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Awarded Seed Grants XL

Centre for Urban Studies

In 2017, the Centre for Urban Studies started with its Seed Grant XL programme, in addition to the regular Seed Grants. The Seed Grant XL call serves to support and facilitate bigger and innovative research initiatives of CUS’ research staff, which cannot be realized within the budget of a regular Seed Grant. This a complete list of all the Awarded Seed Grants XL by the Centre for Urban Studies.

'Commoning with Children in the Fringes of Cities'

Awarded to Francesca Ranalli

The goal of this project is to explore children's perception and experience of urban commons. During this project, children will visit and analyse public spaces in their neighbourhood in Almere Poort, under the guidance of an artist/teacher and the researcher in order to collectively experiment with ways of opening up those spaces in order to meet their needs and desires. Children will work together with policy-makers from the Gemeente Almere, researchers and a local artist in an interactive environment in order to develop socio-spatial tools for improving social cohesion in peri-urban areas. The aim is for an art installation to be designed by the children and the local artist which will be exhibited in Almere Poort. 

This project is supported by the Gemeente Almere, the Coloumbusschool and elementary school De Zeeraket.


'Artist in residence: Sjoerd ter Borg and Aesthetics of Exclusion'

Awarded to Justus Uitermark

'Aesthetics of Exclusion' is a design research project that uses computer vision techniques and machine learning to explore and analyse aesthetical styles that relate to gentrification and processes of (urban) homogenization through large image archives such as (Google) StreetView and Instagram. During the residency, Sjoerd ter Borg will collaborate with members of the Center of Urban Studies (CUS). Based on their academic research, he will experiment with different ways of visualizing data and theory. They will organize open conversations with the scientists working at the center and together develop new experiments, iterations and visualizations of existing and research in progress, focusing on two subprojects in particular: 

Which aesthetics do we associate with gentrification? StreetSwipe lets the audience determine if they think a photo of a storefront of bar should be classified as ‘gentrified’. While swiping, different cities, streets, years and neighbourhoods are compared on a live webpage. The aim of StreetSwipe is to generate new knowledge that is aimed at researching gentrification through its aesthetics (colours, patterns, objects). 

Plaform urbanism
How do people represent the city on digital platforms? And how do these representations feed back into people’s uses of the city? Do social media facilitate a commons or do they spur the commodification of urban space? These questions animate several strands of work at the CUS1 and is highly relevant for debates about city marketing and the symbolic dimension of policy more broadly. Social media practices feed on and back into socio-spatial inequalities. During the residency at the CUS Sjoerd will use different techniques to visualize how the city is reshaped through social media.

'Commoning Amsterdam's Future'

Awarded to Nanke Verloo, Fenne Pinkster, Virginie Mamadouh, Dolly Loomans and Julia Strijland

The city of Amsterdam is quickly expanding, posing new challenges to create plans for the future that foster the wide array of interests and dreams of the people of Amsterdam. While such planning strategies have traditionally been top- down, the municipality now aims to include bottom-up experiences and interests of various stakeholders like residents, entrepreneurs, and professionals. However, only stakeholders working and living in the city center and who were officially invited have thus far been engaged in this process. This project aims to ‘common Amsterdam’s future’ from the bottom-up by including a group of citizens that has so far remained ‘outside’ of the planning process and wider discussions about the city’s plans for the future through the method of storytelling.


'ILLICITIES: Criminalized City-Building'

Awarded to Frank Müller and Julienne Weegels

Organized crime is mainly studied in relation to illicit economies, the cross border movement of migrants, arms and drugs and in the ways in which it discursively and materially justifies military and police responses. In this context, cities assume a crucial role as spaces that concentrate economic wealth and political power. Research on the crime/“city-building” nexus has, to a lesser extent, reflected on the material conditions that shape illicit urbanization. Being essential drivers and objects of those arrangements, land, construction materials, apartments and resources (water, electric energy and gas) as well as the specific design of neighbourhood renewal point to the necessity to include the materiality of cities within the analyses of illicit urbanization. In order to incentivize debates that address this void, ILLICITIES asks how organized crime affects urbanization.


