LIVEDIFFERENCE at Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers Conference 2013

London, 28-30th August 2013

LIVEDIFFERENCE will host two paper sessions on Thursday 29th August on NEGOTIATING STRANGE ENCOUNTERS: CONCEPTUALISING CONVERSATIONS ACROSS DIFFERENCE sponsored by the Participatory Geographies Research Group (PyGyRG) and the Political Geography Research Group (PolGRG). The sessions include a host of approaches to such conversations and include empirical material from across Europe and South Africa. Presentations include:-

Session 1:

1.       Catherine Harris, Lucy Jackson* and Gill Valentine (University of Sheffield), Introduction “Negotiating strange encounters: Conceptualising conversations across difference”

2.       Paul Harrison, Durham University, For a Geography of You

3.       Hilary Ramsden, Oxford Brookes University, Brief Encounters whilst Walking & Talking

4.       Lars Meier, Technical University of Berlin, Overcome to be a stranger? – Habitus transformations and everyday practices of migrants in Nuremberg

5.       Ingrid Marie Kielland, University of Norway, Norway, Whose indigenous belonging? Stories about (im)possible past and present Sami identities in Northern Norway

Session 2:

1.       Catherine Harris*, Aneta Piekut and Gill Valentine (University of Sheffield), Attitudes towards the ‘stranger’: negotiating encounters with difference in the UK and Poland.

2.       Rhys Dafydd Jones, Aberystwyth University, ‘Living with others’? Muslim/non-Muslim student encounters in shared residences

3.       Luke Bennett, Sheffield Hallam University, and Amanda Crawley-Jackson, University of Sheffield, On curating strange encounters in multidisciplinary space: a case study on opening up a plot to multiple reading

4.       Nick Schuermans, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, The highway as a site of encounter: White, middle class South Africans driving on the N2 in Cape Town

5.       Tracey Skelton, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Strange Encounters – ‘Asian Style’: encountering others in Busan, Hyderabad, Kunming and Singapore


We look forward to these two interesting and diverse sessions and hope all those attending the RGs come along to participate in discussions around these papers.

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Collaboration with the Architecture School: LIVE Project

In the autumn LIVEDIFFERENCE will be working with the Architecture School on a Live Project. Live Projects are real projects for real clients outside the School of Architecture that run every year for six weeks from late September to early November. They are carried out by students from the 5th and 6th year Masters in Architecture (MArch) and the Masters in Architectural Design (MAAD) courses.

Students will work with the LIVEDIFFERENCE team in translating our research findings into a ‘spatial experiment’. The research findings will identify the types of activity and characteristics of particular spaces where ‘meaningful contact’ can be produced or facilitated. Here, ‘meaningful contact’ is defined as contact that actually changes values and translates beyond the specifics of the individual moment into a more general positive respect for – rather than merely tolerance of – others. Contact which has the power to produce social change. The contact that we have in mind is that between people across a range of diversity strands: disability, sexuality, ‘race’ and ethnicity, nationality, class, gender and migrant status. Though many urban centres are now highly diverse in terms of being inhabited by people identifying with these categories in a variety of ways (for example contemporary cities are class diverse, ethnically diverse, and often have a visible LGBT presence), most people only have contact with people who are similar to themselves. They are often residentially segregated and mainly (or exclusively) socialise with those of the same sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, and class background.

The Live Project team will work with LIVEDIFFERENCE researchers to develop a proposal for a ‘spatial experiment’. The ‘spatial experiment’ will be undertaken in collaboration with a local NGO (partners in our research). This NGO does work around bringing people together across difference, particularly in the realms of faith and ethnic based differences. The Live Project team with then carry out this experiment and record the outcomes. We are very excited about this opportunity and envisage this being a creative and collaborative process.

For more information on Live Projects see

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International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies

Gill Valentine Emotional GeographiesIn July 2013 three members of the project, Lucy Jackson, Gill Valentine and Nichola Wood, attended the Fourth International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. At the conference, LiveDifference hosted three paper sessions on the emotional impacts on/ of Living with Difference, considering the role and significance of emotions in people’s experiences of, and attitudes towards, living with difference.

Presentations included:

Session 1: Approaching emotions and difference

1.       Faith Curtis, University of Newcastle, Australia, Emotional dimensions of ‘spaces of care’ for refugees in Newcastle

2.       Nichola Wood, University of Leeds, The Emotional Geographies of Tolerance.

3.       Claire Dwyer, University College London, Encountering the multicultural suburb: a shared photographic journey

Session 2: Practices of emotions and difference

1.       Ala Sirryeh, University of Bradford, Hosting strangers: Hospitality and family practices in fostering separated refugee and asylum seeking young people

2.       Aafke Heringa*, Gideon Bolt and Martin Dijst, Urban and Regional Research Centre Utrecht (URU), Utrecht University, Strategies of avoidance and belonging: meanings of spatiotemporal whereabouts and responses to encounters with ’the other’

3.       Emily Cooper, Lancaster University, “It’s better than daytime television”: living with Blackpool’s off-street sex industry

Session 3: Sites of emotion and difference

1.       Lucy Jackson, University of Sheffield, Emotional activism/ Encountering ‘emotional tactics’ in pro-life and pro-choice politics in the UK

2.       Bianca Szytniewski*, Radboud University Nijmegen & Utrecht University and Bas Spierings, Urban and Regional Research Centre Utrecht (URU), Utrecht University, ‘Feelings of unfamiliarity’

3.       Jan Willem Duyvendak, University of Amsterdam, The exclusionary power of ‘feeling at home’: political struggles around gay and lesbian ‘territories’

We thank all our presenters for their contribution to an interesting discussion about the emotions involved in negotiating, and living with, everyday differences. We also thank all those who came to the sessions for contributing to a dynamic discussion about the session themes.

