“Leisurely Gentrification?” Lecture & Workshop with Maria Sulimma (University of Freiburg), May 2-3

On May 2, we had the pleasure to welcome Jun.-Professor Maria Sulimma for a guest lecture on “Leisurely Gentrification? Conflictual Places and Practices in Contemporary Fiction” at the KU. Jun.-Prof. Sulimma is an American Studies scholar working in the intersecting areas of literary and cultural studies, urban studies, and feminist media studies. Currently, she is professor for North American Studies at the University of Freiburg

In her lecture she introduced her research on gentrification and the societal conflict that arises in the competition between social groups and individual actors for dominance over urban spaces and its resources. This conflict finds frequent depiction in contemporary literature through seemingly trivial leisure activities or places tied to the consumption of characters as embodiments of gentrification. She analyzed three phenomena; coffee drinking, urban gardening, and dog walking/the dog park. These leisure practices inherently shed light on debates revolving around racial displacement, class, and wealth distribution in the United States and other countries. They enable the connection of literary and urban forms, but often remain incidental activities associated with urban life in storytelling while referencing the conflicts associated with displacement and changing neighborhoods.

She also facilitated a workshop for the PhDs of Practicing Place on May 3. The fellows prepared elevator pitches for their research projects and were given valuable feedback and insights by Maria Sulimma.

Many thanks to Maria Sulimma! 


Maria Sulimma presenting at the KU Eichstätt
Maria Sulimma presenting her talk on May 2