CURA Events 2020/21


Welcome to the CURA Events and Seminars Programme for 2021. This programme sets out current and forthcoming CURA events for 2021. If you would like to contribute or have any questions, please contact CURA Research Assistant 

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

Guest speaker Dr. Piero Corcillo, Visiting Lecturer at City, University of London will present his research based on fieldwork conducted in the London East Village, a neighbourhood developed on the site of the London 2012 Olympics Athlete’s Village. The research maps the development of the area in the context of the regeneration of Stratford (east London); local and national urban and 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. 

The thesis argues that various processes and actors come together to produce an aesthetic environment that prioritizes and valorizes the perceptions and preferences of white middle-class residents. East Village is a space that actively reproduces the exclusion of BAME and working-class individuals. Therefore, the intentions of social mixing policies are not met in practice. East Village is a dystopian neighbourhood, tailor-made for neoliberal subjects moved by the rational of accumulating various forms of capital. The management captures part of the power that public authorities exercise over urban space, and it uses it to look after all aspects of life in the neighbourhood.

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

MS Teams Link – Guest Seminar 17th February 2021

Guest Seminar: Accumulation and Consensus in Contemporary Spain. The role of real estate dynamics. 

Pedro M. Rey-Araújo of University of A Coruña, Spain will be presenting his newly published book entitled Accumulation and Consensus in Contemporary Spain: The role of real estate dynamics. 

Capitalism’s historical evolution appears characterized by the systematic recurrence of long periods featuring economic expansion, relative socio-institutional stability and widespread social consensuses, followed up by others marked by capitalist contraction, intense turmoil and radical institutional transformation. In this regard, most political economy approaches often manage to appraise capitalist dynamics at the expense of exposing a reductionist and economicist account of socio-political interactions, while, conversely, competing critical approaches aiming at giving due weight to the latter end up neglecting the role played by capitalist dynamics themselves in conditioning the very interactions they set out to study. The theoretical project set out in Capitalism, Institutions and Social Orders (Routledge, 2021) attempts to reconcile both strands of critical theory by setting up a dialogue among two prominent representatives of each, namely, Social Structures of Accumulation Theory, on the one hand, and Laclau and Mouffe’s post- Marxism, on the other. 

In contemporary Spain, real estate dynamics provide a prominent entry-point through which to examine such co-implication between capitalist dynamics and co- existing social consensuses. Prior to 2008, a massive housing bubble animated an unprecedented period of capitalist expansion, featuring rising consumption levels, booming employment opportunities and skyrocketing investment. Moreover, widespread wealth-effects enabled by very high homeownership rates promoted widespread compliance with the existing order of affairs. Once the housing bubble eventually deflated a deep capitalist recession ensued, abruptly throwing to light both the unsustainable nature of the previous expansion and underlying social divisions. Nevertheless, the centrality of housing dynamics did not fade away but, rather, merely changed its form, as rental payments, not mortgages, now occupy centre stage, while widespread evictions keep on making manifest what the underside of the ‘home-owners’ society’ was always going to be. 

This seminar will take place on Wednesday 17th March 2021 at 2-3.30pm.

MS Teams Link – Guest Seminar 17th March 2021 

Annual Lecture: Decolonising Critique. Reconnecting critical theory with radical praxis today. 

Dr. Ana Cecilia Dinerstein 

Does critical theory belong with transformative struggles today? In this Lecture I suggest that present grassroot resistance and organising processes around the social reproduction of human and non-human life on the planet have become the ‘site’ of the renewal of both radical praxis and critical theory. On the one hand, grassroots movements, collectives, and communities have freed utopia from party politics’ ideological prison and, by exploring alternative ways of doing and living, they are opening new political possibilities and horizons beyond capital and crisis. On the other hand, neo-Adornian- critical theorists find difficult to understand how the creation of transformative alternatives at the grassroots is ‘critical’ of the world of capital, for they regard these collective actions as ‘positive praxis’ that contradicts the need to negate as a principle of critique. By engaging with Ernst Bloch’s principle of hope, I address this ‘epistemological disconnect’ between contemporary radical praxis and critical theory and suggest that grassroots alternatives are ‘critical affirmations’ that embody a sophisticated form of negation: the defense of life amidst a planetary destruction. This alternative understanding of radical praxis requires decolonising critical theory to connect with other philosophies and cosmologies towards a critical theory of hope.

