Geographies of Repeal: Exploring the Impact of the 8th on Space and Place by Chris Casey Chevallier and Jane Feeney

From Sandymount Strand you can walk to the edge of Dublin harbor when the tide is low. From there, you can watch the ferries and planes head to the UK. Around 10 Irish women make this journey every day to access basic reproductive health services. I did this trek into the harbour one evening. Out in the muck and wind, I reflected on how lonely, brutal, and unnerving this journey must be. I also took a ferry journey this week, partly to understand better what this experience entailed (although it could not rival the reality). As the ship rocked back and forth while unattended child ran around and drunken passengers yelled, I reflected further on how people should not have to cross a sea for a medical procedure. Even without the pressure of a major decision, it can be stressful to be surrounded by strangers in the middle of the sea. Women who have an abortion are often portrayed as calloused or using it as a form of contraception. It is often forgotten that many of the people faced with the decision are scared, doubting, and did not become pregnant by choice.

Alone or with company, it is still a journey that is taken. Ireland… the country that legalized marriage equality via a referendum, the country that put forth gender identity recognition, a nation with many historical and mythological heroines, an island with a matron goddess (Ériu)… still denies abortion even in cases of sexual violence and mental health issues.

Before going forward, I will note that this is an opinion piece meant to spur thought on how the 8th Amendment and the campaign to repeal it has impacted the spaces and places of Ireland’s inhabitants. It is biased in favour of the Repeal. Additionally, it discusses matters such as sexual violence (so I wish to give a content warning). Finally, it is important to note that transmen and non-binary people can become pregnant. My usage of women or female is for conciseness rather than excluding these people.

I come from the USA. Our abortion legality was established via a court decision, not a referendum. As such, there are constant challenges to abortion rights and funding cuts to reproductive health services. Protests in front of health clinics are not a thing of movies. They exist, and both medical staff and women can face danger. Respected journalist and comedian John Oliver offers some overviews of the challenges to abortion in:

Ireland is in a position to legalize abortion via democracy… to express the support and consent of the majority of its people. Although the Yes vote is currently leading, it is not a sure victory.

For the remainder of the post, I chose to interview three people regarding the 8th.

My colleague and co-author, Jane Feeney, interviewed me. Her questions were:

  • As a foreigner living for a number of years in Ireland, what are your impressions of gender equality and women’s rights in Ireland?
  • In the run up to the referendum, what is the atmosphere like in Dublin?
  • I know that although you can’t vote you have been actively campaigning for the Yes side. Thanks for that. What reactions have you been getting?
  • What are the abortion laws in the USA?


My responses were as follows:

It’s hard to say how I feel about gender equality in Ireland. On one hand, I am privileged to be surrounded by many successful, talented, and inspiring female colleagues who have extraordinary agency. On the other hand, there’s a lot hidden in the landscape. I have never seen so many homeless young women as I have in Ireland, something which I find disturbing not just because of its very nature… but because I’ve lived nearby underpopulated convents and Church buildings that could easily house them. The Irish Times has also recently covered disproportionately high female suicide rates in Dublin, attributing it partly to the pressures on and lack of support for mothers. Foreign students and workers (as well as Irish citizens) are also exploited by the housing crisis, with some young women having to resort to sexual services to cover their rent or secure a spot in the city. That, or perhaps they’re stuck on a bunk bed in a hallway. Sorry for the list, but I think it’s important to provide these examples to give a picture of larger violence.

As a historical geographer, I’m also appalled at how little attention the Laundries command in the Irish landscape. Neglected babies thrown into mass graves, women and children tortured, forced labour… yet Ennis gave the Sisters of Mercy a statue commemorating their arrival. What does this say to the survivors… to young women? Such things, I believe, are visual indicators that women are not equal in many Irish minds.

I’ve done some fundraising for sexual violence prevention on Grafton Street. It sickens me that religious charities will get an abundance of money while I got dirty looks or complete turn-arounds once people saw the organisation’s logo. Some of these prevention organizations are seen as trying to exploit the Church for money and falsely accuse clergy, rather than providing vital health and legal support. As much as I am a proponent of free speech, it’s quite frustrating to see high-ranking clergy in Ireland say things such as abortion is more traumatic than rape. Between the Laundries and a legacy of child abuse, it is quite audacious of the Church to comment on the 8th.

As for the run up to the Vote, I have experienced tension in the city. Wearing Repeal and Yes gear, I’ve been called a piece of shit, screamed at, followed, threatened, and given expedited service to get me out of shops quickly. I was hoping that people would be more interested in an academic and logical debate. However, I find the atmosphere too emotionally charged and toxic.

I will proudly wear my Repeal Jumper, even after the vote. Race, gender, sex, ability, sexuality, nationality… it shouldn’t matter. This is a human issue. To me, forcing a woman to carry a foetus to term is an act of violence. People need to have body autonomy and be able to consent.

Although abortion is legal in the USA, this can change with a Supreme Court case. It is not unthinkable in the current climate, with our impotent president willing to do or support anything to garner support. Right now, there are State laws in place that try to delay abortions, dissuade women, and limit access. In all honesty, an abortion is a private matter that should be between a woman and a neutral physician. If a woman wants more advice or information, there should science based resources available.


I interviewed an Indian man (R.) who is employed at TCD to discuss his view on the referendum. Our conversation was free flowing and in person, so I apologise for the lack of a full transcript.

Immediately R. made connections between the referendum, the 2014 Indian elections, the 2016 US elections, and Brexit. He felt that fear was being amplified by the No Campaign, similarly to the way populists have garnered support in other countries. He also noted the use of misleading posters by the Campaign (e.g. portraying grown children, unscientific figures, and using the term baby instead of foetus). Dishonest politics are being employed, and he is worried that there might be a surprise victory such as in the US 2016 Elections.

To him, there is a clear distinction between a foetus and a baby. After birth, he is fully committed to protecting a child’s rights. However, he notes the hypocrisy of the Church’s Laundries and some of the No voters. Once the mother has been pressured into completing the pregnancy and having the baby… support dries up the moment it’s born. This then, according to R., leads to a burden on social welfare systems and networks. However, blame is placed on minorities rather than the lack of support for women. Everything is connected, and the quality of all our lives suffers when children are born into a situation where they cannot fully thrive.

