Research in the Research Group "Social Geography"

Overview of the research focus of the social geography group:

  • Geographies of housing
  • Urban Geography
  • Human-Environment Research
  • Social & cultural theoretical debates

Geographies of housing

Our research on the geographies of housing is currently concerned with the living space as an arena of technological change and a node in infrastructure networks, and asks how everyday life in the home is changing as a result of the equipping of modern living spaces with information and communication technology capacities. We trace the programmatic objectives with which the digitalization of living in so-called smart homes is linked and how living spaces thus become a component of governance projects that address various social problems (for example, in the context of the energy transition or demographic change).

Marquardt, Nadine (in Vorbereitung/2019): Die Technik des Wohnens. In: Eckard, F. und Meier, S. (Hg.) Handbuch Wohnsoziologie: Prozesse, Räume und Kontexte des Wohnens. Berlin: Springer.

Marquardt, Nadine (2019): Oikopolitik. Wohn-Experimente in smart homes zwischen Nachhaltigkeit und Digitalisierung. Geographische Zeitschrift 106(4), 212-237.

Marquardt, Nadine (2018): Digital assistierter Wohnalltag im smart home. Zwischen Care, Kontrolle und vernetzter Selbstermächtigung. In: Bauriedl, S. und Strüver, A. (Hg.) Smart City - Kritische Perspektiven auf die Digitalisierung in Städten. Bielefeld: transcript. 285-297.

Folkers, Andreas; Marquardt, Nadine (2018): Die Verschränkung von Umwelt und Wohnwelt. Grüne smart homes aus der Perspektive der pluralen Sphärologie. Geographica Helvetica 73, 79-93.

Urban Geography

In the field of urban geography, our research focuses in particular on phenomena of social inequality, exclusion and urban marginality. Topics we deal with here are housing shortage and homelessness, urban security policy and social control in public space, as well as neoliberal urban development. One focus is particularly on urban bio- and techno-politics and the question of the role of infrastructures in producing social relations, maintaining or challenging relations of power and inequality, and producing visibility and invisibility in the city. Another focus is on issues of food and nutrition in the city. Here we are interested in the relationship between socioeconomic status and access to fresh and healthy food. One focus is on alternative, local food systems.

Funded by the German Research Foundation. Research project within the project network "Neuordnungen des Städtischen im neoliberalen Zeitalter" (duration 2010-2013).

The research project investigates which continuities and shifts can be found in contemporary, supposedly neoliberal governmentalities of homelessness. It traces how the urban governance of homelessness takes place concretely in a field of changing urban development policy dynamics, recent social reforms, and locally evolved power relations. An approach is developed that does not make the marginalized group of homeless people themselves the subject, but rather focuses on the complex web of modes of governing homelessness - which includes both repressive and caring social policies as well as the self-techniques of the homeless.

  • Lim, Il-Tschung; Loick, Daniel; Marquardt, Nadine; Trautmann, Felix (2017): Delinquenzmilieu. Armut und Gefängnis am Beispiel der Ersatzfreiheitsstrafe. WestEnd. Zeitschrift des Frankfurter Instituts für Sozialforschung 2, 124-139.
  • Marquardt, Nadine (2017): Zonen infrastruktureller Entkopplung. Urbane Prekarität und soziotechnische Verknüpfungen im öffentlichen Raum. In: Flitner, M., Lossau, J. und Müller, A. (Hg.): Infrastrukturen der Stadt. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag,  89-104.
    Marquardt, Nadine; Folkers, Andreas (2016): Tents. In: Salter, M. (Hg.) Making Things International II: Catalysts and Reactions. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 63-78.
  • Marquardt, Nadine (2016): Learning to feel at home. Governing homelessness and the politics of affect. Emotion, Space and Society 19, 29-36.
    Marquardt; Nadine (2016): Counting the Countless. Statistics on homelessness and the spatial ontology of political numbers. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 34(2), 301-318.
  • Marquardt, Nadine (2015): Das Regieren von Emotionen in Räumen des betreuten Wohnens. Geographica Helvetica 70(1), 175-184.
  • Marquardt, Nadine (2013): Räume der Fürsorge. Regieren der Wohnungslosigkeit im betreuten Wohnen. Geographische Zeitschrift 101(3/4), 148-165.
  • Marquardt, Nadine; Folkers, Andreas (2012): Zelt. In: Marquardt, N.; Schreiber, V. (Hg.) Ortsregister. Ein Glossar zu Räumen der Gegenwart. Bielefeld: transcript, 300-305.

