
To participate via Zoom, please register through this link . Online registration also requires the following passcode: 5w039k
Mindful of AI: Language, Technology and Mental Health 1024 683 Stefanie Ullmann

Mindful of AI: Language, Technology and Mental Health

Virtual Event – 01 & 02 October 2020


Workshop overview


Bill Byrne (University of Cambridge), Shauna Concannon (University of Cambridge), Ann Copestake (University of Cambridge), Ian Roberts (University of Cambridge), Marcus Tomalin (University of Cambridge), Stefanie Ullmann (University of Cambridge)

Language-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) is having an ever greater impact on how we communicate and interact. Whether overtly or covertly, such systems are essential components in smartphones, social media sites, streaming platforms, virtual personal assistants, and smart speakers. Long before the worldwide Covid-19 lockdowns, these devices and services were already affecting not only our daily routines and behaviours, but also our ways of thinking, our emotional well-being and our mental health.Social media sites create new opportunities for peer-group pressure, which can heighten feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness (especially in young people); malicious twitterbots can influence our emotional responses to important events; and online hate speech and cyberbullying can cause victims to have suicidal thoughts.

Consequently, there are frequent calls for stricter regulation of these technologies, and there are growing concerns about the ethical appropriateness of allowing companies to inculcate addictive behaviours to increase profitability. Infinite scrolls and ‘Someone is typing a comment’ indicators in messaging apps keep us watching and waiting, and we repeatedly return to check the number of ‘likes’ our posts have received. The underlying software has often been purposefully crafted to trigger biochemical responses in our brains (eg the release of serotonin and/or dopamine), and these neurotransmitters strongly influence our reward-related cognition. The powerful psychological impact of such technologies is not always a positive one. Indeed, it sometimes seems appropriate that those who interact with these technologies, and those who inject drugs, are all called ‘users’.

However, while AI-based communications technologies undoubtedly have the potential to harm our mental health, they can also offer forms of psychological support. Machine Learning systems can measure the physical and mental well-being of users by evaluating their language use in social media posts, and a variety of empathetic therapy, care, and mental health chatbots, apps, and conversational agents are already widely available. These applications demonstrate some of the ways in which well-designed language-based AI technologies can offer significant psychological and practical support to especially vulnerable social groups. Indeed, medical professionals have started to consider the possibility that the future of mental healthcare will inevitably be digital, at least in part. Yet, despite their potential benefits, developments such as these raise a number of non-trivial regulatory and ethical concerns.

This two-day virtual interdisciplinary workshop brings together a diverse group of researchers from academia, industry and government, with specialisms in many different disciplines, to discuss the different effects, both positive and negative, that AI-based communications technologies are currently having, and will have, on mental health and well-being.

Speakers & Structure of Event:

Thursday 1 October

Session 1: Social Media and Mental Health

Speakers: Michelle O’Reilly (University of Leicester), Amy Orben (University of Cambridge)

Session 2: AI and Suicide Risk Detection

Speakers: Glen Coppersmith (Qntfy), Eileen Bendig (Ulm University)

Friday 2 October

Session 3: From Understanding to Automating Therapeutic Dialogues

Speakers: Raymond Bond (University of Ulster), Rose McCabe (City, University of London)

Session 4: The Future of Digital Mental Healthcare

Speakers: Valentin Tablan (IESO Digital Health), Maria Liakata (Queen Mary University of London)

Detailed Programme



The workshop comprises four sessions. You can register for more than one workshop session. Please register for each of the four sessions if you wish to attend the entire workshop. Follow the links below to register for the individual sessions on Eventbrite:

Session 1: Social Media and Mental Health

Session 2: AI and Suicide Risk Detection

Session 3: Automating Therapeutic Dialogues

Session 4: The Future of Digital Mental Healthcare


Queries: Una Yeung (

Image by GaudiLab/

Economists in the City #7 1024 688 Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche

Economists in the City #7

Regions and Cities: Policy Narratives and Policy Challenges in the UK

by Philipp McCann

Many of the narratives that now dominate policy debates in the United Kingdom and Europe regarding questions of interregional convergence and divergence are derived from observations overwhelmingly based on the experience of the United States, and to a much smaller extent Canada and Australia (Sandbu 2020). These narratives often focus on the supposed ‘Triumph of the City’ (Glaeser 2011) and the problems of ‘left behind’ small towns and rural areas. Moreover, many debates about ‘the city’ – which immediately jump to discussions of London, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo, etc. – often have very little relevance for thinking about how the vast majority of urban dwellers live and work, in most parts of the world.

Unfortunately, however, the empirical evidence suggests that many of these narratives only have very limited applicability to the European context (Dijkstra et al. 2015). The European context is a patchwork of quite differing national experiences, and these types of US-borrowed narratives only reflect the urban and rural growth experiences of a few western European countries such as France, plus the central European former-transition economies (Dijkstra et al. 2013; McCann 2015).

Interregional divergence has indeed been a feature of most countries since the 2008 crisis and this is also likely to increase in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, but not necessarily in the way that these US narratives suggest. Indeed, it is important to consider these issues in detail because interregional inequality has deep and pernicious social consequences (Collier 2018), without necessarily playing any positive role in economic growth. Across the industrialised world there is no relationship between national economic growth and interregional inequality (Carrascal-Incera et al. 2020), and more centralised states tend to be more interregionally unequal and to have much larger primal cities. In the case of the UK, very high interregional inequality and an over-dominance by London has been achieved with no national growth advantage whatsoever over competitor countries.

Blackpool, Lancashire, England, UK. (Photo by Michael D Beckwith, wikicommons)

The problems associated with narrative-transfer leading to policy-transfer are greatly magnified in the UK due to our poor language skills, whereby UK media, think-tanks, ministries and media are only really able to benchmark the UK experience against the experiences of other English-speaking countries such as USA, Canada and Australia. Yet, when it comes to urban and regional issues this particular grouping of countries in reality represents just about the least applicable comparator grouping possible. These countries are each larger than the whole of Europe, they have highly polycentric national spatial structures, and they are federal countries, whereas the UK is smaller than Wyoming, is almost entirely monocentric, and is an ultra-centralised top-down unitary state with levels of local government autonomy akin to Albania or Moldova (OECD 2019).

