Elvin Wyly

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not actively recruiting graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows, but might consider co-supervision together with another faculty member.


Research Classification

Research Interests

Urban Spaces and Urbanity
Specialized Services (Housing, Transportation)
the politics of data and quantitative methods
U.S. politics

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Research Methodology

critical social theory
quantitative models

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Essays on purpose-built rental housing, gentrification, and transit-oriented development in suburban Metro Vancouver (2023)

In the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 and the spectacular collapse of the U.S. housing market, issues of debt and affordable housing in Canada have drawn increasing scrutiny. Vancouver's position in the Canadian urban system, and transnational circuits of migration and capital investment, highlights vivid tensions between affordability, capital accumulation, and policy challenges of social equity amidst widening inequality. Within this context, Chapter 1 of this thesis presents an overview of key themes of suburban rental housing, transit-oriented development (TOD), and the role of City leadership.In Chapter 2, I discuss concerns that much of Vancouver’s suburban stock of aging purpose-built rental housing could soon face redevelopment pressure. The key findings are that the current purpose-built rental stock is insufficient to meet demand, government policy may have contributed to a lack of supply, and expanding the supply of suburban rental housing will depend on a balance between preservation and redevelopment. In Chapter 3, I examine a highly localized example of marginalized renters in an aging, low- to moderate-density suburban neighborhood in Metro Vancouver facing displacement because of a local area plan to facilitate high-density redevelopment around a light rapid transit station. The central argument of this chapter is that TODs are buttressed by a logic of smart growth and environmental sustainability, which can override social equity concerns. In particular, I consider how TOD logics justified the demolition of refugee-serving housing in Vancouver’s suburban city of Coquitlam.In Chapter 4, I describe how the 2018 electoral defeat of Burnaby’s incumbent five-term mayor led to a significant policy shift in how the City approached renters in the gentrifying town centre of Metrotown. Following years of controversy and activism, the City of Burnaby approved the Metrotown Downtown Plan in 2017, which re-designated maximum density achievable through rezoning from 4-storeys to at least 12-storeys, in a neighbourhood dominated by rental buildings. A change in the mayor’s office led to a significant policy shift in Burnaby, with renters’ rights being recognized in new ways.Chapter 5 is a concluding discussion and summary of Chapters 2-4. Potential future directions for research are suggested.

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Crowd cash and the city: understanding the (re)emergence of the crowd as a financial 'actor' and its reimagining of urban development futures (2022)

Crowds have (re)emerged as a cultural economic phenomenon over the past decade, often eliciting fervent financial fantasies of democratic distribution and public participation. New collective claims are being made over circuits of value and money. This is particularly evident in the rapid proliferation of the crowdfunding economy. This ‘new’ economy has become so pronounced that urban governments are now turning to ‘crowds’ to improve public finance. Latest reports have indicated 45 (12 percent) of the United Kingdom’s councils are attempting to ‘crowdfund themselves out of crisis’ and that crowdfunding will become the de-facto community development mechanism for U.K. councils. How do we understand this ‘crowdfunded urbanism’? This research draws attention to the ‘crowd’ as is it rendered into a financial market actor through three accountings of this phenomenon. First, it seeks to provide a genealogical account of ‘crowds’ in the context of finance, with an eye towards critique of dominant understandings of ‘wise crowds’. Second, it provides an empirical study of the marketization of urban crowdfunding, tracing the assemblage of actors, technologies, and discourses that are deployed to ‘make’ urban crowdfunding markets (particularly in the U.K.). This draws in a new sensibility towards the collective within study of financial markets and their incursions into urban life. And finally, it attempts to assess the implications of urban crowdfunding as a technology of urban financial governance. Is this a potentially proliferative space of the diverse economy or appropriated by existing financializing capitalist economy? In other words, this study of crowdfunding attempts to elucidate the intersecting processes of market making and the emergent ‘platform economy’. It illustrates how dramatically ‘crowd thinking’ has shifted. It is reliant on dissociations with irrationality and with cities in order to provide the ‘solution’ for the present. And yet, ‘classical’ crowd thinking offers a new entry point into the critique of markets. It reveals the iterative interaction of ‘crowd thinking’ and ‘the crowd’ in practice. And finally, argues that while ‘the crowd’ might open up political space for thinking the world differently, it is too often contained within ‘platform capitalism’.