Ana Cecilia Dinerstein teaches sociology and critical, feminist and decolonial theory at the University of Bath (UK). Her research on ‘global politics of hope’ connects Bloch’s philosophy of hope with social and grassroots movements’ autonomous praxis. She is a member of the core group of the Global Tapestry of Alternatives, and funder and convenor of Women on the Verge, the Standing Seminar in Critical theory  and the Decolonizing Knowledge hub.  Her publications include The Labour Debate (co-editor, Routledge, 2002), The Politics of Autonomy in Latin America: The Art of Organising Hope (Palgrave Macmillan 2015), Social Sciences for An Other Politics: Women Theorising without Parachutes (Palgrave Macmillan, editor,  2016); Open Marxism 4; Against a Closing World (Pluto Press, editor, 2019) and World Beyond Work? Labour, Money and the Capitalist State between Crisis and Utopia (Emerald, co-author, 2021). Her books Planet Hope. The San Francisco Lectures (Kairos, PM) and Decolonising Marxism (Pluto Press) are forthcoming in 2022.

This lecture took place on Wednesday 14th April.


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

Sally Ward, second year PhD Candidate at the Institute of Local Government Studies, University of Birmingham will be presenting her research on community self-organisation. 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 currently 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 Margaret Archer’s work on analytical dualism.

This seminar is postponed until September 2021.

Guest Seminar: 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 28th April 2021 14.00-15.00

MS Teams Link – Seminar Series 28th April 2021

Guest Seminar: Racialized Austerity: Exploring the Financialization of Water and Predatory Debt Collection in Black-majority American Cities 

Sawyer Phinney is a PhD candidate and researcher at the University of Manchester’s Urban Institute. Sawyers primary research interests include: urban political economy, social justice, and municipal finance. Sawyer will be presenting their work on geographies of race and austerity urbanism. Session abstract:

Through a comparative analysis of Baltimore, Detroit, and St. Louis, I employ qualitative methods to examine the ways in which the emergence of financialized austerity urbanism as a mode of governance magnifies racialized patterns of uneven development, particularly regarding the United States’ ageing urban water and sewerage infrastructure systems. The project combines qualitative methods of documentary analysis, semi-structured expert interviews, household interviews and participant observation to explore each city’s effort to finance a court-ordered Environmental Protection Agency consent decree on their ageing and deteriorating water and sewer infrastructure. 

This presentation outlines the consequences of financialization, in particular, the racialization of municipal finance. Following the 2008 financial crisis, Black-majority cities have employed disciplinary financial rules and routines around debt collection when issuing loans in the bond market as a way to make up for budget shortfalls, a process which has led to mass water shut offs, housing foreclosures and wage garnishments due to increasing household water and sewer debt. Austerity urbanism, I argue, motivated by logics of financialization – which is both a mode of accumulation, and significantly, works through urban geographies of racial capitalism. 

This seminar will take place on Wednesday 12th May 2021 14.00-15.00

MS Teams Link – Seminar Series 12th May 2021

Book Launch Event: Muslim Women’s Political Participation in France and Belgium

In this session Amina Easat-Daas, Lecturer in Politics at De Montfort University presented her book ‘Muslim Women’s Political Participation in France and Belgium’, published as part of the New Directions in Islam Series. Her book outlines the principal motivations, opportunities and barriers to Muslim women’s political participation in France and francophone Belgium. 

