A World of Suburbs

 

 

 ’Suburbia isn’t static; it is endlessly adaptable. Its vociferous enemies fail to see that it is an essential ingredient of city life’ (Barker, 2009, p. 10)

 

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This website is dedicated to the documentation of suburbs around the world.  I recently took the initiative to develop this project as I have started to collect photographs of the different suburbs I have the opportunity to travel to. As a result this is very much work in progress that can overall be described as a visual exploration of the suburban in its architectural and physical form. This project is also very much concerned with the political, socio-cultural and religious aspects in exploring the suburban. The data are aimed at providing a source of knowledge for those who have an interest in the suburban for these different reasons.

I will be looking at the similarities and the differences that characterise suburbs around the world. It is not meant as an exhaustive achievement but a multi-faceted and ever changing large scale vision. One of the central points of interest is indeed the changing landscape of suburbia more particularly in the UK. My PhD thesis was concerned with South Asian suburbanisation in Nottingham (Peyrefitte, 2011; 2013). By South Asian suburbanisation, I was referring to movements of urban dispersal to suburbs of desirable housing by members of the South Asian diaspora whether they came from India, Pakistan or East Africa. The research dealt with a number of questions relating to ethnicity, space, place and class. These questions remain key areas of interest and research that will be notably disseminated here. But this website expands on these interests to include a wider look at the suburban – a realm often overlooked and sometimes despised despite its social, cultural and political importance.

I am here echoing fellow social scientists such as Rupa Huq (2007) and Mark Clapson (2000; 2003) who have before me highlighted the necessity to have a closer look at the suburbs. A large proportion of the population in the ‘West’ live in the suburbs and this is increasingly the case in other developing countries which are witnessing an urban sprawl as a result of economic growth. I am thinking of the suburbs of Mumbai and Bangkok for instance. Suburbs as places of desirable housing are in many ways a product of modernity particularly evident in the English-speaking world. The suburban and suburbanisation echo a geographical imagination that is however no longer contained within an ‘Anglo-American model’ (Clapson, 2003). ‘A World of Suburbs’ aims to look at  different geographical and socio-cultural contexts with the ambition of getting a global vision.

 

References:

Barker, P. (2009), The Freedoms of Suburbia, London: First Frances Lincoln Edition

Clapson, M (2003), Suburban Century: social change and urban growth in England and the United States, Oxford: Berg

Huq, R (2007), “The Sounds of Suburbs”, in Soundings, No. 37, lwbooks.co.uk, pp.35-44

Peyrefitte, M (2011), Diasporic Trajectories of Suburbanisation: Ethnicity, Space and Place, PhD Thesis, The University of Nottingham

Peyrefitte, M (2013), ‘Diaspora et Suburbanisation à Nottingham: comprendre la mobilité sociale et résidentielle dans l’immigration à travers l’approche biographique intergénérationelle’ , Migrations Société, Vol. 25, No 145, pp. 63-77

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