News & Events

Cosmopolis lunch seminar with Deljana Iossifova. Revisiting Urban Infrastructures: Linking Soft and Hard Urban Systems

21 June 2018 , 12.00-13.30h VUB: Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Building F, Room F 4.66

On the example of urban sanitation, this talk explores briefly how urban infrastructures can be conceptualised as interlinked physical networks, everyday practices and policy landscapes.

Unequal access to appropriate sanitation and diverging sanitation practices can result in stratified health outcomes as well as profound prejudice and discrimination with potentially dangerous implications in developing and developed countries. Most adversely affected by exclusion from access to appropriate sanitation are children, mothers, the elderly, low-income urban residents and rural-to-urban migrants. The provision and management of adequate and inclusive urban sanitation services for diverse, steadily growing and ageing urban populations are therefore of major concern to decision makers at multiple levels of governance. Integrated approaches that take into account the ‘soft’ (e.g., values, norms, perceptions, practices) and ‘hard’ (e.g., pipes, pots, plants, flows) aspects of sanitation are rare. What could a mixed-methods approach to the study of urban infrastructures as interlinked hard and soft systems look like?


Dr. Deljana Iossifova is a Senior Lecturer in Urban Studies at the Manchester Urban Institute and Director of the Confucius Institute at The University of Manchester. She is a Visiting Scholar at the Urban Studies Institute (University of Antwerp, 2017/18) and Member of the Board of the Urban Studies Foundation. Iossifova trained at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) and practiced as an architect in the United States, China and Japan before earning a PhD in Public Policy Design from Tokyo Institute of Technology. Her scholarship focuses on concrete versions of urban transformation in a range of very different contexts, including in China, Japan, Bulgaria, and the UK. She led the ESRC Strategic Network ‘Data and Cities as Complex Adaptive Systems’ (2015-2017) and is the author of ‘A Human Ecosystem Approach to Urban Ageing: Bulgaria’s Forgotten Elderly’ (Palgrave, forthcoming) and lead editor of 'Defining the Urban: Interdisciplinary and professional perspectives' (Routledge, 2017).