Transverse subjects

The four transverse subjects

(order is not significant)

The scientific exchanges between the three UMR teams are structured around four transverse subjects.
This organization by transverse subjects aims to promote interactions and build awareness of colleagues’ work within the scale of a very large, multi-site and multi-team UMR whose members are involved in numerous scientific programs that are widely open to external partnerships both in France and internationally.

Padlocks of love: obscure objects of tourism. Pont Neuf, Paris, 2019.

Transverse Subject – Mobilities and Territories: Towards a Relational Approach to Space

Contacts: Nadine Cattan, Sylvie Fol et Camille Schmoll

This transverse subject investigates the ‘Mobility turn’ paradigm, which considers mobility as a sign of a softening, or even a questioning, of the relations traditionally maintained with territories and places in the making of individual and collective identities, in the structuring of social inequalities, in the construction of economic exchanges, and in the understanding of globalization and metropolization processes. The aim is to examine the way in which mobilities structure and shape territories and, conversely, how territories construct mobilities.

Objectives. The first objective is to approach mobility as a founding category of space. The aim is to move away from fixist approaches and to develop a relational approach of space. The second objective is to analyse the normative dimension of mobility by examining it through the prism of the trade-offs between intentionality and constraint, and to show to what extent mobility is at the origin of the recomposition of socio-spatial inequalities. A third objective broadens the research fields of the axis and questions, alongside human mobility, other forms of circulation and movement: circulation of objects, information, emotions, knowledge, and ideas in the context of their interactions with human mobility.

The work of this transverse subject crosses approaches that tackle mobilities from different and complementary angles. First, there are conceptual approaches, which include an analysis of the circulation of concepts and notions, considered as a specific form of mobility in its own right. Second, there are practical approaches, which address mobility according to various temporalities and in all its forms, whether human or non-human, material or virtual (relationship to the automobile, residential mobility, migration). It also involves approaches relating to the management of mobility, which are concerned with the way in which public or private actors intervene to influence and regulate the movement and circulation of goods and individuals (logistics, transport of goods, accessibility to urban resources, location of facilities). Finally, these are both qualitative and quantitative approaches, which take advantage of the extraordinary diversity of data available to researchers in the field of mobility today.

Methodology. The comprehensive approaches proposed by this axis allow us to conceptualize the territorial systems that are created at the intersection of different types of mobility, a wide variety of actors and different modes of action.

Identification of geographical features of mobility systems is of particular interest in a multi-scale and multidimensional perspective of displacement. A historical perspective will highlight the long duration of exchange practices and mobility.

Proposed Animation:

  • a biennial research seminar
  • strong cooperation with the “Mobility” Working Group of LabEx DynamiTe
  • collective research projects, some of which are already underway
  • publication of a collective work on the theme of the construction of space through mobility
  • organization of a seminar series on methodologies, involving all three teams and proposing approaches and tools for understanding mobility
    • in its individual, collective, and multi-scale deployments
    • in the intersection of different types of mobility
    • around the question of representation and figuration of mobilities.

Transverse Subject – Stability and Fluidity of Geographical Objects

Contacts: Béatrice Von Hirchausen et Ségolène Debarre

This transversal subject is based on the UMR’s long-standing interest in the temporal dimension of geographic objects and the spatial dimension of historical development. It allows us to collectively revisit shared questions about the stabilities and instabilities of geographic entities, the blurring and variable geometries of their boundaries, the relationships between the speed of flows and the duration of spatial configurations, as well as the relationships between practices and representations of space and time.

Benefiting from the contributions of well-established scientific discussion forums such as the “History and Geography, Time and Space” seminar at EHESS (since 2010) as well as the “Long-term Settlement Systems,” “Networks and Territories” and “Regional Integration” Working Groups at LabEx Dynamite (since 2012), this transversal subject brings together researchers interested in the intimate relationship between space and time observed in various forms of spatio temporal dynamics or in the ways in which societies situate themselves simultaneously in a space and in time.