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Re-(de)politicizing carbon: climate governance in urban Vancouver (2022)

Urban governments across the globe are reimagining and reasserting their roles and responsibilities in climate action by creating new policy and institutional spaces for tackling this wicked problem. The emerging role of the city in climate action has been a subject of policy and governance studies. The field benefits from in-depth inquiry on not only what climate measures are developed, but how they materialize. This study extends these questions to the case study of the Vancouver region. More recently, municipalities in the region are responding to the global call for climate mitigation by taking on new, ambitious reduction goals. Drawing on approaches of critical policy studies and discourse analysis, this study examines how climate and carbon are made governable in a post-political urban setting. The study considers the discursive elements of the policy process, the agency of policy practitioners, the spaces and networks they occupy and influence, as well as the logics and expert technologies they use to mobilize policy. This research highlights the importance of both formal and informal social norms in urban policy processes. This study finds that despite what appears to be their bold aspirations to drastically reduce carbon emissions, policy actors are constrained by path-dependent governing logics, territorial politics and power relations embedded in the dominant sociopolitical and economic regime. Climate actions are also driven by particular rationalities and storylines which sustain climate as a depoliticized and technocratic policy matter, thus producing a set of techno-managerial responses while precluding others.

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The life and debt of great American cities: urban reproduction in the time of financialization (2017)

The Life and Debt of Great American Cities: Urban Reproduction in the Time of Financialization, investigates the relationship between finance and the intensification of racialized patterns of urban development in the US since the turn of the 21st century. I employ mixed methods to explore the spatiality of the municipal bond market, especially regarding its role in the uneven redevelopment of the nation’s aging urban water systems. Moving qualitatively and quantitatively between one site in particular - Jackson, Mississippi - to the political-economies of the 21 largest Black-majority cities in the US, and to the entire country more broadly, I find that redeveloping urban water infrastructures by way of the private municipal bond market collapses new spaces of accumulation into the reproduction of racialized geographies of exclusion. Field research utilizing participant observation and semi-structured expert interviews in Jackson revealed that cities under austerity governance encounter complex financial arrangements in their search for infrastructural funding that they do not retain the capacity to accurately assess or manage, while the analysis of more than 5.3 million municipal bonds over the 44 year period 1970-2014 shows that the largest Black-majority cities have consistently received higher interest rates in the bond market than other cities since the deregulation of the financial industry under the Financial Services Modernization Act of 2000. One of the consequences of the racialization of municipal finance is that the impoverished Black-majority city of Jackson pays more for federally mandated infrastructure upgrades than other cities. The socio-spatial marginalization thus produced creates sites of intense urban vulnerabilities, places lacking both economic and ecological “resilience” in the face of crisis. Austerity, as a method of urban governance and economic recovery, is, I conclude, motivated by the logics of financialization – which is both a mode of accumulation, and significantly, a geography of racialized social reproduction.

