We are pleased to announce that the following members of the Regional Studies Association have been awarded an RSA Early Career Grant of £10,000:
University of Oklahoma, USA
Speculating on Jakarta’s Future: Real Estate and Water Crisis in Jakarta
The aim of this project is to understand the role of speculative urban development in generating water crises, and how water crises in turn shape real estate markets in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital city. I will use mixed methods, combining remote sensing analysis with interviews, surveys, and participant observation. While the proliferation of large-scale, private real estate developments under conditions of speculative urbanism has been well studied, their environmental implications have been given less academic attention. Furthermore, the literature on financialization and speculation has not sufficiently examined how nature poses barriers to these processes. This research will elucidate the co-production of transformations in water regimes and land markets and make a valuable contribution to geographical understandings of the impact of speculative development on urban ecologies. While Jakarta’s experience is particularly acute, continued urbanization coupled with climate change will intensify water shortages and flooding in urban metropolitan regions around the world. Consequently, water crises will constitute one of the primary urban planning challenges of the twenty first century. This research will contribute a better understanding of how water crises emerge, and how cities can equitably plan for and mitigate against them.
Setting the course for lignite mining regions in transition – Unpacking the pre-formation phase of path creation
The current lignite exit in Germany has created a situation in which the dominant industrial path in lignite mining regions is removed and immense structural funds are turning these regions into playgrounds for new path creation. But which actors and processes shape the formulation of new path development? While existing research made great progress in retrospectively understanding path creation, the retrospective view overlooks why other potential paths did not successfully emerge. At this pre-formation stage, the design of policy interventions can play a decisive role for enabling or constraining regional path development as illustratively shown by the priority setting of certain domains within the smart specialization strategy. Therefore, this research project aims to investigate to what extent the configuration of regional policy-making processes in the Lausitz and Rhineland shape the direction of regional transformation strategies – i.e. the mechanisms of why the promotion of a certain path is selected over another. I plan to reconstruct key events in the formulation of the two regional transformation strategies by two means: First, I will reconstruct the policy networks using social network analysis techniques. Second, I will conduct expert interviews with various participants involved in the policy network to gather information about the governance of the priority setting, the agency and interactions of the various participants involved in the policy network as well as reasons for non-participation. This will show how diversification domains were developed and selected over others and consequently reveal the factors that have shaped the outcome of this multi-actor policy process.
Exploring the potential of a postgrowth-inspired agenda for urban transport planning after COVID-19
Private cars’ dominant role in urban transport imposes huge health and environmental costs on cities worldwide, with the greatest share paid by more vulnerable citizens, including children and ethnic minorities. Traffic fatalities, reduced space for safe social interactions together with dangerous levels of air-pollution and carbon-emissions are key issues for cities struggling with both a public health and climate emergency. However, reducing the number of private cars in urban environment it’s proven to still be a substantial challenge for planning and policy, as it requires a radical reconfiguration of infrastructure, lifestyles, cultures as well as of transport planning and policy frameworks, politics and economy. The reduced capacity of public transport linked to the Covid19 pandemic risks to exacerbate the situation.
Theoretical insights showed that postgrowth-inspired, slower, and more sociable mobilities, combined with the rearrangement of municipal land use and economies, have the potential to help in this direction, and catalyse a substantial reduction in car-dependency. But how can this be done in practice? How can such radical idea help re-shaping urban planning and policy making?
Although explicit examples of a comprehensive post-growth agenda for urban planning are still unavailable, in Barcelona and Turin, the concept of post-growth has been often circulating in public debates and featured also in the political manifestos of the latest municipal administrations. At the same time, both cities have adopted radical changes in their mobility systems, opening up wide portions of public space to slower forms of mobilities and away from private cars. They represent therefore two paradigmatic case studies to better understand the potential and criticalities of a post-growth inspired approach to transport planning.
Using interviews and focus groups, and inspired by Urban Political Ecology as a theoretical framework, I will analyse the complex interrelations of actors, institutions, practices, and discourses behind the framing and implementation of such interventions which aimed to challenge car-dominance in the two cities, tracing how these have been influenced and shaped by ideas around post-growth. At the same time, I will consider how ideas around post-growth are contested, reframed and re-shaped during this process, and what their adoption means for different groups of the population.
This analysis will help to better understanding the possibilities for, practical constraints on, and social implications of extensively adopting post-growth inspired planning approaches and their concrete contribution to tackling urban crisis, starting from rethinking urban transport, drawing key lessons for other western cities aiming to tackle car-dependency.