Responsibility and commitment in urban scholar-activism

Perspectives from an anthropologist and a geographer

Keywords: scholar activism, ethnography, anthropology, geography, urban

In this piece Michael Herzfeld and Loretta Lees reflect upon their roles as urban studies scholars based in the academy, and what their positionality means regarding the communities that they have engaged with.

Michael Herzfeld is an emeritus Professor and anthropologist, author of twelve books and producer of two ethnographic films has conducted extensive field research in Greece, Italy, and Thailand. His current interests include nationalism, bureaucracy, craft production and apprenticeship, knowledge politics, and heritage conservation and its social impact. A former editor of American Ethnologist and currently editor-at-large for Anthropological Quarterly and series co-editor of the book series “New Anthropologies of Europe” (Berghahn) and “Asian Heritages” (Amsterdam University Press), he holds honorary degrees from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, the University of Macedonia, and the University of Crete, and is a past winner of the J.I. Staley Prize and the Rivers Memorial Medal.

Loretta Lees is an urban geographer who is internationally known for her research on gentrification/urban regeneration, global urbanism, and urban policy. She co-organises The Urban Salon: A London forum for architecture, cities and international urbanism and has written/edited 12 books including Planetary Gentrification and Gentrification. Loretta won the first Antipode Activist Scholar Award 2012, and has been an expert witness in three public inquiries fighting displacement due to gentrification; one of these inquiries resulted in a precedent-setting win.

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