2019 Luxembourg

IGU Urban Geography Commission annual meeting – 4th -9th August 2019

The urban geographies of the new economy, services industries and financial market places

the LUXEMBOURG University’s Campus Belval in Esch-sur-Alzette


The Urban Commission of the International Geographical Union (IGU) in collaboration with the Urban Studies team of the Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, University of Luxembourg, is pleased to invite you to its 2019 Annual Conference.



Please register and pay on the following platform:
– before 10th of June 2019 for presenters
– before 4th of August 2019 for all other attendees 




C16-37 – Urban Commission: Urban Challenges in a global world, IGU

Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Institute of Geography and Sustainability, Geoscience and Environment Faculty, Univ. Lausanne, Switzerland


 IGU2019 Brochure August FINAL


Publication of extended abstracts

Extended abstracts of presenters are available online here

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Registration for presenters: 21 March – 10 June 2019

Other registrations: until 4 August 2019 (but better to contact the organizers before)

Publication of Conference-Programme: 19 June 2019

Conference dates: 4 – 9 August 2019




2, avenue de l’Université, L-4365 Esch-sur-Alzette




Papers are invited to address the special topic ‘The urban geographies of the new economy, services industries and financial market places’ (see below).

Besides, participants can submit individual papers, and/or proposals for panel sessions/roundtables, that are linked to the following thematic foci of the Urban Commission: 

1- Complex urban systems and processes of cities’ transformation 

2- Technological innovations, creative activities in cities 

3- Innovative and smart building and transportation in cities 

4- Polycentrism, small and medium-sized cities 

5- Sustainable to resilient cities 

6- Shrinking and aging cities 

7- Urban governance, planning and participative democracy 

8- Contested social spaces 

9- Subjective/objective well-being in cities 

10- Urban Heritage and Conservation 

11- New concepts and methods in urban studies 



This year, the special focus will be on ‘The urban geographies of the new economy, services industries and financial market places’. The choice of this focus stems from the observation of fundamental changes that have recently occurred in urban regions due to the rise of services, the emergence of financial market places and new economic sectors. Processes fostering digital technologies and related activities, most notably platform economies, electronic commerce, or ‘fintech’, have added to the existing portfolio of services and contributed to the well-being of a number of urban and metropolitan areas. At the same time, these cities’ development trajectories are associated with manifold pressures on spatial and social infrastructures, land, mobilities and the environment. Hence, these cities will only be able to thrive in the foreseeable future if they are prepared to design and implement adaptive changes in their development patterns and spatial organisation. 

Against this background, we aim first and foremost to address the kinds of urban regions that are strongly developing under the influence of economic change, digitalisation, multi-level governance and sustainability imperatives, that is services and tech capitals as well as financial market places. Second, the focus is on the related processes that are relevant to a larger number of cities in most general terms. We therefore invite papers that consider the linkages between services and tech-development on the one hand, and the thematic foci pursued by the IGU-Urban Commission on the other hand (see below). Special attention is paid to the interface between science and practice/planning. The issues discussed here are more than prevalent in Luxembourg’s capital city and country, which has manifold implications on urban development, urban politics and related conflicts. Thus, the conference location and venue serve, too, to illustrate the topical frame. 


Dr. Sabine DÖRRY, Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER)

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Urban geographies of financial market places and business services centres

ABSTRACT: The growth of the financial and business services sector has unmistakeably been one of the key economic trends of the last 30 years. This growing market has unleashed a race among cities for the status of ‘international financial centre’ (IFC), which can be understood as an urban concentration of firms in the financial services sector engaged in cross-border business. Cities and city-regions’ new planning and urban development leitmotivs are ever more determined by economic rationales, designed to keep pace with their peer cities in a ferocious inter-urban race. City rankings, cities’ global advertising campaigns, and large-scale urban development dynamics with iconic ‘trophy’ buildings suggest a fairly paradoxical trend: Cities take much pride in scoring high as the globe’s most affluent places. Yet, embellished with vested interests of the private economy, they pay a high price by watching the inequalities of living conditions intensify and seeing housing unaffordability rise, to name but a few. In IFCs, the intricacies between private and public interests to ‘co-manage’ urban development against the background of fully blooming financial capitalism are particularly palpable. However, fashionable ‘green’ trends are now coinciding in IFCs, but still miss potentials to link global finance with local businesses that aspire to more sustainable economic practices. 

