Global Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives and Local Placemaking
Faranak Miraftab will present “Global Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives and Local Placemaking” as part of the Contemporary Issues in Planning and Design Lecture Series. She is an urban scholar of globalization whose scholarship is situated at the intersection of geography, planning and feminist studies using case-study and ethnographic methodologies. Her research concerns social and institutional aspects of urban development and planning that address basic human needs, including housing and urban infrastructure and services that support it. She is particularly interested in the global and local development processes and contingencies involved in the formation of the city and citizens’ struggles for dignified livelihood — namely, how groups disadvantaged by class, gender, race and ethnicity mobilize for resources such as shelter, basic infrastructure and services and how institutional arrangements facilitate and frustrate provision and access to such vital urban resources.
Miraftab’s scholarship on global inequalities, the kinds of questions she asks, the methodologies she uses and the insights she aspires to offer the public are all greatly influenced by her activist past and drive for social justice. In the 1980s and 1990s, she studied this relationship through the experience of low-income communities, particularly female-headed households in Latin America; since the mid-1990s she has studied the struggle for justice and equity through the experience of racialized township residents in post-apartheid South Africa.
In her most recent project, published as Global Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives and Local Placemaking, Miraftab studied the relational development processes of placemaking in Togo, Mexico and Illinois. Using a relational frame of analysis that exposes global inequalities, Global Heartland reveals the development connections and dependencies across seemingly far-away communities across the globe that are intimately connected through everyday practices of their transnational families. For a documentary based on Global Heartland interviews, see “Moving Flesh,” produced by artist-scholar-activists Sarah Ross and Ryan Griffis.