UCL Department of Geography


Varvara Karipidou Receives the Next Economy Trust Fellowship

7 February 2024

We are delighted to announce that Research Student Varvara Karipidou is one of two Geography students to be awarded the prestigious Next Economy Trust Fellowship.

Varava Karipidou News Article

Varvara has received the award for her research on the lasting impact of communism on urban development and governance in Eastern Europe, offering fresh insights into the region's urban landscape as a vibrant and active political entity. 

She explains how, despite a rapid transition to democracy and neoliberalism, the legacy of communism has continued to shape the political and social dynamics of the region.

Specifically, Varvara's work is looking into the decentralised urban governance model implemented in post-revolution Romania. 

And how, combined with a 'hybridised' state formation, it creates space for associational networks to emerge and influence urban development processes. 

Varvara explained, "The award will help to advance and complete my research and hopefully contribute to a nuanced comprehension of the spatial and social consequences of urban policies involving state and non-state actors in the post-democratic landscape."

Previously an architect in Romania, Varvara was inspired to explore the evolving system of urban planning and development through her interactions with people and projects on a city level.

She hopes her research will challenge the prevailing narratives of the "Global North and South and the framing of everything that diverges from Western standards as ‘informal’ or ‘failed’. Additionally, , she adds, ‘I saw an opportunity to shed light on Eastern Europe, a region that is not only less studied geographically but also as an epistemic space. 

On the importance of her work, Varvara told us that it, "explores the multi-layered features of urban policies, framing the city as a dynamic and active political entity. 

"My research seeks to unveil the spatial and social impacts of these practices in the post-democratic era. 

"Through the analysis of planning processes and the redistribution of the state's regulatory capacity to Bucharest’s local districts, the study uncovers a distinctive understanding of post-democratization state formation centred around planning."

To fellow scholars, her advice is, "Be confident in your work and research and always work closely with others."

"The best ideas often emerge through sharing thoughts and being open to giving and receiving feedback. 

"Engage in discussions with friends and colleagues, share opportunities, exchange ideas, and challenge yourself, but always as a part of a team."

Congratulations again to Varvara for this well-deserved recognition of her work. 

Varvara is one of two Geography Research Students to receive the prize. Find out about Tyler Valiquette and his research.

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