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Personal profile

Vision Statement

I am interested in the intersections between culture, community activism and urban politics, especially coalition and regime formations in response to neoliberal politics. I am keen to work on issues and contexts of urban change, gentrification, community micro-politics and micro-organising, the role of culture (representation, production, actors and networks) in shaping resistance to the sweep of private development and spatial displacement, in shaping struggles over space and rights to the city.

These socially and activist minded values also drive my work on academic writing, whether through research or development practices; this means removing academic writing from structures of privilege (knowledge, practices) and advocating "the right to academic literacies", a notion I am currently developing. 


Catalina joined the Centre for Academic Writing in 2009 where she is now a Senior Lecturer. In January 2018, she became an Associate fellow (part-time secondment) in the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations after a two-year informal research affiliation with CTPSR.

Catalina has a background in English and French language and literatures. Prior to Coventry, she studied and taught at the Lower Danube University of Galati and the University of Bucharest, and then from 2001 to 2009, at the University of Warwick. In 2002, she completed an interdisciplinary MA in Gender, Literature and Modernity on an Open Society Foundation scholarship for Eastern Europe. At Warwick, she was awarded a Postgraduate Research Fellowship to research her doctorate on New York writing and the advent of neoliberal urbanism. At the time, she also became the recipient of the research travel award from the British Association of American Studies to conduct archival research at the New York Public Library, New York University and network with researchers at the Centre for Place, Culture and Politics at the City University of New York. As a PGR Fellow and then graduate teaching assistant, Catalina taught world literature and 19th-century American writing as well as academic writing until she joined Coventry in 2009.

Catalina does research in urban geography and academic writing. Her monograph, Urban Space and Late Twentieth-Century New York Literature: Reformed Geographies (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) opens up a theoretical and methodological space for writing as urban fieldwork and the contribution of literary data to understanding urban politics, grassroots community activism, neoliberal urbanisation, gentrification, real estate and fictitious capitalism. 

The current and future directions of her work include projects on: urban documentaries of gentrification and rezoning; literary and documentary resources in urban activism; city of culture urban politics and grassroots (cultural) action; urban and community governance, historic preservation and real estate in shrinking cities in Eastern Europe. 

Catalina's interest in politics undelies her academic writing research as well. She has published on neoliberal education, academic writing and the employability curriculum and is researching the rise of privatised academic writing development and the nature of academic writing brokering for researchers. 


Research Interests

Urban studies: neoliberal urbanisation; gentrification; urban resistance through culture and documentation; urban governance; real estate and historic preservation; counter-hegemonic urban narratives and community organisations; declining cities; privatisation of urban space; urban displacement. 

Academic Writing: professional (academic) writing; material economies of writing; evaluation regimes, knowledge production and research writing; academic writing brokering; academic writing and community engagement/empowerment; privatisation, publicness and academic writing.   

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Research Output

Book review: The Creative Destruction of New York City: Engineering the City for the Elite

Neculai, C., 2018, In : Urban Studies. 55, 9, p. 2078-2081 4 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review

On the Privatisation of Academic Writing Development: A Post-EATAW 2017 Provocation

Neculai, C., 30 Nov 2018, In : Journal of Academic Writing. 8, 2, p. 1-10 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issue

Open Access
  • 8 Downloads (Pure)

    Academic Literacies and the Employability Curriculum: Resisting Neoliberal Education?

    Neculai, C., 2015, Working With Academic Literacies: Case Studies Towards Transformative Practice. Lillis, T., Harrington, K., Lea, M. R. & Mitchell, S. (eds.). Parlor Press

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Open Access
    397 Downloads (Pure)
  • Press / Media

    Academic Writing - the solution against plagiarism

    Catalina Neculai


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Other