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The spaces of social finance: poverty regulation through the "invisible heart" of markets (2017)

Social finance is a style of investing organized around the theory that private profit-making can create positive benefits for society. It is practiced through a diverse range of financial instruments that invest in welfare and anti-poverty services, making the “social” into the object of financial investment. In the wake of the financial industry’s crisis of legitimacy after the 2008 global financial meltdown, social finance attempts to reframe finance as a force for, rather than barrier to, social good. As governments embrace social finance and as new investors flock to the sector, this dissertation asks whether social finance uses profit to engender a more holistic range of values – as argued by the movement’s proponents – or whether it marks a further entrenchment of financial logics into existing models of poverty regulation. The research questions explored here are: 1) what are the institutional configurations of the industry, 2) how does social finance represent financial and social value, and 3) what are the relational connections between what I call the ideology of social finance, its models and calculative practices, and the governance of poverty interventions? I answer these questions through a commodity-chain approach, analyzing social finance models in relation to case studies of how investments in the American subsidized housing sector are marketed and made. The project draws from multi-sited ethnography, participant observation, and document analysis. I find that social finance appropriates existing models of poverty alleviation in what I argue is a process of financialization. To attract new capital, social finance operates through shifting the governance of the anti-poverty industry toward profit logics and prioritizing investor decision-making over funding priorities, muting the role of government and NGO service providers in determining social needs. The success of social finance projects depends on segmenting people and places into those deemed more or less deserving of investment; profits rely on expanding the infrastructure of contracted-out intermediaries that have facilitated private investments in welfare since the 1970s. In practice, social finance marks more a shift in the governance of anti-poverty programs than a shift in the practices of the financial industry.

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Altared places: the re-use of urban churches as loft-living in the post-secular and post-industrial city (2013)

In recent years, numerous mainline Christian denominations throughout Canada have sold their places of worship in the real estate market in response to changes in religious membership and participation. At the same time a growing demand for creative residential spaces by a group of the new middle class encourages the redevelopment of churches into upscale lofts, a practice connected to but divergent from the post-industrial loft living made popular in cities like New York. In this thesis I explore how the reuse of churches as lofts represents a unique but conflict-laden terrain of private urban redevelopment. With an empirical focus on Toronto, I draw on the literatures of religious change, heritage policy, and gentrification theory to illustrate how ‘redundant’ worship spaces are appropriated and transformed into private domestic spaces of commodified religion and heritage. Rebuilt as ‘cool’ but exclusive places to live, I argue that church lofts are part of a secular embourgeoisement of the central city, a process that increasingly remakes the city as a place of capital reinvestment, middle class colonization and social upgrading.My central method involves semi-structured interviews with individuals from both the supply and demand side of the church loft market. On the supply side, interviews are drawn from faith groups, heritage policy makers, and urban developers. This data provides insight into why and how religious groups divest in their properties; the impacts of heritage policy on the reuse of inner city landscapes; and the practices of developers in producing and selling new terrains of loft living. On the demand side, I interview loft owners to give testimony to their real estate and lifestyle desires and explore how their decisions in the loft market help produce terrains of exclusivity and gentrification.Drawing on comparisons to Montreal and London (UK), my findings show that church reuse in Toronto need not solely focus on private loft development alone. Rather, I conclude that varying systems of ownership supported by multiple stakeholders can create a public future for redundant worship spaces, a practice that could provide much needed community and public space in the inner city.

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"We are damaged": planning and biopower in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1880-2010 (2012)

This dissertation examines how modern urban planning has sought to manage human life in the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Covering the period between 1880 and 2010, the dissertation examines a series of key moments and initiatives in the history of urban planning in Halifax. Drawing on archival research, semi-structured interviews, and social theory, it examines how planning sought to protect, improve, or otherwise alter the condition of human life; how power was implicated and exercised in these initiatives; and how acts of violence were committed against certain individuals or groups in the paradoxical name of safeguarding “life.” Drawing centrally on Foucault’s analysis of biopower, this dissertation argues that the seemingly paradoxical character of modern planning – its stated commitment to protecting or improving life, on the one hand, and its observe capacity to damage life, on the other – can be connected to the particular configurations of knowledge and power through which life is managed in modernity. Consistent with Foucault’s analysis, life is shown to be perceived by urban planning in relation to certain norms, and those who are perceived to betray these norms are liable to be exempted from the benefits of planning, compelled to bear its costs, or both. Across a series of initiatives, from the construction of “model tenements” in the early 1900s to the mobilization of public “participation” in the 1970s, planning is shown to operate within a divided, bifurcated conception of human life. Damaged lives, and a damaged city, are often a consequence of such divisions. In contrast to analyses that attribute the damage caused by modern planning to a deviation from its proper (or possible) role as a guardian of life, this dissertation concludes that damage is often integral to precisely the latter role, and it argues for a deeper interrogation of the configurations of knowledge and power that planning has come to serve.