These problems are now evident again in the UK in the debates regarding ‘levelling up’. When we think about the role of cities and regions in our national growth story, in the case of the UK it is very difficult to translate many of the ideas currently popular in the North American urban economics arena to the specifics of the UK context. The literature on agglomeration economies and also the widespread international empirical evidence confirms that cities are key drivers of national economic growth, and evidence from certain countries suggests that nowadays there are large and growing productivity differences between urban and rural regions.

Yet, in the UK case the evidence suggests that these patterns are only partially correct. Some very prosperous urban areas such as London, Edinburgh, Oxford, Bristol, Reading and Milton Keynes contribute heavily to the national economic growth story. On the other hand, many of the UK’s large cities located outside of the South of England underperform by both national and international standards and contribute much less to economic performance than might otherwise be expected on the basis of international comparators (McCann 2016).

What are the features of this under-performance? Firstly, in the UK there is almost no relationship between localised productivity and the size of the urban area (Ahrend et al. 2015; OECD 2015), especially once London is removed from the analysis, whereas positive city size-productivity relationships are widely observed in many countries. Secondly, there are only very small productivity differences between the performance of large cities and urban areas, between small cities and towns, and between urban areas in general and rural areas (ONS 2017). Indeed, many of the UK’s most prosperous places are small towns and rural areas while some of the poorest places in the UK are large cities. Thirdly, sectoral explanations play an ever-decreasing role (Martin et al. 2018) and interregional migration has remained largely unchanged for four decades (McCann 2016). Fourthly, a simple and mechanistic reading of Zipf’s Law tells us little or nothing about UK urban growth or productivity challenges in the UK. As such, many simple urban economic textbook-type analyses are of limited, little, or no use at all for understanding the UK regional and urban context, as are stylised discussions about so-called MAR-vs-Jacobs externalities, spatial sorting, or ‘people-based versus place-based’ policies.

The UK economy is one of the world’s most interregionally unbalanced industrialised economies (McCann 2016, 2019, 2020; Carrascal-Incera et al. 2020), characterised as it is by an enormous core-periphery structure. UK inequalities between regions are very high by international standards, and inequalities between its cities are also quite high by international standards, but less so than for regions. This is because of the regional spatial clustering, partitioning and segregation of groups of prosperous cities, towns and rural areas into certain regions (broadly the South and Scotland) and the regional spatial clustering, partitioning and segregation of groups of low prosperity cities, towns and rural areas in other regions (Midlands, North, Wales, Norther Ireland).

In particular, the differential long-run performance of UK cities by regional location is very stark. Obviously, there are low prosperity places in the South (Hastings, Clacton, Tilbury, etc.) and prosperous places elsewhere (Ripon, Chester, Warwick, etc.), but what is remarkable is the extent to which these exceptions are almost entirely towns. Indeed, many of the most prosperous places in the Midlands and the North are also towns, while the South also accounts for huge numbers of very prosperous small towns and villages. Unless our policy-narratives closely reflect the realities of the urban and regional challenges facing the UK it is unlikely that policy actions will be effective, and narrative-transfer from the US to the UK is often very unhelpful.

In the case of the current ‘levelling up’ debates these issues are especially important. Given the seriousness and the scale of the situation that we are in, our policy narratives should be led by a careful reading of the literature and a detailed examination of the data on cities (Martin et al. 2018), trade (Chen et al. 2018), connectivity and spatial structures (Arbabi et al. 2019; 2020) in the context of widespread consultation (UK2070 2020) and not on the skills of speechwriters or ideologically-led partisan politics. Brexit, alone, will almost certainly lead to greater long-term interregional inequalities (Billing et al. 2019; McCann and Ortega-Argilés 2020a,b), and Covid-19 is likely to further exacerbate these inequalities.

Our hyper-centralised governance set-up is almost uniquely ill-equipped to address these challenges, and while the setting up of the three Devolved Administrations along with the recent movement towards City-Region Combined Authorities are all steps in the right direction, a much more fundamental reform of our governance systems is required in order to address these challenges. These devolution (not decentralisation!) issues are the difficult institutional challenges that must be focussed on in order to foster the types of agglomeration spillovers and linkages that we would want to see across the country, whereby cities can underpin the economic buoyance of their regional, small-town and rural hinterlands.

A key test of this will be the design of the new ‘Shared Prosperity Fund’, the replacement for EU Cohesion Policy, which for many years had played such an important role in the economic development of the weaker regions of the UK. If the Shared Prosperity Fund programme and processes are devolved, cross-cutting in their focus, allow for specific and significant local tailoring, and are also long-term in nature, then this will be an indication that institutional change is moving in the right direction. But if this Fund is organised in a largely top-down, sectoral, centrally-designed and orchestrated fashion, and is also competitive in nature, then this will clearly indicate otherwise… Let’s see.


Ahrend, R., Farchy, E., Kaplanis, I., and Lembcke, A., 2014, “What Makes Cities More Productive? Evidence on the Role of Urban Governance from Five OECD Countries”, OECD Regional Development Working Papers 2014/05, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris

Arbabi, H., Mayfield, M., and McCann, P., 2019, “On the Development Logic of City-Regions: Inter- Versus Intra-City Mobility in England and Wales”, Spatial Economic Analysis, 14.3, 301-320

Arbabi, H., Mayfield, M., and McCann, P., 2020, “Productivity, Infrastructure, and Urban Density: An Allometric Comparison of Three European City-Regions across Scales”, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A, 183.1, 211-228

Billing, C., McCann, P., and Ortega-Argilés, R., 2019, “Interregional Inequalities and UK Sub-National Governance Responses to Brexit”, Regional Studies, 53.5, 741-760

Carrascal-Incera, A., McCann, P., Ortega-Argilés, R., and Rodríguez-Pose, A., 2020, UK Interregional Inequality in a Historical and International Comparative Context”, National Institute Economic Review, Forthcoming

