Shanghai Hawker

Our research strives to understand social change and its consequences in various local settings, and to link these local contexts with global processes.

Our work is positioned within theories of practice: we seek to understand how people construct and change their livelihoods through social practices in different localities that are embedded in different networks, connections and dependencies. Conceptually, our main analytical categories include place-space, multi-locality, appropriation of space, livelihoods, institutions, inequality, conflict and social change. Our methodological approach is positioned and informed by qualitative-interpretative methods, which are supplemented by quantitative methods. We also employ case study methods for field research and use textual and visual analysis.

Our empirical studies are based in Asia, East Africa and Switzerland.

At present, we are conducting research on (i) challenges of rural livelihoods and the politics of development, (ii) migration, asylum seeking, multi-locality and development, (iii) spatial appropriation, nature conservation, ecosystem and landscape services, (iv) geographies of youth, as well as (v) geographies of education.

Our academic engagement is firmly grounded in a number of normative premises: it is based on the idea of sustainable development and is carried forward by a desire to contribute to social justice and wellbeing beyond spatially confined islands of wealth. Our research is politically relevant in the sense that we engage in a dialogue with other researchers (particularly in the South), as well as with development practitioners, policy makers and the general public. We seek to provide knowledge for orientation in an increasingly complex world.