Catalina Neculai

Catalina Neculai


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    Personal profile

    Vision Statement

    My research crosses over two mutually informing strands: urban cultural geography and writing/literacy studies.

    In urban studies, I work on convergences between culture, community activism and 'right to the city' politics in the post-1970s neoliberal city. I research issues and contexts of urban change and urban restructuring, gentrification and rezoning, resistance and mobilisation from a culturalist lens that emphasises and valorises the role of culture (representation, production, actors, networks, practices and fieldwork/methodologies) in shaping: individual and collective responses to an encroaching privatised, financialised, exclusionary and displacing urbanism; coalition building and struggles over space and over rights to the city (access, participation, appropriation, contribution); urban histories, knowledges and knowledge-making processes. I act as editorial advisor on the periodical of socially engaged photography, Photography For Whom?, edited by Anthony Luvera. 

    In writing studies, I am interested in spatial, scalar, material and ideological processes of knowledge production mediated via research writing across linguistic cultures, research writing brokering and “the right to literacies” in academic and non-academic communities. I am currently co-convening the Academic Publishing and Presenting in a Global Context research network of AILA (Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliqueé).


    I joined the Centre for Academic Writing in 2009 where I am an Assistant Professor. I was also an Associate Research Fellow in the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations and then, the Centre for Arts, Memory and Communities. I have a background in English and French languages and literatures. Prior to Coventry, I 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, I completed an interdisciplinary MA in Gender, Literature and Modernity on an Open Society Foundation scholarship for Eastern Europe. At Warwick, I was awarded a Postgraduate Research Fellowship to research my doctorate on New York writing and the advent of neoliberal urbanism. At the time, I 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, I taught world literature and 19th-century American writing as well as academic writing until I joined Coventry in 2009.

    I am a convert to human (cultural and urban) geography. My doctorate and later monograph, Urban Space and Late Twentieth-Century New York Literature: Reformed Geographies (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) opened 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. Since then, my work has developed within this transdisciplinary space that also includes work in writing/literacy studies.

    PhD - University of Warwick 

    MA - University of Warwick 

    MA - University of Bucharest 

    BA - Lower Danube University of Galati 

    Latest grants

    2019 Early Career Researcher Networking and Skills Development Grant (Coventry University - £7500): Gentrification, community activism and documentary culture in New York City: A Research Development and Networking Project (visiting researcher at Hunter College, CUNY under the mentorship of Professor Kelly Anderson)

    2019 - Connecting Cultures Global Research Fund - City of Culture Projects (£2000) Literacies for Life in the City of Culture: A Community-Based Writing Centre in Coventry (in collaboration with Dr Christopher Strelluf at the University of Warwick)

    My ongoing projects include:

    culture, documentation and community activism in New York City (book project)

    urbanised literary consciousness and writerly communities in neoliberal New York

    community engagement and 'literacies for life' in the city of culture (the city of Coventry) (collaborative)

    Research Interests

    urban culture and documentation (fiction/non-fiction; documentary film; photography, public art); multi/trans-media representation; 'right to the city' politics; neoliberal urbanisation; gentrification; counter-hegemonic urban narratives and community organising; shrinking cities; spaces and scales of knowledge production and political epistemologies; ideologies of writing and (academic) discourse; community literacies; cities and the politics of affect; New York City; North-American, transatlantic and (Eastern) European cities

    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities


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