Category Archives: Event

Lecture by Earl Harper | Gentrify or Die: The False Choice Facing (some) North-Western European Cities

Date: Tuesday 7 May, 12:30-13:30 | Location: Leeuwenborch C83

Earl is currently in the final year of his doctoral study at the University of Bristol (UK). He obtained a BSc in Environmental Science before switching to social science for his MSc in Environmental Governance, both at the University of Manchester (UK). Earl has a forthcoming paper in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research based on his thesis and is Editing a Routledge Environmental Humanities Series book on ‘Apocalyptic Imaginaries in the Anthropocene’. Earl will be visiting WUR with the Sociology of Development & Change Group until July 2019.

The presentation – based on my current doctoral research at The University of Bristol – will explore how, in recent years, gentrification has found a new driving force: climate change. Using examples from European cities, and current research on ecological gentrification, the presentation demonstrates how in London, Manchester and Amsterdam, climate change has become part of the justification regime for gentrification projects. These projects, advertised as ‘eco-housing’, ’sustainable urban centres’ or ‘low-carbon living’ have been welcomed to the urbanscape by city-planners, especially in global cities like London, Amsterdam, New York and Seattle as examples of how the city can and should be in the future. It is the argument of this presentation, though, that beneath the sustainable exterior, the same socio-economic and socio-environmental inequalities present in traditional modes of gentrification are reproduced. The consequences of narratives of apocalyptic climate change being used to justify gentrification are two-fold: (1) as levels of affluence in a geographic area increase, so does consumption and (2) as the projects become more ubiquitous globally, an immunological fantasy is established where residents are sold a feeling of immunisation against the climate apocalypse. Finally, the paper concludes with a call for study to explore whether, similarly to the Urbanisation of Nature, cities are also a particular moment in the urbanisation of the apocalypse.

Lecture by prof. Lawrence D. Berg | Producing anxiety in the neoliberal university

Wednesday 17 April, 15:30 – 17:00, Gaia 1, Gaia building, Droevendaalsesteeg 3, Building 101, 6708 PB Wageningen,

This talk presents a theoretical analysis of the neoliberal production of anxiety in academic faculty members in universities in Northern Europe. The presentation focuses on neoliberalization as it is instantiated through audit and ranking systems designed to produce academia as a space of economic efficiency and intensifying competition. We suggest that powerful forms of competition and ranking of academic performance have been developed in Northern Europe. These systems are differentiated and differentiating, and they serve to both index and facilitate the neoliberalization of the academy. Their impact is intensified by the existence of what Guy Debord identified as “the falling rate of use values”. Moreover, these audit and ranking systems produce an ongoing sense of anxiety among academic workers. I argue that neoliberalism in the academy is part of a wider system of anxiety production arising as part of the so-called “soft governance” of everything, including life itself, in contemporary late liberalism.

Wageningen Geography Lecture: Dr. Jess Bier: “Digital Mapmaking on the Ground in Palestine and Israel since 1967: Spatializing the Situated Production of Scientific Knowledge”

Tuesday 11 December, 16:00-17:30 Gaia1 (Droevendaalsesteeg 3, Wageningen Campus)

Dr. Jess Bier: “Digital Mapmaking on the Ground in Palestine and Israel since 1967: Spatializing the Situated Production of Scientific Knowledge”

This talk examines how geographical and political landscapes shape the ways that maps are made. By analyzing the process of making 2 to 3 maps from key moments in the history of Palestine/Israel since 1967, it will investigate how conditions on the ground affect the features that appear on the map, and vice versa.

Digital cartography, including GIS and Google Maps, promises the ultimate creation of one accurate and authoritative map of the world. Satellite imagery and remotely sensed data also seemingly make it possible to accurately map anywhere, from almost anywhere else. Even so, on-the-ground geographic fieldwork continues to be important for the collection and validation of digital data, raising important issues of closure and mobility. And politically, by helping to expand and democratize cartography as a discipline, digital cartography has helped increase, rather than reduce, the numerous different perspectives and ways of mapping the Earth.

