CUCR Events Archive


CUCR Events Archive

Information about some of the events we have held in the past.

‘Poverty porn’ to ‘property porn’

‘Poverty porn’ to ‘property porn’: a spatial class analysis of the logic of value in land and people, Dr. Kirsteen Paton (University of Leeds)

Tuesday 17th March, 4pm RHB 342

Further info coming soon.

Council Housing Estates in London: From Urban Marginality to State-Led Gentrification, Dr. Paul Watt (Birkbeck)

Wednesday 11th March, 4pm RHB 142

This paper examines how processes of ‘state-led gentrification’ are occurring at London’s council housing estates via area-based regeneration programmes. These estates are currently disappearing from the city’s skyline in the name of regeneration and improving the lives and opportunities of their residents. New mixed-tenure developments are arising where the estates used to stand. These developments are dominated by gleaming private tower blocks, the 21st century distorted mirror image of their much-maligned modernist council housing antecedents. What long-term processes have brought this dramatic state of affairs about? How have London’s council housing residents (primarily multi-ethnic working class) responded to their estates’ demise or threatened demise? What political responses can be identified to state-led gentrification at this time of ever-deepening housing crisis in London? This paper examines these questions with reference to London-wide research on the changing nature of social housing provision, but with a focus on the outer London Borough of Barnet.

Gentrification and High Status Immigration in a Jerusalem Neighbourhood

Wednesday 21st January 2015, 3-5pm RHB 144

Dr Hila Zaban (SOAS)

The presentation deals with the Baka neighbourhood in Jerusalem and its processes of gentrification, combined with high-status immigration of Jews from Western countries. The main research question asks how changes in Baka's population influence and reflect spatial and cultural changes in the neighbourhood. Although based in Jerusalem, a city with a very unique character, this research is really about the urban experience in a neoliberal era. The Baka case-study also shows how gentrification processes are not only led from below but are also influenced by municipal, governmental and planning authorities. The ethnography reveals the links between Baka's gentrification and spatial and cultural changes. Such changes are reflected in the housing market, the religious sphere, modes of development in local services and trade and the pattern of public participation in neighbourhood affairs. Baka provides an example of the slow, dynamic and complex nature of certain types of gentrification.  It is also a case-study that combines gentrification, immigration and religion, which has not been studied much, although it exists in many other places. 

Neighborhoods as arenas of conflict in the neoliberal city: Practices of boundary making between “us” and “them”

Tuesday 2nd February 2015, 3-5pm PSH 314

Dr. María Luisa Méndez, Sociology Department, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago-Chile

In this article, I focus on middle class residential politics in areas that have been recently declared as “heritage neighborhoods” (Zona Típica). On the one hand, most middle class residents involved in these local politics denounce an “urban massacre” in traditional neighborhoods, which is characterized by the unexpected, undiscriminating and systematic demolition of houses in order to give way to new high rise buildings. For these residents, preparing and presenting their cases to the National Monuments Council (CMN) in order to have their areas of residence declared as heritage neighborhoods has been a way of protecting what they call “the barrio kind of life”, in other words, a lifestyle based at a small scale, local shops, relatively rich and family centered sociability, etc. On the other hand, however, and in order to make their cases, these residents have had to draw a line between what is and what is not considered part of the area, and therefore the lifestyle that is worth being protected. This process of production of space (Lefebvre, 1991) involves institutional, discursive and performative angles (Berson and Jackson, 2013), which lead to the physical delineation of the borders of the heritage neighborhood.

Following Berking et al. ideas about urban conflict as played out in local contexts and particularly mobilized through cultural frames or repertoires (Berking et al, 2006), and boundary work (Lamont, 1992; Lamont and Virag, 2002), it is not rare to find binary oppositions such as the old and the new, the traditional and the modern; values in favor of social interaction versus individualism (Gwen van Eijk, 2011); or the public versus the private (Méndez and Barozet, 2012); social ties versus anonymity; heterogeneity versus homogeneity (Tissot, 2011); the slow and the fast way of living; pro egalitarian views versus neoliberal views (Shapiro, 2009), among others. Possibly, the distinction that epitomizes this boundary work is that of the authentic and traditional middle class versus the (inauthentic) emergent or new middle class. The former would embody a pre deregulation period in Chile and the latter would represent the recent rapid, modern, individualized and non engaged way of living.

