Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) / Postdoctoral Researcher
Keywords: Belgium, diversity, enclave urbanism, fear, geographies of education, geographies of encounter, in-depth interviews, privilege, publication strategies, qualitative research, segregation, social mix, solidarity, South Africa, suburbs, urbanity, whiteness
Solidarity in superdiverse cities: Drawing on (participatory) observations, interviews and/or focus groups with people who live, work, play or learn together in superdiverse places, you look for innovative forms of solidarity which develop around the shared use of these places. Depending upon your interests, these places could be schools, parks, factories, sports fields or neighborhood centers, office towers, social housing estates, … in several European cities. How can solidarity be nurtured amongst people who do not have anything in common apart from the place that they share? Do innovative forms of solidarity develop around the joint appropriation and the envisaged common future of shared places?
Encounters in enclaves: Over the last two decades, the global spread of enclosed, mono-functional areas has inspired scholars in the field of urban studies to proclaim the materialization of a new urban geography characterized by enclavism. This ‘enclave urbanism’ is marked by the hardening of socio-spatial boundaries by means of walls, fences and booms and by the imposition of socio-legal agreements and specific governance regimes within the resulting enclaves. Researchers and policy-makers are worried that enclave urbanism inhibits face-to-face encounters with poverty and diversity. They wonder how empathy for inequality and social problems will be engendered if it is never or rarely experienced. Drawing on in-depth interviews with residents of different European cities, you could answer the following questions: does the adoption of enclave urbanism impede all encounters across lines of class, culture and/or ethnicity, indeed? Or do face-to-face encounters inside and in between enclaves still have the potential to challenge the stereotypes of privileged residents?
Diversity in the suburbs: The literature on migration and superdiversity is largely based on case-studies in metropolitan areas. Both in popular discourses and in academic texts, ethnic and cultural diversity is closely related to urbanity. Statistics demonstrate, however, that ethnic minorities are more and more present in suburban areas as well. Drawing on in-depth interviews with suburban residents and/or qualitative analyses of articles in local newspapers, I would like you to investigate how the growing ethnic and cultural diversity in the suburbs is dealt with by different groups of people. Are the newcomers excluded from the social and cultural life in the suburbs? Or does contact among different kinds of people confirm or shatter existing stereotypes?
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Department of Geography, Faculty of Sciences
Building F – Room 6F329, Pleinlaan 2
BE-1050 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 629 3185