I am an Urban and Cultural Sociologist with interests in architecture and material culture, migration and displacement, media piracy, urban aesthetics, and the artistic research. I hold a Ph.D. from New York University (2005), and was a Harper-Schmidt Society Fellow at the University of Chicago in 2005-2009. In 2014-2016, I was Visiting Professor at European University at St. Petersburg, Russia. Currently, I teach Urban Sociology, Urban Studies and Social Theory at the University of Amsterdam, and co-direct post-graduate program in transdisciplinary urban design Building the City Now!.
My earlier research was concerned with territorial resettlement and the use of architecture and urban planning in it. Using the case of Kaliningrad, the region of Russia annexed from Germany in 1945 which was completely repopulated and renamed, I followed the repurposing, reuse, or destruction of the German-period architecture and material culture by the Russian-speaking settlers. My current work brings me back to this theme, but extends it to Namibia. How does the German-built environment figure in the formation of a new national identity and the sense of historical justice in this post-colonial, post-apartheid country? A similar focus on design and its aesthetics informs my interest in Schaerbeek, Brussels, as well as other areas of urban renewal in Europe. How do residents of fast-changing, gentrifying urban areas ‘read’ the space, relate to urban amenities, and experience social inclusion or exclusion through them? To make these questions empirically accessible, I use the Q-sort method augmented by photo-elicitation as my main research strategy.
I also developed interest in media piracy and digitisation. In 2007, I joined a multi-sited international collaborative project Media Piracy in Emerging Economies, which focused on the introduction of intellectual property and its impact on the circulation of cultural goods in six countries: Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa, Mexico, and Bolivia. The research was supported by Ford Foundation (U.S.A.) and The International Development Research Centre (Canada). Its results suggest that rather than ‘crime’, the problem of piracy is better conceived as a failure of affordable access to media in legal markets.
I applied some of the finding of the Media Piracy to re-thinking Marxian analysis of the commodity form. Together with Sebastien Chauvin (the Institut des Sciences Sociales of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland), I co-authored article Has Capitalism Gone Virtual?, in which we argue that self-reproducing of digital goods have demanded increasingly costly prosthetics to insure their maintenance as commodities — their content containment. This work was translated to Spanish and included in Sociología Histórica: El Capital de Marx, 151 años del Libro I.
Passionate about transdisciplinarity, I co-created and co-directed in 2013-2015, a new program in transdisciplinary urban design Building the City Now! (BCNow!). The program and its pedagogy cultivates transversality by helping students overcome their learnt identities and anticipated roles in the design process. Its development was supported by the independent Institute of Urbanism SREDA (St. Petersburg, Russia), and the curriculum has been accredited by the Fundació Politècnica de Catalunya (FPC).
Besides my strictly academic work, I also practice artistic research and explore fiction-writing as a mode of expressing my research-driven ideas. My artistic collaborations include Moving Matters Traveling Workshop, an international artist collective, where I curate, perform, and act as a producer. My literary work appeared in LitroMagazine, "an innovative literary magazine specializing in short fiction", and EuropeNow, "a global publication for a broad, multi-disciplinary educated audience".
Jean Monnet Networks (policy debate with the academic world), Erasmus+ Programme. Project The Securitization of Migrants and Ethnic Minorities and the Rise of Xenophobia in the EU (SECUREU) (reference number 620149-EPP-1-2020-1-ES-EPPJMO-NETWORK). Institutional partners: The Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (IBEI), The University of Glasgow, The Herder Institute Marburg, The University of Amsterdam, The Institute for Minority Rights at European Academy Bozen/Bolzano (EURAC), The Council of European Studies (CES). Role: leader of the UvA/NIAS part of the consortium; co-investigator.
The Aspasia grant of project number 016.Vici.185.077, financed by the Dutch Research Council (NWO)
Amsterdam Center for European Studies Research Grant ( €4,000)
Research Fellowship at Herder Institute for Historical Studies of Eastern and Central Europe. Marburg, Germany. April-May (€5,000)
Center for Urban Studies and Amsterdam Center for Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam. ‘Urban Valorization and the Heritage-Making’ (€10,000)
Joint ‘Seed-grant’ from Center for Urban Studies, University of Amsterdam, and STS Center, European University at St. Petersburg (€7,500)
Mega-Grant for International Research Cooperation. Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation (#14.U04.31.0001). ‘International Diaspora of Russian Computer Scientists.’ PI: Professor Mario Biagioli, University of California, Davies (RUB 70 100 000 / €1, 635 292)
Ford Foundation (U.S.A.) and The International Development Research Centre (Canada) joint grant($1.4 million). Project ’Media Piracy in Emerging Economies. A comparative study of Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa, Mexico, and Bolivia. PI: Joe Karaganis, SSRC/American Assembly
Nominee for the ‘Teacher of the Year’ award, University of Amsterdam
Recipient of the ‘Professor of the Year’ award, European University at St. Petersburg