PhD Course

Relational thinking in landscape and urban studies

PhD-Course, March 2014 – September 2014

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp, Sweden

Relational thinking in landscape

and urban studies


The course introduces contemporary theories on relational geography, with a particular focus on literature related to actor-network theory. The course aims to provide examples of, and discuss, how to apply such theories in landscape and urban studies. Researchers within planning, geography, architecture and landscape architecture will be invited to discuss key concepts and their experiences of the strengths and difficulties of tracing relational space in a research world dominated by Euclidean representations and modern categorization. The invited guests will also take part in the literature seminars, which forms the base of the course.


The course includes literature seminars and lectures, a workshop with invited scholars, and participation in the two-day conference Relational landscape studies of urbanisation, 12 – 13 June (see The course offers theoretically focused lectures but also a few shorter lectures aiming to provide examples from researchers within the field. The course ends with a seminar discussing the papers written by the students.


To complete the course the student must take an active part in 80% of the seminars. Students will be asked to give a summary (ca 5 - 10 mins) of the literature for the seminar, before starting the discussion. The student should also write a paper, ca 10 – 15 pages, in which her/his research is being discussed from a relational point of view. The course literature and should be discussed in the paper. Finally, the student will be asked to present his/her paper, and comment on the other student’s papers, at the final seminar.



Level: PhD

Credits: 7

Date: March 2014 – September 2014

Number of doctoral students: 5 – 15

Language: English

Examiner: Mattias Qviström



Preliminary list of lecturers

Mattias Qviström, SLU

Mattias Kärrholm, LTH

Richard Ek, Lund University

Katarina Saltzman, Göteborg University

Anne Tietjen, Copenhagen University

Emma Paulsson, SLU

Greet De Block, Katolieke Univ Leuven

Nik Luka, McGill University, Montréal



Preliminary dates and schedule

The course is introduced with an intense two days programme aiming to introduce the basics of relational thinking, its philosophical context and give a brief introduction to the various discourses within the field. Thereafter seminars will be dispersed over a longer period in order to facilitate for the students to absorb the texts and their ways of conceptualising space, matter and relations. The pre-conference workshop and the conference will provide opportunities for the students to listen to and meet international scholars in the field. The final schedule for the pre-conference workshop will be set once the list of participants for the conference is available: the aim is to invite a few scholars from the conference to give a lecture and/or literature seminar, and to discuss the early drafts of the student’s papers.



6/3 2014, pm.

Introduction (Mattias Qviström)

Lecture: Space and translation: thinking landscapes relationally (Mattias Qviström)

Case: Challenging nature (Katarina Saltzman)

Seminar: Space in translation (Mattias Qviström, literature: Murdoch, Latour, Massey)

Social gathering in the evening


7/3 2014, am.

Lecture: Symmetry and agency. (Mattias Qviström)

Case: Graffiti and the making of public space (Emma Paulsson)

Seminar: Symmetry and agency (Mattias Qviström, literature: Callon, Latour)


3/4 2013, pm.

Lecture: Topology: network space, fluid space and fire (Mattias Kärrholm)

Seminar: Topology (Mattias Kärrholm & Mattias Qviström, literature: Law, De Laet & Mol, Kärrholm)


4/4 2013, am.

Lecture: Power (Richard Ek)

Seminar: Power (Richard Ek & Mattias Qviström, literature: Latour, etc.)


8/5 2014, pm.

Lecture: Portable landscapes: black boxes, boundary objects and mobile policies (Mattias Qviström)

Case: Landscape translations – Using ANT to study and assess strategic landscape projects (Anne Tietjen)

Seminar: Black boxes and boundary objects (Mattias Qviström, literature: Star & Bowker, Robbins, Qviström, etc.)


11/6 2014, ca 9 – 16.

Lectures (am):

Hybridity and history: urban and peri-urban studies (Greet De Block)

Depending on who are coming to the conference one or two more will be invited to give lectures and/or take part in the workshop. The lectures will discuss the concepts hybridity, assemblages and materiality.

Workshop (pm), introduced with oral presentations of the students on their projects. The lecturers, Mattias Qviström and Nik Luka will take part in the workshop.


12 – 13/6. Conference: Relational landscape studies of urbanization

(see for call for papers, schedule, etc.)


5/9 2014.

