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Session Chair: Catherine Louise Walker, University of Manchester
Location:BS.3.17 Manchester Metropolitan University
Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium
Reviewing Informal Settlements in Romania
ROMANIAN INSTITUTE FOR RESEARCH ON NATIONAL MINORITIES, Romania
Data from different World Bank and UNECE studies (2009, 2012, 2015) focusing on Europe speak about the need to reverse the precarious condition of informal communities by conferring legal status to such settlements. Accordingly, in most cases such communities are disconnected from urban development plans. In this sense, the Romanian case is quite a special one on this map of informal settlements. The state does not have an up-to-date register concerning the rightful owners for each property. One of the implications of this situation was the failure of implementing several European infrastructural projects. The National Land Cadastre and Registry Program to be implemented between 2015-2023 was conceived to amend this situation across the whole country.
The aim of this paper is first to follow the history of the formation of these communities and the concerning legal solutions that are currently being circulated in the Romanian public space. Then, by presenting a case study on an informal urban settlement in Romania, the author highlights the need to develop and implement public policies that are correlated with realities on the ground.
The study is based on materials derived from a qualitative research in an informal community, during the year 2018.
Keywords: informal settlements; legalization, inclusion; Romania
Ethnic enclaves reimagined in the global city: An ethnography of co-ethnic socio-religious networks on London’s Old Kent Road
Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom
This paper presents the findings of an ethnography of the prosperity theology movement on the Old Kent Road, an inner London neighbourhood which has become a hotspot for this phenomenon with a high density of Black Majority Churches. Considering the phenomenon’s past, present and future, it contributes to research concerning ethnic enclaves in the city. In the context of urban marginalisation and major threats of austerity urbanism and urban redevelopment of the area driven primarily by the forces of gentrification, particular attention is paid to the role of immigrant and urban religion in structuring the lives and identities of migrants from West Africa and in fostering their integration into the broader society. I argue that the churches respond to the devaluation of their ethnic minority populations within London and the British society as a whole, as they resist the imagination and positioning by the majority population and public discourses as well as prevalent structural inequalities that create barriers for their social inclusion. The re-imagining, re-engineering and re-positioning of the members is key to the goals and motivation of the pastors who act as agents of change counteracting their members’ marginalized position and mobilising them to take their rightful place in the city. They strive collectively to reimagine and reposition themselves in society and from the periphery of urban life to the centre through various reactive and proactive strategies – thus envisioning a more inclusive future by operating from the 'bottom-up', where those actions afford new meaning to physical and social spaces.
Lighting Up Hoole: An Exploration Of Community-Based Volunteering, Belonging And Future Visions For Places On The Periphery
University of Chester, United Kingdom
Hoole, a suburb a mile north of Chester Cross, was lit up for the 19th year in a row on Saturday 24th November 2018. Just before 6pm Father Christmas made his way down to the open-air stage where he was joined by local children and the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Chester to flick the switch and light up Hoole for another Christmas Season.
The Christmas Lights switch on may seem unexceptional, but the lights in Hoole are not paid for or organised by any official body. The local community and businesses have been organising this event for the past nineteen years, funded largely by donations from local businesses and run entirely by volunteers from the businesses and the community. The staging of the event poses questions around how the people in this community ‘do belonging’ (Bennett, 2014); how the concept of a ‘community heritage’ develops (Smith, 2006); and whether the council’s focus on the city centre in its support for businesses is detrimental to the identities of peripheral localities.
Drawing on a variety of qualitative data from a research project focused on this event, this paper proposes some potential futures of a mixed residential and retail area of Chester. Underpinned by an Actor Network Theory (ANT) approach, the paper explores how this annual community-run event intertwines assemblages of people, place and practices in the diversity of experience, production, and consumption of place (Bennett, 2017; Low, 2017). It suggests that belonging can be understood as an (re)emergent set of practices, oriented towards the future.