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Personal profile

Vision Statement

I am mainly interested in the intersections between culture, community mobilisation and organising, and 'right to the city' politics in the post-1970s neoliberal city. I work on issues and contexts of urban change and urban restructuring, gentrification and rezoning, 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 am currently developing the notion of the politics of capture through my work on literary (urban fiction and non-fiction) and documentary culture (the urban documentary film of gentrification) which i hope to extend to photography, public art and local, situated, trans-media documentation. As part of the same larger project on the politics of capture, I am also seeking to understand how academic, non-academic and media discourses instantiate politically this complex knowledge nexus of culture, urbanism and activism and how they are/can be mobilised to serve political urban and community action. 


I joined the Centre for Academic Writing in 2009 where I am now an Assistant Professor. In January 2018, I 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.

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) certified this conversion as the project 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. Since then, my work has developed within this transdisciplinary space. 

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)

the politics of academic discourses in gentrification studies (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; historic preservation; counter-hegemonic urban narratives and community organising; shrinking cities; knowledge production and political epistemologies; ideologies of writing and (academic) discourse; cities and the politics of affect; New York City; North-American, transatlantic and (Eastern) European cities

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Catalina Neculai is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Research Output

Neoliberal New York: Contemporary literature and the politics of urban redevelopment

Neculai, C., Feb 2020, New York: A Literary History. Wilson, R. (ed.). Cambridge : Cambridge University Press

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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
  • 10 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
    413 Downloads (Pure)
  • Press / Media

    Academic Writing - the solution against plagiarism

    Catalina Neculai


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Other