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The researchers within Urban Geographies study the processes that shape cities and urban life across the world. Our research concentrates on the formation of urban difference and inequality. It seeks to understand how specific spaces, places and mobilities reflect, reproduce and transform social differentiation in terms of class, ethnicity, generation, gender and sexuality.
Urban Geographies

Urban Geographies studies how resources, risks and political voice are distributed unevenly across urban spaces and populations, analyzing geographies of inequality within and between city regions.

Much of our scholarship has concentrated on larger transformations affecting cities (e.g. gentrification, tourism, migration, shrinkage, demographic change) and the inequalities and segregation that accompany these shifts (e.g. differentiated access to income, housing, education, labor markets).

The group is also committed to developing a comparative urban geography that can distinguish between place-based specificities and more generalizable patterns of urbanization. Group members employ a range of quantitative, qualitative and spatial methods, allowing us both to map macro-level patterns and transformations over time, and to grasp the lived experience of such dynamics.

Our projects
  • Protein Landscapes: The political geography of the production and consumption of animal proteins

    Despite the harmful effects of the meat-dairy industry on the environment, animal-based protein consumption remains high, termed the "protein paradox."

    Why can’t we reduce meat and dairy consumption? Diet changes are hard, especially where these foods are culturally normalized, and the industry influences consumers and governments. These factors overlook the uneven geographic distribution of production and consumption and its political implications.

    PROTEINSCAPES aims to explain the protein paradox through political geographies of production and consumption. The research includes:

    • A quantitative study across all EU countries.
    • Qualitative case studies in the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Portugal.
    • A comparative study on geography's role in the political debate on transitioning from animal protein.

    By linking theories on geographical transitions and political polarization and introducing "protein landscapes," the project seeks to understand why moving away from animal protein is so difficult, a crucial step in addressing the protein paradox.

    Funded by: ERC Consolidator Grant program (EU)

    Duration: 1 Sept 2024 - 31 Aug 2029

    Dr W.R. (Willem) Boterman

    Principal Investigator

  • Aspirational Urbanism and the Recodification of Defiance

    A blank A4 sheet in a context of censorship highlights new forms of defiance. As speech is monitored across various arenas, defiance manifests as symbolic critique. The project “Aspirational Urbanism and the Recodification of Defiance (ASPIRA)” aims to conceptualize aspirational urbanism by recognizing how defiance shapes cities.

    Instead of solely attributing urban change in Hong Kong and Taipei to economic or developmental factors, ASPIRA views defiance as urban residents' agency against perceived inevitabilities.

    The project builds on theories of urban futures, acknowledging cities as sites for planning and imagining futures. It also addresses unequal capacities and risks, emphasizing the harsh consequences of aspirations. By focusing on visual analysis, ASPIRA grounds aspirational urbanism in everyday micro-practices.

    Duration: 01 July 2024 - 30 June 2029

    Funded by: Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) 

    Dr J.Y. (Julie) Ren

    Principal Investigator

  • How Google and Instagram change the city

    We see the city increasingly through the lens of digital platforms. The city appears as a collection of hip places filled with beautiful people on Instagram, while Google Maps provides ratings and reviews for even such mundane places as parking lots and sport clubs.

    This research project argues that digital platforms like Instagram and Google do not only represent the city in specific ways. They also shape it. Using digital data and ethnographic methods, the researchers show how places are being transformed for likes.

    Duration: 01 Nov 2023 - 31 Oct 2027

    Funded by: NWO Open Competition M 

    Prof. dr. J.L. (Justus) Uitermark

    Principal Investigator

  • The Digitalisation of Illicit Urban Economies

    This project aims to understand the effects of the digitalisation of illicit urban economies, and to mitigate certain risks associated with these processes.

    The everyday activities associated with illicit urban economies, and illicit drug markets in particular, have long had a strong territorial basis, with supply and consumption concentrated in specific, often marginalized areas. As illicit transactions become digitalised – with buyers purchasing drugs via phone apps rather than from street dealers – drug sales increasingly resemble other forms of ultrafast delivery services, with profound consequences for the risks associated with these transactions.

    This project seeks to identify mechanisms through which the digitalisation of drug transactions exacerbates or mitigates risk for different populations, including addiction and exposure to criminal or state violence. It does so through a comparative approach, studying these mechanisms in Amsterdam and Rio de Janeiro, cities with established local drug markets but contrasting approaches in terms of drug policies and policing.

    In close collaboration with harm reduction NGO Jellinek, the project will experiment with interventions aimed at “responsible use” by drug consumers, developing a digital literacy campaign aimed at sensitising users to the risks of app-based purchases.

    Duration: April 2023 - Dec 2025

    Funded by: Responsible digital transformations program, University of Amsterdam

    Prof. dr. R.K. (Rivke) Jaffe

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    GPIO : Urban Geographies

    Prof. T. (Thomas) Poell

    Faculty of Humanities

    Departement Mediastudies

    Dr. W.P.C. (Wouter) van Gent

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    GPIO : Urban Geographies

    Dr L.E. (Laura) Dupin

    Faculty of Economics and Business

    Section Entrepreneurship & Innovation

  • Political Animals: A More-than-Human Approach to Urban Inequalities

    The ANIMAPOLIS project examines how animals’ interactions with humans and infrastructures contribute to the unequal distribution of risks and resources in cities. Focusing on security and public health, it uses dogs and rats as key analytical points.

    The project explores how security dogs may influence practices like racial profiling and how rats and rodenticides affect public health. Starting in 2023, it will investigate these mechanisms by examining the biological and cultural aspects of dogs and rats, and their interactions with humans and infrastructure. The study includes multispecies ethnographies in Amsterdam and Rio de Janeiro for a comparative analysis.

    Duration: 1 January 2023 - 31 December 2027

    Funded by: European Research Council (ERC) 

    Prof. dr. R.K. (Rivke) Jaffe

    Principal Investigator

  • MUNEX - Municipalist Neighborhood Experiments

    To address growing inequality, cynicism, distrust, and alienation, the municipalist movement suggests looking for answers at the local level. Municipalism aims to reinvent and revitalize local urban democracy by countering bureaucratic and market dominance. Despite strong commitment and momentum, a key question is whether municipalist initiatives, such as digital democracy platforms and public-communitarian partnerships, are effective in practice.

    The Municipalist Neighborhood Experiments (MUNEX) project investigates these initiatives in neighborhoods in Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Vienna. MUNEX collaborates with municipalities, citizens, and transnational networks to identify success factors, test new governance approaches, and strengthen transnational policy learning. The project will co-create a prototype municipalist innovation for exchange between the three cities, providing actionable insights to build liveable, just, inclusive, and attractive neighborhoods.

    Duration: 01 May 2022 - 01 May 2025

    Funded by: NWO programme Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) Urban Europe

    Prof. dr. J.L. (Justus) Uitermark

    Principal Investigator

Programme group leader

Prof. dr. R.K. (Rivke) Jaffe

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

GPIO : Urban Geographies

Research staff