'Between 'Rapefugees' and Nativist Rape Threats'

Awarded to Sarah Bracke and Darshan Vigneswaran

If public space is the primary material manifestation of the ‘urban commons’ – why is it so rarely experienced, accessed or held ‘in common’? The first aim of this project is to bring scholars from different fields (gender studies, migration studies, urban studies) together to think thoroughly and systematically about physical violence and representation in public space. The second aim of this project is to carefully map out how this trope operates in a contemporary Dutch context, where the trope of the ‘foreign’ sexual predator co-occurs with ‘nativist’ rape threats addressed to those who push back against the ‘foreign’ sexual predator trope and envision ways of creating a shared public space.


'Parallel Art Residencies on Queering the Urban: Kingston/Montego Bay, Nairobi, Amsterdam and beyond'

Awarded to Francesco Colona & Tracian Meikle

This artist in residency serves to bridge the gap between academia and art, by articulating them in a non-hierarchical trans-disciplinary process that will also serve as a vehicle for CUS academics to engage with artistic practices. The main aim is to deepen the mutual understanding between the two categories, that of artists and that of scholars, when approaching important societal issues such as those posed by different forms of urbanity, from Kingston and Montego Bay to Nairobi to Amsterdam and beyond. An attempt at co-crafting a mutual form of knowledge production will be paramount, with particular analytical and reflective relevance given to the different sensitivities that are mobilized in these processes. Such effort will find an outcome in a collective art/academic installation/performance at the end of the two parallel art residencies. At the end of the art residency, the artist will be given a space at Pakhuis de Zwijger for their own artwork to be exhibited or performed. Furthermore, the outcomes of these art residencies will “fold back” in Kingston and Nairobi which will be a valuable opportunity for the CUS to forge trans-disciplinary and transnational connections.


'Co-creation: Sharing knowledge between Living Labs in Brownfield Transformation areas'

Awarded to Michaela Hordijk

This seed grant XL project serves to foster experiential learning between actors in the living labs like Buiksloterham and other brown field transformation areas (eg. Cruquius, Amsterdam, Binckhorst, Den Haag). The learning draws on the principles of Reflexive Interactive Design, developed to enhance concrete action by the actors involved, yet simultaneously identifying where changes in the wider system in which their experiment is embedded are needed.  Next to collecting data, a series of workshops and (public) meetings on the Circular City are organized at different locations – namely the Binckhorst in the Hague and Pakhuis de Zwijger - to further knowledge exchange on urban experiments in brownfield transformation areas. A special masterclass for CUS students, PhD’s, junior researchers is organized to present the results to the involved partners from Buiksloterham. Furthermore, the tentative results are presented on an international conference Practicing the commons: Self-governance, cooperation, and institutional change. The end results are presented in a paper to be submitted to a journal and will be used to write a SURF grant proposal.


'Cities and Mobilities'

Awarded to Anna Nikolaeva

“Cities and Mobilities” is a series of seminars in which (inter)national researchers with a background in sociology, geography, urban planning, anthropology, history and cultural studies are engaged to investigate how mobility shapes cities. Each seminar consists of a lecture by a leading mobility scholar, a discussion and a couple of presentations by PhDs and Postdocs, followed by feedback and a public debate. The seminar series will run from October 2017 until May 2018, closed by a final event that will bring together scholars and Amsterdam policy-makers in a roundtable on mobility in Amsterdam.


'Mortgaged Lives: the Biopolitics of Debt and Home-Ownership'

Awarded to Maria Kaika

This project aims to develop methods that link political-economic processes that drive the financialisation of housing to the socio-spatial experience of living with mortgage debt and home repossessions. With Barcelona (300,000 Spanish homes repossessed) and Athens (300,000 Greek households pending evictions) as laboratories, the project pilots an innovative research method for data sourcing by organizing a community theatre and making a documentary together with Hans Busstra, Independent documentary filmmaker (EO, KRO, VPRO Tegenlicht). The documentary will be screened during a public event autumn 2017.