Funding program „Frauen- und Genderforschung“ of the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, with Verena Schreiber (duration 2010-2012)

The research project examines how gender-cultural difference is produced by new socio-political programs at the neighborhood level and simultaneously declared to be the basis as well as the problem of "integration". Empirically, the project focuses on the "Stadtteilmütter" program in Berlin-Neukölln in order to trace the (re)production of gender-cultural difference as a central effect of social-integrative and crime-preventive programs at the neighborhood level. Theoretically and conceptually, the research draws on approaches of intersectionality.

  • Schreiber, Verena; Marquardt, Nadine (2016): Zwischen Aneignung und Abwehr. Städtische Integrationspolitik im Blick ihrer Adressat_innen. Geographische Zeitschrift 104. 239-265.
  • Marquardt, Nadine; Schreiber, Verena (2015): Mothering urban space, governing migrant women: the construction of intersectional positions in area-based interventions in Berlin. Urban Geography 36(1), 44-63.
  • Marquardt, Nadine; Schreiber, Verena (2014): Intersektionalität und Geographie: Fortsetzung einer disziplinären Debatte. Themenheft Feministische Geo-Rundmail 60.

In her research project on organic agriculture in Pakistan and teaching research on agricultural developments in the Rhine-Neckar region, Julia Poerting looks at the topic of food and nutrition in the city from two perspectives. On the one hand, it is about the importance and design of local food systems and, on the other hand, about the unequal access to certain foods in cities.

Against the backdrop of a rapidly growing global urban population, urban agriculture has become the focus of social science research in recent years that examines food and nutrition in the city. Cities are no longer seen only as places of consumption, but also as places of food production. A large number of empirical studies point to the importance of urban agriculture in feeding poorer urban dwellers (see e.g. Premat 2012 on Havana, Hamilton et al 2014 for an overview). This primarily involves kitchen gardens, rooftop vegetable gardening, and other small-scale forms of cultivation. At the same time, against the backdrop of the ubiquity of the sustainability paradigm and an increasing fetishization of the local in food production, a wide variety of forms of urban agriculture have developed, particularly in Western Europe and the United States. These include guerrilla gardening, community gardens, solidarity farming, and a revitalization of weekly markets or farmers' markets. These local food systems are often embedded in socioeconomic structures. Local food systems are therefore often socially exclusive. The unequal access to fresh and healthy food has been described, for example, by the concept of food deserts in the USA, but also approaches from the field of food justice and food sovereignty are increasingly applied in urban areas.

  • Poerting, Julia (in Vorbereitung/2019): Farmers’ Market in Pakistan: Moral Consumption for Elites? In: Oesterheld; Christina; Schaflechner, Jürgen (Hg.): Pakistan. Parallel Narratives of the Nation-State. Karachi: Oxford University Press Pakistan.
  • Poerting, Julia (2017): Urbane Landwirtschaft und "grünes" Konsumverhalten in Pakistan, in: Geographische Rundschau 69 (12), 18-24.
  • Poerting, Julia (2014): Bio-Landwirtschaft in Pakistan: Verflechtungen von urbaner und exportorientierter zertifizierter ökologischer Landwirtschaft?, in: Poerting, Julia; Lennartz, Thomas (Hg.): Aktuelle Forschungsbeiträge zu Südasien: 4. Jahrestagung des AK Südasien, 24./25. Januar, Freiburg, 6-9.

Human-Environment Research

Within human-environment research, we are concerned on the one hand with the political ecology of alternative agriculture and on the other hand with questions of the coexistence of humans and animals in the context of current rewilding projects. In the first set of topics, against the background of the increasing number of organic and other eco-labels in agriculture, questions about knowledge production and different perspectives on sustainability are particularly central for us. From the perspective of human-animal geographies we are interested in the return of large carnivores to Central Europe and ask which knowledge about the coexistence of humans and animals in "wild" landscapes gains authority and how the use of certain technologies mediates coexistence.