Chen, W., Los, B., McCann, P., Ortega-Argilés, R., Thissen, M., van Oort, F., 2018, “The Continental Divide? Economic Exposure to Brexit in Regions and Countries on Both Sides of the Channel”, Papers in Regional Science, 97.1, 25-54

Collier, P., 2018, The Future of Capitalism: Facing the Anxieties, Penguin Books, London

Dijkstra, L., Garcilazo, E., and McCann, P., 2013, “The Economic Performance of European Cities and City-Regions: Myths and Realities”, 2013, European Planning Studies, 21.3, 334-354

Dijkstra, L., Garcilazo, E., and McCann, P., 2015, “The Effects of the Global Financial Crisis on European Regions and Cities”, Journal of Economic Geography, 15.5, 935-949

Glaeser, E.L., 2011, Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier, Penguin Press, New York

Martin, R., Sunley, P., Gardiner, B., and Evenhuis, E., and Peter Tyler, 2018, “The City Dimension of the Productivity Problem: The Relative Role of Structural Change and Within-Sector Slowdown”, Journal of Economic Geography, 18.3, 539-570

McCann, P., 2015, The Regional and Urban Policy of the European Union: Cohesion, Results-Orientation and Smart Specialisation, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham

McCann, P., 2016, The Regional and Urban Policy of the European Union: Cohesion, Results-Orientation and Smart Specialisation, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham

McCann, P., 2019, “Perceptions of Regional Inequality and the Geography of Discontent: Insights from the UK”, Regional Studies, 53.5, 741–760

McCann, P., 2020, “Productivity Perspectives: Observations from the UK and the International Arena”, in McCann, P., and Vorley, T., (eds.), Productivity Perspectives, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham

McCann, P., and Ortega-Argilés, R., 2020a, “Regional Inequality” 2020, in Menon, A., (ed.), Brexit: What Next?, UK in a Changing Europe.

McCann, P., and Ortega-Argilés, R., 2020b, “Levelling Up, Rebalancing and Brexit?”, in McCabe, S., and Neilsen, B., (eds.), English Regions After Brexit, Bitesize Books, London

OECD, 2015, The Metropolitan Century: Understanding Urbanisation and its Consequences, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris

OECD, 2019, OECD Making Decentralisation Work 2019, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris

ONS, 2017, “Exploring Labour Productivity in Rural and Urban Areas in Great Britain: 2014”, UK Office for National Statistics.

Sandbu, M., 2020, The Economics of Belonging, A Radical Plan to Win Back the Left Behind and Achieve Prosperity for All, Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ

UK2070, 2020, Make No Little Plans: Acting At Scale For A Fairer And Stronger Future, UK2070 Commission Final Report, See:

Philipp McCann is Professor of Urban and Regional Economics in the University of Sheffield Management School.

Other posts from the blogged conference:

Technology as a Driver of Agglomeration by Diane Coyle

Urban Agglomeration, City Size and Productivity: Are Bigger, More Dense Cities Necessarily More Productive? by Ron Martin

The Institutionalization of Regional Science  In the Shadow of Economics by Anthony Rebours

From Cities to Nations: Jane Jacobs’ Thinking about Economic Expansion by Cédric Philadelphe Divry

Cities and Space: Towards a History of ‘Urban Economics’, by Beatrice Cherrier & Anthony Rebours

Economists in the City: Reconsidering the History of Urban Policy Expertise: An Introduction, by Mike Kenny & Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche

Environmental Humanities: A View from Venice – Virtual Dialogues 1024 890 Barbara Del Mercato

Environmental Humanities: A View from Venice – Virtual Dialogues

From July 7 until July 31  the Center for the Humanities and Social Change (HSCVenice) posted every day a dialogue around the environmental humanities, across time, space, themes, and cultures. This series celebrates the launch of the first master’s degree in Environmental Humanities in Italy, at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and the amazing richness and variety of this academic field. The deadline for enrolling in the Master’s Degree in EH is August 18th.

Each dialogue is linked to the list below, and will remain available. The dialogues are also collected in a playlist published on Ca’ Foscari’s YouTube channel and on and on

A View from Venice
Week 1: Explorations

July 7
Amitav Ghosh & Ca’Foscari students (Nour Al Amine, Santiago Alarcon, Alia Elsaady, Lilit Gharagozyan, Ilaria Lizzini, Buse Umur, Francesca Zordan): Banadig, Bundook, Venice….. Stories from Gun Island
July 8
Valentina Bonifacio & Kristina LyonsTransdisciplinary Ethnographic Engagements

Valentina Bonifacio is Researcher of Anthropology and member of the faculty of the new Master’s Degree Programme in Environmental Humanities at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice.
Kristina Lyons is Assistant Professor in Anthropology at University of Pennsylvania

July 9
Christof Mauch & Carlo GiupponiNarrating Nature, Modelling Environments

Carlo Giupponi is Full Professor of Environmental Economics at the Department of Economics, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Dean of the Venice International University and member of the faculty of the new Master’s Degree Programme in Environmental Humanities.
Christof Mauch is Director (jointly with Helmuth Trischler) of the Rachel Carson Center as well as the Chair in American Culture and Transatlantic Relations (currently on leave) at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

July 10
Susanne Moser & Daniele BrombalHope in the Anthropocene

Daniele Brombal is Associate Professor at the Department of Asian and African Studies at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and member of the faculty of the new Master’s Degree Programme in Environmental Humanities.
Susanne Moser is Affiliated Faculty in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a Research Faculty in the Environmental Studies Department at Antioch University New England

Week 2: Water

July 13
David Gentilcore & Craig Martin, Airs, Waters, Places: the Health of Early Modern Venice

David Gentilcore is Full Professor of Modern History at Ca’ Foscari University.
Craig Martin is Associate Professor of History of Science at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and member of the faculty of the new Master’s Degree Programme in Environmental Humanities.

July 14
Jeffrey McCarthy & Francesca Santoro, The Ocean Around Us

Jeffrey McCarthy is the Director of Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah.
Francesca Santoro is Programme Specialist of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.

