What is good living together in diverse urban neigborhoods? photo: Lieve Willekens

What is good living together in diverse urban neigborhoods?

Before starting as a postdoc in the Reproducing Europe Project, Anick Vollebergh finished her PhD research which also examines the dynamics characterizing the new, diverse Europe. On the occasion of the defense of her thesis ‘Strange Neighbors. Politics of 'living together' in Antwerp’, the Flemish daily Gazet van Antwerpen published an interview with Anick (2 April 2016).

Strange neighbors

Anick Vollebergh’s PhD research brings into focus the affective politics surrounding the notion of 'living together' in Antwerp (Belgium). As elsewhere in Europe, there has emerged in Flanders a strong sense that increasing diversity in urban neighborhoods has caused for conflict and alienation. Stimulating denizens to live together, samenleven in Dutch, across differences and ensuring social cohesion have become defined as important government tasks. In her dissertation, Anick investigates the implications of this new political ideal of 'living together' based on extensive fieldwork (2008-2010) among residents of two diverse Antwerp neighborhoods: Oud-Borgerhout and the 'Jewish Neighborhood' of Antwerp.

Newspaper interview

In her interview with the Flemish daily, Gazet van Antwerpen (2 April 2016), Anick describes how the notion of living together is both highly opaque and has attained enormous political weight. As a result, the ideal of living together has become for all residents, whether deprived or urban middle class white Flemings, pious Jews, or of Moroccan background, a prism through which they evaluate their neighborhood and feel themselves judged by others, whilst trying to give shape to what good living together may mean in practice in very different ways.

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