R. states that he is open to the No Campaign, but wishes to be convinced logically. Again, he emphasized the hypocrisy of not supporting children after birth; instead unwed or single mothers are often condemned. He also posed a question to some No Campaigners. He asked how they would feel if Indian norms and laws regarding beef were imposed on them. The No Campaigners reacted that it would upset them, and that they should not be punished for opposing religious beliefs. He also quoted the Bible to the Campaigners, citing that Ireland was the first country to legalise same-sex marriage yet it is punishable by death in scripture. The Campaigners were not able to respond and instead resorted to a xenophobic insult. Again, he emphasises their failure to counter with viable and scientific arguments.

R. was approached by another No Campaigner, who lectured him on Hellfire and the sin of abortion. Having enough of it, he set a No pamphlet on fire with his cigarette lighter. The Campaigner responded with a xenophobic insult

R. says that the incident was out of character for him, as he prefers logical discussions and debates. He even takes daily walks down Nassau Street to engage with canvassers. Nevertheless, the discussion of Hell and sin struck a nerve with him… and sometimes a statement is needed and more powerful.

One of R.’s statements that stuck with me was that the decision of abortion is an extremely difficult one, the least we can do is ease the suffering and pressure on the woman contemplating it.


My next interview was with Jane Feeney, a fellow PhD Researcher. I asked Jane:

  • How do you perceive digital spaces regarding the 8th since you’re abroad?
  • What are the challenges facing Irish women generally accessing place and space?
  • And more generally what your views are regarding the campaign and the 8th?
  • Do you have any messages for young voters, or young women in general?

Jane responded:

Having lived outside of Ireland for 10 years, I felt during that decade quite powerless in the places I was living, somewhat detached from political issues going on around me because I’m an outsider and don’t have a vote, and meanwhile disconnected from what was going on in Ireland.

The referendum on the 8th amendment was my first opportunity to vote after returning to live in Ireland, and one I feel very strongly about. However, my PhD fieldwork meant that I would be outside of the country again and so before I left I filled out the paperwork and applied for a postal vote. I was told my circumstances made me eligible for a postal vote but that I needed to be in Ireland during the month of May in order to physically receive the ballot paper. I found this ridiculous as it seems to completely defy the point of a postal vote. But after my frustration at Dublin City Council faded away I was left with a feeling of personal guilt, at being away from my country and not participating as an Irish citizen, giving up my right to be part of the Irish collective in favour of my own individual goals.

So, instead I have been following what’s going on via digital spaces and conversations with my mum. As I think we’re all increasingly aware of, from our own personal experiences with social media and creepy Cambridge Analytica revelations, social media presents a distorted view of reality, and so most of my news feed is filled with posts from like-minded repealers. So when I streamed the abortion debate on RTE Player last week, from my hotel room in a teeny rural Colombian village, I was a bit surprised and quite worried to listen to so many defiant ‘No’ voters who seemed, at least to me, to make up the majority of the audience. I felt doubly disconnected listening to some of the arguments which I just could not relate to, and the seeming ability to accept or pass off so-called ‘hard’ cases as one-off cases out of what I think is an ungrounded fear of liberalism or change. I don’t think it’s acceptable to allow the dehumanisation of women our society, even if they are one-off cases. And anyway these are not a small number of cases. This issue affects every person that has the ability to create life, which is most people, and any of us could find ourselves in crisis. I would like to know I could receive support in such circumstances, instead of exclusion and castigation.

It’s hard to gauge the atmosphere from far away and I know that things must be extremely tense this week. Without a voice at home I have taken to telling people here in Colombia about the referendum, who are for the most part surprised that Ireland has such conservative abortion laws, having put us in the same box as other “advanced” European countries ( shows a global map of abortion laws). In Colombia abortion laws are more liberal than Ireland, being legal in three cases: rape; fatal foetal abnormalities; and when the life or physical or mental health of the mother is in danger. Although I have also been told anecdotally that abortions in other cases happen anyway, through illegal abortion centres, bribes, or lax enforcement by doctors, for example signing off on an abortion even if it does not strictly fit the permitted circumstances. Also, the stigma and lack of awareness about the right to abortion mean that even some women who find themselves in one of the three cases continue to have abortions in secret[1].

I am proud to be from a country that has given me the opportunity to learn, to explore the world, to be independent and have an open mind. I’m also proud to be from a country where I can get married regardless of the gender of the person I am in love with. I’m not proud that my country ignores the needs of the women who are forced to leave the country in order to access safe abortions. Or that I am not allowed to make my own decisions over my own body. In the end, this is not a decision on the morals of abortion; but rather whether Ireland will leave behind shame and stigma and move towards an open and honest society that faces up to and takes responsibility for its citizens’ needs and rights. That’s the kind of collective I want to be part of.

If you have the chance to vote, use it! This is an opportunity to positively transform health conditions for the next generation of women in Ireland.


My final interview was with Deirdre, who is an alternative model, artist, and activist very engaged in the Repeal movement (her Instragram handle is Valkyrievonstorm). I asked her:

  • On social media I’ve seen you use the phrase “war on women.” Would you be open to discussing some of the major ways women are being restricted, oppressed, and or harmed in Ireland today?
  • Can you describe your thoughts and feelings when you see campaign signs in public spaces?
  • In general, what have been some of your experiences in public regarding the campaign?
  • You’ve used your modelling and artistry as a way of advocating for the Repeal. Recently you posted a photo with the Repeal logo painted across your body. I was struck at how poised and heroic you came across in the photo. With constraints, both legal and social, on women, do you find artistic and digital spaces as a way of combating barriers?
  • Do you have any message you’d like to tell young voters? Or perhaps young women?

Her responses were:

Well the most obvious thing that restricts women in Ireland now is the 8th amendment. If you can’t have the choice to continue a pregnancy you don’t have a hell of a lot. While there does seem to be a lot more support and understanding about the cruel circumstances the 8th can leave a woman in, I get the feeling people think this is the last big fight for women’s rights, when it’s nowhere near over. We still have to challenge the way we think about sex and sexuality. Gender roles, male privilege, toxic masculinity, so many, too many to name them all….

Women’s issues and rights are everyone’s issues. By making things more equal for women, we do it for everyone.