Easat-Daas drew on in-depth comparative contextual analysis along with semi-structured interview material with women from France and Belgium who self-identify as Muslim and are active in a variety of modes of political participation, such European Parliamentarians, Senators, councilwomen, trade-union activists and those engaged in grass-roots political movements. This provided an alternative framing of Muslim women, removed from the tired and often exaggerated stereotypes that portray them as passive objects or sources of threat, instead highlighting their remarkable resilience and consistent determination. Through exploring the intersecting fault lines of racial, Islamophobic and gendered struggles of Muslim women in these two cases, this book also sheds new light on the role of ‘European Islam’, political opportunity structures, secularism and Muslim women’s dress.

Amina is a member of the Centre for Urban Research on Austerity and is co-lead on the Centre’s Racialised Inequalities research theme. Her research interests include political participation by Muslims, the study of Muslimness in France, Belgium and the UK, the study of gendered Islamophobia and countering Islamophobia. 

This book launch event took place on Wednesday 26th May 2021 17.30-19.00

Book Launch Event: 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 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 book launch will take place on Wednesday 16th June 2021 16.00-18.00

To register for the book launch event, click on the link below:
Governing Cities in the Crisis of Neoliberal Globalism

There will be a promotional code available to purchase the book to anyone who attends the event, or should you prefer to purchase the book beforehand, please click here


CURA Summer School

CURA is no longer accepting applications for the 2021 Summer School.


Guest Seminar: Entrepreneurializing Solidarity. The New Social Economy in (Post-)Austerity Greece

The anti-austerity movement in Greece brought forth novel modes of socio-economic organization based on co-operation and mutual aid, rather than competition and self-interest. By the mid-2010s, what started as protest had mushroomed into an initially informal solidarity economy, signifying both an answer to austerity, and an alternative to the neoliberalization of state-market-subject relations. Making good on their election promise to support this movement, the SYRIZA-led governments of 2015-2019 followed a policy-agenda of institutionalizing a new Social and Solidarity Economy sector (SSE) in Greece. By creating a legal framework to formalize solidarity structures and cooperatives towards the EU’s definitions of ‘social enterprise’, the governmental rationality of this agenda sought to mobilize discourses of ‘social innovation’, ‘entrepreneurship’, and ‘creativity’, in order to incentivize the generation of ‘social impact’. Though partly critical of the entrepreneurial dimensions of this agenda, critical research on the SSE in Greece concurs that these developments by and large prefigure post-capitalist forms of socio-economic organization.

Dimitris’ paper is sympathetic to the transformative potentialities of SSE organizations, but its intervention sheds light on the reproductive side of the coin. In elucidating the epistemics of assuming to be able to evaluate ‘impact’, ‘innovation’, ‘creativity’, ‘utility’ and ‘entrepreneurship’, this paper delineates the ways in which SSE organizations (unwittingly) reproduce the very neoliberal rationalities against which they stand. Specifically, Dimitris shows how these epistemics contribute to the quantification of the social, and the entrepreneurialization of solidarity. Based on these findings, Dimitris will conclude with some theoretical considerations on what we may call an alter-neoliberal critique: against and beyond the epistemological program of neoliberalism.

Dimitris Soudias is HBA Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the London School of Economics. In his doctoral dissertation (Philipps-Universität Marburg, 2019), Dimitris investigated the formation of political subjectivity against the backdrop of crisis and austerity in Greece. His current research explores entrepreneurial practices and governmental discourses of creativity, uncertainty, and imaginaries of the future in the Social Economies of Athens and Berlin. Dimitris’ recent publications include Subjects in crisis: Paradoxes of emancipation and alter-neoliberal critique (The Sociological Review), Imagining the Commoning Library: Alter-Neoliberal Pedagogy in Informational Capitalism (Journal of Digital Social Research), and Spatializing Radical Political Imaginaries: Neoliberalism, Crisis, and Transformative Experience in the Syntagma Square Occupation in Greece (Contention).

This seminar will take place on Wednesday 22nd September 2021 14.00-15.30

MS Teams Link – Seminar Series 22nd September 2021