SABINE DÖRRY is a Senior Research Fellow at the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER), an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Luxembourg, and an Honorary Research Associate of the School of Geography and the Environment (Oxford). From 2013-2015, she held a Marie Curie Fellowship at the University of Oxford. Sabine has held other teaching and research positions in Germany, Luxembourg, Singapore and the Netherlands. Her research interests include the changing global production and trade relations, primarily in financial and other services industries, and the dynamics of urban, financial and real estate development, on which she has published widely. Sabine is a board member of FINGEO, the Global Network on Financial Geography, where she is also editor for the network’s working paper series.

Prof. Natacha AVELINE, CNRS/Géographie-Cités, Paris, France 

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The financialization of real estate in East Asian cities, contrasting patterns across Japan, Hong Kong and Mainland China

ABSTRACT: This presentation compares the dynamics of real estate financialization across Japan, Hong Kong, and Mainland China, a region gathering among the world’s largest urban economies. Drawing on previous work by economic geographers (Theurillat and Crevoisier 2013, Halbert and Attuyer 2016, Aalbers 2016 to quote a few), it analyses the patterns and urban outcomes of the circulation of finance capital in the built environment of each country/region through a framework combining three key elements: a) the spatial hierarchy of cities and intra-urban areas in the “cognitive maps” of financial investors ; b) the state support for the development of financial investment channels; and c) the mediating function carried out by local property developers to anchor finance capital in built space. The presentation demonstrates that while Japan and Hong Kong have established standardized mainstream investment channels (REITs, equity funds), property developers have leveraged their local embedment in different ways, thus shaping dissimilar urban materialities. China stands out by its reluctance to adopt US-designed investment instruments. Rather, it has created a sui generis type of real estate financialization that is turned upside down compared to the mainstream model, with a strong opacity, a fragmented structure, and severely restricted transnational capital inflows in China’s built environment. 

NATACHA AVELINE is permanent research director at the French National Research Center (CNRS), and affiliated with the laboratory Géographie-cités (University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne). She specialises in land policies and real estate dynamics in East Asian Cities, with proficiency in Japanese and in Chinese languages. She spent eleven years in East Asia (Japan, Hong Kong) as visiting scholar in several universities, also serving as director of the CNRS representative office in Tokyo (2006-2010). She has led several international research projects in East Asia, including the EU-funded MEDIUM project on urbanization of China’s medium-sized cities. Her recent research addresses the financialization of real estate and the provision of housing in East Asian ageing societies.  

Prof. Manuel B. AALBERS, Division of Geography & Tourism, KU Leuven, Belgium


The financialization of housing

ABSTRACT: Financialization has become a key issue in social science debates. The concept is mobilized to analyse anything from households to states and from corporations to historical socio-economic developments. Although there is a risk of developing a ‘chaotic concept’, there is also potential to connect debates at different scales, including the urban. We can witness the financialization of the urban through analyses of housing, real estate, infrastructure, large projects and governance. This presentation will focus specifically at the financialization of housing at the challenges governments and societies face in addressing issues of accessibility and affordability.

Under financialized capitalism, housing has become an asset class. Since the 1970s, mortgage markets have been transformed from being a ‘”facilitating market” for homeowners in need of credit to one increasingly facilitating global investment. Likewise, subsidized rental housing has become exposed to global financial markets through the use of social housing bonds and financial derivatives as well as through the rise of financialized landlords such as private equity firms and real estate firms listed at the stock exchange. Examples from the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Spain illustrate not only the emergence and commonalities of housing financialization but also the continued relevance of national as well as local histories and institutions.

