Shaping Dublin: a seminar series on the contemporary city

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When: March/ April 2015

Where: Dunlop Oriel House, Corner of Fenian Street & Westland Row, Dublin 2. (map: http://bit.ly/1i7YapE)
What time: 7.30pm

During the ‘heyday’ of the Celtic Tiger, Dublin experienced speculative development in key areas like the Docklands; a housing bubble accompanied by dramatic increases in the cost of rent; and the increasing role of the private sector in the provision of social housing and waste services. It is now seven years since the crisis and these tendencies not only remain with us but appear to be intensifying as new global players (private institutional investors) and state agencies (Irish Water, NAMA) enter the picture. While these developments affect our lives at the most basic level (our ability to access housing, water and other services, for example) we have little role in shaping them. This disempowering state of affairs is certainly not helped by the lack of critical and informed debate in the media.

The aim of this series of talks is to make more visible and understandable some of the key forces that are shaping Dublin’s development today. It brings together critical researchers doing important work on the city who do not often get a chance to share their research with a public audience. In this way, this series seeks to give us all a better understanding of what is going on in our city so that we can better influence it.

4 March 2015: Tracey Lauriault (Programmable Cities, NIRSA, Maynooth University) ‘Evidence Informed Activism – Data based deliberations’

Evidence-free governing is short-sighted, politically expedient and favours PR politics. Even with science, ample knowledge and data, some make ‘prayerfully’ inspired decisions as seen by anti-vaccination parents in the US, while in Ireland being certifiably dead and pregnant may be a life sentence. Moral arguments favour easy fixes such as methadone treatment which are associated with unintended drug overdoses. In cities we marginalize the most vulnerable, such as people who are homeless and use them as scapegoats when really it’s about the political economy of housing. Women’s issues everywhere are generally un-accounted for as seen in the mountain of untested rape kits in the US or the inability to adequately track femicide in the UK. In Canada government ac-count-ability systems such as the census and science libraries are being cut and in Ireland localism vs the public interest or rhetoric vs facts are the norm. This talk will critically discuss open data, big data, open government, evidence-informed public policy, counting the invisible, data-based deliberations, calculated activism, Evidence for Democracy, and imagine what a public interest data-based infrastructure for Dublin would look like.

18 March 2015: Rory Hearne (Dept. of Geography, Maynooth University) ‘Privatizing the Urban Welfare State‘

This talk discusses the new phase of privatising the urban welfare state that has emerged in Dublin as part of the austerity programme that continues in the post-crisis context. Labelled as ‘common sense’ and the only ‘game in town’ new forms of neoliberal (non) interventions by local and central government can be identified as part of a changing geographical political economy of the urban welfare state. The case of Dublin highlights a number of contradictions and failures within this new phase of neoliberal financialised capitalism that demonstrates once more its inability to resolve its multiple crises. The socio-spatial inequalities that endured through the boom years have intensified as the corporate financial and property sectors re-boom while significant parts of the city are immiserated from privatisation, unemployment, mortgage arrears and rent rises, and the political destruction of the community sector. But something profound is happening. This dominant hegemony has witnessed its first major challenge from at the grassroots scale that gives rise to the possibility of hope.

1 April 2015: Daithi Downey (Research Associate, Centre of Urban and Regional Studies, TCD): ‘the financialization of housing’.

A key feature of neoliberalism is the process of financialisation. Since the 1970s, financialisation became established in advanced western economies via the disintermediated, deregulated and increasingly destabilising global financial system. In Ireland this has literally led to the ‘financialisation of everyday life’. However, the way housing in Ireland was incorporated into the process of capital accumulation sets the financialisation of Irish housing apart. The disruption caused by the global financial crisis has produced negative outcomes for over-indebted homeowners. House-price decreases were accompanied by negative equity, mortgage arrears, repossessions and the abandonment of housing. Hitherto securely housed families are now enduring unsustainable housing stress, insecurity and exclusion. This talk considers these issues with reference to Ireland’s economic cycle under neoliberal financialisation.

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