One example… Some say they are voting yes/ no because they support a termination only in the case of rape or incest… There is the thought that they have a huge issue with women having sex… We as women in this day and age are still not allowed to enjoy sex. If it wasn’t a crime committed against our bodies it should be functional towards making babies. With the results of certain trials still so raw, we see how women are treated when they seek justice for sexual assault, and how difficult it is for people to “believe” them…

Why don’t men have the same restrictions? Male prowess when it comes to sex is praised…

Female prowess is shunned and given ugly, damning labels.

If we let go of the 8th for a moment, women are still expected to become Mothers. All too often do we hear “you’ll change your mind” – It’s probably the biggest decision you will ever make. It’s infuriating to think our worth boils down to whether we birth or not.

Again why aren’t men held to this standard? We know the line “when are you going to settle down” – A line that I haven’t heard, many have to deal with in some years, but women are still expected to one day become Mothers.

Where I live is supposed to be a poster free zone, as requested by the tidy towns committee…

I have seen several NO posters where there should not be any! I am an adamant YES voter so obviously I am infuriated by the lies put forth by the NO campaign. Anyone who is campaigning for YES knows the (I’m trying to think of a neutral word…) tactics the NO side have pulled. I also fight the urge to tear them down, to deface them. I walked past a man on a bridge with a 4 foot poster of a pregnant woman and the fetus in her belly saying “Me Too.”

As a rape survivor I was furious! I find these posters to be overwhelming. While I know I am surrounded by loved ones voting YES, it feels like I’m trapped; like when I leave my home I’m entering a hostile environment.

While I live out in the country, I am in Dublin very often. Thankfully I have received very little grief for what I wear. I have grinned with glee seeing REPEAL jumpers and t-shirts across the road. I’ve blushed with joy when I bump into YES campaigners. It’s a wonderful feeling of solidarity. I wore a pair of leggings by Isleen Designs, when I covered the door for a friend’s event. Nearly everyone attending was voting yes, but it opened up a lot of conversations about women’s rights, non nationals and voting rights. I also recently wore Godless Repeal Harlots when back in the country…. That did not go down well, but again I received grief from older men….. How dare a woman reclaim her body.

I have noticed that people have interesting thoughts when it comes to HOW a woman should show her support and solidarity… The way some men are being harrassed or attacked for wearing these things is toxic masculinity. The comments on women’s clothing…. It’s that akin to the “what was she wearing” argument?

If people have a problem with what one wears but not posters with absolute lies…. It says a lot more about those people.

Art is Political, weather you intend it to be or not. Art is subjective, it won’t always provoke the reaction you want. Sometimes… a lot of the time… it’s intuitive and you don’t know entirely what you were expressing or releasing until it’s finished.

For the Maser Repeal heart across my chest, I was painted by Mannequin_blue. She was in the States when the heart went back up and came home the day after it was painted over. We, like many others, were upset. You can’t paint over an issue.

Art reflects the environment it comes from it questions and challenges. When I started modelling I never thought it would wake up my Feminist self. Considering Bodypainting and Burlesque is a huge majority of women… Yes! It absolutely combats these barriers! I think one of the best ways to realize your worth as a woman, as a human being!, is that you are not in competition with each other. Your body is the most personal thing about you. Using it to create and express should always be encouraged and supported. These spaces are also open to men, and I’ve seen some incredible men express themselves. Art and creation is your soul!

Wow! Loads of things!

Your vote, especially when it comes to a constitutional referendum, MATTERS! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, just remember you can’t change or control everything. Take care of yourself, learn to rest. The world isn’t going to change or disappear tomorrow.


I hope that this piece has given you some insight on how the Repeal has transformed Irish space and place. More importantly, I hope it has opened your eyes to the cruelty inherent in some of the landscapes created in Ireland for women. As the polls open tomorrow, please consider the impacts of your vote. Ireland, you have the opportunity to undo a grave injustice against your peers, your mothers, your sisters, your daughters, your friends, your colleagues… against women. Ferries and planes no longer need be symbols of oppression… of a harrowing journey. The Repeal is just one step forward to gender equality and promoting a society based on consent.  Thank you for reading.



Fostering Social Acceptance of Energy Transitions: The Prospects and Limitations of Community Fund Provision

Please see this flyer for “Fostering Social Acceptance of Energy Transitions: The Prospects and Limitations of Community Fund Provision” by Dr. Patrick Devine-Wright – Friday 27th April 2018 in the Museum Building. Event will be streamed on the Planet-Geog Facebook Page in case you cant make it in person!

Patrick Devine-Wright 2018


Hoping for the Best: Urban Regeneration and the Atlanta BeltLine

By Veronica Nitkin

Atlanta, Georgia is infamous for its sprawling nature and limited transportation. In 1999, Georgia Tech student Ryan Gravel proposed an idea: to use an abandoned rail line around the city to create a 22 mile ring of trails, parks, mass transit, and urban redevelopment (Kirkman, Noonan and Dunn, 2012). This ring is now known as the BeltLine, and the 6500 acre project (Immergluck, 2008) is one of the United State’s largest redevelopment projects underway (Roy, 2015). The BeltLine has lofty goals which it has been clear about since the project’s inception. It expects to generate $20 billion of new economic development, 30,000 new jobs, and over 5,000 units of affordable housing between 2005-2030 (Immergluck, 2008). The BeltLine has used public-private partnerships to make great strides towards achieving these goals. While 73% of Atlanta residents responded in a survey that they believe the BeltLine is a good idea, taking on such a large project still creates many challenges, even with public support (Kirkman, Noonan and Dunn, 2012).