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Ambiguity at home: unauthorized geographies of housing in Vancouver (2012)

At least 20 percent of the city of Vancouver's rental housing consists of unauthorized secondary suites -- apartments built without permits inside detached houses. Local authorities have largely come to tolerate the existence of such units, seeing them as a vital means of dealing with the city's long-standing housing affordability problems. But despite the significance of this now-common local phenomenon, there is a tendency in the media, government documents and the popular imagination to view it from a singular perspective that reduces it to a strictly law-and-markets issue. Given Vancouver's highly competitive housing market, this restricted approach to thinking about the proliferation and lenient regulation of secondary suites is in many ways justifiable, but it has also served to erase a host of other important aspects of this local phenomenon. Examining the issue through the lens of various sub-fields in Human Geography, I seek to complicate its hegemonic understandings, and suggest that thinking about secondary suites from multiple perspectives can help us grasp many of the crucial geographical problems associated with contemporary life. I argue that even if legal or market frameworks are afforded privilege, there is more to be said about this issue, for example on the role of this so-called informal housing market in the local and global economy. The widespread notion that an insufficient supply of affordable housing is the main motivation to own or live in an unauthorized secondary suite is questioned using empirical evidence from the Census. The regulatory order to which these housing units are subject is shown to be less an effect of market forces than the historical product of a series of legal landmarks stretching from the mid-nineteenth century to today. Market forces are also shown to be a problematic explanation that obscures the role of politics and social norms in the formal and informal regulation of these apartments. In addition, I examine the politics of tenant/homeowner-landlord relations associated with this unconventional housing arrangement. Finally, I argue that secondary suites are not only an object of analysis for planning and other experts, but also a forgotten site of lay-knowledge production.

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Housing and Location of Young Adults, Then and Now: Consequences of Urban Restructuring in Montreal and Vancouver (2012)

Young adults, 25 to 34 years of age, decide on housing, residential location and commuting patterns in an altered context from when the same age cohort entered housing markets in the early 1980s. Neo-liberalization reduced the availability of low-cost, rental housing, and post-Fordist restructuring increased labour market inequality. Societal changes contributed to decreases in household size and delay in child bearing. This thesis asks how the contextual changes factor into young adults’ housing decisions in the Montreal and Vancouver metropolitan areas where restructuring occurred differently, and discusses implications for equity and sustainability. The young adult residential ecology is increasingly concentrated into higher density and amenity-rich neighbourhoods, particularly near transit in Vancouver. The trends are explained by shifts toward the service sector, declining real incomes and growing inter-generational wage inequalities that reduce young adults’ spending power in housing markets, especially in Vancouver with its speculative land market and wealthy immigrants. Holding other characteristics constant, young adults in Vancouver are less likely to reside in single-family dwellings than detached, row or apartment units. In Montreal the trend is toward single-family living. Commuting distances and modes are similar between Vancouver and Montreal but multiple-person households and those with children have longer and more automobile-oriented commutes in Vancouver. The changes reflect higher increases in housing costs and densities in central areas in Vancouver. Montreal has more sustained government support for housing, a larger rental sector and therefore less rampant increases in housing costs. The restructuring of Vancouver’s housing market makes it more difficult than in Montreal to keep accessible the more ‘sustainable’ locations to households of all sizes. Household structure and life-cycle stage, not social status alone, determine location and the commute. A greater sustainability challenge in Montreal will be to stem the shifts toward ownership of single-family dwellings. Generally, young adults’ housing outcomes are more evidently shaped by their position in the labour market, which is increasingly determined by educational attainment. The thesis works conceptually within structuration theory, noting how contexts shape demand but are themselves re-shaped by changing demand. Both contextual and neo-classical arguments have relevance to the overall argument.