July 15
Daniela Zyman & Markus Reymann, Oceanic Post-humanities

Daniela Zyman is Artistic Director of TBA21 and curator of Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation exhibition, which will open at Ocean Space in August. Markus Reymann is the Director of TBA21–Academy, and Chair of the Alligator Head Foundation

July 16
Carlo Barbante & Francesco Vallerani, Paesaggi di ghiaccio e di acqua: memoria del clima e idrografie culturali

(in Italian with English subtitles)
Carlo Barbante is Professor of Analytical Chemistry, Director of the Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental Processes – CNR, University Ca’Foscari Venice.
Francesco Vallerani is Full Professor of Human Geography at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice.

July 17
Emma Critchley & Neal Hartman, Water, Connectivity, and Breath: Art at Science Gallery Venice

Emma Critchley is an artist who uses a combination of photography, film, sound and installation to continually explore the human relationship with the underwater environment as a political, philosophical and environmental space.
Neal Hartman is the the Director of Science Gallery Venice.

Week 3: Crossings

July 20
Tim Ingold & Massimo Warglien, The Perception of the Environment

Massimo Warglien is Full Professor of Economics at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice.
Tim Ingold is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Anthropological Theory at the University of Aberdeen

July 21
John Haldon & Alessandra Bucossi, The Science of Reconstructing the Past: the Contribution of Environmental Studies to Medieval History

John Haldon is emeritus Shelby Cullom Davis ’30 Professor of European History and Professor of Byzantine History and Hellenic Studies at Princeton University and director of the Climate Change and History Research Initiative at Princeton.
Alessandra Bucossi is tenure-track assistant professor (RTDb) of Byzantine Civilisation at the Department of Humanities of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and member of the faculty of the new Master’s Degree Programme in Environmental Humanities.

July 22
Sabrina Marchetti & Stefania Barca, Labour, Ecology, Care

Sabrina Marchetti is Associate Professor at Dept. Philosophy and Cultural Heritage, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and Principal Investigator in ERC Starting Grant project “DomEQUAL” (2016-2020) and member of the faculty of the new Master’s Degree Programme in Environmental Humanities.
Stefania Barca is senior researcher at the Center for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra (CES/UC)

July 23
Alessandra Viola & Jonathon Keats, From Plant Rights to Phytodemocracy

Alessandra Viola is an author and producer, currently scholar in residence at HSCVenice.
Jonathon Keats in an American conceptual artist and experimental philospher

July 24
Antonella Bundu & Igiaba Scego, Afroitalian Visions

(in Italian with English subtitles)
Antonella Bundu is an activist and a politician.
Igiaba Scego, former fellow of HSC Venice, is a writer, jornalist and activist. Her latest book is La linea del colore (Bompiani, 2020)

Week 4: Venice

July 27
Antonio Marcomini & Pietro Omodeo, History and Environmental Science Meet in Venice

(in Italian with English subtitles)
Antonio Marcomini is Full professor of Environmental Chemistry at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and member of the faculty of the new Master’s Degree Programme in Environmental Humanities.
Pietro Omodeo is Associate Professor at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, a historian of science and philosophy and a professor of philosophy of science and member of the faculty of the new Master’s Degree Programme in Environmental Humanities.

July 28
Serenella Iovino & Shaul Bassi, Roots and Routes of the Environmental Humanities

Shaul Bassi is the director of HSCVenice Associate Professor of English Literature and Director of the new Master’s Degree in Environmental Humanities at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice.
Serenella Iovino is Professor of Italian Studies and Environmental Humanities at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

July 29
Jane Da Mosto & Diego Calaon, Making Venice? Archaeology, Environment and Urban Ecology

Jane Da Mosto is an is an environmental scientist, and co-funder of the NGO “We are here Venice”.
Diego Calaon is Professor of Ancient Topography at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and member of the faculty of the new Master’s Degree Programme in Environmental Humanities.

July 30
Marco Armiero & Gilda Zazzara, Bodies of Workers, Bodies of Waters. Venice as an Industrial Ecosystem

(in Italian with English subtitles)
Marco Armiero is an environmental historian (with a PhD in Economic History), currently working as a the Director of the KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory in Stockholm and Senior Researcher at the National Research Council, Italy.
Gilda Zazzara is a Researcher of Contemporary History at Ca’ Foscari Unversity of Venice and member of the faculty of the new Master’s Degree Programme in Environmental Humanities.

July 31 – Special double feature
6.00 p.m.
Lucia Veronesi & Pietro Del Soldà, On the Wings of Art and Friendship

(in Italian with English subtitles)
Lucia Veronesi is an artist based in Venice.
Pietro Del Soldà is an author and radio host.

July 31, 7.00 p.m.
Elizabeth Coffman & Ted Hardin, Venice is Thinking: a film project

Elizabeth Coffman and Ted Hardin are producers and film makers, working together at their company Long Distance Productions

Economists in the City #6 938 792 Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche

Economists in the City #6

Technology as a Driver of Agglomeration

by Diane Coyle

Urbanisation has for centuries been a marker of economic development, while Alfred Marshall provided the basic economic analysis of the forces of agglomeration in his 1890 Principles of Economics. Yet economic research into cities and agglomeration – into the geography of the economy – has revived significantly since the late 1990s, including work by prominent economists such as Ed Glaeser, Paul Krugman and Tony Venables.

For most of the mid-20th century economics largely lived up to its caricature as a discipline analysing the world in terms of atomistic optimising individuals in linear models, and paid decreasing attention to the specifics of history or geography. The profession rewarded the ability to manipulate mathematical models while steadily dropping from the curriculum the requirement to study the world in all its untidy detail. So what was the reason for the 1990s renewal of interest in agglomeration, the spatial distribution of economic activity? Digitalisation was starting to change the dynamics of the economy in the 1990s. When I started writing about the economic and social effects of digital technologies around the same time, it seemed clear to me that the forces driving urbanisation would intensify (although others predicted the opposite effect, the loosening of geographical ties or ‘death of distance’). Marshall’s original explanations for the concentration of activity in the same places – closeness to market, depth of the labour market and proximity to ideas – still stood but the importance of exchanging ideas was growing as the role of high value added services and intangible (‘weightless’) activities in the economy expanded.