A large scale redevelopment project, such as the BeltLine, can help a city move from an industrial to postindustrial stage. The BeltLine is an excellent example of the use of public-private partnerships to generate economic growth. Part of the development is funded by tax increment financing, while the rest of the development is privately funded (Immergluck, 2008). The project takes great pride in its ability to inspire $1 billion in private redevelopment (Roy, 2015). Driven by the economic priorities of encouraging private real estate development, improving tax-base, and creating more jobs, the BeltLine exemplifies neoliberal planning (Roy, 2015). The BeltLine is run financially and administratively by Atlanta BeltLine Inc., which works closely with City of Atlanta departments to define details of the plan, determine construction, secure public funding, and engage members of the community (, 2017). The BeltLine transformed from a student’s master’s thesis idea to reality through grassroots efforts, so it is no surprise that the public is still highly involved through the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (, 2017). This is a non-profit organization created in 2006 to engage the public and empower residents in the surrounding area to have a voice. Unfortunately, within a neoliberal political-economy, this public-private structure can actually limit citizen ability to disrupt, because community members were hypothetically involved in the planning process. In the case of the BeltLine, there have not been any significant protests from marginalized members. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that much of the development on the BeltLine is done in mixed income and mixed race neighborhoods, where many people don’t have internet access, thus limiting their ability to really become involved (Roy, 2015). The local district councilman in the Historic Fourth Ward Park area in east Atlanta commented that the development of a 35 acre park was mostly the wish of the relatively new, middle/higher-middle income, white residents (Roy, 2015). This discrepancy between the population able to voice its opinion and the entire population who is affected by the BeltLine development contributes to the gentrification of areas surrounding the BeltLine.


This large scale project has resulted a significant increase in property value, especially in areas within a quarter mile of the BeltLine (Immergluck, 2008). Because the BeltLine has been such a public and highly documented initiative, property values actually began to increase with initial media coverage of the BeltLine planning process (Immergluck, 2008). From 2000-2006, the City of Atlanta has seen the median price of single-family property values increase by 12.4% annually, and prices within one-eighth mile of the BeltLine increase by more than 15% annually over this same period, and construction did not actually start until 2005 (Immergluck, 2008). This preemptive increase was due to press about the BeltLine and expectations that property value would increase. Tax rates have also increased substantially. A typical homeowner with a house worth $100,000 and within an eighth mile of the BeltLine would have seen a change in property taxes from $540 in 2001 to over $1400 in 2006 (Immergluck, 2008). These changes in property taxes have pushed out some lower-income homeowners near the BeltLine. Since the BeltLine encompasses the whole city, it also encompasses a wide range of socio-economic levels. The southern tracts of the BeltLine touch predominantly on lower-income residential neighborhoods, where 20-30% of residents are below the poverty level (Immergluck, 2008), however price premiums on the southside within a quarter mile of the BeltLine increased 15-30% between 2002 and 2005 (Immergluck, 2008). The significant increase in property values and low income level of the area led to gentrification in many areas of the beltline, but especially the south side (Immergluck, 2008). It is often assumed that high property values are desired, but that perspective leaves little regard for the adverse consequences in the form of displacement (Immergluck, 2008). To maintain affordable housing in these areas, substantial planning is required early in the process to mitigate potential gentrification and displacement.


The Atlanta BeltLine is an exciting example of a flagship redevelopment project in the United States. The promises are lofty: to improve public transportation, create urban green spaces, create affordable housing, spur economic redevelopment, and generate job opportunities, all within a 25 year period. So far, support for the BeltLine has remained overwhelmingly positive, in part thanks to public-private partnerships and advanced planning. Atlanta BeltLine Inc., working closely with the City of Atlanta, has been very receptive to the voices of non-profit organizations, the public, and private interests. Despite these efforts, some voices, especially low-income minorities, remain unheard. This has caused increasing gentrification of the areas around the BeltLine. If the expected completion year remains, the BeltLine is now almost halfway complete, and Atlanta residents are eager to see if the BeltLine will live up to its initial hype.

Bibliography (2017). Atlanta BeltLine Overview. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Nov. 2017].

Kirkman, R., Noonan, S. and Dunn, S. (2012). Urban transformation and the individual responsibility: The Atlanta BeltLine. Planning Theory, 11(4), pp. 418-434.

Immergluck, D. (2008). Large Redevelopment Initiatives, Housing Values and Gentrification: The Case of the Atlanta Beltline. Urban Studies, 43(8), pp. 1723-1745.

Roy, P. (2015). Collaborative planning — A neoliberal strategy? A study of the Atlanta BeltLine. Cities, 43, pp. 59-68.

Urban Nomads: The Olympic Curse.

By Wolfe Purcell

The Urban Nomad

A slum is defined by the Oxford English dictionary as, “A squalid and overcrowded urban street or district inhabited by very poor people.” This definition however, is too simple as our modern day slums begin to take new forms and unprecedented sizes.

Dharavi Slum, Mumbai. Pauline C

The first global assessment of slums took place in 2003. “The challenge of slums report,” was carried out by the UN in response to growing urban populations and increasing rural exodus we see today. Cities like Mumbai where 60% of the population live on 6% of the land.[1] Now aptly named, “Slumbai”.

A staggering one in eight people live in slums.[2] That’s over one billion people living in, “squalid or overcrowded conditions”.

These people’s lives are not secure by any means and while researching the topic I discovered the term, “Urban Nomads”.[3] These are people that face the threat of eviction and forced relocation. They are constantly living on the brink.

The Olympics is one of the many mechanisms and institutions that create these, “Nomads”.

The question of who has the right to the city rages while these poorly represented people are being pushed around on a rich mans monopoly board.

Mike Davis

Davis is a person who has never shied away from criticising the modern city. He writes in his book The Planet of Slums that, “rather than being made out of glass and steel as envisioned by earlier generations of urbanists, are instead largely constructed out of crude brick, straw, recycled plastic, cement blocks and scrap wood.”

He refers to Cairo’s City of the Dead, “where one million people use Mameluke tombs as prefabricated housing components”. This example is possibly the most shocking he uses as people are literally living side by side graves as overcrowding becomes such an issue.

Asmaa Waguih, City of the Dead, Cairo

Davis takes no step in his criticism of cities as the debates of urban utopia vs dystopia ensue. This has led to him being labelled, “a city-hating socialist”, in the New Times Los Angeles. His work provides few solutions to the the issues he writes on but what is always evident is his Marxist views and brutal honesty.


