Sabbatical Manuel Aalbers:
The sabbatical consists of two parts: In the first part, I will visit the Center for Urban Research at the Graduate Center of City University of New York (CUNY) where I will spend the first semester studying the neighborhood of Sunset Park in Brooklyn, NY. Sunset Park is a multi-ethnic neighborhood and has been so since the first houses were constructed a century ago. Currently, the neighborhood is home to large Mexican, Puerto Rican, and other Latinx communities on the one hand, and Chinese, Vietnamese, and other (South- )East Asian communities on the other. New York City’s port area starts at the edge of the residential neighborhood and has been undergoing decline, restructuring and is currently one of the places marked by the so-called ‘Brooklyn Maker Movement’ which is based on design, crafts, and artisanal production. This movement creates new jobs but also risks displacing blue-collar labor from the port area. The Maker Movement is also causing a process of gentrification in the neighborhood; a process which is furthered by the investments of upper-middle class Chinese families and business in what is now New York’s largest Chinatown. Sunset Park can teach us many things about neighborhood change (both decline and upgrading), local and citywide business clusters (in the port area but also in the ‘ethnic villages’), and about ethnic and racial dynamics in a so-called ‘superdiverse’ district. During the second part of the sabbatical, I will visit the Leibniz-Institut für Raumbezogene Sozialforschung (IRS) in Erkner (Germany), where I will work on a book manuscript provisionally titled “The Real Estate/Financial Complex”, based on the research part of my ERC project as well as follow up research since. I will build on and develop an urban political economy approach, which bridges the interdisciplinary literature on financialization with that on real estate.