Destination dumping ground: The convergence of ‘unwanted’ populations in disadvantaged city areas

Thursday 13th August 2015, 12:30pm – 2pm
Venue: 4th Floor Exhibition Space, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Claremont Tower, Newcastle University

Visiting researcher Lynda Cheshire presents her paper on residential dumping grounds in this free lunchtime seminar organised by Newcastle University Institute for Social Renewal and Newcastle School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape. No pre-registration is necessary, and lunch is included.

Academic and lay discourses around disadvantaged urban areas often draw on the language of ‘dumping grounds’ to encapsulate the poverty, marginalisation and social problems often found there. Yet, what does it actually mean to call a place a ‘dumping ground’? Precisely who, or what is being dumped there; by whom; for what reason; and to what effect?

This paper addresses these questions by unpacking the concept of the residential dumping ground to identify five constituent features: the perception of people as waste whose fate is to be discarded; the need to accommodate this human ‘waste’ and the logic by which places are selected for this purpose; the mechanisms through which this spatial sorting occurs as problem populations are moved to their ‘rightful’ place; the relations of power which enforce or encourage this mobility; and finally, the reactions of incumbent residents in neighbourhoods that are compelled to host unwanted social groups. In the second part of this paper, these themes are illustrated via a case study of the Australian city of Logan where residents complain that their city has been treated as a dumping ground in order to explain its poor reputation.

Lynda Cheshire is an Associate Professor and Australian Council Research Fellow in Sociology in the School of Social Science at The University of Queensland, Australia. Her research – in both urban and rural spheres – focuses on the way private individuals, communities, voluntary groups, non- governmental organisations, and corporate enterprises have taken on some of the tasks formerly provided by the state, while also assuming greater responsibility for securing their own well-being through strategies of self-government and risk management.

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