Olympic Nightmare

Just being granted the Olympics is an achievement in itself. It is seen as, “an opportunity for a massive physical and image make-over”.[4] However, especially in poorer countries the question of, “Whose Olympics?”, is asked. Who benefits from hosting the games, and is displacement of the urban poor a hallmark of modern Olympic Games.[5]



“One World, One Dream”. The slogan for the 2008 Beijing Olympics was released a year prior to the games. Directly after the announcement 40 well known scholars, lawyers and writers wrote an open letter to Chinese and world leaders. It expressed deep concerns over China’s human rights policies prompting their own slogan, “One World, One Dream, Universal Human rights”.[6] 

In preparing for the games, the government conducted many, “environmental improvement projects”. In reality all these projects aim was to demolish and displace. The areas targeted were what are known as chengzhongcun or ,“villages in the city”,(VIC’s). They are what Mike Davis would refer to as, “peri urban”, settlements. Areas inhabited by mainly migrants far from the centre of cities. These VIC’s were no different, with few Beijing residents living in the area. This meant there was little organised opposition to the Games locating in these districts.

Chengzhwongcun, Beijing

“Environmental improvement”, took place in 231 VIC’s across Beijing containing 33’935 households.[7] Accompanying this was a citywide social cleansing operation with an aim to clear the streets of people who would be an eye sore for visitors and competitors. Beggars, street vendors and unlicensed businesses were among those severely affected.[8] The government enforced ID checks for city-bound travellers to discourage migrants from the surrounding area. This discrimination was introduced by the Beijing Organzing Committee as, “management of floating populations”. Poorer migrants the clear targets.[9]

Jeff Jacoby, NYT

In cases where the government was challenged, lawyers and human rights campaigners were harassed and silenced. This prompted a response from US Congressmen Frank Wolf and Chris Smith. “Tragically, the Olympics has triggered a massive crackdown designed to silence and put beyond reach all those whose views differ from the official ‘harmonious’ government line.” Accompanying this they presented a list of 734 political prisoners to the Chinese authorities.[10] The New York times reported on the evictions and were detained by government officials.See below.

World: Evictions in Beijing

Dayuanfu hutong: Text reads “Welcome the Olympics, Leave early receive benefits, Wait around and lose out.”

In total a report by the Centre on Housing Rights and Eviction indicated that the number of Beijing residents displaced as a result of Olympics-related urban (re)development projects between 2000 and 2008 was estimated to be  1.5 million.[11] Even by Olympic standards this scale of displacement was unprecedented.



We are brought back to the unfortunate question of, “Whose Games?”. As Chief sports writer Keith Duggan of the Irish times aptly put, “How do you rationalise a $11.5 billion sports party”. For us in the west it is easy to hold the Olympics up high as this catalyst of urban regeneration. Barcelona is often used as an example. But unfortunately this is often not the case, we have seen examples of forced eviction at six summer Olympics dating back to Seoul 1988. [12] We are left pondering, do the poor have any right to the city at all? An event like the Olympics would suggest not.

Rio de Janeiro, Reuters.

[3] Megacity Slums: Social Exclusion, Space And Urban Policies In Brazil And India

[4] 2 Short, John R (2008), “Globalization, cities and the Summer Olympics”, City Vol 12, No 3, page 339. pages 321−340



[7] 9 Shin, Hyun Bang (2009), “Life in the shadow of mega-events: Beijing Summer Olympiad and its impact on housing”, Journal of Asian Public Policy Vol 2, No 2, page 134. pages 122−141


[8] Watts, Jonathan (2008), “Beijing announces pre-Olympic social clean up”, The Guardian, 23 January, accessed 19 May 2012 at


[9] See the BOCOG website, accessed 26 May 2012 at


[10] ‘Smith in China on Major Human Rights Appeal in Run-up to Olympics’, [press release], (1 July 2008) and Christopher Bodeen, ‘US Lawmakers: Bush Should Skip Olympics’, Associated Press (1 July 2008).


[11] COHRE (2007), Fair Play for Housing Rights: Mega-events, Olympic Games and Housing Rights, Centre on Housing Rights and Eviction, Geneva,



Cultural-led Urban Regeneration of Temple Bar

By Loren Leonard

Temple Bar: The Irish Icon  

Temple Bar; a place so iconic that its name alone has come to represent the cultural heart of Dublin’s fair city. A compact cultural hub nestled right along the south banks of the Liffey, Temple Bar almost exists as a separate unit with a distinctive energy not replicated in any other part of the city. With its world renowned crowded pubs and multicultural restaurants fronting the narrow, cobbled lanes, we owe a lot this 28-acre plot. As stated by Dermot McLaughlin of The Irish Times, Temple Bar “is many things to many people: a place and a brand, a cultural quarter, a workplace, a tourism destination and, importantly, somewhere called home”. It is difficult to imagine Temple Bar as anything else than what it is today; a thriving tourist district where every building and landmark inherently represents Irish culture. But it is true that Temple Bar did not always take this form. In fact, prior to Dublin claiming the title of the European Capital of Culture in 1991, there was little to distinguish Temple Bar as a cultural urban hub.

1.jpg Source; ICIS, (2016).

Dublin: 1991 European Capital of Culture

It was only upon Dublin becoming the seventh European Capital of Culture that Temple Bar was finally deemed an area worthy or urban regeneration. Over the past three decades there have been numerous attempts across European cities to regenerate urban areas by means of culture, with several cities using the ECOC award as a platform to generate a new cultural identity. What first started out as an idea to promote European cities, thirty years and fifty-six cities later, has become “Europe’s most ambitious collaborative cultural project both in scope and scale”, (European Communities, 2009). As explained by McCarthy, 1998, culture-led urban regeneration essentially involves the encouragement of economic diversification and employment creation, while also promoting “place marketing” in which areas “suffering from structural decline” are enhanced visually in order to boost their economic standing. Glasgow claimed the ECOC title in 1990 and was the first city to acquire extensive public and private support and funding in order to put the city’s aspiring three-year development plan into action, (Garcia, 2005). Upon the completion of the plan, the cultural-led regeneration of the city was largely deemed a success. However, the question on everyone’s lips back in 1991 was ‘would Dublin follow suit?

Was Dublin Ready?