My argument in this paper is that, although these middle class residential politics involve strong institutional, symbolic, social and spatial boundary work, they do this while also expressing what they consider are more inclusive political views. This case shows how space is produced under times of change. These claims illustrate that it is possible to develop a rhetoric of justification that expresses both awareness of neoliberal residential politics and the desire for relatively exclusive spaces: they are actually not rejecting less privileged people, they are actually confronting a neoliberal urban massacre. Thus, when confronting urban transformation, these residents’ rhetoric on neighborhoods provides critiques to privatization and neoliberalism, by recapturing a pre-neoliberal reforms period and neighborhood sociability. Notwithstanding that, however, inequalities are still embedded in claims to place making and belonging. In this case, inevitably, belonging is a matter of rejecting the “aspiracional”, the emergent, the “neoliberal” new middle classes in Chile.  Finally, by addressing the relationship of the middle classes to territory and their place in relation to the contemporary city (Butler and Robson, 2003; Bridge, Butler and Lees, 2012; Zukin, 2010; Low, 2003; Savage et al, 2005; Brown-Saracino, 2009), this paper focuses on questions regarding the ways in which we currently understand different middle class neighborhoods in terms of intra and inter class distinctions, and the local politics and practices involved in those distinctions.




Art + Care: A Future

On Saturday 28 at 4PM in the Sackler Centre for Arts Education there will be a launch of the book 'Art + Care: A Future' at the Serpentine Gallery . The Art + Care book speculates on future alliances between the fields of art and elderly care. The book is based on essays by key thinkers on issues of aging and the future, and is contextualised by case studies, carried out by CUCR.

The Skills Exchange research assistants Cristina Garrido Sánchez, Ananda Ferlauto, Laura Cuch, Mara Ferreri and Katey Tabner worked as part of the team of artists, agencies and participants as the projects unfolded over five years with  of the Serpentine Gallery.  Skills Exchange: Urban Transformation and the Politics of Care. brought together artists, designers, researchers and architects working in the field of elderly care t Each Skills Exchange project was based on an extended artistic residency in a space of elderly care, through which participants were invited to engage with the creative process to  challenge stereotypes and social norms.

Projects took place during periods of imminent change – the relocation of a care home, the transformation of a neighborhood or a point of transition in the cycle of life– since these are the times when elderly people are more often marginalised and excluded.

Principles of exchange and participation were  integral to the research methodology. Central to the research was the role of five research assistants who have had a long —term engagement with the project, charting, and in some moments stimulating, two core aspects of the project: The ‘Skills Exchange’, that is the shifting of roles from stereotypical perceptions and habituated patterns of relating to more generative means of engaging their immediate social contexts, and the degree to which the project enables participants to increase the efficacy of their engagement with local, urban contexts.

The methodology was based in the methods and principles of Participatory Action Research (PAR). Initiated and named by practitioners in the global south, (PAR) re—orders the traditional positioning of the researcher as a silent observer and the research subjects as the object of the study, to suggest that research questions, outcomes and methods be shaped by those who are the basis for the study and who are most likely to be effected by its findings. Research in PAR is oriented towards realising social justice and social change collectively and thus speaks directly to the aims of Skills Exchange. While the methods used in this study, which included ethnographic participant observation, facilitated discussions, mapping, interviews, and research diaries, did not always differ from more traditional sociological research methods, PAR mobilises these methods towards larger social questions about the distribution of power and voice, both within groups and the wider society. Thus the role of the researcher is active and one that can be questioned and re —shaped by the group. 

For this reason,  the CUCR research assistants took on different roles. In some projects they worked alongside the artists and participants from the outset of the project, instigating group reflection on the process and the exchanges that took place as they unfolded.  In other cases — where groups did not have regular meetings — they have worked with participants individually, relaying reflections to other participants. In others, the role was related to the recording of events as they took place or tracking people’s reflections after the fact.

The research participants, whether older people, those who work with older people, or artists and other cultural workers, were co — researchers on this project. They played an active role, often deciding on the shape of the methods used. At times this meant that groups refused methods and suggested other means to get at the same questions, thereby shaping the research and the artwork as it developed. These subtle refusals and discussions led to moments of reflection — between artists, older people and research assistants. Other aspects of the research overlapped directly with artistic process i.e. the making of interviews, recordings of group conversations. They were not replicated by university researchers but were made use of in the overall project analysis. The research archive thus includes art works and social initiatives, opening events and manifestos in addition to interview transcripts and social mappings, each oriented towards the cultural and socio — political changes groups hoped to enact.

The openness, conflictual responsiveness and reflexivity of the groups were integral to the development of the projects from artistic, research and social perspectives. At best this meant that all involved learned to create inspiring responses to the many contradictions between institutions, participants and social contexts to which they were responding. Other times, due to the habits of art—making, research and/or social care, or indeed the busy schedules of participants, this full ambition of embedded and reflective research was not realised. Here we have the opportunity to reflect and learn. 

Though each project started with the union of artists and older people, the communities surrounding them grew to include children, students, care-givers, market-traders, local activists, media figures, policy-makers and many others. 

