On 15 March, the CSD seminar included three presentations by current research students as part of their annual review or upgrading. The presentations introduced the scope of their doctoral research projects whose provisional titles are as follows:
‘Everyday disruption and consistent place-making: An ethnography of the spatial practices of the homeless in Mumbai’, Paroj Banerjee
Paroj Banerjee presented on the second year of her doctoral research. Her research questions centre around questions of spatial relations, the everyday practices and responses to the everyday marginalisation – and seek to answer how experiences of home are constructed, how geography can be a avenue of both repression and a means to make respond to the disruptions, through informal networks, improvisation and learning to working around legal structures. They are: 1. Why do the homeless spatially associate with specific locations within the city and how does their presence shape a particular space? 2. How do they claim a sense of ‘home’ within the fluid and contested spaces they occupy through their everyday practices? 3. How do the homeless counter spatial regimes within the city to claim spaces through their everyday activities? The study will review literature on ‘home’ and through the ethnography will reflect the meanings of these two terms that is reflected through the everyday practices of street living, pavement dwelling and rough sleeping. She also critiqued the conflation of the terms ‘homeless’ and ‘houseless’ as problematic because the understanding of home is then privileges a physical structure. Quoting feminist writers she explained that home has been regarded as a political arena which is one of the key areas of patriarchal domination. To elucidate this further she shared a quote from her preliminary field study where a homeless woman, Radha, stated that despite the precarious conditions of everyday living, she has developed affective ties with the place. Despite the violence experienced through law and the processes which cause their erasure, the homeless have not only persisted but over the years have increased in the city. Through her study Paroj will argue that responses to the disruption take the form of place-making which is manifested through integral links with a specific geography within the city and carrying out the activities of everyday life.
‘Inventing Nostalgia through Renovating Cultural Heritage in Urban China’, Yi Jin
Yi Jin reported the progress in the second year of his doctoral research. Yi’s research concerns on the housing activism among workers in China’s state-owned enterprises. Workers employed by state-owned enterprises in China share common life history and live in proximity. Hence when they are in the face of housing expropriation, there is some possibility that they may organise in unique way and take specific tactics to resist, especially taking the massive resistance of China’s SoE workers around the end of last century into account. By focusing on a case in a “Third-Front” city in Western China, Yi’s research seeks to answer this question and further the understanding on how the socialist legacy will have an implication for the current urban transformation process in China, or more generally, in the Global East. In his presentation, Yi introduced his theoretical framework and his initial findings from the preliminary fieldwork he conducted last summer. After his presentation, Austin, Yimin, Carwyn and others raised questions or commented on Yi’s report.
‘The promise of celanthropy: food, hunger and poverty interventions in the Gulf of Mexico’, Jeanne Firth
Jeanne Firth shared the progress of her first year of doctoral research. Jeanne’s research considers celebrity and corporate philanthropy (‘celanthropy’) in food, hunger and poverty interventions in the region of the Gulf of Mexico. Environmental degradation and climate change in the Gulf are re-shaping food systems and the deeply connected livelihood and consumption patterns of Gulf communities. In contexts like these, celanthropists have started their own NGOs and organisations with development and humanitarian projects to address social problems in the realm of hunger, food, malnutrition and poverty. Jeanne is interested in how power relations manifest in the ways in which processes of knowledge and decision making are gendered, classed and racialised in these interventions. Why do they intervene and how do they make decisions? What knowledges shape their conceptual understandings and actions? How is the state involved or implicated, and is the state reconfigured in these projects? Using a gendered lens and intersectional feminist analysis, her goal is to provide a theoretical framework to understand how celanthropist-led initiatives function, and to critically analyse the techniques and approaches that they employ by asking key questions about gender, race, power, process, accountability and impact.