In these ideas-driven activities, Michael Polanyi’s tacit knowledge looms large. In any new domain of activity it anyway takes some time for the information needed to operate a new machine or process, say, to become systematic enough to be codified – written down in instructions that someone else can follow – as James Bessen describes in his outstanding book Learning By Doing. This is the situation now with areas such as AI and big data; although the computational and data handling processes are central, operating them is still a craft skill, passed on between practitioners. Moreover, when it comes to ideas-based work in general, it is difficult-to-impossible to pass on know-how without conversation – although the pandemic is an enforced test of whether improved videoconferencing can finally substitute for face-to-face contact (as Richard Baldwin predicts).

Source: Unplash, Unsplash License.

As economists rediscovered the importance of place, the importance of history also re-emerged, again prompted by the arrival of the new technologies. History is the source of evidence about the economic impact of the periodic arrival of general-purpose technologies with wide application such as digital or AI, so researchers started looked back to the Industrial Revolution or even the printing press. An influential example is Paul David explicitly comparing the diffusion and productivity effects of electrification and computerisation. More recent work has specifically highlighted the role of another 19th century technology, the steam train, in driving substantial urban agglomeration. And the role of ideas and technology in economic growth gained broader traction through Paul Romer’s endogenous growth theory.

It has taken some time, however, for the full implications of geographic agglomeration to filter through both economic research and particularly economic policy. The role of both historical and geographical context, of path-dependence in economic trajectories, of the dynamics of self-fulfilling processes, stand in contrast to the (mainly) linear and context-free tradition of economics for much of its 20th century practice. This has recently started to change, driven perhaps by growing understanding of digital dynamics (or by the overlap with the dynamics of natural systems in environmental economics) with a new focus in economic research on increasing returns, network effects and tipping points.

Evidence has also underlined the need to take agglomeration seriously. The growth of global cities has been obvious. Patricia Melo finds that productivity drops off with distance from city centres. Influential research by Enrico Moretti and David Autor among others indicates that in the US the big city lead is accelerating: the often-observed occupational and income polarization has a geography.

However, the policy implications of the polarising, snowball-type dynamics of an increasingly digital economy have taken some time to become clear. The first iteration in policy was probably the desire many city authorities had to become a locus for the ‘creative classes’, focusing on amenities and culture, or alternatively their competing bids to have science campuses or other high-skill magnets. A second reaction was the argument that it was pointless to resist the market dynamics, which would self-equilibrate by pushing up prices of housing and creating congestion in the attractive places.

Source: Unplash, Unsplash License.

Both have some truth. Amenities and physical facilities can act as magnets. Markets will bring about some adjustments in behaviour. Neither is an adequate approach to policy in contexts where the big city/small town & rural divide is starting to have significant political consequences – for recent voting trends in many countries reflect to some extent the geography of economic division. To make matters even more urgent, the covid-19 pandemic is clearly amplifying existing societal inequalities of all kinds.

Yet there are no simple policy recipes in contexts of hard-to-predict non-linear and path dependent dynamics. History casts a long shadow and points of inflexion depend on the interactions of many variables in a complex system. Changing the dynamics will require the alignment of a number of different policy interventions, just as a key needs to align all the tumblers in a lock before the door will open. One area of policy I have explored, with Marianne Sensier, is the use of cost-benefit analysis (CBA) for the appraisal of public transport investments. This frequently-used (in the UK) policy tool uses place-specific land values and productivity measures to determine whether an investment is worthwhile, resulting in a strong bias to approving them in the already-most productive places. The rationale is the wish to contribute as much as possible to national productivity but of course it plays to the idea that agglomeration is a natural result of the way markets operate and reinforces spatial inequality within the nation. Nor can CBA methods take into account the counterfactual returns to an investment if other policies were put into effect at the same time: housebuilding, investment in amenities, and training alongside an upgraded commuter line, for example. Thinking about policies one by one rather than as a suite aiming to shift a system outcome cannot overcome the powerful technology-driven dynamics.

At a minimum, policymakers need a far more granular understanding of places other than the handful of high skill global cities. In the super-centralised UK, the availability of data at sub-national level has improved dramatically in recent years but we still know too little about the geography of supply chains or skills, although complexity theory and other innovative approaches are providing new insights.

The combination of the ‘levelling up’ policy agenda and behaviour change following the pandemic will surely make prospects outside the big urban agglomerations the focus of policy in the near future. But unless there is a reversal of the historical complementarity between technologies of communication and face-to-face contact, human proximity in major cities will continue to be the engine of economic growth. That means finding a way to make the forces of agglomeration deliver prosperity without polarisation will continue to be the analytical and policy challenge.

Diane Coyle is Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Cambridge.

Other posts from the blogged conference:

Urban Agglomeration, City Size and Productivity: Are Bigger, More Dense Cities Necessarily More Productive? by Ron Martin

The Institutionalization of Regional Science  In the Shadow of Economics by Anthony Rebours

From Cities to Nations: Jane Jacobs’ Thinking about Economic Expansion by Cédric Philadelphe Divry

Cities and Space: Towards a History of ‘Urban Economics’, by Beatrice Cherrier & Anthony Rebours

Economists in the City: Reconsidering the History of Urban Policy Expertise: An Introduction, by Mike Kenny & Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche

Economists in the City #5 1024 649 Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche

Economists in the City #5

Urban Agglomeration, City Size and Productivity: Are Bigger, More Dense Cities Necessarily More Productive?