Seminar based on the papers of the student. (Mattias Qviström)



Preliminary list of reference literature (from which the seminar literature will be taken)

Amin A, Thrift, N, 2002, Cities: reimagining the urban. Cambridge, Polity.

Anderson, B., McFarlane, C. 2011. “Assemblage and geography”, Area, 43, 124 – 127.

Anderson, J. 2012. ”Relational places: the surfed wave as assemblage and convergence”, Environment and planning D, 30, 570 – 587.

Åsberg, C., Hultman, M., Lee, F (Eds). 2012. Post-humanistiska nyckeltexter. Studentlitteratur.

Bowker, G C., Star, S L. 1999. Sorting things out: classification and its consequences. MIT press, Cambridge.

Brenner, N., Madden, D., Wachsmuth, D. 2011. “Assemblage urbanism and the challenges of critical urban theory”, City, 15, 225 – 240.

Burrell, J. 2009. “The field site as a network: a strategy for locating ethnographic research”, Field methods, 21, 181 – 199.

Callon, M. 1986. “Some elements of a sociology of translation: domestication of the scallops and the fishermen of St Brieuc Bay”, Law, J (Ed) Power, action and belief: a new sociology of knowledge? London, Routledge.

Carse, A. 2012. “Nature as infrastructure: Making and managing the Panama Canal watershed”, Social Studies of Science, 42, 539 – 563.

Crouch, D. 2010. ”Flirting with space: thinking landscapes relationally”, Cultural geographies, 17, 5 – 18.

De Block, G. 2011. Engineering the territory: technology, space and society in 19th and 20th century Belgium. Katholeike Universiteit Leuven.

De Laet, M., Mol, A. 2000. ”The Zimbabwe bush pump: mechanics of a fluid technology”, Social Studies of Science, 30, 225 – 263.

della Dora V, 2009. “Travelling landscape objects”, Progress in human geography 33 334 – 354.

Edensor, T. (Ed) 2010. Geographies of rhythm: nature, place, mobilities and bodies. Farnham, Ashgate.

Edensor, T. (2013). “Vital urban materiality and its absences: the building stone of central Manchester”, Cultural geographies, 20, 477 – 465.

Ek, R. 2012. “Topologies of human-mobile-assemblages”, Wilken, R & Goggin, G (Eds) Mobile technology and place. Routledge.

Farías, I. 2011. “The politics of urban assemblages”, City, 15, 365 – 374.

Farias I, Bender T. (Eds). 2010. Urban Assemblages: How Actor-Network Theory Changes Urban Studies. New York: Routledge.

Graham, S., Thrift, N. 2007. “Out of order: understanding repair and maintenance”, Theory, culture and society, 24, 1 – 25.

Haraway, D. 1988. “Situated knowledge: the science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective”, Feminist studies, 14, 575 – 599.

Heley, J., Jones, L. 2012. “Relational rurals: some thoughts on relating things and theory in rural studies”, Journal of rural studies, 28, 208 – 217.

Howard, P., Thompson, I., Waterton, E. (Eds). 2013. The Routledge Companion to Landscape Studies. Routledge.

Ingold, T. 2007. Lines: a brief history. Routledge, London.

Ingold, T. 2011. Being alive: essays on movement, knowledge and description. Routledge.

Jacobs, J. 2012. “Urban geographies 1: still thinking cities relationally”, Progress in human geography, 36, 412 – 422.

Kärrholm, M. 2007. “The materiality of territorial production: a conceptual discussion of territoriality, materiality, and the everyday life of public space”, Space & Culture, 10, 437 – 453.

Kortelainen, J. 1999. “The river as an actor-network: the Finnish forest industry utilization of lake and river systems”, Geoforum, 30, 235 – 247.

Kortelainen, J. 2010. “Old-growth forests as objects in complex spatialities”, Area

Latour, B. 1993. We have never been modern. Cambridge, Harvard Univ Press.

Latour, B. 1998. Artefaktens återkomst: ett möte mellan organisationsteori och tingens sociologi. Nerenius & Santérus förlag.

Latour, B. 1999. Pandoras hope: essays on the reality of science studies. Harward Univ Press.

Latour, B. 2005. Reassembling the social: an introduction to actor-network theory. OxfordUniv Press.

