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Birmingham researchers present studies on social inequalities in Brazil and India

by Richard Meckien - published Mar 21, 2017 03:45 PM - - last modified Mar 28, 2017 02:06 PM
Rights: Original version in Portuguese by Fernanda Rezende.

Favela Dharavi, em Mumbai, Índia
Dharavi Slum - Mumbai, India

Researchers of the University of Birmingham will present two studies of their research on sustainable cities at the IEA. On March 29, at 10.00 am, Peter Kraftl and Sophie Hadfield-Hill will give the conference Use of geographic methods to characterize social inequalities in the Institute's Events Room. The debate will be broadcast live.

Kraftl and members of his research team will discuss the Sustainable Cities research theme at the University of Birmingham and two ongoing research projects. This ESRC and FAPESP funded research project aims to examine young people's (aged 10-24) understandings, experiences and participation in the food-water-energy nexus in Brazil. Each presentation will be 20-minutes long before opening for a Q&A session.

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The paper (Re)Connect the Nexus: Young Brazilians' Experiences of and Learning about Food, Water and Energy, by Kraftl, examines early findings from a large-scale project that examines young Brazilians’ (aged 10-25) experiences of and learning about the food-water-energy nexus. The starting point will be to discuss the concept of the 'nexus', questioning the usefulness of this frame in the contemporary Brazilian context – both conceptually and politically. Whilst it may have its uses in policy circles, nexus thinking implies the fashioning of connections and the scrutiny of trade-offs that leads towards an imposed holism, reducing complex socio-material processes to blank nexus components like ‘food’ or ‘water’. The rest of the paper presents findings from early research with young people and policy-makers about how food, water and energy are entwined in their lives and work. In particular, the focus is upon the implications for sustainability education and sustainable urbanism. Finally, the paper reflects on how these findings might prompt academics to critically and constructively re-think ‘nexus thinking’ in contexts such as Brazil.

Planning for sustainable urban transformation – research, impact and evidence from India is the title of the paper to be presented by Hadfield-Hill. Urban transformation is on the Indian agenda. From visions, to plans and sites of construction, Indian cities are undergoing change. As the Indian government puts plans in motion for a suite of Smart City initiatives – including retrofitting, redevelopment, greenfield development and pan-city approaches – it is the experiences and impact on people and place that need significant consideration. This presentation will draw on two research projects in India funded by the ESRC to showcase key findings based on children, young people and their families experiences of urban  change. The first project, New Urbanisms in India, draws on data from 350 people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds living in a site of urban transformation, a new private, urban development. Twelve core themes emerged from the analysis ranging from the importance of education provision, issues of (dis)connection, living in shifting landscapes as well as a series of social, cultural and economic impacts related to urban change. The second project, Map my Community, focuses on participatory planning processes in informal settlements in Delhi. Using innovative methodological tools, the voices and experiences of diverse publics are collated and are used to campaign for change. These diverse urban spaces, from the private to the informal, show the complexities of issues associated with planning for sustainable urban transformation.

The conference will be moderated by geographer Ligia Vizeu Barrozo, from USP's Faculty of Philosophy, Languages and Literature, and Human Sciences (FFLCH), and coordinator of IEA's study group on Urban Space and Health, and Marcos Buckeridge, a professor at USP's Institute of Biosciences and coordinator of the USP Global Cities Program. The comments will be from Ana Lydia Sawaya, a professor at the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) and coordinator of IEA's Nutrition and Poverty Research Group, and Helena Ribeiro, from USP's School of Public Health (FSP) and a member of IEA's Environment and Society Research Group.

Photo: YGLvoices/Flickr