“More together, more apart: migration, densification, segregation” - the 30th annual conference of the European Network for Housing Research, Uppsala, 26-29 June, 2018
The 30th conference of the European Network for Housing Research (ENHR) was successfully convened in Uppsala June 26-29, 2018. In keeping with attendance projections, it attracted 425 researchers. They came from 37 countries in addition to Sweden.
The ENHR conference served multiple purposes. Thematically, it emphasized the need to study migration, densification, and segregation as integrated processes. In doing so, it called attention to socially and politically sensitive circumstances in Uppsala, elsewhere in Sweden, and in many other countries around the world. With migration across international borders, and rural-urban migration within countries, growing numbers of people are concentrating in urban areas. At the same time, concerns about human environmental impacts and urban sustainability, among other forces, are energizing a push to increase residential densities in urban areas and otherwise tighten the urban fabric. Yet, as more people gather in growing and densifying urban agglomerations, physical and social borders are solidifying between neighborhoods and communities, defined with regard to ethnicity and socio-economic status. The dynamics of migration, densification and segregation can be mutually reinforcing and powerful, creating intractable problems and yet also opening opportunities for institutions and organizations at all scales. The fundamental premise of the conference was that understandings from the social sciences are needed to avoid, ameliorate or resolve the problems arising and to make the most of the opportunities created as migration, densification and segregation proceed.
Other purposes served by the conference included student training, multidisciplinary and international exchange, and research integration and translation. The first day was devoted to a colloquium in which Swedish and international PhD students presented their work. The remaining three days were filled with invited lectures, workshops, and field trips tied to the conference theme. In this, the conference brought together expertise from across the social sciences and from professions like architecture and urban planning. Furthermore, it provided opportunities for local, regional and national actors to take advantage of the gathered expertise and gain useful insights on migration, densification and segregation in Uppsala and elsewhere.
In these various respects the organization of the conference was moreover congruent with the overarching purposes of the host. The Institute for Housing and Urban Research (IBF) was established in 1994 to serve as a national resource for social science research on housing issues. With ca. 40 staff positioned within anthropology, economics, economic history, psychology, geography, political science, and sociology, IBF is a dynamic research setting, with great diversity in theoretical and methodological capabilities. Many of the staff work on issues related to migration, segregation and urban sustainability, with extensive records of national and international cooperation in these areas. By gathering students and established researchers from Sweden and elsewhere, the conference helped IBF researchers to share their research, stimulate contacts, initiate new collaborations, support ongoing work, and prepare the next generation of housing researchers.
Most of the work done at the conference occurred in the 26 parallel workshops, almost all of which were convened by working groups within the ENHR. The coordinators of the working groups represented universities, governmental agencies, consultancies and non-profit organizations in more than 20 countries, mainly throughout Europe but also including Canada, Japan, and Australia. The workshops covered such diverse topics as Collaborative Housing; Disadvantaged Urban Neighbourhoods; Energy Efficiency and Environmental Sustainability of Housing; Housing and Living Conditions of Ageing Populations; Housing Economics; Housing Finance; Housing in Developing Countries; Housing and Refugees; Migration, Residential Mobility and Neighbourhood Change; the Residential Context of Health; Social Housing and Globalisation; and Welfare Policy, Homelessness, and Social Exclusion.
Altogether more than 330 papers were presented by the assembled participants. Abstracts for these are available either in the Book of Abstracts produced for the conference or, for plenary presentations, on the conference website. The ample attendance, level of national and international representation, and rich contents are not the only indicators of the success of the conference. The organizers received high praise from the ENHR Coordination Committee (Board) for the quality of the organization, and the organizers are pleased to report that they were able to cover the costs of the conference while maintaining a relatively low (for an ENHR conference) registration fee. The support of the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences was of critical importance in this last regard.
We cannot provide an exact count of the number of publications generated or advanced through this project, as we cannot know just how many new publications were initiated at the conference, nor can we know how many publications-in progress were advanced through meetings enabled by the conference, nor can we say just how many new ideas inspired by presentations and discussions at the conference will eventually get articulated in one or another publication. In each case, however, we believe the numbers to be considerable.
With a view to what can be counted, 122 full conference papers were submitted and correctly formatted before being transmitted to the ENHR Secretariat for posting on the website of the organization, available to ENHR members under password protection. The limited availability of the papers reflects the fact that the authors considered their conference papers works in progress and did not want them widely distributed. Also, many participants did not want their papers made available on the ENHR website because of concerns about duplicate publication, given that they intended to eventually submit a revised paper for publication in a journal.
In addition to managing the dissemination of papers to the extent desired and permitted by the contributing authors, we also produced a Book of Abstracts that is freely available at the conference website, which we will keep open for at least two years. The Book of Abstracts covers all of the presentations actually given in workshops held during the conference. Those interested in a particular work can contact the respective author for a copy of the conference paper or information about its eventual publication in a journal.
The conference website is itself information rich and can be considered a publication in its own right. It provides a description of the entire plenary program, including the abstracts of the presentations by the plenary speakers. It can be accessed at http://www.enhr2018.com/.