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Living with difference at the AAG Conference: Making communities out of strangers

As well as presenting five research papers at the Association of American Geographers conference in Los Angeles this April, the LIVEDIFFERENCE team also ran a highly successful sesion titled ‘Living with Difference: Making Communities out of Strangers’. This session brought together work broadly concerned with geographies of diversity and questions of living with difference. The session sought to consider the methodological, the theoretical and the empirical ways in which studies on the geographies of difference can engage with debates concerning social class, ethnicity, age, migrant status, gender, religion, sexual orientation and disability.

The session aimd to consider the following questions:

– What opportunities are available for encountering difference?
– What types of encounter are sought or avoided and by whom?
– What are people’s experiences of discrimination or exclusion?
– At what sites do encounters with difference occur?
– What strategies do people use to deal with difference?
– What are the implications of the political event of EU enlargement for living
with difference?

Session presenters:-
1. Catherine Harris and Gill Valentine, University of Sheffield, UK, ‘Lived Experience: The Transmission of Attitudes Towards Difference
2. Jenny Olofsson – Umeå University, Sweden ‘A Sense of Belonging – Socia Integration among East European Immigrants in Sweden
3. Liv Raddatz – Temple University,  ‘Between Continuity and Change: Exploring Polish Migrants’ Experiences in the Labor Market of Berlin, Germany
4. Margarida Queiros – University of Lisbon, Portugal,  ‘Planning Spatial Equality and Diversity for Gender Equity in Municipalities

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Professor Danielle Allen, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

Allen1On 16th April Professor Danielle Allen from the Institute of Advanced Study in Princetoncame to Sheffield to give aLIVEDIFFERENCE public lecture. She presented on the the topic “Beyong Integration: Building a Connected Society”.

Professor Allen is author of Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education (2004), The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (2000), Why Plato Wrote (2010), and Why the Declaration of Independence Matters (forthcoming).

Allen is a frequent public lecturer and regular guest on public radio in the US to discuss issues of citizenship, as well as an occasional contributor on similar subjects to the Washington Post, Boston Review, Democracy, Cabinet, and The Nation. She was recently featured in the New Statesman Magazine, advised President Obama and has been advising Ed Miliband recently on the future of Labour policy.

The event was chaired by Professor Richard Phillips

The slides of her powerpoint presentation are available here

We are hoping to get a podcast of the lecture up on the site very soon.

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Living with Difference: 2012 Conference Resource


In September 2012 the project team held an international conference at the University of Leeds on the central theme of the project: Living with Difference in Europe. We have since developed a new webpage as a resource for anyone interested in developing new ways of thinking about “living with difference”. The Research Projects section lists research projects related to the issues of “living with difference”. The Publications section lists relevant publications and unpublished papers and, wherever possible, provides links to those publications. The Events section carries related announcements of forthcoming conferences, seminars and call for papers.

To view the resource page click here

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Dialogue meeting with NGOs in Warsaw

In Septemvber 2011 the LiveDifference team organised a seminar for people working with various diversity strands (different faith based, cultural, ethnic, disability and gender based groups) and on issues of equal treatment in Warsaw. These included representatives of Warsaw City Council and members of non-governmental organisations. Emerging results from the survey conducted in Leeds and Warsaw were shared with participants. Special attention was paid to issues of discrimination and how the answers talk to current equal treatment discourses in both countries. While in Leeds 25% of people declared that they have been personally discriminated in last five years, in Warsaw – 13% did so. Representatives of the NGOSs suggested that the low percentage of people that declared having experience of discrimination could be linked to deficiencies in Polish anti-discrimination law as well as the absence of ‘discrimination’ in public discourse in Poland. NGO representatives shared opinions on current discrimination policy issues which will be important for the ‘Living with Difference research programme.

Venue: Cultural Centre ‘Brand New World’, Political Critique, Warsaw

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Meet the team

There have been a few staff changes on the research team recently. Four new mambers of staff have been appointed. The core research team now comprises Professor Gill Valentine (Programme Director), Ulrike Vieten (Research Programme Co-ordinator and Research Associate), Aneta Piekut (Research Fellow), Nichola Wood (Academic Staff), Catherine Harris (Research Fellow), Lucy Jackson (Research Fellow) and Lucy Mayblin (Research Fellow). For more information on all of the team and other associate staff, go to the ‘people’ page.

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