Congratulations Dr Chouguley!
Ulrike Chouguley defended her PhD thesis last week. The examiners were Dr Andrew Harris, (UCL), and Dr Cecilia Dinardi (Goldsmiths). Ulrike passed with minor corrections; Ulrike’s supervisors Andy Pratt and Jenny M’Baye congratulate her!
Ulrike has also managed to produce 2 children as well as a thesis in her period of registration!!
The thesis was entitled:Interrogating informal cultural practices in London and Mumbai: towards a more holistic understanding
The abstract is: Despite a recent revival of research, there remains a lack of nuanced discussion of urban informality, especially for cities in the global North. Moreover, existing studies (whichever their geographies) show a very limited engagement with issues of culture. The extant research is also all too frequently centred on forms of economic value and fails to provide a holistic valuation of informal cultural practices. This present study sets out to address these gaps using a grounded theory approach – a necessary step to provide a multi-faceted understanding of informal cultural practices in contemporary cities, both theoretically and empirically. This grounded theory is developed through five case studies in the cities of London and Mumbai.
Findings show that informal actors are motivated by a wide variety of aspects, stretching from intrinsic reasons, such as personal enjoyment of the activity, to more instrumental, social or environmental agendas. They further emphasise that informality is a tool and tactical choice for many urban actors, deployed to fulfil actors’ varied aims and ambitions, but also in response to the complex negotiations of internal values and external, contextual factors (including their interaction with public authorities). This explains the many different varieties of informality found in this research.
The present study is unique in examining urban informality in the field of culture in both cities in the global South and the global North, thus contributing an exchange of empirical knowledge and theories in relation to data from such different geographies. The detail and breadth of this interrogation of the multiplicity of urban cultural informality also exceeds existing research. Furthermore, the findings strongly challenge the predominant economic-deterministic interpretations of culture in the urban context and call for a shift in the debate, and in the kind of things that value is placed upon by academics and policy-makers alike.