We hear from the ECLT network
The spatial organization and evolution of urban and territorial systems are mainly
driven by cities that are both engines and products of their co-evolution. Backed by a long
historiographic tradition, comparative research has enunciated a diversity of territorialized
political, demographic, environmental, economic or cultural processes that sustain an
evolutionary theory of urban systems. According to that theory, the geographical space of
cities and territories (that is historically shrinking through intensifying interactions) is
constructed from the observation of their societal co-evolutions. In such a dynamics,
geographical space may appear at the same time as a constraint (the "first law of geography"
limiting exchanges by proximity or connectivity) and as a freedom (offered to the social
processes of domination in imposing inequality of trade and preferential connections
according to territorialization). Urban evolution trajectories can be reconstructed by
simulation in multi-agent models that are a lever to hierarchize and validate explanatory
hypotheses from the theory.
Denise Pumain is geographer, Emeritus Professor at University Paris I Pantheon-
Sorbonne. Her contribution is about building an evolutionary theory of urban systems
and transferring concepts and models from complex systems towards social sciences.
She directed the laboratory Géographie-cités, was Chair of the IGU Commission on
Urban Geography, PI of the ERC grant GeoDiverCity. She is founder and Director of
Cybergeo, European Journal of Geography. Last publications: Hierarchy in natural and
social sciences, Springer, 2006; Complexity perspectives on innovation and social change,
Springer, 2009; Urban Dynamics and simulation models, Springer, 2017; International
and Transnational perspectives on urban systems, IGU and Springer 2018; Geographical
Modelling, Wiley 2019; Theories and models of urbanisation, Springer 2020.