Karelse, Christian

Neoliberalism and the Contested Urbanism






School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering
Queen's University Belfast
Level 3
David Keir Building
Stranmillis Road
Belfast BT9 5AG
Northern Ireland



+44 (0)2890 974254


Current Research:

Contest in society has always had a spatial component. Cities are places where conflicts often come to a front, where tensions are built up, played out, and eventually settled. As such the urban environment directly influences the nature of conflict, but at the same time it is shaped by it through the erection of defence structures and identity markers, often resulting in division of the urban fabric into ‘territories’ and subsequent complex forms of spatial segregation.

While the notion of territory has historically often been related to control of resources, the neoliberal agenda and related globalisation of the economy means that access to resources becomes more and more concentrated in the hands of elites, and less and less dependent on the traditional notion of territory itself; the “have-not’s” are increasingly being denied access to resources through the corporate state-backed mechanisms of resource exploitation and instead have to rely on more ‘informal’ ways of maintaining their lives.

This research proposes to:

  • investigate how neoliberal policies might have changed the nature of historical divisions in society; and analyse how such changes manifest themselves in (urban) space;
  • define the importance of ‘territory’ when dealing with urban conflict; and track how the notion of territory is reinterpreted in the context of globalised economy;
  • evaluate how decreased means for state bodies to interfere in conflict-ridden societies, and the supposed racial and sectarian “blindness” of the corporate sector, might lead to new opportunities for conflict resolution.

Supervisors: Dr Ken Sterrett & Dr Agustina Martire


MSc (2:1) in Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences, Delft University of Technology, 2010
BSc (2:1) in Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences, Delft University of Technology, 2007

Conferences / Presentations:

“Planning and Architecture in conflict cities”, ICAN conference Challenging Place, Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, UK, March 2013    
 “The divided city: Spatial segregation beyond the ‘peace-walls’: An investigation into the spatial segregation patterns in the city of Belfast”, Estonian Academy of Arts, Urban & Landscape Days conference Between Architecture of War & Military Urbanism, Tallinn, Estonia,  April 2013


PhD Research Studentship, Department of Employment and Learning, 2014