CURA Events and Seminar Schedule 2020/21

Welcome to the CURA Events and Seminars Programme for 2020/21. The next CURA members meeting will be held on 25th November 2020 9.30-11.30. MS Teams Link – CURA Meeting This programme sets out current and forthcoming CURA events for the next 12 months. If you would like to contribute or have any questions, please contact CURA Research Assistant sally.ward@dmu.ac.uk.

November 2020

Trade unions under austerity: labour activism in the post-2015 automobile sector in Argentina

Drawing on research undertaken in Argentina, Dr. Adam Fishwick of DeMontfort University and Dr. Lucila D’Urso, University of Buenos Aires will be exploring changes to “labour and life” (Lazar 2017) stymied or revitalised organisation and mobilisation. The discussion will explore How far can the existing organisational structures of the trade unions respond to these new conditions? And to what extent can union activists drive new dynamics of organising and demands that exceed the bounds of the workplace?

Since 2015, with the electoral victory of Mauricio Macri, Argentina has experienced deep cuts in social spending, and attempts to impose a regressive – and deeply unpopular – labour reform. Wages have stagnated as inflation has skyrocketed and the private sector – particularly domestic industrial production – has entered a deep and sustained period of crisis. In this paper, we examine how these effects of austerity in Argentina have impacted the capacity of labour activists to organise and mobilise against these changes. Drawing on data from semi-structured interviews with trade union officials, union members and dissident current and former union activists, the paper assesses recent experiences of labour organising in the automotive sector. Workers in this sector are represented by powerful, well-organised trade unions (SMATA and UOM), which regained substantial political influence during the prior period of union ‘revitalisation’ and rapid state-supported growth, securing wage growth but worsening working conditions (Santella 2015). In recent years, however, collapsing domestic and international demand has seen production fall dramatically, with plant suspensions and closures increasingly becoming the norm. Thus, the paper analyses the extent to which the ‘creativity’ of capitalism – exemplified by these combined crises – has been matched by the creativity of workers to contest and confront its deleterious effects (see Flesher Fominaya & Cox 2013; Fishwick and Connolly 2018; Nowak et al. 2018).

Adam Fishwick is an Associate Professor (Reader) in International Political Economy and Development Studies at the Department of Politics, People and Place at De Montfort University, Leicester. He currently holds a Leverhulme Trust International Academic Fellowship for his research on labour activism and austerity in Latin America. More broadly, he is interested in the political economy of work, labour movements and development in Latin America and has published widely across these research areas. Lucila specialises in labor relations and sociology of work. She also works as Advisor to the Minister of Labor of the Province of Buenos Aires and as a university professor (UBA and UNICEN).

This seminar will take place on Wednesday 25th November 2020 15.00-16.00. MS Teams Link – CURA Latin America Network Event

December 2020

Security Politics and Urban Restructuring in Post-Bankruptcy Detroit

Stefan Treffers, PhD Candidate at the Department of Sociology, York University, Toronto, Canada will be presenting his research topic on Security Politics and Urban Restructuring in Post-Bankruptcy Detroit.

In 2013, Detroit was forced to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy after it was determined that the city could not meet its future debt obligations. The financially mediated restructuring of the city vis-à-vis an unelected emergency manager and later the federal bankruptcy code guaranteed the city would be subject to a fierce program of privatization, public sector downsizing, and fiscal discipline. Less discussed, however, are the ways that emergency financial management set the stage for an unprecedented hardening of the city’s securitization regime. This presentation will draw on the recent implementation of Project Greenlight, a city-wide, police surveillance and facial recognition system, as an anchoring point for a closer examination of new and mutating forms of urban securitization that have been mobilized to secure Detroit’s downtown ‘resurgence’ and to normalize a deeply spatialized and racialized austerity agenda. It will also explore some of my early attempts at grappling with the mutually constitutive logics of urban securitization and neoliberal austerity.


Movement parties and democratic deepening: Local Governments in Catalonia and the Basque Country from a comparative perspective (2017-2020)

Miriam Ureta García, PhD Candidate at the University of the Basque Country (EHU/UPV) will present her research on Local Governments in Catalonia and the Basque Country. On the one hand, the literature on political parties is extensive in addressing the relationship between the institutionalization of party systems and the idea of democratization. On the other hand, studies on social movements have thoroughly analyzed the connection between social movements and their democratizing role. Miriam’s work is situated at the intersection between the institutionalization processes of social movements and the idea of democratic deepening, to understand: How do the institutionalization processes of social movements relate to the idea of democratic deepening? Following her analysis Miriam highlights some consequences of the institutionalization processes in connection with the idea of democratic deepening from a comparative perspective. Among them, the tensions emerging from opening up opportunities to new mechanisms of democratic deepening and the implications of 2 institutionalizing participatory, community and deliberative spaces (among others clashes).

This joint seminar will take place on Wednesday 9th December 2020 14.00-15.30.

MS Teams Link – CURA Joint Seminar: External PhD Candidates

January 2021

The role of relational governing resources in regime stability and change: a working hypothesis from an exploratory study of left municipalism in Galicia.

Dr. Adrian Bua, Early Career Academic Fellow at De Montfort University will report on ongoing research undertaken in in collaboration with Professor Jonathan Davies. The research investigates left municipalist administrations in Galicia from 2015-19. These administrations took over from well-established local urban regimes consolidated under (relatively uninterrupted) Socialist Party rule since the first democratic municipal elections in 1978, on anti-austerity, anti-corruption and pro-social justice messages.