Work focuses on:

  • the modalities of resilience of spatial or territorial systems examining the dynamics of forms in their articulation at spatial and temporal scales and the reaction to shocks on networks.
  • the modelling and integration of time (discrete or continuous for example) in models of spatio temporal dynamics.
  • the rhythms and temporalities of social phenomena and their effects on the shaping of places and territories explored at the micro level of daily practices as well through work on the intergenerational transmission of wealth and the reproduction of spatial inequalities.
  • the (mal)adjustments of the temporal aspects of politics and spatial dynamics observable in investments in urban production, public responses to phases of decline, the retraction of infrastructure or service networks, or by way of the reconsideration of growth paradigms and centralized networks.
  • the conjoint representations of space and time, in ordinary imaginations or scholarly productions, and the performative effects of such perceptions on the divisions of the world, on territorial strategies and policies and their narratives.

Collective work is organized in a decentralized manner around “projects” coordinated by groups of two or three from at least two teams. Internal calls for contributions allow participants to propose draft articles and then discuss them in a workgroup in view of submitting them as a thematic issue in a peer-reviewed journal. These projects offer open spaces for discussion and are conceived as places for training and perfecting the scientific writing of young researchers.

“Imaginaries of the Future in the Analysis of the Production of Spaces”

Coordination: Ségolène Débarre et Béatrice von Hirschhausen

It is commonly considered that the production of space (in all its dimensions, be they material, social, cultural, economic, etc.) is the result of a cumulative historical process. Used to describe the “genesis” of spatial systems, their self-maintenance or resilience, metaphors, such as the writing of space, its rewritings and the geographical “palimpsest,” or that of spatial memories and their disappearance, have shaped theoretical models which analyse spatial configurations by tracing the threads of their history at different temporal scales. This project proposes to introduce an inverse and complementary perspective, by questioning the performative effects of imaginary futures on the production of space. We know individual and collective choices are governed by considerations of the future. Applied to the spatial dimension of historical futures, the question of imaginary futures concerns the formal frameworks of projection into the future—for example through development plans, development scenarios, or urban or rural utopias. Also pertinent are the imaginary futures deployed in the informal frameworks of diffuse and shared representations of the future of this or that territory or of the destinies attributed to this or that region of the world.

Considering the contribution of visions of the future to the production of spaces is not new. It was notably explored via the angle of utopian movements (F. Choay 1965) and more recently by questioning the effects of dystopian visions on political choices (Bret et alii 2012). It has been considered from the perspective of foresight and development scenarios (Découflé 1988), from the perspective of planning (Zepf and Andres 2011) and the ideologies it conveys, depending on whether it is “top-down” or “bottom-up” (d’Aquino 2002), or by the “tricks” it elicits (de Certeau 1988). It has even been approached from the angle of imaginaries (Debarbieux 2015) and their self-fulfilling (Staszak 2000) or performative (Mondada 2003; Fijalkow 2017) effectiveness.

These thematic gathers together various contributions that question the place of future horizons in the production of space from a wide variety of research projects of the UMR. We will question the ways in which the imaginary of the future informs, in very diverse forms, the interpretations of the present as well as the past and co-produces the spaces we study.


Bernard Bret, Sophie Didier, Frédéric Dufaux (coord.) : « Les utopies, un horizon pour la justice spatiale? » Introduction au dossier thématique « Utopie et justice spatiale ». In :  Justice spatiale/Spatial Justice, n° 5, Déc 2012 / Déc 2013.

Françoise Choay : Urbanisme, utopies et réalités. Une anthologie. Paris, Le Seuil, 1964, 448 p.

Bernard Debarbieux (2015). L’espace de l’imaginaire: Essais et détours. Paris : CNRS Éditions. 307 p.

Michel de Certeau: L’invention du quotidien, volume 1: Art de faire. Paris, Gallimard, 1988, 349 p.

