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A Radical Geography Community

(A) Urban Union

Urban Union, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Participants at IGJ: Guillermo Delgado (University of Cape Town) and Phillip Lühl (Polytechnic of Namibia)

“This project was initiated by Cohabitation Strategies (http://www.cohstra.org/), an international cooperative for socio-spatial research, design and development. Its focus was a marginalized neighbourhood geared for redevelopment in Rotterdam. The project was organized in two different bodies: one was the “strategic research unit”, composed of those doing research (the “academics”); and the other was the “action research unit”, composed of people engaging in actual interventions on the ground. Both were related through three main large topics–labour, urban rights, space–and were able to converge in a physical space set-up within the neighbourhood, the Urban Union. The space was for inhabitants of the neighbourhood to come and use the services that the three projects were offering (e.g. legal advice, information and training about access to government grants, urban rights orientation). This created the conditions for both units to interact in everyday circumstances with inhabitants. Although the project involved different parties at different stages, the general strategy was structured so that the program had an academic as well as a community-embedded component of knowledge production in the three phases of development (which happened in a simultaneous way). The organization that initiated the project is structured itself into two components, with academic and community-embedded practices working in continuous dialogue.”

Figure 7

Figure 7 shows how the Urban Union’s engagement with public demonstrates that throughout all of the project stages–preparation, research and dissemination–the same specific groups of publics were targeted, that is, the community they were working with and academia. Having these publics involved equally throughout all stages of the process demonstrates a specific understanding and conception of public scholarship.

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