Dr Melissa Fernandez ArrigoitiaLecturer in Urban Futures
Melissa Fernández Arrigoitia is a Lecturer in Urban Futures (Institute for Social Futures), based jointly in the Department of Sociology and LICA (Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts). Her research interests include:
- Urban futures and transformations in the Global North and South
- Urban housing production, destruction and resettlements
- Alternative home futures and collaborative, community-led practices
- Socio-material and geopolitical dimensions of urban belonging and othering
- Urban crisis, austerity and disposession
- Human geographies and emotional geographies of home and architecture
- Feminist and postcolonial geopolitics
- Ethnographic, participative and experimental methodologies
I focus on the home to be a critical realm of inquiry where historical desires, everyday life and future aspirations intersect. I’m particularly interested in how the discourses, practices and materialities of housing get mobilised during times of crisis and austerity in the name of imagined futures, at the same time that they enable radical individual and collective transformations that project hope. My work is informed by critical postcolonial and feminist research methods that consider the interaction of emotions, affect and materiality in the creation of multiple spaces and senses of ‘urban future’ belonging.
Strand 1: Alternative Housing Production
I am currently engaged in a number of research and knowledge exchange projects looking at the development of London cohousing groups as an alternative innovative solution to the conditions of the city’s housing crisis. I look at how this and other related collaborative housing movements – and the ideologies and practices embedded in them- may be offering micro-examples of how to reorganize social relations through citizen-led urban housing development and, in this way, potentially be offering an anti-crisis economic, political and social orientation and practice. Two on-going projects are:
1- A participative, mixed-methods case-study research looking at the impact of Co-Housing on Health and Well-being in the UK’s first Older Women’s Cohousing Group (OWCH) (Funded by: The Tudor Trust, The Averil Osborn Fund and Lancaster’s FASS Research Fund).
2- An ethnography of the development of a senior cohousing group in South London looking at their long-term physical, material and financial design and planning process, as well as their communal and interpersonal relations (see publications for associated outputs)
Strand 2: Crisis urbanism and the transformations of housing and homes across the Global North and South
This strand is rooted in an interest in the physical and social reorganization of urban housing futures, looking at housing as contested objects of ‘value’ that are being mobilized with and through ‘crisis urbanism’ to re-produce traditional and alternative notions of home and urban citizenship. Recent related projects include:
1- The Urbanisation-Construction-Migration Nexus in five South Asian cities [Kabul (Afghanistan), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Chennai (India), Kathmandu (Nepal) and Lahore (Pakistan)] (Funded by DFID); detailing the experiences of internal migrant construction workers living in sheds and camps within large building sites.
2- Forced relocations and livelihoods: linking urban housing evictions, resettlements and labour in Rio de Janeiro (Funded by STICERD, LSE Cities, and Asia Research Centre).
3- Between ‘penthouse’ social housing and crisis urbanism: the case of Puerto Rico’s ‘Metropolis’ (funded by STICERD).
I am happy to supervise PhD students interested in the intersections between any of the following: urban sociology; critical, comparative or transnational housing studies; feminist geopolitics; critical race, gender and postcolonial theory; emotions and home; urban mobility/immobility; co-design; mixed, collaborative or experimental methodologies.