For the most part, Dublin was criticised for not being prepared enough to cope with the expectations surrounding the status of being a named City of Culture. With Dublin already being compared to Glasgow by critics, there really was little hope that Dublin had the potential to follow in Glasgow’s footsteps. There was no question that Dublin have very big boots to fill after Glasgow’s success, but the city had already shot itself in the foot before it even had the chance to begin. With an extremely limited budget of £5 million, it was feared that many of the planned events could turn into “an underfinanced flop”, (New York Times, 1991). In comparison to the allocation of €45.75 million to Galway’s bid to become the European City of Culture 2020, this really puts Dublin’s financial budget for the events into perspective, (McGarry and Tipton, 2016). However, one success story did manage to emerge from such a limited budget; Temple Bar.


Source; RTE Archives, (1991).

The Original Temple Bar

The 28-acre plot of Temple Bar was originally owned by the Irish Transport company, Coras Iompair Eireann (CIE). It was only when CIE wished to develop a bus station in the area, which was met with great opposition, that Dublin City council constructed an Area Action plan to “revitalise the area for cultural, residential and retail use”, (International Intervision Institute, 2001). From this, Dublin City Council and the Temple Bar Development Council pursued the Temple Bar Area Renewal and Development Act, 1991, under which Temple Bar Properties Ltd. and Temple Bar Renewal were set up to oversee the urban regeneration of the area. The main objectives set out by these two companies included; the development of an enhanced pedestrian route, creation of new public spaces, provision of residential accommodation, the maintenance of streetscape and promotion of cultural heritage, (Reflecting City, 2008). The establishment of Temple Bar Properties Ltd. enabled a dedicated agency to drive the urban regeneration of an area that was viewed as being derelict and run down. TBP Ltd. set out a timescale under which the development would take place, while also acting as a gatekeeper between the public and private sectors, dealing with any upheaval between the different inhabitants of the area, (International Intervision Institute, 2001). Much of the success of the urban renewal can be attributed to the planning and dedication of TBP Ltd and TBR.

Goals for Temple Bar

The key goal of the cultural-led urban regeneration of Temple Bar was to create a well-known cultural identity and a recognised brand for the area. This branding process was achieved primarily though the urban design of the newly developed area. By both enhancing the spatial quality of Temple Bar, in that the infrastructure was improved with the introduction of new street lighting and pathways, and re-establishing a connective relationship with surrounding areas in Dublin, Temple Bar was provided with the amenities to integrate back into Dublin city and re-brand itself as an attractive tourist area, (International Intervision Institute, 2001). The creation of new public spaces in Temple Bar, including the two public squares Meeting House Square and Temple Bar Square, allowed for the promotion of a new cultural identity. With both of these public squares being used for cultural activities while also housing a cultural centre, multiple photographic galleries and hosting a book market at weekends, the optimisation of available space allowed for the creation of a functional cultural space


Meeting House Square. Source; Dublin Visitor Centre, (2017).


Temple Bar Square continues to host a weekly book market. Source; Visit Dublin, (2017).

Success or Failure?

It has been debated as to whether the urban regeneration of Temple Bar can be deemed successful or not. There had of course been great expectations for the redevelopment, especially after seeing the success in other ECOC’s like Glasgow. Certainly, the redevelopment brought about change for the better within the general Temple Bar area. With the construction of 133 apartments, 63 retail units and seven hotels by July 1996, it is difficult to dispute the fact that the renewal of Temple Bar was successful, (McCarthy, 1998). As outlined By John McCarthy, by the mid-1990s the pedestrian movement in Temple Bar had doubled, while the area had also become “the fourth most popular tourist destination in Dublin”. This transformation from a derelict, run down part of the city that was visually unattractive had become a thriving tourist hub which was deemed a must visit for anyone wishing to experience Irish culture at its finest.

As with any urban regeneration project, there have also been criticisms of the renewed Temple Bar. One of the main critiques of the development has been the gentrification in Temple Bar since the regeneration. With the rising of rents due the improvements made to the apartments, many artists who had previously been living in the vicinity were forced to leave, (Reidy, 1997). This unfortunate consequence was essentially the antithesis of the entire regeneration project which was supposed to encourage creativity and culture, not displace the original artists who called Temple Bar home. Although it is argued by Montgomery, 1995, that some degree of gentrification was unavoidable and in fact it was a requirement for the regeneration of Temple Bar, the level of gentrification witnessed in Temple Bar during the mid-1990s was far more significant than previously anticipated. It is proposed that Temple Bar has lost its authentic culture and the “original bohemian ambiance” associated with the area has been displaced and lost, (McCarthy). There have undoubtedly been mixed reviews of the Temple Bar regeneration, but despite the criticisms it still achieved many of its goals. It goes without saying that the Temple Bar we have all come to know and love would not exist without having undergone this major culture-fuelled transformation.


Dublin Visitor Centre, (2017). Meeting House Square Photograph. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11th November 2017].

European Communities, (2009). European Capitals of Culture: The Road to Success From 1985 to 2010. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 5th November 2017].

Garcia, B., (2005). Deconstructing the City of Culture: The Long-term Cultural legacies of Glasgow 1990. Urban Studies. 42(5/6), 841-868. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 8th November 2017].

ICIS, (2016). Temple Bar Photograph. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11th November 2017].

International Intervision Institute, (2001). Temple Bar Urban Regeneration. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 5th November 2017].

McCarthy, J., (1998). Dublin’s Temple Bar – A Case Study of Culture-led Regeneration. European Planning Studies. 6(3). [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 6th November 2017].

McGarry, P. and Tipton, G., (2016). And Ireland’s European Capital of Culture 2020 is … Galway. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 10th November 2017].

McLaughlin, D., (2011). Temple Bar as Place and Concept is Real Success Story. The Irish Times. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 5th November 2017].

Montgomery, J., (1995). The story of Temple Bar: Creating Dublin’s Cultural Quarter, Planning Practice and Research. 10, 101-110.

Reflecting City, (2008). The Reconstruction of Dublin – Temple Bar. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 5th November 2017].

Reidy, S. E., (1997). Cultural Policy in Urban Regeneration: The Examination of Temple Bar, Dublin, unpublished research project for the Degree in Town and Regional Planning, University of Dundee.

RTE Archives, (1991). Dublin is European City of Culture 1991. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11th November 2017].

The New York Times, (1991). Europe’s 1991 Capital of Culture. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 7th November 2017].


