Memories of the future: how are the narratives of possible future(s) constructed by urban planning systems in France and Scotland?
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This thesis is an examination of how futures thinking has been deployed by the respective planning authorities in the Nord Pas de Calais Region and Glasgow City Region. My intention was to examine the experience of ‘post-industrial’ places that had undergone decline and recognized the need to construct a way forward. Of particular interest is how futures thinking has been operationalized in these two distinct settings: what it comprises, how it is practised, the narrative framings used and in particular, how futures thinking is enacted in imperfect ways by performing some futures and not others. Recent urban scholarship has largely focused on global and world cities approaches, creating hierarchies which have influenced how cities have been represented (or not). The theoretical claims associated with these approaches are concerned with one particular very narrow view of the global economy, that ‘privilege the view from the top’; Lille, the capital of the Nord Pas de Calais Region and Glasgow do not feature in these imaginings of places which fail to acknowledge the experience of ‘ordinary cities’. Drawing on the work of Robinson, understanding cities as ‘ordinary’, as opposed to positioned within world city league tables, presents the opportunity for cities to imagine their own futures and unique city-ness. It is from the standpoint of ‘ordinary cities’ that I have situated this research, which considers the production of the future narratives of the NPC region and Glasgow City region.