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31 Oct 2012

Informal Market World II - international research forum on urban informality at HKU-SSC

Photo by Peter Mörtenböck

Informal Market World II
University of Hong Kong, Shanghai Study Centre


Thursday, Nov 8, 2012, 10am-7pm Friday, Nov 9, 2012, 10am-7pm

Helge Mooshammer

University of Hong Kong, Shanghai Study Centre
No.298, North Suzhou Road
Shanghai, 200085

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The University of Hong Kong's Shanghai Study Centre and
the FWF Science Fund research project 'Other Markets'


an international research forum on the trading places of urban informalities

Thursday, November 8, 2012, 10am-7pm
Friday, November 9, 2012, 10am-7pm

at the University of Hong Kong's Shanghai Study Centre
No. 298, North Suzhou Road, Hong Kou District, Shanghai


Informal markets have emerged as a vital part of cities around the world, from the new mega-cities of the Global South to the old centres of political and economic power. Spurred by deregulation and accelerating global flows, they are commonly tolerated as shock-absorbers of widening social divisions. Yet, whenever these markets show signs of establishing realms of their own official rhetoric paints them as threat to social and economic order, often followed by governmental actions of demolition, re-location or privatization.

Debating the spatial culture of informal markets as an arena of negotiation between multiple political demands, social actors and environmental constraints, 'Informal Market Worlds II' departs from the question of how we can build more equal participation in the space of economy vis-à-vis the economy of space. In what ways can the spatial practices and cultural mechanisms that sustain informal markets help us in articulating progressive policies more adapt to the transnational realities of today's populations?

A two-day event of presentations and discussions, 'Informal Market Worlds II' will bring together research on the architecture and visual culture of informal markets with a range of case studies from across Asia and beyond. In addition to input from theorists in the fields of urbanism and political economy, the meeting will include presentations by architects, artists and activists on a range of informal market places such as pirate media markets in India, urban villages in Shanghai, fractal spaces in Jakarta and the spatial self-organisation of domestic helpers in Hong Kong.

Speakers include:
Pascal Berger, Teddy Cruz, Laurent Gutierrez, Lawrence Liang, Peter Mörtenböck, Helge Mooshammer, Bert de Muynck, Valerie Portefaix, Daan Roggeveen, AbdouMaliq Simone, Brechtje Spreeuwers, Matias Viegener and others.

This research gathering at the University of Hong Kong's Shanghai Study Centre is part of an itinerant series of conferences world-wide, with further meetings at UC San Diego (February 2012) and in Istanbul (spring 2013). Outcomes of these gatherings will be published in an atlas and a textbook by nai010 Publishers, Rotterdam in autumn 2013.


For a detailed programme please refer to:

This event is free and open to the public.
No registration required.

Supported by
University of Hong Kong, Shanghai Study Centre
Goldsmiths College, University of London
FWF Science Fund

The University of Hong Kong Faculty of Architecture operates programs in Shanghai, at our Shanghai Study Centre, which is a vital counterpart to other programs in Hong Kong. Our goal is that every undergraduate in the Department of Architecture, and eventually the Division of Landscape Architecture, spends one complete semester of their studies in China, without interrupting their degree program at HKU. With the opening of this Centre, the Department of Real Estate and Construction has the advantage of a well-placed and equipped facility to augment its Taught Postgraduate China Program.

The Shanghai Study Centre also houses the HKU Shanghai Office, the HKU Journalism and Media Study Center, and architecture SH (a public gallery for the exhibition of design projects related to the mission of the Centre). The joint studios and other activities that the Department of Architecture conducts with other overseas Universities will also utilize the Centre.

The international research project 'Other Markets: Networked Ecologies in 21st Century Urban Transformation' investigates the architectures and cultural logics of informal markets as a decisive yet often overlooked theatre of urban transformation. By engaging directly with the modalities of spatial production of informal economies it seeks to expand the debate currently divided along the question whether informal structures are first and foremost the low-cost equivalent of global deregulation or whether they provide the space for the emergence of alternative social formations. 'Other Markets' is led by Helge Mooshammer and Peter Mörtenböck, based at Vienna University of Technology and Goldsmiths College, London and is funded by the FWF Science Fund. For further information please visit the project website: