Meet: The interns at the IUR

Camila Freitas

Project leader: Claudia Fonseca Alfaro

“I have had the opportunity to live in Sweden for a whole year before I have started the masters. During this period, I became an attentive observer of Malmö. Thus, my desire to join the master’s in urban studies has grown organically while I kept reflecting on how much I could learn from the city I was living in and also how I could contribute to a global urban debate due to my personal experiences as a Brazilian citizen.

I am particularly interested in critical urban theory approaches and in studying the way global capitalism has established power relations within the cities as well as its impacts on people’s life. I am also attracted by interdisciplinary ways of studying urbanism through its correlations with consumption, health and food production.

I’ve decided to take part in the internship because I think it is a great opportunity to conduct research in a more profound way. The chance to get in contact with researchers from the Urban Studies Department and the IUR, as well as to have a feeling of the research in everyday life are also some advantages. Further, the project I am contributing with is also a great opportunity to gain extra knowledge about thinking urban studies -case studies, theoretical perspectives, and different methodologies- in the global south context. Some of my main takes on the project involve the gathering of data as well as a literature review under the topic of smart cities through a critical perspective and the discourse analysis of a Mexican smart city implementation project.” 

Sara Hultqvist

Project leader: Robert Nilsson Mohammadi

“I have a bachelor’s degree in City Planning from Malmö University, and am currently studying the last year of my Master’s degree in Urban Studies. When I began my studies, I was mostly interested in gender issues of city planning, but during my studies I’ve also broaden my interest for housing and rural development. For instance, last semester a classmate and I made a mini-documentary about the positive development of Munkfors, Sweden’s ninth smallest city. This semester I do a research internship in a study of Immigrant integration programs in Malmö from the mid-1940s to the 1970s. I have done some archive studies, and written an article about Italian labour migration and their strike in the late 1940’s. I decided to study a Master’s programme because I wanted a deeper understanding for a lot of the issues that were brought up during my bachelor, and the Master’s programme would allow me to focus on issues I were especially interested in. The research internship programme also felt like a great opportunity to get to know what the research environment looked like on a higher level.”

Ioanna Kontopoulou

Project leader: Lorena Melgaço

“I received my Bachelor’s degree in Theology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. I decided to do my Master’s degree in Urban Studies because it is an exciting and challenging area of studies especially in the multicultural Swedish society. 

This semester I chose to do the internship because I see it as a great opportunity to see first-hand how a research is conducted and, in the process, gain the theoretical knowledge and practical experience to help me both with my Master’s thesis and future studies. 

The project I am collaborating with is called Epistemic dialogues South-North: decolonising the smart city agenda with Lorena Melgaço Silva Marques. My take on the research is focused on the relationship between smart cities and migrant women and how digitalisation impacts their everyday lives. A large part of my work on the project is based on empirical research with actors involved in smart city initiatives and women’s organisations in Malmö, which is also the part I like the most so far.” 

Asha Sri Nissanka

Project leader: Carina Listerborn

“I selected the Masters in Urban Studies because I wanted to know how developed countries are facing the challenges of urbanization. The programme turned out to be more interesting than I anticipated and it sparked new concerns in my way of thinking. I became interested in urban sociology, more precisely; social inequalities, public spaces and the right to the city. 

I applied for the research internship – within the project A critical exploration of smart housing from an intersectional perspective – and proposed the theme “The effect of smart cities on adequate housing” with the hope of studying housing inequalities in depth. The term “adequate housing” implies more than just a roof and walls; it is a kind of a whole single package that consists of habitability, accessibility, affordability and many more. The quality of the neighbourhood may be more important than the dwelling itself and one of the main issues with regard to housing in many major cities in Sweden is increasing housing inequalities and segregation. Housing inequalities can be both a cause and a symptom of economic inequalities that may distract smart sustainable cities. 

After conducting some literature survey on smart cities and adequate housing’, we have made contacts with the Grow Smarter project, a EU funded project which tests 12 smart solutions in Arsta, Stockholm. We plan to visit their site in October to get an in-depth understanding of a smart city.” 

Christopher Pickering

Project leader: Guy Baeten

“After working for several years with research funding and project coordination, I was eager to more actively participate in the creative research process. Architecture and urban design have always been hobby interests so I saw the master in Urban Studies as a chance to make it my career instead. In regards to my background, I have a BSc in Biology & Pharmacology from McMaster University in Canada. This also included courses in civil engineering, psychology and environmental science because I was not exactly sure which path I wanted to follow. I then did a PhD in Experimental Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet where I specialized in behavioral analysis in alcohol/drug dependence.

I chose the internship because it provides the opportunity to dig deeper into theories and concepts that were only briefly introduced in class. This also provides a practical component in that we can apply what we read to actual cases in the city. The research process is flexible and challenging and gives many opportunities for discussion with other researchers.

My project is not directly connected with an existing IUR project. It has its basis in the challenges of multidisciplinary research and what are the possibilities and obstacles for collaboration between social science and technology on topics like smart cities. I will also look at several cases of the use of technology to design and/or improve public spaces and see whether these take into consideration issues of governance, data privacy and inclusivity.”

Marvin Sommer

Project leader: Guy Baeten

“Growing up in Berlin after the fall of the wall, I was exposed to a constantly changing cityscape. Due to the transformation I witnessed growing up, urban issues have always been present in my life, and as such, I developed an interest in it. The Master of Urban Studies fits naturally with this interest, and it will hopefully give me the chance to work with the urban conundrums that all cities face. 

Before starting at Malmö University, I finished my Bachelor degree in Politics and Economics at HTW Berlin. From those foundations I take my main research interests in new urban developments and public versus private interests. At the moment I have a strong interest in housing challenges, as not only are they universally experienced, but they also in some respects mirror the way our industrialised societies function. The research internship I am doing this semester falls right into that array of themes; the project will consider Malmö Stads urban development plans for the neighbourhood Norra Sorgenfri. These plans are motivated by a social sustainability approach. As part of a multi-year research project on the development of Norra Sorgenfri, I will be conducting a literature review on the notion of urban social sustainability along the lines of planning, policies and application.” 

Victor Öberg

Project leader: Martin Grander

“My name is Victor and I studied the bachelor programme in urban studies at Malmö University a few years ago. Since then I’ve mainly worked in Region Halland in several different of roles, most recently as the head of analysis for regional planning. I’ve always had the goal of pursuing a PhD in urban studies at some point during my career. I felt I was at a point in my life where it was suitable for me to start pursuing that goal, which lead me to the master programme in urban studies.

My research interests mainly, and not surprisingly, revolves around regional planning. I’m currently looking into the changes in the Swedish building act which lets regions create comprehensive plans. This instates a new instance in the Swedish planning system; the regional.

I chose the internship since I both got to choose freely what my focuses would be for the next six months, letting me do a thorough pre-study for my master thesis, and also it gives me invaluable insights into the world of PhD-students. The research project I’m collaborating with is focused on housing, public housing and welfare. My take on this project is to see the what effects this new instance in the Swedish planning system could have on the long-term housing supply. The question is very complex with a lot of actors, so I’m focusing on the ambiguity within the legislation which calls both for more uniformity in planning but also for enforced flexibility. Since it’s not clear what the legislation will bring, gathering knowledge about what hopes and fears different actors have will be invaluable to be able to conduct negotiations between public and private actors regarding the long-term housing supply. The project is a case study that is geographically delimited by the administrative region Region Skåne, which is one of two regions that are bound by law to create a regional comprehensive plan. The project will mainly use interviews with the regional actors, state actors and the municipalities within the geographical boundaries. By using different actors’ views on the legislative changes, I hope to bring forth differences in what potentials are seen in the legislative changes.”