by Ron Martin

Economists and Cities

Over the past three to four decades, economists’ interest in cities has undergone an unprecedented expansion. The renaissance of urban economics (hence the moniker ‘new urban economics’) and the rise of the ‘so-called ‘new economic geography’ (inspired especially by Paul Krugman), have together directed considerable theoretical and empirical attention to cities, how they function as economies and their importance as sources of economic growth and prosperity. This heightened focus on cities no doubt reflects the fact that, globally, the majority of people now live in cities, and that it is in cities that the bulk of economic activity is located, jobs are concentrated, and wealth is produced. And as the urbanist Jane Jacobs emphasised nearly forty years ago, cities are the main nodes in national and global trade networks.[1] Such is now the economic significance and success of cities that the leading urban economist Ed Glaeser has been moved to declare the ‘triumph of the city’, as the ‘invention that makes us richer, smarter, greener, healthier and happier’.[2]

Whilst geographers have long studied cities, not just as economic entities but also as arenas of social and cultural life, it has been the work of these urban and spatial economists that has attracted the attention of policymakers, in large part, one suspects, because of the seeming formal rigour of the models that many of these economists have used to guide and underpin their analyses of cities, and their deployment of those models to derive policy implications. The equilibrist nature of many of these models – whereby the concentration of economic activity into cities is an equilibrium outcome of market-driven economic processes – also probably appeals to policy-makers, since policies can then be justified if they work to assist the operation of those market processes and help to overcome any ‘market failures’.

The Mantra of Agglomeration

If there is one aspect of this body of economists’ work on cities that has become a dominant theme, it is that of agglomeration. Indeed, the notion has assumed almost hegemonic status in the new urban economics, the new economic geography and other related branches of spatial economics, in that the agglomeration of firms and skilled workers in cities is assumed to be the driver of various positive externalities and increasing returns effects (such as knowledge spillovers, local supply chains, specialised intermediaries, and pools of skilled labour) that in turn are claimed to be instrumental in fostering innovation, productivity, creativity, and enterprise.  Further, according to this chain of reasoning, other things being equal, the larger a city is, or the greater is the density of activity and population in a city, the more powerful and pervasive are the associated agglomeration externalities: bigger is better, and denser is better.

Policymakers have eagerly seized on this sort of argument. Almost every policy statement and strategy for boosting local and regional economic performance – whether emanating from central UK Government policymakers, from the local and city policy community or from the policy reports prepared by ‘think tanks’ and consultancies – sooner or later singles out boosting ‘agglomeration’ as a key imperative. It has almost reached the point where the agglomeration argument has become unassailable, a conventional wisdom that is all but taken for granted, and unquestioned.  Voices of dissent are either ignored or dismissed (typically for not being based on the sort of formal models used by the exponents of the agglomeration thesis).  In many respects, agglomeration theory has become protected by ‘confirmation bias’, where empirical support (often selective) is exaggerated and evidence that runs counter to or which fails to confirm the theory is discounted.[3]

City Size and Productivity

One of the issues that illustrates this state of affairs is the claim that city size (and hence greater agglomeration) promotes higher productivity.[4] This is a particularly pertinent claim with respect to economic debates in the UK because of the current policy concern over the stagnation of national productivity, in general, and the low productivity of many of the country’s northern cities, more specifically.

A number of studies of the advanced economies – the UK included – have been conducted to estimate how productivity increases with city size, typically involving cross-section models that regress the former on the latter (with or without controlling variables). The size of the effect of city size on city productivity from these studies is, however, modest to say the least. Typically, a doubling of city size is estimated to be associated with an increase in the level of productivity of between 2-5 percent (see, for example, Ahrend et al, 2014; OECD, 2020[5]). To put these sorts of estimates into the UK context, compare, for example, London and Manchester. In 2016, London’s nominal labour productivity (as measured by GVA per employed worker) of £57,000 was 50 percent higher than Manchester’s £38,000. So, if we assume an elasticity of 5 percent, a doubling of Manchester’s population (or employment) – even if that was achievable and desirable – would only raise Manchester’s productivity to around £40,000. This hardly represents a major ‘levelling up’ towards the level of London, the aim of current Government policy. 

Figure 1: Productivity and City Size, 2015. Key to Cities: 1-London, 2-Birmingham, 3-Manchester, 4-Sheffield, 5-Newcastle, 6-Bristol, 7-Glasgow, 8-Edinburgh, 9-Liverpool, 10-Leeds, 11-Cardiff.

In fact, the evidence for the UK suggests that the city size argument should be viewed with caution. Using the estimates of labour productivity for some 85 British cities defined in terms of travel to work areas, the (logged regression) relationship between labour productivity (GVA per employed worker) and city size is small (a doubling of city size is associated with a mere 4 percent higher productivity (Figure1).[6] London, as the largest and most dense city, has the highest labour productivity.  However, the next largest cities – Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Sheffield, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Bristol and Nottingham – all have much lower productivity, in fact below the national average. Some of the highest productivity cities after London – such as Reading, Milton Keynes, Swindon and Oxford – are all much smaller in size or less dense as urban centres.  If we measure agglomeration in terms of the density of employment, as many economists would argue, the association is even smaller ( a doubling of density yields only a 2.5 percent increase in city productivity – Figure 2). Clearly, other factors than size or agglomeration alone are at work in influencing a city’s labour productivity.[7]

Figure 2: Productivity and City Density, 2015. Key to Cities:  As in Figure 1.

What Makes London So Different?

Nevertheless, the agglomeration argument has proved tenacious. Both academic economists and many policymakers have argued that the productivity gap between London and major northern UK cities is not that London is exceptional but that major northern cities are too small.  Advocates of this view have invoked Zipf’s law of city sizes, sometimes known as the rank-size rule. This rule states that the population of a city is inversely proportional to its rank. If the rule held exactly, then the second largest city in a country would have half the population of the biggest city; the third largest city would have one third the population, and so on. Put another way, according to Zifp’s law, if we plot the ranks of a country’s cities against their sizes on a graph, using logarithmic scales, then the line relating rank to population is downward sloping, with a slope of -1. Appealing to this law, Overman and Rice (2008), for example, argue that while medium sized cities in England are, roughly speaking, about the size that Zipf’s law would predict given the size of London, the largest city, the major second-tier cities in the north of the country all lie below the Zipf line and hence are smaller than would be predicted.[8] This is assumed to mean that they lack the agglomeration effects that London enjoys.