The paper contributes to explaining the limitations and retreats experienced by these platforms, marked by widespread electoral defeat in 2019. Influenced by urban regime theory, Adrian suggests that governing resources based on formal and informal relationships between local regime actors (politicians, public officials and private enterprise and civil society representatives) are an important facilitator of governability. Based on preliminary research, Adrian will present the working hypothesis that governance failures are in part explained by a “governance resource strike” on behalf of actors linked to the former regime, exacerbating the administrative weakness of activists-turned politicians, as well as the municipalist coalition incapacity to generate independent relational resources across the state, the private sector and civil society with a comparable capacity for collective action to those of the previous regime.

Adrian’s academic interests span democratic theory, public policy, urban studies and political economy. Currently he is specifically interested in studying processes of democratisation and de-democratisation from a critical political economy perspective. Adrian is also experienced in policy-oriented research, having worked in various think tanks including the New Economics Foundation and the Institute for Public Policy Research where he worked on social policy and on local and regional economic development.

This seminar will take place on Wednesday 20th January 2021 11.00-12.00

MS Teams Link – Seminar Series 20th January 2021

February 2021

Social Mixing and the London East Village: Exclusion, Habitus and Belonging in a Post-Olympics Neighbourhood.

Guest speaker PhD Candidate Piero Corcillo, Visiting Lecturer at City, University of London will present his research based on fieldwork in London’s East Village, a neighbourhood developed on the site of the London 2012 Olympics Athlete’s Village. The research maps the development of the neighbourhood in the context of the regeneration of the Stratford area; local and national housing policy (notably around social mix); the proposal to host the Olympics, and the alignment of this with the IOC’s Olympic Legacy goals; the place-making and marketing of the neighbourhood; and the lived experiences of residents across a range of tenures.

Piero argues that various processes and actors come together to produce an aesthetic that prioritizes and valorizes the perceptions and preferences of white middle-class residents. The habitus of these individuals becomes the dominant one within the neighbourhood field. Therefore, the intentions of social mixing policies are not met in practice.

This seminar will take place on Wednesday 17th February 2021 14.00-15.30. 

MS Teams Link – Guest Seminar 17th February 2021

March 2021

Decolonising critique: for a global politics of hope.

Dr. Ana Cecilia Dinerstein will be presenting CURA’s Annual Lecture. More details will follow. Ana is a Reader in Sociology in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath, where she teaches political and classical sociology and critical open Marxist, feminist and decolonial theories.

This lecture will take place on Monday 8th March 2021 16.00-17.00.

MS Teams Link – Annual Lecture 8th March 2021

April 2021

The preconditions of community self-organisation. A comparative case study of three Urban Neighbourhoods in England.

Sally Ward is a second year PhD Candidate at the Institute of Local Government Studies, University of Birmingham. Sally is also Research Assistant for the Centre for Urban Research on Austerity at De Montfort University. Sally’s PhD thesis is primarily concerned with the potential for social transformation in local settings by examining the reflexive deliberations of residents in their urban neighbourhood contexts. The aim of such is to understand and explain how active citizens come together to mitigate the wider structural mechanisms of social injustice and inequality in the place where they live. To address this question, Sally is undertaking an ethnographic UK-based comparative case study of three urban neighbourhoods in UK. The seminar presentation will provide an overview of Sally’s research design including dual-methodology, and a preliminary in-depth and explanatory portrayal of community self-organisation. Sally’s main research interests include active citizen reflexivity, community self-organisation, relational spaces of collaboration in urban settings and analytical dualism.

This seminar will take place on Wednesday 21st April 2021 14.00-15.00.

MS Teams Link – Seminar Series 21st April 2021

June 2021

Between Realism and Revolt: Governing Cities in the Crisis of Neoliberal Globalis.

Jonathan Davies, Professor of Critical Policy Studies at De Montfort University will be presenting his new book. Between Realism and Revolt: Governing Cities in the Crisis of Neoliberal Globalism explores urban governance in the “age of austerity”, focusing on the period between the global financial crisis of 2008-9 and the beginning of the global Coronavirus pandemic at the end of 2019. It considers urban governance after the 2008 crisis, from the perspective of governability. How did cities navigate the crisis and the aftermath of austerity, with what political ordering and disordering dynamics at the forefront?  To answer these questions it engages with two influential theoretical currents, Urban Regime Theory and Gramscian state theory, with a view to understanding how governance enabled austerity, deflected or intensified localised expressions of crisis, and generated more-or-less successful political alternatives. It develops a comparative analysis of case studies undertaken by local investigators in the cities of Athens, Baltimore, Barcelona, Greater Dandenong (Melbourne), Leicester, Montreal and Nantes, and concludes by highlighting five characteristics that cut across the cities, unevenly and in different configurations: economic rationalism, weak hegemony, retreat to dominance, weak counter-hegemony and radically contagious politicisations.

Jonathan S. Davies is founding Director of the Centre for Urban Research on Austerity and Professor of Critical Policy Studies. Jonathan publishes in leading journals including the Journal of Urban Affairs, the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Environment and Planning A, Urban Studies, Political Studies, Policy & Politics and Public Administration.  His research interests span critical issues in governance, urban studies and public policy.

This seminar will take place on Wednesday 16th June 2021 14.00-15.00pm.

MS Teams Link – Seminar Series 16th June 2021

July 2021

CURA Summer School.

More details to follow.

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