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Author meets critics - Rebranding Precarity: Pop-up Culture as the Seductive New Normal (ZED Books, 2021) by Dr Ella Harris

Venue: Online

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This event brings together renowned geography scholars from across the UK to engage with Dr Ella Harris (Birkbeck, University of London) monograph “Rebranding Precarity: Pop-up Culture as the Seductive New Normal” published in 2021 by Zed Books.

This event is co-hosted by Birkbeck's Urban Intersections Experimental Collective and the Department of Geography. The event will be chaired by Professor Melissa Butcher (Birkbeck).

About the book: 'Pop-up' is a fully-fledged, new urbanism. Celebrated as a flexible and exciting new form of place making, pop-up culture includes temporary or nomadic sites such as cinemas, container malls, supper clubs, even pop-up housing and is now ubiquitous in cities across the world. But what are the stakes of the ‘pop-up’ city?

Traversing a wealth of fascinating case studies, Rebranding Precarity shows how pop-up works to rebrand insecurity and encourages us to embrace precarity as the new normal. Revealing how urban crisis has particular temporal and spatial characteristics, defined by uncertainty, instability, fractures and gaps, it illuminates how those markers of crisis have been optimistically reimagined over the last few years, through an examination of seven logics that rebrand insecurity including within housing, labour economies and gentrifying areas. In doing so, it paints a frightening picture of how crisis conditions have become not just accepted, but are in fact desired, in today’s metropolis.

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  • Dr Ella Harris -

    Ella Harris is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London. Her current project explores experiences of lockdown during the Covid 19 crisis, focusing on changing conceptions of freedom. Ella’s past work has focused on London’s pop-up culture and the glamorization of urban precarity. She is also involved in ongoing collaborative research projects on housing precarity, including on micro-housing, tiny homes and homelessness. This includes the BA/Leverhulme Small Grant funded project "Tiny Homes, Big Promises: Exploring the Emerging Geographies of Tiny House Developments in Austin, Texas". Ella is the author of “Rebranding Precarity: pop-up culture as the seductive new normal” (ZED Books, 2021).

  • Dr Mel Nowicki -

    Mel Nowicki is a Senior Lecturer in Urban Geography at Oxford Brookes University. Her work focuses on housing precarity and the politics of home. Recent research projects include working with families living in temporary accommodation in London and Dublin, and the rise of Tiny House developments as a purported solution to housing crises. Mel's work has been published in academic journals (including Antipode, Social & Cultural Geography and Environment and Planning C) and in the media (The Guardian, The Irish Times).

  • Dr Melissa Butcher -

    Melissa Butcher is a professor of social and cultural geography at Birkbeck, University of London. She uses ethnographic, visual and participatory methodologies to examine questions of identity and belonging within contexts of cultural change and contested urban space. She has been Principle and Co-Investigator on several UKRI, European and ARC funded projects in London, Delhi, Singapore and Sydney, including 'Learning from Small Cities: Governing Imagined Futures and the Dynamics of Change in India's Smart Urban Age' (2018-2020, ESRC-ICSSR), 'SINGLE: Entanglements of Urban Space, Cultural Encounters and Gendered Identities in Delhi and Shanghai' (, 2013-16,HERA), and 'Creating Hackney as Home' (, 2013-2015, ESRC).

  • Professor Ben Anderson -

    Ben Anderson is a professor of human geography at Durham University. He is a cultural-political geographer whose research conceptualises ordinary affective life, and examines the politics of affect in relation to emergency governance, Brexit, the rise of populisms of the left and right, and other contemporary events and conditions. Currently, this involves work on boredom in relation to changes in capitalism. This research builds on past theoretical work, principally a 2014 monograph - Encountering Affect: Capacities, Apparatuses, Conditions - which developed a vocabulary for understanding how affective life is lived and governed. His latest essay – on boredom and critique – can be found here: Affect and critique: A politics of boredom* - Ben Anderson, 2021 (

  • Professor Harriet Hawkins -

    Harriet Hawkins is a Professor of Human Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research is focused on the advancement of the geohumanities, a field that sits at the intersection of geographical scholarship with arts and humanities scholarship and practice. Empirically she explores the geographies of art works and art worlds, theoretically she is interested in the elaboration of core humanities concepts of aesthetics, creativity and the imagination from a geographical perspective. Her current research focuses on the underground as a site of /for the formation of much needed new environmental imaginations. Harriet is the author of For Creative Geographies (Routledge 2013) and Creativity (Routledge 2016), co-editor of Geographical Aesthetics (Ashgate 2014) and Geographies of Making Craft and Creativity (Routledge 2017).