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Building just and livable cities: Participation and contestation in neighborhood revitalization

Final Report Summary - URBLIV (Building just and livable cities: Participation and contestation in neighborhood revitalization)

As stated in the project proposal, URBLIV has three research objectives:
1. To conduct empirical research of three case studies of historically marginalized neighborhoods in Barcelona, Havana, and Boston that have organized proactively to fight degradation and abandonment and achieve long-term environmental quality and livability.
2. To build theory based on data analysis of the three cases and on existing theory in the fields of environmental justice, social movements, and urban sociology. This research contributes to a greater understanding of how community claims, organization, and strategic engagement with supporters to address injustices are affected by the local identities of residents, their sense of place, and their interpretation of the socio-political contexts
3. To understand the policy and planning implications of recent environmental justice mobilizations in cities across a variety of political contexts and levels of development through the three case studies presented here
During the development of the project, the researcher conducted qualitative data collection (interviews, observations, and secondary data) and analysis (grounded theory, process tracing, content and narrative analysis) to understand the individual and collectives meanings reflected in residents organizing to improve the livability and environmental quality of marginalized neighborhoods. The marginalized neighborhoods under examination were Cayo Hueso (Havana), Dudley (Boston), and Casc Antic (Barcelona). She also examined the extent to which the struggles of communities reflect a desire to achieve environmental gains as opposed to serving as a means to strengthen their identity and place-making, and achieve spatial justice in the city. And last, she analyzed how the strategies that residents and their supporters develop to advance their goals build on local individual and collective identities that take shape in different political systems and contexts of marginalization. This research contributes to a broader understanding of how community claims, organization, and strategic engagement with supporters to address injustices are affected by the local identities of residents, their sense of place, and their interpretation of the socio-political contexts.
Part of URBLIV was also geared towards a transfer of knowledge. First, Isabelle Anguelovski co-taught and organized courses in Political Ecology; Political Ecology, Environmental Conflicts and Justice; and Research Design and Qualitative Methods. She also organized a Summer School in Environmental Conflicts and Justice at the ICTA-UAB. Second, the researcher contributed to the implementation of 3 EU funded projects at ICTA: RESPONDER (through the participation in the organization of the project conference in Barcelona, a research paper, a keynote speech, and a roundtable contribution), ENTITLE (through courses taught at ICTA and in a Summer School and through feedback to PhD students research), and EJOLT (through the contribution to a Glossary and the support of students working on maps). Third, the researcher developed a transnational environmental justice umbrella platform whose main meeting took place in July 2012 during a two-day intensive workshop with a variety of stakeholders from North America, Europe, and Latin America. One of the main achievements of this platform is a new research collaboration on environmental gentrification in partnership with the University of Massachusetts in Boston. Fourth, the researcher met regularly with graduate students at ICTA, advised them informally and formally on the Master’s and PhD thesis development, and provided feedback on their research project and papers. Last, Isabelle Anguelovski was the organizer of a bi-monthly PhD and postdoc seminar series on Ecological Economics, through which PhD and postdoctoral fellows in Ecological Economics at ICTA presented their research and received feedback.
During the IIF fellowship, Isabelle Anguelovski submitted the following research papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals.
• Anguelovski, I. Forthcoming. “From Environmental Trauma to Safe Haven: Place Attachment and Place Remaking in Three Marginalized Neighborhoods of Barcelona, Boston, and Havana.” City and Community.
• Anguelovski, I. 2013. “New directions in urban environmental justice: Rebuilding community, addressing trauma, and remaking place”. Journal of Planning Education and Research (JPER). 33:2, 160-175.
• Anguelovski, I. 2013. “Beyond a livable and green neighborhood: Asserting control, sovereignty, and transgression in the Casc Antic of Barcelona.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 37:2, 1012-1034.
• Anguelovski, I. Coalitions and bottom-to-bottom networks: Community mobilization for environmental justice in Boston, Barcelona, and Havana (Status: Revise and Resubmit).
• Anguelovski, I. and Martínez-Alier Joan. The ‘Environmentalism of the Poor’ revisited: Territory and place in disconnected glocal struggles (Status: Under review)
• Martinez-Alier, J., Anguelovski, I., Bond, P., Del Bene, D., Demaria, F., Gerber, J.F. Greyl, L., Haas, W., Healy, H., Marín-Burgos, V., Ojo, G., Porto, M.F. Rijnhout, J., Rodríguez-Labajos, B., Spangenberg, J., Temper, L., Warlenius, R., Yánez, I. Between activism and science: grassroots concepts for sustainability coined by EJOs (Status: Under review).
• Anguelovski, I. From toxic sites as LULUs to green goods as LULUs? Emerging challenges and dilemmas for urban environmental justice activism and research (Status: Under review)

She also wrote the two following book chapters:
• Anguelovski, I. Forthcoming. “Urban Gardening.” In G. d’Alisa, F. Demaria, y G. Kallis (Eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new paradigm. London: Routledge.
• Anguelovski, I. Forthcoming. “Environmental Justice.” In G. d’Alisa, F. Demaria, y G. Kallis (Eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new paradigm. London: Routledge.

Most important, she was awarded a book contract with MIT Press for a book called “Neighborhood as refuge: Community Reconstruction, Place-Remaking, and Environmental Justice in the city.” This book will come out in early 2014. Having this book published at MIT Press is a major achievement for her career in the fields of urban planning and geography.

Last, the fellow participated in international conferences. During those events, she not only presented her work as part of panel sessions, but also organized roundtables and was invited as keynote speaker. She formed strong professional relationships in some of the conferences that she attends regularly (Urban Affairs Association and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning) which has helped her strengthen her visibility as a European-American scholar. While in Barcelona, she has presented her research in urban planning and architecture schools (i.e. the ESARQ at the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya) and reached across fields and disciplines. Last she has attended professional conferences, including the Rethinking Cities: Framing the Future, 6th Urban Research and Knowledge Symposium, Barcelona, 7-10 October 2012 organized by the World Bank, where she discussed the importance of considering long-term equity and justice issues when revitalizing and upgrading historically degraded neighborhoods. Through her participation in these international events, she has strengthened the relevance of urban environmental justice dimensions in urban policy and planning. She unraveled how neighborhood decay and trauma can be transformed in community recovery through urban environmental projects such as parks, playgrounds, or urban farms that help rebuild a neighborhood and remake place for historically marginalized residents.