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The Production of the World City: Extractive Industries in a Global Urban Economy (2012)

This dissertation argues for a re-grounding of world city research in world-systems and dependency theory. It proposes to conduct 'vertical world city research', which explicitly investigates the spatial interconnectedness between world cities and peripheral locations of production, rather than focus on the relationships between different world cities. The idea of vertical world city research is partly a response to recent post-colonial critiques of world city research. Advanced Producer Services (APS) have long been considered command and control functions over global capital. Constructions of world city networks have largely relied on data based on large APS firms. While this research has made important contributions to our understanding of the interconnectedness of world cities, the argument of this dissertation is that it may not adequately capture the role of other essential sectors in the global economy. It is proposed that world city research needs to investigate the global control networks over monopolistically (or more correctly oligopolistically) organised processes. The focus of this dissertation is therefore the urban control network of the monopoly over natural resources. The dissertation investigates the locations of ownership control over the world's ten largest non-fuel mineral producers. These ten firms account for more than one third of the world's non-fuel mineral production by value. It also investigates specifically the platinum industry, which is controlled by a very small number of firms. While cities that are often identified as world cities, including New York and London, feature in the lists of cities that host the owners of the global mining industry and the platinum industry in particular, a number of cities in middle income economies are at the top of the list. The last part of the dissertation focuses on the role of nation states in the formation of global cities and how corporate decisions are administered through a network of cities. The effect of these decisions on mining communities is explicitly studied. This part focuses on Johannesburg and South Africa. The research suggests that the spatial organisation of the world economy and the concentration of power is more dispersed than previously suggested.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Capital ownership in contemporary financialization: theorizing the new regime of property relations (2020)

The past four decades have seen a significant re-organization in the underlying structure of capitalism, characterized in part by the ascendance of finance. This thesis examines financialization ontologically and epistemologically and suggests that one of the most noteworthy yet understudied outcomes of financialization in the United States has been the establishment of a class of financiers as the new owners of capital. In the introduction, I demonstrate that the share of US corporations directly owned by American finance has grown from 3 percent in 1945 to at least 62 percent in 2018 and propose that US-based financialization should be understood as a new regime of property relations, where financiers increasingly own the means of production rather than extend credit to industrial capitalists. As finance has become immensely powerful, Chapter 2 examines how the discipline of human geography has approached financial questions since the 1980s. Through the analysis of Web of Science bibliometric data and oral histories conducted with 23 key actors in the field, Chapter 2 illustrates the enduring dominance of the UK as a center of knowledge creation and dissemination for the subfield. It also describes how financial geography underwent five distinct intellectual turns, evolving into a polycentric and pluralist sub-discipline. Finally, this chapter emphasizes the lasting influence that the 2008 financial crisis had on the subfield by popularizing financial topics in geography and amplifying geographical scholarship on financialization within the broader social sciences. Chapter 3 shifts the mode of inquiry to examine how the US financial sector was transformed in the past four decades to attain its immense profitability. To do so, the chapter systematically examines the changing sources of income and the composition of assets held by US financial firms. Through the analysis of US macro-economic data, this chapter documents that American finance has grown immensely profitable because it abandoned lending as its primary activity in favour of asset management and ownership. The conclusion discusses how the shift of US finance from a lender to an owner of capital deprives the real economy of interest-bearing capital, which consequently undermines the future basis of profit in finance.

