Urban and Population Geography working group

Ongoing Research Projects

Urban Dynamics: Global Perspectives for a Socio-cultural Urban Management

Currently, Europe’s urban societies are confronted by massive challenges: economic crises have increased the risk of social dislocation; and political and economic factors have given rise to increasing migratory movements that are generating heterogeneous spaces. In order to prepare graduates for these challenges, the Strategic Partnership „Urban Dynamics“ aims to provide proper formation in the field of socio-cultural urban management. In order to realize its goals, the project team of Kiel University established an interdisciplinary and transnational network. Besides two further European partners – Universidade de Santiago de Compostela and Université Paris 8 –, the Latin American Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires and Universidade Federal de Pernambuco in Recife form part of the network. Several learning activities will support students’ international mobility and enable free access to innovative, validatable education materials. The students of the five partner universities will elaborate joint case studies by means of a blended-learning platform. A summer school and a concluding start-up academy will serve to move forward international networking of urban social entrepreneurship. Internships abroad are part of the curriculum, too.

Project webpage: http://www.urbandynamics.eu/

International Meetings
International Symposium March 2016,
Kiel Workshop: „Spaces of/for Urban Cultures“, May 2016,
Santiago (de Compostela) Workshop: „Creative Urban Politics“, 27 March - 1 April 2017

Case Studies:
  Refugee Movements to Europe: Regulation, Distribution, Accommodation? Dipl.-Geogr. Zine-Eddine Hathat, 
  Learning from alternative Spaces? M. Sc. Michael Helten
UD Internship 2016-17

EU Erasmus+ 2015-2017

Prof. Dr. Javier Gómez-Montero, Prof. Dr. Rainer Wehrhahn, Project Manager: Dr. Victor A. Ferretti, Dipl.-Geogr. Zine-Eddine Hathat and Dr. Corinna Hölzl

Transnational social and economic development of German and Polish metropolitan regions

The Collaboration focuses on the question how Polish and German cities and metropolitan regions are developing under the influence of economic and social globalization processes. Specific local framework conditions, the role of economic and cultural creativity for specific urban development processes, and how social geographic perspectives can contribute to the development of space changes at different spatial urban levels are also considered.

The research will take place between 2017 and 2019.


Responsible at the university: Prof. Dr. Rainer Wehrhahn

Responsible at the partner university: Prof. Dr. Tadeusz Stryjakiewicz, Prof. Dr. Tomasz Kaczmarek, Dr. Anna Tobolska

Interplay between area-based security policies and daily security practices in São Paulo, Brazil

In residential areas of the broader Brazilian middle class, security policies have been intensified and, particularly, technical security measures have been massively expanded for several years. This progress influences and limits everyday action patterns of the urban population increasingly, and changes communicative and social structures and processes in local urban space intensively. Referring to the discussion of geographical urban and security studies, it is the main purpose of the project to study daily security-oriented actions, at the microscale level of households, neighbourhoods and districts of the urban middle class in the municipality of São Paulo (Brazil), and to understand their interplay with public and private security policies Therefore, it will be interface a human geographical perspective both with actor-oriented as well as praxeological approaches.

Funding: DFG 2012-2015

Head of Project: Prof. Dr. Rainer Wehrhahn

Research Assistent: Dipl.-Geogr. Dominik Haubrich

For central publications see staff

Transit migrants in the Cities of the Maghreb

For several decades the irregular migration from Africa to Europe has attracted attention from numerous politicians and scholars across different disciplines. Europe and its security policy have been of particular importance. By offering a different perspective on this topic, this dissertation tries to capture the problem more accurate. Considering that most of the migrants do not succeed in crossing the Mediterranean, the Maghreb and the migrants, who settle down in North Africa for some time, are the main focus of interest. The destinations of these so-called transit migrants are the cities, which offer them different ways to finance their temporary stay and a possible onward journey, but in turn are transformed by the migrants. Due to their mostly undocumented status, the migrants face unemployment or employment in the irregular sector, which in turn can lead to several negative side effects, such as illegal labor, prostitution, drug trafficking, human smuggling and human trafficking spreading out in the cities.

Research Assistent: Dipl.-Geogr. Zine-Eddine Hathat

For central publications see staff

Constitution of transnational trader networks. Socio-economical organization of African migrants in Guangzhou/China

- description soon to follow -

Funding: DFG 2010-2014


Head of Project: Prof. Dr. Rainer Wehrhahn

Research Assistant: Dipl.-Geogr. Angelo Müller

For central publications see staff

Housing Submarkets and Rationales behind Local Actions: The Example of the Student Housing Market in Hamburg

In many german university cities the pressure on the housing market has increased over the last years (vgl. BBSR-Analysen KOMPAKT 09/2014). Especially inner city neighborhoods – traditionally prefered by students - are characterised by excess demand for housing. At the same time, the amount of young people, which obtain a university entrance qualification and decide to study, is rising. Therefore, in the following years a constantly high demand of students searching for affordable accomodation can be expected.

Different actors react to this situation: Nonprofit landlords increase their supply, private investors recognize student housing as profitable assett class and local authorities try to direct the demand into neighborhoods, which are not yet in the students' focus. The interaction of local stakeholder actions, the residential distribution of students and their access to the housing market are the main objects of investigation in this research project.

If you are a student in Hamburg and interested in participating in this research project, please follow this link.

For central publications see staff

The negotiation of dispossession – the case of Belo Monte hydroelectric power plant (Pará, Brazil)

The construction of the hydroelectric power plant Belo Monte in the Xingu river basin, Brazil, represents an economic model usually labeled neo-developmentalism, which can be regarded as the Brazilian political and economical elites’ favored development model. Following the logic of “internal colonialism”, it aims at integrating sparsely populated and peripheral regions like the Amazon into national capitalism via neo-extractivist mechanisms and large-scale projects. The example of Belo Monte illustrates that the dispossession of thousands of families – mainly fisher(wo)men, resp. riverines – is not limited to the material sphere. Being forced to leave their homes in Altamira and/or on the surrounding islands, they also have to give up their way of life and their respective identities, neighborhoods, histories etc. The research project analyses these complex forms of dispossession. Based on Butler and Athanasiou (2013), dispossession is conceptualized as a relational and multidimensional process. However, those processes of dispossession are not imposed unilaterally but – in the sense of Arendts (2006[1961]) political action and Tullys (1999) agonic game – occur through diverse forms of contentious negotiation between the responsible consortium, the affected, and other involved actors. In doing so, resistance to dispossession is primarily a struggle for recognition. By analyzing those forms of negotiation, the research projected aims at a conceptual enhancement of the term dispossession which helps to understand the complexity of such large-scale projects and so called processes of development-induced displacement and resettlement.           

Research Assistent: Dipl.-Geogr. Sören Weißermel

For central publications see staff


New urban-regional development processes and urban governance in Central Europe

Funding: DAAD (2014-2016)

Head of Project: Prof. Dr. Rainer Wehrhahn (CAU Kiel) and Dr. Alexander Tölle (Universität Poznan)

For central publications see staff