André-Clément Découflé : « Scénario » in Pierre Merlin, Françoise Choay (dir.) Dictionnaire de l’urbanisme et de l’aménagement, 1988, Paris : PUF, 1988, p. 713-715.

Yankel Fijalkow (dir.) : Dire la ville c’est faire la ville. La performativité des discours sur l’espace urbain. Villeneuve d’Ascq, Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 2017, 194 p.

Lorenza Mondada, « Performativité », in : Levy et Lussault (dir.) Dictionnaire de la géographie et de l’espace des sociétés. Paris, Belin, 2003, p.

Jean-François Staszak, « Prophéties autoréalisatrices et géographie », Espace géographique, tome 29, n°2, 2000. pp. 105-119. DOI :

« L’éphémère spatial »

Coordination: Beatriz Fernandez et Marie-Vic Ozouf-Marignier

Geographical reflections on spatial temporalities have often privileged the long-term and permanency (static time, stability or even dynamics over the long term, resilience or durability of forms and uses, etc.). In our laboratory, this long-term perspective is being worked on by all three teams and by a number of researchers, whether as reflections on concepts or longitudinal studies.

The ambition of this project is to look at the inverse dimension of temporality and to study the ephemeral, the temporary, the transitory, what is fleeting, does not last, and even what is reversible. How do geographers, planners or specialists in complex models and systems deal with transience? How, for example, has classical geography, attentive to the stability of the human-environment relationship or to lifestyles, integrated seasonality, itinerancy, or nomadism? Likewise, urban planning and development, which used to be based on the long-term transformation of the territory or city, have now adopted the plan and the contract, which are of limited duration (usually a few years). What are the implications of this? The temporal, used between periods of longer duration, has also become a practice that serves as a medium for experimentation and alternativity in urban planning.

The first fields of investigation that we are considering are related to current phenomena: precarious housing or migration, wastelands, third places, transitional or tactical urbanism, occupations of ZADs, streets or squares, which give rise to diverse research within the UMR. Contributions to the project may also be based on the investigation of other timeframes and issues of other disciplines with which geography has close links: archaeology, anthropology, landscape studies.

However, we believe it is preferable to distinguish the ephemeral from the event of change, rupture, or catastrophe (which once had its own research group in geography, the EPEES). It is argued that these latter themes, although close to the ephemeral through the presence of a short temporality, generate specific problematics too vast to be included in our project.

It would be interesting to mix reflections on the “chosen” ephemeral (creative landscape or urbanistic experiences) and the “imposed” ephemeral (experience of precariousness and margins). In all cases, the problematics that we propose to focus on would be that of the interrelated effects of short and momentary temporality on spatial organization, territories, or landscapes on the one hand, and on the other, of ephemeral spatialities in the perception of time. For this second aspect, which moves between space and time, we observe the frequency of the dialectic between the temporary and the sustainable. For example, in the experiments of temporal urbanism, the projection towards forms of perpetuation is very often manifested. It is often a constituent part of experiments regulated by public policies. Space could also be given to contributions questioning the ephemeral as a process, or even the variable durations of the ephemeral (temporal projects that last, ephemeral architectures that endure, makeshift installations that last, temporary occupations that become permanent, etc.) and the spatial transformations that these changes entail.

Contributions can be made on:

  • ephemeral spaces: wastelands, camps, precarious housing, temporary or intermittent exploitation of agrarian or natural spaces, buildings for temporary use (built for major events such as universal exhibitions, the Olympics, etc).
  • the vocabulary of the ephemeral, through a perspective of history and epistemology of geography, urbanism and planning.
  • the time scales concerned by ephemerality: the ephemerality of prehistory or archaeology is not the same as the ephemerality of a few years in today’s urban fabric
  • the articulation between ephemeral forms and ephemeral practices.
  • the processes at work in the ephemeral (the ephemeral to experiment, the ephemeral designed to last, the ephemeral in the tools or instruments of planning and urbanism)


Adisson F., 2017, « Choisir ses occupants. Quand les grands propriétaires adoptent des collectifs pour la gestion transitoire des friches urbaines », Métropolitiques, 6 janvier 2017. URL :

Agier M. (ed.), 2014, Un monde de camps, Paris, La Découverte.