MANUEL B. AALBERS is full professor of Human Geography at KU Leuven/University of Leuven (Belgium) where he leads a research group on the intersection of real estate, finance and states [http://ees.kuleuven.be/refcom], spearheaded by a grant from the European Research Council. He has also published on financialization, redlining, social and financial exclusion, neoliberalism, mortgage markets, the privatization of social housing, neighborhood decline and gentrification. He is the author of Place, Exclusion, and Mortgage Markets (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011) and The Financialization of Housing: A Political Economy Approach (Routledge, 2016) and the editor of Subprime Cities: The Political Economy of Mortgage Markets (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). He is also the associate editor of the Encyclopedia of Urban Studies (Sage, 2010), editor-in-chief of geography journal TESG and editor of the Working Papers Series of FINGEO, the Global Network on Financial Geography [fingeo.net].

Dr. Iván TOSICS, Metropolitan Research Institute, Budapest, Hungary 

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The failure of EU efforts for an urban policy and the promise cities can offer

ABSTRACT: In the last 20 years or so the EU (the Commission, the Parliament) made several efforts to pay more attention to the cities. Even so, these efforts did not lead to a consistent urban policy, as the member states and market actors consistently downplayed them. The keynote talk aims to give an overview about the ’top-down’ ideas for a more urban-oriented Europe, followed by an analysis about the real chances and opportunities cities could offer for a more just and sustainable Europe. To bring together these approaches, intermediary mechanisms are needed, such as participatory procedures with inclusionary mechanisms, functional urban area planning, network economies, just to name a few. The opportunities cities can offer can only be realized in a real mulit-level governance cooperation. The presentation will be illustrated with good practices, in order to show that a more just and sustainable future, based on cooperative urban areas, is not impossible. 

IVÁN TOSICS is an “urban explorer”, eager to find interesting examples and good practices of cities to innovate urban development, for the sake of public interest and keeping the balance between social, environmental and economic interests.  Iván is one of the principals of Metropolitan Research Institute (MRI), Budapest. He is sociologist (PhD) with long experience in urban sociology, strategic development, housing policy and EU regional policy issues. Since 2011 he is one of the Thematic Pole Managers (Programme Experts) of the URBACT programme. He teaches at the University of Pécs, Department of Political Studies, Doctoral School.  He is vice chair of the European Network of Housing Research (ENHR), executive committee member of the European Urban Research Association (EURA). He is the Policy Editor of the journal ‘Urban Research and Practice’.  He publishes extensively on integrated urban development, urban renewal, metropolitan areas topics. He works regularly for the European Commission, DG Regio, related to the Urban Development Network and the EU Urban Agenda. He was working for DG Regio in the Cities of Tomorrow programme, preparing an issue paper on ‘Governance challenges and models for the cities of tomorrow’. He was member of the Selection Committee of the 2014 Bloomberg Mayors Challenge for European cities. He represented for many years the Municipality of Budapest in EUROCITIES, as chair of the Economic Development Forum in 2007-2008 and as member of the Executive Committee in 2009-2010. He was the leader of a consortium working on the medium and long-term Urban Development Strategy of Budapest. 


Participants who need an invitation letter for VISA APPLICATION, please indicate in the ABSTRACT SUBMISSION PLATFORM

Please for the invitation letter contact:  IGU2019@uni.lu 



Abstracts should be written within the template provided below and uploaded to the registration platform before 15th February 2019 

Abstracts will only be accepted through this platform submission.



Abstracts (around 2-3 pages) should include the following elements: 

  • Theoretical background 
  • Research questions 
  • Methodology 
  • Results/findings 
  • Significant/general conclusions 


Please use the following template for abstract submission:

 IGU_URB_2019_Abstract_Name_First Author.docx



Registration will be opened once the acceptation of papers will be announced: 15th March – 15th May 2019

– Academic: € 380

– Academic (Retired): € 300

– PhD Students: € 200

– Accompanying person (adult): € 200

– Children: € 75

– Local Day-Visitors: € 100 



Please register and pay on the following platform:

– before 10th of June 2019 for presenters

– before 4th of August 2019 for all other attendees 




Early career researchers are considered before PhD completion or within 5 years after.