Alternative landwirtschaftliche Praktiken gewinnen vor dem Hintergrund multiskalarer sozialökologischer Krisen an Bedeutung. Sich wandelnde ökologische (Klimawandel, nachlassende Bodenfertilität, Wasserverfügbarkeit), sozioökonomische (Land-Stadt Migration, volatile Märkte, Wandel von Konsumverhalten) und politische Bedingungen (neoliberale Politik, Subventionen, Lobbyismus) kreieren sowohl für Produzenten als auch Konsumenten unsichere Zukünfte.
Vor diesem Hintergrund haben sich verschiedene marktbasierte Ansätze zur Lösung von Agrarkrisen herausgebildet. Viele dieser Ansätze sehen die Lösung in sogenannten technofixes (u.a. Präzisionslandwirtschaft, vertikale Landwirtschaft, gentechnisch modifizierte Organismen).
Diesen effizienzorientierten Ansätzen stehen suffizienzorientierte oder auch degrowth-Ansätze gegenüber. Diese Ansätze leisten einen Beitrag zu der Frage wie Wohlstand und Nachhaltigkeit ohne die Maxime des ständigen ökonomischen Wachstums erhalten werden können. In Anlehnung an Foucaults “heterotopias” (Foucault 1998) geht es hier vor allem um die konzeptionelle Frage, wo und wie alternative Ökonomien/Räume/Zukunftsvorstellungen in kapitalistischen Gesellschaften existieren. Neben konzeptionellen Beiträgen (z.B. Hillebrand und Zademach 2013; Gibson-Graham 2006) finden sich hier vor allem auch Beiträge an der Schnittstelle von qualitativer und engagierter/aktivistischer Forschung (Lockyer/Veteto 2013).
In ihrer Forschung untersucht Julia Poerting, auf welche Art und Weise (zertifizierte) Biolandwirtschaft in Pakistan zu einer Alternative wird. Während Biostandards einerseits strenge Inputregelungen enthalten, sind sie andererseits in internationale Lieferketten eingebunden, die für Kleinbauern prekäre sozioökonomische Auswirkungen haben können. Neben dieser sozialwissenschaftlichen geht es auch um eine kulturwissenschaftliche Perspektive. Im Kontext von konkurrierenden Wissensproduktionen erhält Biolandwirtschaft von Unterstützern und Gegnern unterschiedliche Bedeutungszuschreibungen: Was ist moderne Landwirtschaft?

  • Poerting, Julia (2017): Soziale Innovation oder Business as Usual? Zertifizierte Biolandwirtschaft in Nordpakistan, in: Geographische Zeitschrift 105, 104-124.
  • Münster, Daniel; Poerting, Julia (2016): Land als Ressource, Boden und Landschaft: Materialität, Relationalität und neue Agrarfragen in der Politischen Ökologie, in: Geographica Helvetica 71, 245-257.
  • Poerting, Julia (2015): Who controls the land in certified organic farming? Discerning the divide between de facto and de jure land control, in: Poerting, Julia; Keck, Markus (Hg.): Aktuelle Forschungsbeiträge zu Südasien: 5. Jahrestagung des AK Südasien, 23./24. Januar 2015, Göttingen, 29-32.
  • Münster, Daniel; Poerting, Julia; Dame, Juliane (2015): Agrarwirtschaft in Indien: Kleinbauern zwischen Krise und neuen Perspektiven, in: Geographische Rundschau 67 (1), 16-23.

Supported by the "Dr. Hohmann-Förderung" of the Gesellschaft für Erdkunde e.V..

Within the human geographic study of human-environment relations, our research group is interested in the perspective of human-animal geographies. In the Anthropocene era, the coexistence of humans and animals is subject to social negotiation processes. Politically, ecologically, and economically driven, and often emotionally motivated, debates address issues such as species conservation, renaturation processes (e.g., the major European project Rewilding Europe), and ethical consumption. Our working group is concerned with the role of technologies as mediators of human-animal encounters, with the meaning and place of "wilderness" in Central Europe and associated social conflicts, and with social geographic perspectives on urban animal geographies.
Using the example of the return of the wolf to the Lüneburg Heath, Julia Poerting is investigating in a project funded by the Dr. Hohmann-Förderung how perspectives on anthropogenic landscapes, boundary demarcations and territories are changed by the wolf. This also involves questions about authority in knowledge production. Lay knowledge not only complements existing knowledge, but challenges or contests it. The importance of new media plays a major role here and raises questions about authority, expertise, and the division of labor among different knowledge communities.

  • Poerting, Julia; Marquardt, Nadine (in Vorbereitung/2019): Kritisch-geographische Perspektiven auf Landschaft. In: Kühne, O.; Weber, F.; Berr, K.; Jenal, C. (Hg.): Handbuch Landschaft. Wiesbaden: Springer.

Social and cultural theoretical debates

In addition to the empirical research foci, the discussion of current debates in social and cultural theory as well as the scientific-theoretical dimensions of social geographic thinking is another focus of the working group.

Feminist geographies of the new materialism

  • Marquardt, Nadine; Bauriedl, Sybille; Schurr, Carolin und Vogelpohl, Anne (in Vorbereitung/2019): Celebrating 30 years of feminist geographies in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Gender, Place & Culture.

Further work of the research group Marquardt

StartStudy Bonn is a cooperation of the Department of Geography University Bonn with the Initiative für Flüchtlinge Bonn e.V.

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