Brasenose College is delighted to announce that recent Geography undergraduate Eleanor Pendle has won a Royal Geographical Society Prize. Eleanor Pendle won the prize given by the RGS Social and Cultural Geography Research Group for her dissertation on The Poblenou Superblock: Rights, Responsibilities and Exclusions.
Barcelona’s superblocks are an urban planning initiative aiming to re-orient the city around people rather than cars. Eleanor's dissertation investigated the extent to which the superblock in Poblenou, Barcelona, is conducive to urban citizenship. She completed 14 days of fieldwork in Barelona, featuring interviews and participant observation. She finds that the superblock does – albeit unevenly – reinvigorate this part of the city for some residents, especially young families and members of the Superblock Neighbourhood Association. Her conclusion is that the superblock can produce different, more sustainable ways of living in a more habitable city, but despite its claims to social justice, it simultaneously continues to (re)produce socio-spatial exclusions too.
The panel awarding the prize praised Eleanor's "rigorous scholarship and nuanced analysis in her study of rights to the city, social justice, and urban citizenship in a Barcelona superblock, and were impressed by her in-depth fieldwork conducted across languages."
Commenting on the whole experience, Eleanor said "It feels absolutely amazing to have won this prize. I remember reading the RGS magazine, ‘Geographical’, every morning with my breakfast during GCSE and A-Level years, so it is really special to have come full circle in this way. I had such a brilliant time undertaking fieldwork in Barcelona last summer, applying geographical concepts to the superblock and chatting with so many (mainly!) friendly locals about their thoughts and experiences. It was a great chance to put my rusty Spanish to good use, as well as to explore the city, its architecture, history, and (many!) gelaterias! Walking around the city also gave me a lot of food for though to apply to other aspects of my Geography course, from stumbling upon a Catalan independence protest to chatting with nuns (it’s a long – but heart-warming – story) about the role of religion in contemporary Barcelona. The whole experience of writing a dissertation was incredibly exciting, daunting, and fulfilling in equal measure – it felt amazing to take an initial idea and run with it, culminating in a 12,000 word document with every sentence carefully scrutinised. Doing a dissertation is also a fantastic opportunity to work closely with your tutors and supervisor, who get to know you and your geographical interests much more closely through the process. The independence, academic drive, and creativity sparked by producing a dissertation has led me to consider applying for postgraduate study (in something geographical, of course), so hopefully there are even more exciting things to learn and research projects to pursue in the not too distant future."
Eleanor studied Geography at Brasenose College, Oxford, having attended Chichester High School - and she is now teaching there whilst she considers career options. She received £100, and a year's subscription to the journal Social and Cultural Geography.