Sara Caramaschi, obtained her Ph.D. in 'Urban Landscapes of Contemporary Cities' at the Department of Architecture - University of Rome Tre (2017). She has visited as a PhD Student Columbia University (2014) and Berkeley University (2016). She has conducted research at the University of Florence (2017-2018) and Roma Tre University (2018).
My interests gravitate around the reciprocal influence of social relations producing space and urban space shaping social relations. This is reflected in both my previous work on public space and spatial regulation, and my interests on contemporary urban practices between rules and collective action.
Currently, my research focuses mainly on the evolution, uses, and meanings of the built environment, in particular with reference to processes of housing vacancy, abandonment and underutilization in contexts of urban contraction and post-crisis cities.
During the doctoral program, I analyzed and evaluated street food vending activity in seven North American cities, discussing when and how vendors became (or did not) a political and economic force able to redefining both regulations and spatial organizational rules. What happened in this context is that street food vending, an activity that had long been marginalized and contested, acquired representation mobilizing communities of vendors and social groups. This issue became a major news story, with cities trying to find ways to best regulate (or prevent) the sell and consumption of food in public open spaces and vendors organizing themselves and operating in diverse urban settings that may have been submerged, invisible, or even gentrified over the time.
In San Francisco, for example, vendors with common interests acted spatially as to try to further those needs, providing a set of conditions for public engagement, streetscapes activation and community involvement. The constitution of organizational rules, the engagement of vendors in efficient groups and their socio-spatial effects have reinforced city’s regulations, supporting and maintaining mutual enduring patterns of shared, incremental, well-liked processes.
The attention to appropriation and provision, both at departments and vendors level, has resulted to be a key element in reducing uncertainties and conflicts over the assignment of rights: the establishment of organizational rules at one level and specialized flexible regulations at the other level has produced a coordinated system that streamlined a short-term maximization (vendors) and a long-term revitalization strategy (city).