Bontemps V., Makaremi C., Mazouz S. et Bernard H. (eds.), 2018, Entre accueil et rejet: ce que les villes font aux migrants, Lyon, Le Passager clandestin (coll. « Bibliothèque des frontières »).

Bachir, L., Dinh S., Dreuil M., Krier C., Theron E., 2018,  L’urbanisme temporaire : comment évaluer son impact ? Définitions, acteurs, outils et enjeux. Atelier Professionnel Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Plateau Urbain, février 2018, p. 46.

Beekmans J. et De Boer J., 2014, Pop-Up City: City-Making in a Fluid World. Amsterdam, BIS Publishers BV.

Bishop P. et Williams L., 2012, The Temporary City. Londres, Routledge.

Bouagga Yasmine, Barré Céline, Barnier Sarah (eds.), 2017, De Lesbos à Calais: comment l’Europe fabrique des camps, Neuvy-en-Champagne, Le Passager clandestin (coll. « Bibliothèque des frontières »).

Bouillon F., 2009, Les mondes du squat, coll. « Partage du savoir », PUF, Paris.

Douay N. et Prevot M. (2016), « Circulations d’un modèle urbain « alternatif » ? Le cas de l’urbanisme tactique et de sa réception à Paris », EchoGéo [En ligne], avril/juin, vol. 36. URL :

Durand A., 2017, Mutabilité urbaine. La nouvelle fabrique des villes., Gallion, Infolio Editions.

Haydn F. et Temel R. (éd.), 2006, Temporary urban spaces: concepts for the use of city spaces. Bâle/Boston/Berlin, Birkhaüser Verlag.

Krauss G. et Tremblay D.-G., 2019, Tiers-lieux: travailler et entreprendre sur les territoires : espaces de coworking, fablabs, hacklabs…, Rennes, PUR.

Mauss M., 1906, « Essai sur les variations saisonnières des sociétés eskimos. Étude de morphologie sociale », L’Année sociologique, t. IX, p. 39-132.

Nédélec, P., 2017, «  De nouveaux mots pour de nouvelles modalités de fabrique de la ville ? Initiatives citadines d’aménagement des espaces publics »,L’Information géographique, 3(3), 94-107.

Overmeyer K. (éd.), 2007, Urban Pioneers: Temporary Use and Urban Development in Berlin. Berlin, Jovis Verlag.

Pradel B., 2010, Urbanisme temporaire et urbanité événementielle, les nouveaux rythmes collectifs, thèse de doctorat en sociologie de l’Université Paris-Est, 500 p.

Scherrer F., Vanier M. (eds.), 2013, Villes, territoires, réversibilités, « Colloque de Cerisy » Paris, Hermann.

Panneau signalant le lieu de l’ancien Rideau de fer et la date de son ouverture. Ségolène Debarre.

Place de la République in Montreuil, 2018. Antoine Fleury.

Transverse Subject – Making the city: Processes, Actors, Practices

Contacts: Antoine Fleury et Juliette Maulat

The making of the city is approached from different angles by different UMR researchers, whatever their teams. Some see it as a projected or even planned process, carried out by collective actors (institutional and organizational) each possessing power over space, but with their own spatial strategies, legitimizing discourses, and rationales for action (public actors, planners, promoters, large-scale distribution, etc.). For others, the making of the city mainly result of the spatial practices of individuals and of the actions of “small actors” who, despite being more or less dominated, are recognized as having a certain capacity for action.