As contributors to this book suggest, beyond these immediate needs the concerns of the elderly intersect with those of many others. Sylvia Federici’s essay argues that decreased welfare-state contributions for the elderly have a significant impact on women, who, with migrant workers, bear the unpaid or underpaid brunt of care. Franco Berardi (Bifo) argues that the postponement of state pensions has equal ramifications for a younger precarious generation of workers, who reach the workforce later in life as a result. It is only through understanding the intersections between elderly care and other social sectors that we can begin to imagine what the future could look like. How can artistic practices assist in this re-imagining of elderly care and all of its complex interdependencies? Responding to this question and to broader public debates regarding housing,  pensions and the well-being of the UK’s aging population, in 2007 the Serpentine Gallery launched Skills Exchange: Urban Transformation  and the Politics of Care. Initiated by then Head of Programmes Sally Tallant and Projects Organiser Louise Coysh, the project  was developed by Projects Curator Janna Graham. Through Skills Exchange, the Serpentine Gallery placed artists, architects, researchers and designers into spaces and services for older people in five London Boroughs. Skills Exchange began with the idea that people in the later stages of life possess vital skills, insights and experiences that should be shared and exchanged.The project aimed to bring the voices and concerns of this often marginalised section  of society into contact with a range of artistic practices. Through these exchanges, participants in the field of art and care realised that the picture of the elderly that we have seen to date does not reflect the myriad of experiences, desires, plans, ways of knowing and networks that older people possess. Indeed very few Skills Exchange projects in the end focused on older people. What we heard from our Skills Exchange collaborators was more often related to broader social changes that they wanted to make: the destigmatising of social-housing tenants; the preservation of local street markets; the right to imagination at the end of life, and the creation of more equitable relationships in caring. 

For more information about CUCR's Moadlities of Exchange Report and the Slkille exchage Project please contact 


Skills Exchange


Urban Encounters 2014: Movements/Mobilities/Migrations

Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG / 24 – 25 October 2014

This year’s Urban Encounters symposium looks at the visual manifestations and effects of movement, mobility and migration on the historic and contemporary city. Over two days, an international line up of artists, academics, and researchers reflect on the nature of flow and flux through and between city spaces with a variety of topics including economic mobility, labour movements, borders, and the migration of things and people. Participants include Caroline Knowles, Paul Halliday, David Kendall, Ben Gidley,

Bradley Garrett, Jennifer Bajorek, Paul Goodwin, Adam Kaasa, Xavier Ribas and Lia Chavez.

Urban Encounters is part of Urban Photo Fest and is organised in partnership with the Centre for Urban and Community Research (CUCR), Goldsmiths, University of London, Kingston University London, University of Oxford and Openvizor.

Preregistration through Tate Britain.

Arts-based Research in Johannesburg: A conversation on time, practice and place

RHB 137 Friday 17 October 4pm-6pm

Bettina Malcomess, (University of Witswatersrand, Johannesburg) , in Conversation with Alison Rooke and Christian Von Wissell, (CUCR, Goldsmiths).

Art process and practice offer the potential to can make apparent of the complexity of the everydayness of urban life. Focusing on South African cities the speakers will discuss the significance of time and duration in creative processes and cultural policy.

Bettina Malcomess has been involved in a long term, investigation into Johannesburg, working with the numerous representations of the city in historical writing, urban theory, film, media and fiction. Her book Not No Place. Johannesburg, Fragments of Spaces and Times (co-authored with Dorothee Kreutzfeldt) presents a collection of moments in the city’s complex history, its contemporary spatial realities as well as its future projections.

Alison Rooke and Christian von Wissel will discuss their research into Nine Urban Biotopes. (9UB) an international artistic residency exchange programme between South African and European cities. Driven by funding imperatives and project architecture, the 9UB socially-engaged artists undertook short-term residencies that responded to the specifics social and cultural context of South African cities. This required that they worked ‘from the middle’, in their making sense of the local whilst depending on co-operation, hospitality and trust.


Guest Lecture: Empathic Imagination, Neuroscience and Architecture

Juhani Pallasmaa, Architect and Professor Emeritus

Goldsmiths, University of London, New Academic Building, LG01

Wednesday 15 October 2014, 5:30-7:00pm

To be followed by a drinks reception

Free event, all are welcome

Preregistration through Eventbrite:

This public lecture by Juhani Pallasmaa will explore the relationship between neuroscience and architecture. Apart from his built work, which includes the Kamppi centre in Helsinki and the SIIDA Museum in Inari, Pallasmaa is widely known for his writings on architectural theory, such as The Eyes of the Skin (Wiley, 2005), The Thinking Hand (Wiley, 2009) and The Embodied Image (Wiley, 2011). Developing insights from phenomenology and, more recently, neuroscience, Pallasmaa seeks to “re-sensualise” (2005, 37) architectural experience and practice through an exploration of the affective and multisensory qualities of the built environment. For Pallasmaa, architecture is primarily a means whereby humanity negotiates its relationality with the world by creating a shared arena for experiencing, imagining and remembering: “Architecture is the art of reconciliation between ourselves and the world” (2005, 72).

This event is sponsored by the European Research Council funded project, Universalism, Universal Design and Equitable Access to the Designed Environment. The project is based in the Centre for Urban and Community Research (CUCR) at Goldsmiths, and is led by Professor Rob Imrie.

Image © Knut Thyberg