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Postdoc Profile: Friederike Landau
Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Geography, Faculty of Environment
I grew up in a small town at Germany's former border between East and West. After studying a variety of subjects ranging from public administration to political philosophy, I moved to Berlin and worked as a strategy consultant. During this job, I got to know Berlin as a fascinating city that is not only filled with cultural offers, but also people who get organized to maintain cultural infrastructures. Out of these experiences, I sculpted my Ph.D. project (2015-2017), in which I examined the emergence and political mobilization of an action platform of transdisciplinary Berlin-based artists. I consider myself an interdisciplinary urban scholar interested in the connections between the arts and politics in cities.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?
I have admired Eugene McCann's work on urban politics for years, and felt honored when he invited me to pursue a one-year postdoctoral fellowship with him. As I have had a connection with Canada since I did my M.A. in Ontario due to a lucky chain of coincidences some years ago, I was excited to come back, and discover the extreme beauty of the West Coast.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH.
I am interested in understanding new ways of getting politically active. I believe it is important to consider different ways to express the political voice everybody has and should have. By talking to artists, and looking at what struggles they face, I generate new knowledge into how politics can work.
WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH AT SFU?
I really appreciate the welcoming smell of Renaissance coffee walking into the AQ, the gorgeous view of mountains from my office, and great colleagues and admin staff that have supported me in my 8,000 kilometer-long journey to get here!
HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US WHICH ONES AND HOW THE AWARDS HAVE IMPACTED YOUR STUDIES AND/OR RESEARCH.
I received a full academic scholarship from Green-inflected Heinrich-Böll-Foundation (Berlin), which provided me with material and mentoring support to realize my Ph.D. project.
Furthermore, I have recently acquired a research grant, which will allow my to conduct comparative research on local alliances between artist-activists and policymakers in diverse urban cultural political contexts.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PROGRAM TO SOMEONE STILL SEARCHING FOR A PROGRAM?
My postdoc position allows me to work in a flexible and independent manner. I pursue individual projects such as writing journal articles and book chapters, editing a book, as well as working collaboratively with my supervisor. I also engage in mentoring work and giving guest talks.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE GRADUATE STUDENTS?
Choose a topic that you are passionate about - like a relationship, something that you are willing to go through ups and downs with. After all, we're only human.