The empirical evidence for Zipf’s Law is, however, highly varied internationally (see Brakman, Garretsen and van Marrewijk, 2019).[9] Further, there is no generally accepted theoretical economic explanation of Zipf’s law, nor does the ‘law’ tell us how far a city can fall below the rank-size rule line before it is deemed to be ‘too small’, or how this will affect its economic performance. Perhaps more seriously, it is indeed the case that Zipf’s law does not in fact hold for a national urban political economic system of the sort that characterises the UK.

As Paul Krugman (1996) argues, while the Zipf relationship holds fairly closely for the cities of the United States, and has done so over a long period of time, indicating a pattern of equal proportionate growth across the urban system, this is not necessarily the case elsewhere:

Zipf’s law is not quite as neat in other countries as it is in the United States, but it still seems to hold in most places, if you make one modification: many countries, for example, France and the United Kingdom, have a single ‘primate city’ that is much larger than a line drawn through the distribution of other cities would lead you to expect. These primate cities are typically political capitals: it is easy to imagine that they are essentially different creatures from the rest of the urban system. (Krugman, p. 41, emphases added).[10]

London is indeed a ‘different creature’ from the rest of the UK’s urban system.  Not only is it the national capital, but a major global centre, and its development is likely to reflect the benefits of that role, and be less linked to (even significantly decoupled from) the rest of its national urban system.[11] These observations suggest that in such cases, it makes little real economic sense to argue that second tier cities below the primate capital city are ‘too small’ relative to what the rank-size rule would predict, since the size of the capital itself has to do with national political and administrative roles and factors in addition to the purely economic.

As the nation’s capital, London has long benefited from being the political centre (one the most centralised of the advanced economies), containing the nation’s main financial institutions an markets (that historically were much more regionally distributed), the main organs of Government policy-making (the UK is one of the most centralised on the OECD countries), a large number of headquarters of major corporations, the largest concentration of top universities, and a high degree of policy autonomy relative to other UK cities. This has meant that it attracts much of the talent and skilled of the country’s workforce.[12] In recent years, it has also benefited from a disproportionate share of major infrastructural investment. Under these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that it has a high productivity. Yet the high productivity of several much smaller cities suggests that size and agglomeration are not everything.

Beyond the Agglomeration Credo

This is not to say that agglomeration is irrelevant – clearly all cities of whatever size benefit to a greater or lesser extent from the local concentration and proximity of workers, firms and infrastructures. But aiming to improve the productivity of Britain’s northern cities by substantially expanding their size or density may be neither necessary nor sufficient as a strategy. The relevant question to pose is why are smaller, and less dense, cities more productive, and what policy lessons might be learned from their experience?   What a city does is obviously important, not just in sectoral terms, but also in terms of functions and tasks (and hence roles in domestic and international supply networks and chains). So, relatedly, is its export base. Further, and crucially, its innovative capacity; its ability to produce and retain, highly educated and skilled workers; its levels of entrepreneurship; the quality and efficiency of its infrastructures; and the extent of its decentralised powers of economic governance; these are all of key importance.  Cities outside London have for decades scored poorly on such factors. But these drivers of productivity cannot simply or solely be reduced to ‘insufficient agglomeration’. The ‘Northern Powerhouse’ cities traditionally once formed polycentric regional systems of innovative and competitive, export-orientated manufacturing. They have lost that role through sustained deindustrialisation, in part because of globalisation and technological lock-in, in part because of spatial biases in national economic policy and management that favoured London and ignored manufacturing. Finding a new role for Britain’s northern cities will be key to their economic renaissance.  Cities do not have to be big or more dense to succeed, but adaptive, dynamic and with appropriate powers of self-determination.[13] Theorising and understanding economic adaptability might yield greater policy dividends than yet more theorising and promotion of agglomeration.

[1] Jane Jacobs (1985) Cities and the Wealth of Nations: Principles of Economic Life, New York: Vintage Books.

[2] Ed Glaeser (2011) The Triumph of the City: How or Greatest Invention Makes us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier, London: Macmillan.

[3] The negative effects of increasing size and density – such the diseconomies of increased congestion, pollution, travel time, and land and housing costs, are infrequently given the due empirical attention they deserve. It is also significant that in surveys of quality of life satisfaction, large cities often score less well than smaller cities and towns.  London reports some of the lowest average life satisfaction in the UK (see, for example).

[4] See, for example, Glaeser, E. (2010) Agglomeration Economics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press; Glaeser, E. (2011) The Wealth of Cities: Agglomeration Economies and Spatial Equilibrium in the United States, NBER Working Paper 14806; Combes, P., Duranton, G., Gobillon, L., Puga, D., & Roux, S. (2012). The Productivity Advantages of Large Cities: Distinguishing From Firm Selection, Econometrica, 80, pp. 2543-2594. Ahrend et al (2017)  The Role of Urban Agglomerations for Economic and Productivity GrowthInternational Productivity Monitor,  32, pp. 161-179.

[5] Ahrend, R., et al. (2014) What Makes Cities More Productive? Evidence on the Role of Urban Governance from Five OECD Countries, OECD Regional Development Working Papers, No. 2014/05, OECD Publishing, Paris. OECD (2020) The Spatial Dimension of Productivity: Connecting the Dots across Industries, Firms and Places,  OECD Regional Development Working Papers 2020/1, Paris: OECD.

[6] For a comprehensive study of the productivity performance of British cities over the past half century, see Martin, R., Gardiner, B., Evenhuis, E., Sunley,P. and Tyler, P. (2018) The City Dimension of the Productivity Puzzle, Journal of Economic Geography, 18,  pp. 539-570.

[7] Nor does the spatial agglomeration or clustering of individual firms in the same or related industries necessarily increase their productivity, another conventional wisdom in the business and economics literatures (see  Harris, R. Sunley, P., Evenhuis, E., Martin,, R. and Pike, A.(2019)Does Spatial Proximity Raise Firm Productivity? Evidence from British Manufacturing, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 12, pp. 467-487

[8] Overman, H., and P. Rice. 2008. Resurgent cities and regional economic performance. SERC Policy Paper 1, London School of Economics.

