Poverty in urban slums is the central topic of a new publication entitled "Spaces of the Poor. Perspectives of Cultural Sciences on Urban Slum Areas and Their Inhabitants" published by the East European History division of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The book questions traditional perceptions of poverty and those affected by it. In bringing together international experts from various fields, it emphasizes the complexity and individuality of the problem. "The poor" are not "the others," but individuals who try to give their lives a meaning. Which possibilities do we have to do justice to these people instead of judging them blankly? Examples from Western Europe and cities in Costa Rica, India, and Russia are used to illustrate this multidisciplinary and international approach.
"Poverty, precarization, and gentrification are not only historical processes, but take place in the cities in which we live today," explained editor Dr. Hans-Christian Petersen of the JGU East European History division. What do we know about the urban impoverished areas of the world and the living environment of its inhabitants? How do the urban poor cope with their surroundings? How do they adopt urban space in order to fight against their positions at the periphery of society? The volume "Spaces of the Poor" takes up these questions and investigates how far approaches of cultural sciences can contribute to overcome the "exoticization" of the ghetto and instead look at the heterogeneity and individuality behind the facades. The collected volume thus opens new perspectives for research of poverty and inequalities that do not stop at collective categories.
The English-language volume is the outcome of a conference jointly organized by the East European History division and the Historical Cultural Sciences Research Unit of Mainz University in 2012 and has recently been published in the "Mainz Historical Cultural Sciences" series of the transcript publishing house.
Hans-Christian Petersen (ed.)
Spaces of the Poor. Perspectives of Cultural Sciences on Urban Slum Areas and Their Inhabitants transcript, September 2013
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