Are we making progress to conserve biodiversity or are we still destroying it? A round up of the IPBES regional assessments – Jane Feeney

Biodiversity refers to the complex web of genes, species, communities of creatures and entire ecosystems that make up our planet. Biodiversity is the Earth’s living fabric, vital for sustaining ecosystems and for human survival. Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people are, according to the Chair of IPBES Sir Robert Watson, “the bedrock of our food, clean water and energy. They are at the heart not only of our survival, but of our cultures, identities and enjoyment of life”.

In order to strengthen knowledge about the state of biodiversity globally and to inform better decisions affecting nature, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was established in 2012. An independent intergovernmental body, it is currently made up of 129 member governments. The sixth plenary session of the IPBES was held in Medellín, Colombia from 17 to 24 March 2018. Scientists, policy makers and stakeholders from over 100 countries united during one week with an ambitious task: to approve and launch four regional biodiversity assessments, as well as an assessment on land degradation and restoration. These assessments were the result of three years’ work involving over 550 experts and is the first evaluation of its kind since the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

 Photo credit: IPBES


Each regional assessment (Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Africa, and Europe and Central Asia) addresses the following questions:

  • Why is biodiversity important?
  • Are we making progress or are we still destroying biodiversity and undermining human wellbeing?
  • What are the threats to biodiversity?
  • What policies and governance structures can lead to a more sustainable future?
  • What are the priority gaps in knowledge?

Using the findings from these reports, a global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services is due to be released in 2019.

Biodiversity is declining at a dangerous rate globally

The bottom line arising from the assessments is that biodiversity continues to decline in every region of the world, with negative implications for human well-being. The main drivers include the intensification of agriculture and forestry, climate change, resource extraction, invasive alien species, and pollution.

The reports discuss underlying factors such as rapid economic growth, globalization and urbanization which are modifying consumption and production patterns, to the detriment of the planet and human well-being.

Some key findings from the assessments are highlighted below:

> Climate change threatens biodiversity

Climate change has been identified as a major threat to biodiversity in all regions, and poses a particular threat to coastal ecosystems, low-lying coastal areas and islands. Human-induced climate change affects temperature, precipitation, sea level rise and the occurrence of extreme weather events, impacting on species, habitats and ecosystem structure and function, as well as other knock-on effects such as increased pest and disease outbreaks.

> Biodiversity loss undermines action towards global sustainability targets

Continued loss of biodiversity and degradation of nature’s contributions to people undermines the ability of countries and regions to meet their global targets. The achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and the Paris climate agreement, “depend on the health and vitality of our natural environment in all its diversity and complexity. Acting to protect and promote biodiversity is at least as important to achieving these commitments and to human wellbeing as is the fight against global climate change”, according to Dr. Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary of IPBES.

The IPBES is sometimes referred to as the ‘IPCC for biodiversity’. Discussions arose during the IPBES-6 Stakeholder Day in Medellín around why biodiversity does not receive the same level of attention as climate change in policy agendas and among society. The complexity and diversity of biodiversity make the concept hard to grasp and defy its translation into simple universal goals that are appealing to policy makers, such as the 2°C limit. The IPCC has also been around twenty years longer than IPBES, so it will require more time and ground work. Although there are concerns that climate change may overshadow or deflect from other environmental issues like biodiversity loss in terms of both public awareness and funding, one panel member declared that it’s not “us or them”, referring to biodiversity vs. climate change. Given the interconnected nature of the two issues, a convergence of efforts through IPBES and IPCC can benefit overall environmental outcomes and conservationists can seek opportunities to link with climate action.

> Indigenous and local knowledge is an extremely valuable, but under-appreciated, resource for nature protection

  • The Americas assessment highlights the fact that indigenous people and local communities have created a diversity of polyculture and agroforestry systems, which have increased biodiversity and shaped landscapes, but also warns that local languages and cultures are dying out.
  • In the Asia-Pacific region, traditional agrobiodiversity is in decline, along with its associated indigenous and local knowledge (ILK), due to a shift towards intensification of agriculture. However, the region also highlights positive examples of community-conserved areas managed and guided by ILK and culture-based practices.
  • In Africa, the wealth of ILK, developed over a long history of human interactions with the environment, represents a key strategic asset for sustainable development in the region and requires greater attention from governments and society.
  • In Europe and Central Asia there has been a loss of ILK along with the abandonment of traditional land uses, and the report highlights a knowledge gap in how to integrate ILK into national and international policy frameworks and initiatives.

IPBES has an ILK task force and technical support unit to develop procedures and approaches for working with ILK systems and participatory mechanisms under the IPBES Platform. However, improvements need to be made, as was stressed during the IPBES-6 Stakeholder Day, for greater representation of indigenous people within the Platform, along with the recognition of multiple systems of values and the need to define, identify and include ‘local communities’. The importance of incorporating more ‘grey’ material including ILK materials into IPBES assessments was highlighted, in addition to peer-reviewed scientific articles, and improving access to IPBES outputs through multilingual versions of reports and communication materials.

> Protected areas are key for conservation, but need to be combined with human-dominated landscapes that support nature

  • In the Americas, protection of key biodiversity areas increased 17% between 1970 and 2010, although less than 20% of key biodiversity areas are protected and coverage varies significantly. The report highlights that aside from protected areas and restoration projects, strategies are needed to make human-dominated landscapes more supportive of biodiversity.
  • The Asia-Pacific region saw a growth of 0.3% in terrestrial protected areas and almost 14% in marine protected areas between 2004 and 2017. However, most of the important bird areas and key biodiversity areas remain unprotected, and an increase in forest and protected areas alone is not enough to withstand the biodiversity impacts of monocultures.
  • In Africa, 13.4% of the continent’s land mass and 2.6% of seas have been designated as protected areas, contributing to the recovery of threatened species. There is an urgent need to expand the protected area network and find strategic approaches to understand and address barriers to such expansion.
  • In Europe and Central Asia, protected areas now cover 10.2% of the region, 13.5% of its terrestrial area and 5.2% of its marine area. Yet, the assessment stresses that it is not only coverage of protected areas that matters, but also their efficacy, connectivity and representativeness, as well as a need to foster biodiversity outside protected areas.
Photo credit: Petr Baumann/

> Land degradation is now ‘critical’, threatening human wellbeing

The assessment on land degradation and restoration finds that more than 3.2 billion people are already affected and this is set to worsen without rapid action. Land degradation is driving species extinctions, intensifying climate change, and is a major contributor to mass human migration and increased conflict. According to the report, land degradation is being driven by high-consumption lifestyles in the most developed economies, combined with rising consumption in developing and emerging economies. The report also identifies opportunities to accelerate action, including improving monitoring, verification systems and baseline data; better policy coordination; eliminating ‘perverse incentives’ that promote land degradation and promoting positive incentives that reward sustainable land management.

