Clara Rivas

Postdoctoral Researcher

RivasDr Clara Rivas Alonso successfully defended her Human Geography PhD thesis ‘State-led gentrification and time in Okmeydanı, Istanbul: Resisting uncertainties through everyday solidarities at the University of Leicester, UK, and under the supervision of professor Loretta Lees. She carried out an ethnography of a deeply contested informal urban space, the area of Okmeydanı in Istanbul, threatened with a state-led gentrification project and historically subjected to stigmatization and multi-faceted violence. The original contribution of her thesis laid in placing time at the centre of state-led gentrification analysis, which allowed her to demonstrate how approaching contested urban spaces at risk of gentrification through the lens of spatiotemporal struggle in, for and through place makes them open- ended, multiple and inclusive. Her proposal hinged in the interstices of long-entrenched dichotomies: urban/rural, formal/informal, Global North/South, researched/researcher, everydayness/event, pushing them beyond rigid binaries.

The path that took Dr Rivas Alonso to do a PhD involved living in different countries and having a myriad of work and research experiences. Originally Spanish, she worked and studied in London since 1999, where she completed a BA in Humanities and History at Birbeck College, and an MA in Postcolonial Culture and Global Policy at Goldsmiths College. She has also lived in Istanbul, Addis Ababa, Abu Dhabi and now Paris, taking all these opportunities to reflect, and when possible, write about, constantly changing urban forms and the emancipatory possibilities of urban life. Having already worked as a researcher for Ekopolitik, an Istanbul-based think-tank and conflict resolution organisation, she decided to do a PhD as questions of urban transformation, militarization and struggle for the right to housing continued to gain importance in Turkey (and elsewhere). She has co-authored papers on resistances to gentrification and has published chapters on the Istanbul revolt Gezi Park and Addis Ababa’s urban narratives. She has taught in the Department of Geography in Leicester University. She is also a qualified and experienced English and Spanish teacher.

She speaks English, Spanish, French and Turkish, and is at ease navigating between different cultural and social environments. She has volunteered in social centres (Migrant Resource Centre, in London; OkDer, in Istanbul) and established links between housing activists based in different countries.

Research themes

Resistances to gentrification, temporalities, the urban everyday, informalities, relational approaches, Istanbul and Turkey.

List of publications

Annunziata, S., Lees, L. and Rivas Alonso, C. (2021) ‘Segregation, social mix and gentrification’, in Orum, A., Vicari, S. and Ruiz-Tagle, J. (eds.) Companion to Urban and Regional Studies, Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, pp. 497-516.

Annunziata, S. and Rivas Alonso, C. (2020) ‘Everyday resistances in gentrifying contexts’, in Murru, S. and Polese, A. (eds.) Resistances: Between Theories and the Field. Rowman & Littlefield International.

Annunziata, S. and Rivas-Alonso, C. (2018) ‘Resisting gentrification’, in Lees, L. (ed.) Handbook of Research on Gentrification, Edward Elgar.

Lees, L., Annunziata, S. and Rivas-Alonso, C. (2017) ‘Resisting Planetary Gentrification: the value of survivavility in the fight to stay put’, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 108 (special issue).

Rivas-Alonso, C. (2014) ‘Gezi Park: A Revindication of Public Space’, in David, I. and Toktamis, K. (eds.) Gezi Protests and Beyond: Contesting AKP Rule, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Rivas-Alonso, C. (2014) ‘Visualising Addis Ababa: Deconstructing Privilege-making Narratives’, in Naik, D. and Oldfield, T. (eds.) Critical Cities Vol. 4. London: Myrdle Court Press.


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