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Virtual injustice: technology, gendered violence and the limits of the law (2017)

Technology-facilitated violence faces a dangerous combination of attitudes: that such violence isn’t serious and that it can’t be regulated. I look at linked events – the experiences and suicide of a young woman, and the passage of Canada’s first standalone anti-cyberbullying legislation – to analyze the workings of the Canadian justice system and the consequences of thinking about the digital as 'not real life.' The young woman, Rehtaeh Parsons, came to symbolize the dangers of cyberbullying, but her case involved sexual assault, the distribution of a photograph of that assault, and lengthy navigation of the justice and mental health systems in addition to the abuse directed her way via technology. In trying to understand how violence ‘online’ is naturalized and why the harms of technology-facilitated violence receive uneven recognition, I look at the roots and consequences of assumptions that orbit Rehtaeh’s case. I illustrate how as a young woman, her allegations of sexual assault were disclosed and confronted institutionally in an environment and culture steeped with longstanding discriminatory myths and stereotypes, especially around gender, alcohol, consent and sexuality. The distribution of the photograph of this traumatic night and the abuse around it were similarly invisibilized. They did not represent to the police an incident of tangible, corporeal harm because of a number of beliefs about digital technologies. In addition to the persistent partition of online and offline, with offline envisioned as ‘real life,’ I discuss how the widely used metaphor of the Internet as a frontier zone locates it on the edge of or just outside of the reach of the law. In effect, while greater attention to cyberbullying holds the promise of increasing recognition of technology-facilitated violence, there remains a disconnect between the embodied experiences of technology-facilitated violence and legal and social recognition of harm.

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Nomad Explorations V 2.1: Genesis, Eden and the Grail in Modernity (2016)

‘Genesis’, ‘The Garden of Eden’ and ‘The Holy Grail’ are stories that have captivated the western mind (and the human mind in the iterations of these archetypal narratives in other cultures) for millennia. Though many view Modernity and Modernism as marking the death of religion and religious dogma, we argue that Modernism simply rearticulates Abrahamic-Hellenic (more generally Paternalist) social dogmas within its own logics and axioms (especially cosmological, ontological, teleological and epistemological axioms that reduce humanity to a discrete, biological, materially rational being and reduce reality to the finite world of motion, passing time and physical space); the rationalizations for social dogmas like the notion that ‘order is to be created through hierarchical domination’ may change, but the class relations therein retain their basic form. We illustrate this argument through conducting a Nomad Exploration (NE) of Foucault’s The Order of Things, which illustrates the rearticulation of Genesis in the axioms and logics of Modernity, Haraway’s Primate Visions, which illustrates the rearticulation of the Garden of Eden, and finally the nexus of primatology, transhumanism, ‘vampire therapy’, etc. (attempts at material immortality via ‘curing death’) that typify the Modernist rearticulation of the quest for the Holy Grail (san grail, sang rail). In the ethos of Nomad Exploration (NE) our teleological imperative in this journey is not to ‘answer questions’ by ‘accumulating and analyzing facts’; rather, our goal is to broaden understandings and deepen questions by providing the reader with dimensionally transformative ideas that provide access to new plateaus of perspective—in short, our purpose lies in the production of intimate, inner experience with dimensionally transformative ideas and a concomitant reinvigoration of meaning rather than in accumulating and analyzing facts.

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Securitizing spectacle : property, real estate investment trusts, and the financialization of retail space in Singapore y (2015)