Drawing on research in science and technology studies (STS), feminist studies of science, and critical cartography, this talk tells the stories behind specific maps and mapmaking practices in, respectively, Palestinian and Israeli, governmental and non-governmental, organizations. It specifies the complex ways that geographic and political imbalances of power can differently, and unjustly, affect Palestinian, Israeli, and/or international cartographers. In the process, it examines how the Israeli occupation serves to shape scientific knowledge of the occupation, and why two trained professionals, using similar tools and approaches, can look at the same landscape and see quite different things.

Dr. Jess Bier is assistant professor of urban sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, where she studies the social and political landscapes of science and technology. She is the author of Mapping Israel, Mapping Palestine (MIT Press 2017).

In her research, she focuses on the geographies of knowledge, looking at how science and technology are transformed as they travel through space and time. Moreover she studies how knowledge and data can rework space and time, for example by shaping changes in urban landscapes, infrastructures, and forms of mobility.

Please distribute widely, all are welcome, drop me a line if you intend to join to help me estimate chairs/drinks: clemens.driessen@wur.nl

CSPS Research Seminar: Tourist and resident perspectives on ‘SLUM TOURISM’: the case of the Vilakazi precinct (Soweto), by Prof. Gijsbert Hoogendoorn

Tuesday 4 December, 12:00 – 13:00

Leeuwenborch C62

Tourist and resident perspectives on ‘SLUM TOURISM’: the case of the Vilakazi precinct (Soweto)
Prof. Gijsbert Hoogendoorn

Slum tourism as a topic of investigation has seen significant growth since the beginning of this decade with increasing theoretical and empirical depth. With this growth, some inconsistencies in terms of conceptual framing and use of terminology has emerged. The purpose of this paper is to argue against the inaccurate use of the term ‘slum tourism’ for township tourism in South Africa. This argument is presented through two sections of analysis and debate using Vilakazi precinct in Orlando West, Soweto, as a case study. Firstly, the paper analyses the emergence of township tourism as an academic focus in the literature and how it came to be classified as slum tourism, considering definitional conundrums. Secondly, the empirical data offer the perspectives of 1) residents, who live in and around Vilakazi street, on tourism in their area; and 2) tourists visiting the Vilakazi precinct. The analysis reveals that neither residents nor visitors consider the Vilakazi precinct and the larger area of Orlando West as a slum. The term slum tourism to describe township tourism in Soweto, is therefore inaccurate and inconsistent with the views of residents and visitors.

Prof. Gijsbert Hoogendoorn is an Associate Professor and Head at the Department of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies, University of Johannesburg, South Africa. His primary research interests are around second homes tourism, climate change and tourism and city tourism.

CSPS Research Seminar: Problems in paradise: Airbnb, the ‘sharing economy’ and social reproduction in New Zealand’s regional tourist towns

Tuesday 30 October, 12:30-13:30

Leeuwenborch C0083

Problems in paradise: Airbnb, the ‘sharing economy’ and social reproduction in New Zealand’s regional tourist towns

Stella Pennell

Since its inception in 2008 Airbnb has become the largest accommodation provider in the world. In  New Zealand regional tourist towns are disproportionately represented, making them suitable sites for investigation of the Airbnb phenomenon. Drawing on interviews conducted in 2017 with Airbnb hosts from four regional tourist towns in New Zealand, a biopolitical lens illuminates forms of social reproduction emerging for these Airbnb hosts at community, family and personal levels. Airbnb is emblematic of ‘platform capitalism’: capitalism operated through digital infrastructures. Airbnb’s ‘dividuation’ of subjects (hosts) into data bites produces forms of subjectivity anticipated, but not guaranteed, to be amenable to the ‘dataveillance’ by which the platform operates. This research identifies three forms of subjectivity that allow hosts to engage with different effects. This set of subject-positions illuminate the calculative rationalities and material and affective resources employed by Airbnb hosts amidst a horizon of biopolitical contradictions.

Stella Pennell is a PhD candidate at Massey University, New Zealand, currently at WUR on a guest fellowship with CSPS. Stella’s research interests are in regional sociology and tourism.