Latour, B. Paris invisible:

Law J. 2000. “Transitives”, Environment and planning D, 18 133 – 148.

Law, J., Mol, A. 2002. “Situating technoscience: an inquiry into spatialities”, Environment and planning D, 19, 609 – 621.

Law, J., Hassard, J. (Eds). 1999. Actor network theory and after. Blackwell publishers.

Malpas, J. 2012. “Putting space in place: philosophical topography and relational geography”, Environment and Planning D, 30, 226 – 242.

Martin, L., Secor, A J. 2013. “Towards a post-mathematical topology”, Progress in human geography, DOI: 10.1177/0309132513508209

Massey, D. 2005. For space. Sage.

McCann, E. 2011. “Veritable inventions: cities, policies and assemblage”, Area, 43, 143 – 147.

McCann, E., Ward, K. 2010. “Relationality/territoriality: toward a conceptualization of cities in the world”, Geoforum, 41, 175 – 184.

Merriman, P., Revill, G., Cresswell, T., Lorimer, H., Matless, D., Rose, G., Wylie, J. 2008. “Landscape, mobility, practice”, Social & cultural geography, 9, 191 – 212.

Metzger, J. 2013. “Raising the Regional Leviathan: A Relational-Materialist Conceptualization of Regions-in-Becoming as Publics-in-Stabilization”, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 37, 1368 – 1395.

Mitchell, D. 1994. “Landscape and surplus value: the making of the ordinary in Brentwood, CA”, Environment and Planning D, 12, 7 – 30.

Mol, A., Law, J. 1994. “Regions, networks and fluids: anaemia and social topology”, Social Studies of Science, 24, 641 – 671.

Mol, A. 2002. The body multiple: ontology in medical practice. Duke University Press.

Mol, A. 2010. “Actor-Network Theory: sensitive terms and endurable tensions”, Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 50, 253 – 269.

Murdoch, J. “The spaces of Actor-Network Theory”, Geoforum, 29, 357 – 374.

Murdoch, J. 2006. Post-structuralist geography. Sage.

Murdoch, J., Lowe, P., 2003. The preservationist paradox: modernism, environmentalism and the politics of spatial division. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 28, 318-332.

Qviström M. 2012. “Network ruins and green structure development: an attempt to trace relational spaces of a railway ruin”, Landscape research, 37, 257 – 275.

Qviström, M. 2013. “Landscapes with a heartbeat: tracing a portable landscape for jogging in Sweden (1958 – 1971)”, Environment and planning A, 45, 312 – 328.

Robbins, P. 2001. “Fixed categories in a portable landscape: the causes and consequences of land-cover categorization”, Environment and planning A

Saltzman, K. 2006. “Challenging nature: a site for hazardous waste and rare birds”, Ethnologia Scandinavica, 36, 21 – 36.

Star, L. 2010. “This is not a boundary object: reflections on the origin of a concept”, Science, technology & human values, 35, 601 – 617.

Star, L., Griesmer, J. 1989. “Institutional ecology, ’translations’ and boundary objects: amateurs and professionals in Berkley’s museum of vertebrate zoology, 1907 – 39”, Social studies of science, 19, 387 – 420.

Swyngedouw, Erik. 1999. “Modernity and hybridity: nature, Regeneracionismo, and the production of the Spanish waterscape, 189+ - 1930”, Annals of the association of American geographers, vol. 89, pp. 443 – 465.

Tietjen, A. 2011. Towards an urbanism of entanglement: site explorations in polarized Danish urban landscapes. Arkitektskolens forlag.

Valverde, M. 2005. “Taking ‘land-use’ seriously: toward an ontology of municipal law”, Law Text Culture, vol. 9, pp. 32 – 59.

Valverde, M. 2011. “Seeing like a city: the dialectic of moderns and premodern ways of seeing in urban governance”, Law & society review, 45, 277 – 312.

Whatmore, S. 2002. Hybrid geographies: natures cultures spaces. Sage publications.

White, D F., Wilbert, C. (Eds). 2009. Technonatures: Environments, Technologies, Spaces, and Places in the Twenty-first Century. Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Wilken, R & Goggin, G (Eds). 2012. Mobile technology and place. Routledge.

Wylie, J. 2007. Landscape. Routledge.


© Mattias Qviström, 2013

Last update: 22 December 2013