The Commission provides grants to help defray the costs of young participation to the Conference. Please note that, due to limited availability of funds, the IGU Travel Grants provide only the contribution to registration. 

In selecting applicants to receive awards, preference will be given to young or emerging scholars, in particular to those from developing countries. Because the funds available for this awards program are extremely limited, all applicants will be required to find the balance of the costs of participation; applications for 100% support cannot be funded. Please note that full participation in the conference, including the closing ceremony, is required. 

The selection will be made according to an extended abstract of 5-6 pages (longer than the regular abstract). The application to the grant must be indicated in the registration form and in the beginning of the abstract form. The template of abstract is the same, but the abstract must be more consistent in order to better judge of the content.



Please note that you book and pay directly to the hotel

Hotel IBIS-Belval

Rates : 95€ – 115€

80 reserved rooms

Please refer to the contingent of rooms booked by the University of Luxembourg for IGU


The Youth Hostel

Rates are 31,50€ – 41,50€

20 reserved rooms

Please refer to the registration number: 12240/0819




Team of the University of Luxembourg

Prof. Dr. Markus Hesse

Dr. Constance Carr

Tom Becker

Michael Rafferty

Team of the University of Lausanne

Prof. Dr. Celine Rozenblat, Chair of the IGU Urban commission

Andrea Ferloni

Mikhail Rogov



Prof. Celine Rozenblat, Chair of the IGU Urban commission, University of Lausanne, Switzerland 

Prof. Natacha Aveline, Research director CNRS-Paris, France 

Prof. Ludger Basten, Technical University of Dortmund, Germany 

Tom Becker, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg 

Prof. Liliane Buccianti-Barakat, University Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth, Lebanon 

Dr. Constance Carr, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg 

Prof. Geoffrey Caruso, University of Luxembourg and Luxembourg Institute for Socio-Economic Research (LISER), Luxembourg

Dr Antoine Decoville, Luxembourg Institute for Socio-Economic Research (LISER), Luxembourg

Dr. Muriel Delabarre, University of Lausanne, Switzerland 

Prof. Javier Delgado Campos, UNAM, Mexico 

Andrea Ferloni, University of Lausanne, Switzerland 

Dr. Shenjing He, University of Hong-Kong, China 

Prof. Markus Hesse, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg 

Prof. Florian Hertweck, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg 

Dr. Tomoko Kubo, Gifu University, Japan 

Dr. Xiande Li, University of Lausanne, Switzerland 

Dr. Maria-Jose Pineira Mantinan, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain 

Dr. Keisuke Matsui, University of Tsukuba, Japan 

Dr. Lidia Mierzejewska, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland 

Dr Niamh Moore, University College Dublin, Ireland 

Dr. Daniel O’Donoghue, Canterbury Christ Church University, United Kingdom

Dr. Antoine Paccoud, Luxembourg Institute for Socio-Economic Research (LISER), Luxembourg

Dr. Julio Pedrassoli, University Federal Salvador de Bahia, Brazil 

Prof. Reinaldo Paul Pérez Machado, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil 

Prof. Petros Petsimeris, University of Paris 1, France 

Mikhail Rogov, University of Lausanne, Switzerland 

Prof. Manuel Suarez, UNAM, Mexico 

Prof. Christian Schulz, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg 

Dr. Elfie Swerts, University of Lausanne, Switzerland 

Dr. Jun Tsutsumi, University of Tsukuba, Japan 

Dr. Iago lestegas Tizon, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain 

Prof. Ivan Townshend, University of Lethbridge, Canada 

Dr. Jun Yamashita, University of Kyushu, Japan 



Team of the University of Lausanne

Prof. Dr. Céline Rozenblat: celine.rozenblat@unil.ch

Mikhail Rogov: mikhail.rogov@unil.ch

Andrea Ferloni: andrea.ferloni@unil.ch


Team of the University of Luxembourg

Prof. Dr. Markus Hesse

Dr. Constance Carr

Tom Becker

Michael Rafferty

For getting in touch with us, please always use IGU2019@uni.lu