Ways forward:

Although the results of the assessments paint a grim picture for biodiversity, they also identify some important success stories and review tools, methods and governance options to address the environmental crises we are facing. Chair of IPBES Sir Robert Watson said: “Although there are no ‘silver bullets’ or ‘one-size-fits all’ answers, the best options in all four regional assessments are found in better governance, integrating biodiversity concerns into sectoral policies and practices (e.g. agriculture and energy), the application of scientific knowledge and technology, increased awareness and behavioural changes.”

Jane Feeney is a PhD candidate at the Geography Department, Trinity College Dublin. She is currently in Colombia carrying out fieldwork on biodiversity offsetting and is a visiting researcher at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá.  

Gentrification in de Jordaan, Amsterdam

By Sanne Gort

The term gentrification refers to the process of upgrading an area within a city from a social, cultural or economic point of view. In fact, gentrification has two main components. The first one is functional upgrading. Together with this process of gentrification, the land prices increase. This means that the land use needs to be upgraded in order to stay profitable. Besides, there will be a displacement of the population. Initially, a working-class population is living in an area, but they won’t be able to afford living in that area anymore as the land price has risen. However, the middle-class population can afford living in the area so they will replace the working class population (O’Callaghan, 2017*).

1Fig. 1: de Jordaan in 1950 (Pinterest, 2017)

This blogpost will focus on gentrification in the city of Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. One of the areas in Amsterdam where gentrification occurs in the past few years, is de Jordaan. This is an area located to the West of the city centre (fig. 2). De Jordaan has a total surface of 0.84 square kilometers and almost 19 thousand inhabitants (Funda, 2017). It was built in the early 17th century, mainly to house immigrants and the working class (fig. 1). This was necessary as there was a huge stream of refugees from other European countries to find their freedom in Amsterdam. Therefore, de Jordaan was initially a poor neighbourhood. In the 1970s, they planned to demolish big parts of de Jordaan and build modern blocks of flats. However, there was a lot of resistance against those plans, so they changed their plans to small projects to fix up the neighbourhood. A few decennial later, at the end of the 20th century, a lot of artists, students and young professionals discovered de Jordaan and moved to there. This can be seen as the beginning of gentrification in this area because nowadays, de Jordaan is an expensive and prosperous area. As a result, the initial inhabitants couldn’t afford the higher prices, left the area and moved to other areas within or close to Amsterdam (, 2003).

2.jpgFig. 2: Location of de Jordaan (Jordaantour, 2015)

The question that arises it whether this gentrification in de Jordaan is still going on. To examine this, the development of house prices in de Jordaan over the period 2013 to 2016 will be compared to the development of house prices in Amsterdam over the same period. As gentrification goes along with a rise in house prices, this comparison will show whether gentrification is still going on in de Jordaan or not (O’Callaghan, 2017). In the case it is, the increase in average house prices will be higher in de Jordaan than the increase in average house prices in Amsterdam.

According to ‘allecijfers’, a website that shows facts about Amsterdam and the different areas within Amsterdam, the average house price in Amsterdam has risen from 240,000 euros in 2013, to 253,000 euros in 2016 (allecijfers, 2017a). This is a rise of 5.42 percent. The same website states that the average house price in de Jordaan in 2013 was 181,000 euros, which is way lower than the average house price in Amsterdam at that time. However, there was a huge increase in the period from 2013 to 2016 as the average house price in 2016 in de Jordaan was 308,000 euros (allecijfers, 2017b). This is a rise of 70.17 percent. An overview of the average house prices is given in table 1.

3Table 1: Average house prices in Amsterdam and de Jordaan 2013 – 2016

So, the average house prices in de Jordaan compared to the average house prices in Amsterdam, suggests that the gentrification in de Jordaan is still going on. Another factor that suggests the same, is the average income. In 2013, the average income of Amsterdam was slightly higher than the average income of de Jordaan (Hylkema, 2016). However, nowadays, the rate of higher incomes in de Jordaan is higher than Amsterdam, and the rate of lower incomes is lower (Funda, 2017). This indicates a shift from the working-class to the middle class.

These facts suggest that gentrification in de Jordaan is still going on. However, further research is needed to incorporate other factors that might influence the house prices and the shift from the working-class to the middle class.

The facts suggest that gentrification is still going on, but has gentrification already had its impact on the image of de Jordaan. Is the neighbourhood seen as a nice and prosperous area in Amsterdam, or is it still seen as a poor neighbourhood you better avoid? There were two inhabitants of Amsterdam willing to share their opinion about de Jordaan. They are both 21 years old and since 2014 living in the Frederik Hendrikbuurt, an area next to de Jordaan.

Saar Bakker: “De Jordaan is a really nice area. Both from the inside and from the outside. In the last few years, it remained sympathetic despite the fact the area became more and more popular. There are a lot of different people meeting in de Jordaan. On the one hand you have the ‘real Jordanezen’ (the people that are living there already for a long time), and on the other hand a lot of students. And everything in between. There are many nice pubs (fig. 3) in this area which makes it a place that attracts a lot of different people. Altogether, de Jordaan is a place that feels like home to everyone!”

Sjoerdje Bruinsma: “I see de Jordaan as a place for everyone. No matter if you want to walk past the canals or want to get lost in one of the beautiful small streets. A big change you will find an extraordinary store or a really nice pub. The pubs in de Jordaan are places in which young and old people meet and have a chat with each other. De Jordaan honours its French name ‘Jardin’: It blooms!”

People chatting at brown cafe 't Smalle

Fig. 3: Pub in de Jordaan (Drenth, 2017)

Altogether, de Jordaan is a really nice area in Amsterdam where gentrification has had its positive impacts. It started in the 70s and is still going on, but the inhabitants of Amsterdam see it already as a really nice area!

* Not public available