In this thesis I explore several intersections of the work on financialization, urbanization, the real estate financial nexus, and spectacle urbanism. Taking the recently formed Singapore real estate investment trust (REIT) market as its case, this thesis contributes to efforts to build out our understanding of the consequences of urban financialization: among them, argued here, being the production of ‘spectacle urbanism’ as an everyday experience in retail spaces. Entangled within state initiatives to develop Singapore as a leading financial center, the REIT market was initiated in 2002 as part of a wider effort to deepen financial markets in the city-state. Its existence has become a current political issue in parliament, manifestly centered upon the politics over claims to property and its seeming capture by financial actors as a “purely financial asset”. And it is here that the thesis begins in Chapter 1 to outline the contemporary relevance of this study. In Chapter 2 I argue that urbanizing financialization—that is to concern ourselves with financialization and urbanization as interdependent processes—is necessary for understanding the spatial dynamics of financialization. The strategic starting point is to focus upon the material and spatial processes that enable property to be treated as a “pure financial asset”. In Chapter 3, drawing upon interviews conducted in the Singaporean REIT market, I demonstrate the material and spatial process that REIT managers concern themselves with to realize property as a ‘pure financial asset’, guided by the notion of producing liquidity or ‘unlocking value’. Chapter 4 considers the effects of these processes and argues that a constructive dialogue is to be had between the work on spectacle urbanism and financialization. I argue that not only does financialization accelerate spectacle urbanism, but that this in turn largely sustains urban financialization in a recursive process. Finally, the thesis concludes with a reflection upon the implications of the empirical chapters and the ‘politics’ of this research—highlighting the urgency of future research on the role of the state in creating these infrastructures of financialization.

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Growing Ideology: Urban Agriculture in Vancouver and Detroit (2013)

This thesis is an investigation of the urban agriculture movements in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Detroit, Michigan. I use both quantitative and qualitative methods and an urban political ecology theoretical framework to unpack how urban agriculture fits within the foodscapes of these two cities. My quantitative method draws on recent critique of food desert studies, avoiding an epidemiological method that seeks to statistically measure health outcomes in favor of an ecological approach with social inequalities as the primary focus of inquiry. Through the use of cluster analysis, multidimensional scaling, and local indicators of spatial association, I conclude that foodscape composition and the location of urban agriculture is influenced by the housing and land markets, income inequality, and racial segregation. Drawing on interviews conducted in both cities, in my qualitative section I seek to understand how urban agriculture is seen as a sustainable solution to the very different problems faced by these two cities. I argue that urban agriculture has an ambivalent relationship to neoliberalism: it emerged largely as a Polanyian counter-movement to urbanized inequalities, but has more recently been enrolled as a device by the local state through which sustainability planning is seen to enhance economic competitiveness. Finally, I present vignettes of individual farms and gardens that show the political potential of urban agriculture to be closely linked to theories of political change and socionatural metabolic rifts.

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The ten cities of Toronto: patterns of socio-economic inequality and polarization throughout the Toronto census metropolitan area (2012)

The Greater Toronto Area (G.T.A.), Canada’s largest urban region, is currently facing a strenuous experience of inequality and polarization. In the contexts of social, political, and economic landscapes, the Toronto region is becoming increasingly defined by a spatial divergence of social classes, a divergence that threatens the ability of many citizens to access the resources their wealthier neighbours enjoy. In the context of an increasingly unequal urban landscape, this thesis employs a critical quantitative and theoretical approach to explore the Greater Toronto Area, home to more than six million people. Following an introduction to the issues facing the G.T.A., chapter two explores the mechanics of a capitalist housing market, and examines the effects of a neoliberal urban governance strategy on the city. Chapter three outlines a multidimensional quantitative methodology to explore the presence of social inequality and polarization, whereby chapter four introduces a taxonomy of neighbourhoods, materializing social divides through the domains of housing, citizenship, wealth, and labour. Critical to this examination is the exploration of the gentrifying downtown, the declining inner suburbs, and the rapidly expanding outer suburbs. The fifth chapter more closely examines the relationship between immigration and housing in the G.T.A., mapping and analyzing the relationships between new residents and housing affordability stress. The results deepen an understanding of social inequity in the G.T.A., spatializing divisions between immigrant groups as they navigate the turbulent housing market. Finally, the thesis reflects on the challenges facing Canada’s largest urban region, arguing for new conceptualizations of our urban areas, and new conversations about urban housing strategies. These arguments strive to set a context for new urban governance strategies grounded in an interest of truly just and equal cities for all residents, challenging the existing social divisions that divide our cities today.

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