If you live in Amsterdam, chances are you have come across a street sign that features the WhatsApp logo, followed by the word “buurtpreventie” (neighbourhood watch), which indicates that residents living nearby are using their smartphones to inform each other on perceived threats to their safety. The use of the popular messaging app for street-level surveillance by ordinary people is certainly not a local phenomenon, though. In cities around the world, WhatsApp groups for security have encouraged neighbours to keep their eyes on the streets, and on each other.
The last several years have seen a growing awareness of the often-invisible structures of racism and white privilege in Dutch society. Only a little over a year ago, on June 10, 2020, people gathered in Amsterdam Zuidoost for the largest anti-racist protests ever seen in the Netherlands. Similarly, the academic field of geography shows a nascent interest in shifting the analytical lens away from spaces racialized as non-white to scrutinizing the socio-spatial formation of whiteness. How does whiteness give meaning to places? And how does it affect the experiences of white people and people of color moving through such places?
In 2014 dr. Marco Bontje wrote about his early experiences of his housing career as an ‘early gentrifier’ in Amsterdam at the beginning of the century. He managed to secure an apartment in the Bos en Lommer. At that time he questioned whether the Bos en Lommer had become the new frontier for gentrification in the city, as he observed “islands of wealth” being constructed as part of the urban renewal process in a neighbourhood which was once known as the most deprived parts of Amsterdam. He also raised the question whether the process would be "brave" to cross that notorious physical and psychological barrier of ‘The Ring’, the A10 ring road”.
The emergence of Covid-19 has had an unimaginable impact on city life, and Amsterdam is no exception. Especially in the first months of the ‘intelligent lockdown’ the city fell silent. Residents’ lives were rescaled to their homes and the local neighbourhood, as schools, work places and urban amenities – from hair salons and cafes to museums and concert halls – closed. With the disappearance of the familiar hordes of visitors and commuters, the city center remained empty.
It is a hard job to stimulate the debate about cycling in the Netherlands. Literally everybody is a frequent user and most therefore also consider themselves to be an expert: 16 million professors on urban cycling. We could not be happier than living and working in such an advanced mobility context. This is something that we should acknowledge and export more. But at the same time we run the risk of what is called a ‘handicap of a head start’; a too comfortable situation in which there is a lack of stimuli to strive for further progress or –more cynically- to avoid a reversal of the accomplished success.
On the 1st of June the Centre for Urban Studies (CUS) co-hosted the fifth edition of the Urban Studies Networking Event. This event, organized by the CUS, was co-hosted with the Centre for Urban Mental Health (UMH) and the Centre for Social Sciences and Global Health (SSGH).
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been widely adopted by the property industry in recent years. The Global Financial Crisis (2008), Sustainable Development Goals (2016), and the Paris Agreement (2016) have all played a significant role in pushing CSR forward to improve the quality of life in cities. However, businesses have used CSR primarily to focus on environmental policies and organizational governance, leaving out the social dimensions of the concept and their effects on cities largely open for interpretation.
Although completing a PhD sounds like an ending, it is also the beginning of a new story. However, starting the next chapter is not very easy in the current academic field which is highly precarious and competitive for newly graduated PhDs.
One could do worse than to listen to the songs of Bruce Springsteen to catch a glimpse of processes of urban transformation in the United States. He frequently painted moving and penetrating pictures of urban scenes. Like many other songwriters, he has explored inner landscapes of love, happiness, loneliness, abandonment and despair, but he also dealt with the world outside. He has sung about social divisions, racial strife, the plight of downtrodden groups as Vietnam veterans and undocumented migrants. He has, moreover, specifically addressed key urban studies themes such as street life, urban decay and deindustrialisation in his songs. Within the domain of popular music, his work stands out because of its recurrent explicit and rich depiction of urban landscapes in a highly productive career which now spans nearly five decades.
The Urban Mobility Futures team organised a three-day, online workshop (November 12, November 24, December 17) in which all colleagues of the Centre for Urban Studies (CUS) of the UvA were invited to develop a joint research agenda around Smart City development together with AM Urban Development and BAM Infra.
The recent embrace of urban mixed-use development projects by the world of commercial real estate, appears as a victorious result for some urban planners. They endlessly feel that they are advocating for more socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable neighbourhoods and cities that fight the monocultural development paradigm of the post-World War II era in much of the Western world.
In the third session of the Property Webinar Series COVID-19 and Risk Assessments on Hospitality Property Holding Decisions, we explored the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic recession on hospitality properties and how the current crisis differs from the global financial crisis.
Being awarded the Centre for Urban Studies Fellowship Writing Grant in 2019 gave me the opportunity to kickstart my career as a PhD student. During the 3-month fellowship, I worked closely with my supervisors Prof. Tuna Tasan-Kok, Dr. Sara Özogul, and Dr. Gert-Joost Peek to develop my research proposal. My research focuses on exploring planning instruments to capture social value in the governance of property development.
In the last decade, investment managers rose to the most influential investor type in Amsterdam’s property market. Existing urban studies and urban planning literature, however, has surprisingly little to say about investment managers. In fact, urban studies and planning scholars rarely differentiate property investors.
The research network ILLICITIES explores the ways in which heterogeneous governance actors, including licit and illicit actors, co-produce cities. Provoked by Charles Tilly’s analogy of state-making and organized crime, we aim at a better understanding of the urban and material conditions of the crime/state-making nexus.
Brought to you by an enthusiastic group of podcasting newbies, The City Unfinished is a podcast experiment that brings together urban researchers and residents around the political practices, tensions and challenges shaping our cities today.