Navigating Pop-up Geographies: Urban Space–Times of Flexibility, Interstitiality and Immersion

Elena Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


‘Pop-up’ has become a ubiquitous expression over the past decade and is used to designate a diverse range of temporary and mobile places and events. While pop-ups are increasingly noted in geographical literature they are rarely given the spotlight, usually mentioned alongside related forms of temporary urbanism. However, I argue that pop-up demands direct attention as the readiness of diverse groups including retailers, governments, cultural organisations and charities to take up the term suggests its logics have a particular purchase in contemporary cities. Surveying the emerging literature on pop-up geographies, I propose that pop-up is an arena in which space–time is being reimagined in ways that are increasingly influential. Specifically, I identify flexibility, interstitiality and immersion as three of pop-up's key spatiotemporal imaginaries and explore the urban processes which each imaginary implies and enables. I argue that these ways of imagining and distributing space–time have a particular instrumentality in cities characterised by recession and austerity but also widespread redevelopment and gentrification. Against this backdrop, I explore the ambiguous politics of pop-up's spatiotemporal imaginaries, considering the often contradictory ways in which they are mobilized by a broad range of urban actors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-603
Number of pages12
JournalGeography Compass
Issue number11
Early online date27 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2015

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