City leadership and citizen protests
in a turbulent era of multiple crisis and post-factual politics


  • Trond Vedeld, OsloMet
  • Lukas Smas, Stockholm University
  • Håvard Haarstad, University of Bergen

Call for abstracts

2020 emerged as a year of multiple, co-existing crises; the climate crisis, the corona crisis, the ethnic identity and injustice crises. These crises have diverse socio-spatial implications and are met with different perspectives from relevant and concerned citizens and public-private stakeholders. The links between these crisis-phenomenona are rarely explored, yet they are important to acknowledge and address if the goal is transformation towards sustainable futures. Their management requires broad-based agreements about common goals and a certain degree of trust in the stories produced about causes and implications.

Credible stories are under pressure and sought undermined by post-factual politics, yet broad-based agreements among relevant and concerned citizens and stakeholders are important in order to enhance collaborative engagement and actions between a wider set of actors and organisations than often observed in public governance.

Using the climate crisis as an example, many citizen groups do not relate to science or the ‘facts’ climate scientists bring to the table. Rather they choose their own ‘facts’ influenced by ‘post-truth’ sentiments according to who they want to be – related to own identity, culture, values and class. Many seem to live well with denial and insulation from potential ‘factual’ threats and formulate their protests accordingly.

This panel seeks to flesh out the consequences of co-existing crises for city political and administrative leadership by drawing on studies of how city leadership navigates, confronted by multiple crises and post-factual politics. It will explore how city leadership and the governance system address a situation of interlinked social and economic crises that require forms of collective responses across public and private divides.

Few studies have dealt with how co-existing crises are to be tackled, yet we need to acknowledge that, for example, the climate crisis cannot be understood isolated from the consequences of the corona pandemic; the two compound each other, not least in place-based city contexts and when related to tantamount social injustice concerns.

When pursuing pathways towards sustainable urban futures, cities will increasingly need to relate to co-existing crises and conflicts shaping urban policy agendas and evolving socio-spatial landscapes. Multiple types of crises need to be addressed conjointly by collective leadership within the wider urban governance ecosystem.


Papers exploring the following questions are encouraged:

  • How are these complex societal crises to be understood related to e.g. climate and the environment, epidemics, identities, unemployment and social security?
  • How do cities, diverse actors and local communities navigate in this new terrain?
  • To what extent and how are innovative ‘hybrid governance’ responses and strategies evolving?
  • How to succeed with city and social innovation and transformation in an urban world confronted by evolving risks and continuous uncertainties and conflicts?
  • What are the populist and socio-spatial characteristics of the multitudes of protests and how can conflicting protest be addressed in new, innovative ways?
  • Which diverse perspectives and protest forms prevail on specific crisis and the coincidence of multiple co-existing crises?
  • To what extent and how may new and innovative meeting arenas, platforms and city laboratories work as deliberative forums across actors and organisations? How can such platforms incorporate diverse interests, goals and values and manage conflicts?

Submit an abstract

We ask that abstracts limited to 200-300 words be sent directly to the organizers of the different sessions. Please see the session pages for details.

Please share this call with your colleagues or other interested parties. We hope to see you in Oslo come October!

On language

The conference primary language is Norwegian and Nordic languages, but many of our sessions will be conducted in English. All sessions welcome contributions in English, unless explicitly stated otherwise.