My hermit-like attempts to work are clearly cutting me off from the real world. Great news that as part of the campaign to stop UCL bulldozing a community in Stratford in order to make way for a new campus, UCL Save Carpenters have gone into occupation. They’ve got a tumblr and are on Facebook and Twitter, and have a petition to sign.
I’ve long wondered at the seeming lack of campus-based activism (in the UK at least) which focuses on how universities relate to local space and nearby populations, and in particular as property owners and developers. Universities often play very important roles in the neoliberalisation of urban space and gentrification, but this is an issue which rarely gains any acknowledgement by – let alone traction with – political groups within higher education.
This is a very important campaign, and I would urge you to read up and get involved if possible.
I’ve also just come across this debate between Edward Soja, Andy Merrifield and Maria Kaika on the future of urban studies, which took place at the University of Manchester a couple of weeks ago on 16 November 2012.
I wasn’t able to attend this or the previous day’s lecture by Professor Soja on regional urbanisation (which I will post when it goes up) so I’m glad I’ll be able to get to see it when I have spare couple of hours. This was organised by the excellent Open Space forum (though they don’t seem to have a website). There’s an audio recording of another of their events here, which I did go to while I was still in Manchester, titled ‘Every Revolution has its Space: from Occupying Squares to Transforming Cities?’ – the only time I got to see the late great Neil Smith.
I should also put up this video of Neil Brenner speaking at Harvard around a year ago on ‘The Urbanization Question, or, the Field Formerly Known as Urban Studies’. There’s also an open access article in IJURR by Andy Merrifield called ‘The Urban Question under Planetary Urbanization’. This ongoing debate and exploration is something I’m trying to work through at the moment in relation to the Anthropocene and the material and ecological reproduction of cities – connected to Hodson and Marvin’s concept of ‘urban ecological security’.
Short excerpt of an interview with Manchester-based geographer Erik Swyngedouw from the start of the year. Thanks to Kenton Card for the link (via Progressive Geographies). There’s an open-access paper of his on the ‘post-political’ here.
I’ve been really enjoying the Luxury Communism tumblr over the last few weeks, which is being run by a network of people in the UK, a couple of whom I know. They’re doing it very well.
Real substantial posts will begin soon, I promise. Writing is beginning after two months of reading and fumbling around in the dark, not to mention seemingly endless soul-sapping research training days.
I’m going to the ‘Thinking Urban Worlds‘ workshop at Durham next week, which looks like it will be a lively and interesting afternoon. Not sure if there are any places left, but certainly worth checking I’d say.
I am planning to get into the blogging properly very soon, now I have actually started my PhD and am settled in Sheffield. In the meantime though, I received this email from my very good friend Adie, who is on the ground now in Gaza. Solidarity with the people of Gaza tonight and the weeks and months to come:
Dear All. I am calling on all your support for the besieged people of the Gaza Strip.
Here in Gaza, more than 10 people have been killed so far in the Israeli operation named “Pillar of Defence” within the last 7 hours, including countless children such as 7-year-old child Ranan Arafat and an 11 month old baby. We’ve seen charred bodies of dead and injured children pouring in to Al Shifa hospital of Gaza City and the other depleted hospitals around the Gaza Strip. 50 airstrikes all over the Gaza Strip so far. Deafening explosions shook us all as bombs landed close to us in the streets near the Universities. Huge explosions are landing all around us in Gaza City now as I write, some entire families have been injured. We can also hear the shelling of Israeli Gunships. Announcement of possible Israeli land invasion very soon.
More than 330 children were killed in the last bloody operation like this in operation Cast Lead, killing over 1400 in total the vast majority civilians. We are reporting from hospitals, streets and bombed areas. How many, terrified in there homes will have their lives shortened by tomorrow, or after the days of airstrikes, tank shellings and Gunship missiles Israel has announced. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. MOVE. ACT NOW TO STOP ANOTHER GAZA BLOODBATH. INACTION AROUND THE WORLD HAS LED US TO THIS POINT. ACT NOW.