Researcher portrait, 2010-02-03

Postdoc 2008: Sofia Cele

Sofia Cele, PhD, Uppsala University, Department of Social and Economic Geography, receives funding from the Swedish Research Council for a postdoctoral position in Sweden. Here you can read an interview with her.

Briefly describe your research project

"In this project I´m focusing on the experiences of young women in urban environments, particularly in parks. Teenage girls use the public environment to a high degree, but this seldom receives attention in debates or research."

"I would like to know how young women manage different places in their daily lives and how this influences their sense of well-being and security. It is important since actions to increase the well-being of women in the public environment – for instance, cutting down trees and bushes –  influence other site qualities, such as esthetic values, biological diversity, and park culture."

"The project also aims to elevate theoretical knowledge about young women and their perceptions of different places, which I view to be an underdeveloped topic."

How far have you come?

"I am trying to tie together the project on young women and am mainly writing articles to present my findings. I plan to present the results at conferences in Sweden, Finland, and the United States during the spring and summer."

"My ambition is to find ways to bring together different values and qualities in the urban environment. Since the pressure to exploit land is so great, it´s important to know how different aspects can be brought together."

"For instance, my results show there´s no reason to play off esthetic and biological diversity in a park environment against security issues, as is often done today. All that is needed is well-executed landscape architecture and knowledge about how humans relate to their environment. Unfortunately, this is often under-prioritized during planning, even though well-conceived solutions are less expensive in the long run."

Why did you choose this particular research topic?

“I think people have good intentions when focusing on women´s experiences, but often these good intentions result in presenting women as victims. Of course, the urban environment can frighten many women, but their relationship to a city is infinitely richer than that!"

"Also, I´ve become frustrated at times because actions taken to make environments ‘safer´ often mean that many of the esthetic features of a place vanish and that vegetation gets eliminated."






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Updated: 2010-02-03