[9] Brakman, S., Garretsen, H. and Marrewijk, C. (2019) An Introduction to Geographical and Urban and Economics: A Spiky World, Cambridge: CUP.

[10] P. Krugman (2006) The Self-organising Economy, Cambridge Mass: MIT Press.

[11] For an interesting analysis of how decoupled London has become from the rest of the UK economy, see Deutsche Bank (2013) London and the UK economy: In for a penny, in for a pound? Special Report, Deutsche Bank Markets Research, London.

[12] As Vince Cable, when Secretary of State for Business in the Coalition Government of 2010, put it: “One of the big problems that we have at the moment… is that London is becoming a kind of giant suction machine, draining the life out of the rest of the country.” (Cable, V. 2013, London draining life out of rest of country). Cable was in fact merely echoing a similar view expressed 75 years earlier by the famous Barlow Commission report on rebalancing Britain’s economy: “The contribution in one area of such a large proportion of the national population as is contained in Greater London, and the attraction to the Metropolis of the best industrial, financial, commercial and general ability, represents a serious drain on the rest of the country” (Barlow Commission, 1940, Royal Commission on the Distribution of the Industrial Population. London: H.M. Stationery Office.

[13] Martin, R. L. and Gardiner, B. (2017) Reviving the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and Spatially Rebalancing the British Economy: The Scale of the Challenge, in Berry, C. and Giovannini, A. (Eds) Developing England’s North: The Political Economy of the Northern Powerhouse, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 23-58.

Ron Martin is Professor of Economic Geography at the University of Cambridge.

Other posts from the blogged conference:

The Institutionalization of Regional Science  In the Shadow of Economics by Anthony Rebours

From Cities to Nations: Jane Jacobs’ Thinking about Economic Expansion by Cédric Philadelphe Divry

Cities and Space: Towards a History of ‘Urban Economics’, by Beatrice Cherrier & Anthony Rebours

Economists in the City: Reconsidering the History of Urban Policy Expertise: An Introduction, by Mike Kenny & Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche

Borders and Solidarity in Times of Corona 724 1024 Susann Schmeisser

Borders and Solidarity in Times of Corona

with Manuela Bojadžijev and Muhammad al-Kashef, moderated by Robin Celikates

While the coronavirus pandemic in a way affects us all, recent developments have made it abundantly clear that not all are affected equally. Both the spread and the impact of the novel coronavirus are profoundly mediated by social and political inequalities that structure societies along the lines of class, race and gender. These inequalities are, among others, upheld, reproduced and intensified by the international border regime. The current pandemic has obscured the plight of refugees around the world as much as it has exacerbated it. Refugee camps – at the borders of the EU and elsewhere – have become the crucible of this crisis just as much as they condense the structural violence of the border regime more generally. While campaigns such as #LeaveNoOneBehind have mobilized some public attention, the catastrophic effects of the pandemic continue to be especially harsh at the border, in a form that is intensified by the border.

In this conversation with the anthropologist and migration scholar Manuela Bojadžijev (HU Berlin) and the researcher and activist Muhammad al-Kashef (Watch The Med Alarm Phone) we will explore the changing dynamics of borders and solidarity in times of corona: How does the total closure of borders affect migration and especially the situation of refugees at the borders of Europe? How does this closure relate to the demand of contemporary capitalism for ‘cheap’ migrant labor e.g on German asparagus farms? What prospects are there for solidarity in a time of disaster nationalism? Which practices and mobilizations can redeem the promise of solidarity to create a relation of symmetry in contrast to the asymmetries of humanitarian help?

Anna Antonova: The Maritime Anthropocene: Social, Environmental and Political Change on the Coast 1024 1024 Barbara Del Mercato

Anna Antonova: The Maritime Anthropocene: Social, Environmental and Political Change on the Coast

June 18, 2020 at 5 p.m. CEST on GoogleMeet

If you would like to participate, please email to receive the access link.

The seminar is in English/Seminario in inglese

Anna Antonova (Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Munich): The Maritime Anthropocene: Social, Environmental and Political Change on the Coast


Visiting two stories of maritime change from opposite ends of Europe, I
will explore the idea of looking at the Anthropocene from the vantage
point of the coast. I will argue that awareness of humanity’s deep
impact on the planet arrived early on the coast, and that the stories
that maritime communities have to tell could help us think through what
it means to navigate social, environmental, and political change in the

Anna S. Antonova, director of environmental humanities development at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, studies social and environmental change in the contemporary European context, particularly in coastal landscapes, and examines the relationship between societal transformations and environmental governance in the EU. Her research is highly interdisciplinary, combining approaches from the environmental humanities, critical policy studies, and political ecology. More here


This seminar is part of the “Water, water every where… Interdisciplinary online seminar series organised in collaboration with Ca’ Foscari’s Research Institute for Digital and Cultural Heritage and Venice Centre for Digital and Public Humanities
Gabriella Giannachi: Performing Nature: Redefining Ecological Practice in the Era of Climate Change 1024 1024 Barbara Del Mercato

Gabriella Giannachi: Performing Nature: Redefining Ecological Practice in the Era of Climate Change

June 11, 2020 at 5 p.m. CEST on GoogleMeet

If you would like to participate, please email to receive the access link.

The seminar is in English/Seminario in inglese

Gabriella Giannachi (University of Exeter): Performing Nature: Redefining Ecological Practice in the Era of Climate Change

In this seminar I build on past research into the performativity of nature to revisit a framework suggesting that artists have engaged with climate change largely through three strategies: representation, performance and mitigation, to affect our understanding of our changing relationship to nature and climate.

Gabriella Giannachi is Professor in Performance and New Media, and Director of the Centre for Intermedia and Creative Technologies at the University of Exeter, which promotes advanced interdisciplinary research in creative technologies by facilitating collaborations between academics from a range of disciplines with cultural and creative organisations. More here


This seminar is part of the “Water, water every where… Interdisciplinary online seminar series organised in collaboration with Ca’ Foscari’s Research Institute for Digital and Cultural Heritage and Venice Centre for Digital and Public Humanities