This transverse subject aims to bring together these different approaches, to enhance them and to develop collective research on the urban fabric understood through collective action, spatial practices and strategies, representations and/or sensitive experiences. It thus proposes to take advantage of the varied and complementary competences of the UMR’s researchers, to explore the interactions between actors—individual or collective—and their role in the complex processes of transformation, appropriation and production of urban space.

Two types of activities have been developed since the creation of the “transverse subject” in 2019:

1) the programming of field visits. The aim is to encourage knowledge sharing and the discussion of research results. Within Paris region, the participants went to the Butte Pinson, Bagneux, Saint-Denis (Carrefour Pleyel), Paris (ZAC Paris Rive Gauche, Campus Condorcet, ateliers Vaugirard) and Plessis-Robinson, addressing issues as diverse as the management and transformation of wasteland, experimentation, urban development around new metro stations, the real estate strategies of transport operators, urban renewal, etc.
2) a collective book on the making of Greater Paris. The aim is to gather, structure and disseminate the numerous works carried out in the lab on the French capital and its urban region. The originality of the book is that it pays attention to the materiality of the city, to social processes and to the diversity of its actors, drawing on recent empirical work. The transformations of the built and non-built environment, of the networks as well as of the landscapes and environments are at the heart of the questioning. They are examined at different spatial scales and in their multiple temporalities. Who is making this great metropolis, which is part of a complex set of large-scale relationships? Are new models, references, doctrines or tools emerging in this very particular context, from an urban planning, institutional or political point of view? Is the very large city compatible with a socio-ecological transition? To what extent does it continue to produce inequalities, more or less visible? These are the four main questions to which the book provides answers by jointly analysing the discourses, values and representations of the urban actors, their spatialized actions and the material dimension of the city as they transform it.

Transverse Subject – Data and Protocols in the Digital Humanities

Contacts: Marion Maisonobe, Hugues Pecout et Ludovic Chalonge

Internet and digital evolution have transformed not only the data and the corpus of documents mobilized and produced by scientific research – in size, in number, in diversity—but also the ways of doing research, and even the objects of research itself.
What does the abundance and diversity of digital data do to territorial sciences?

This transverse subject federates:

  1. work that mobilizes emerging, heterogeneous, and massive sources (in particular: anonymized individual traces from mobile ICTs, data from the web, digitized ancient sources, large audio-visual corpora, large corpora of images, etc.) for the purpose of measuring socio-spatial dynamics, cross-referencing and comparison with other sources, modelling, visualization, and critical analysis of their uses;
  2. work on mixed methods, which involves the necessary reflection on the evolution of our survey methods: how to articulate the masses of digital data—often noisy, dry but voluminous—with data from interviews and fieldwork—richer, but costly and rare—as well as with census institutional data;
  3. the dissemination of practices and tools that improve the necessary reproducibility of our research and promote open access;
  4. the work of creating and putting online a catalogue of data used and produced in the unit’s research. The objective is to improve the visibility of the resources compiled over more than 30 years, by capitalizing on the knowledge of the potentials and limits of these data.

This work meets the scientific requirements of reproducibility of our analyses and demonstrations, a posteriori of their publication. They imply a controlled opening of the corpus and the protocols.

Animation of this transverse subject includes:

  • study days to which researchers from outside the UMR will be invited. These days will serve as a basis for the coordination of journal issues;
  • internal training sessions proposed in the UMR premises and open to Master students on methods, tools and good practices for the collection and handling of new sources of (large volumes of) data;
  • the coordination of thematic issues.

It is also important to be open to the possibilities of citizen and participatory sciences offered by digital tools.

Laurent Beauguitte
Ludovic Chalonge
Hadrien Commenges
Robin Cura
Marianne Guérois
Gaelle Hallair
Hugues Pecout
Gaëlle Hallair
Christine Kosmopoulos
Thomas Louail
Marion Maisonobe
Kristina Matrosova
Julie Vallée

Royalty-free image.