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De Dépendance Podcast

Author: De Dépendance

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De Dépendance Podcast addresses the complex issues of our time and how they manifest themselves in our cities and urban regions. We are based in the city of Rotterdam, the Netherlands which – as Europe’s biggest port - is intrinsically connected to global trends and transformations. In order to critically reflect on these, we will be interviewing writers, scholars, and thought leaders.
13 Episodes
In this live edition of De Dépendance Podcast we listen to a short lecture by journalist Sarah Jaffe on her book Work Won’t Love You Back – How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted and Alone. The last decade has seen a seismic shift in attitudes towards work and the idea of labour. Whether it is through the rise of the gig economy, the rapid proliferation of the new creator economy, or the pandemic-induced break from traditional office culture: work has seeped into our private lives, literally invading our homes. Meanwhile, more and more of us are pushed to make sacrifices for the privilege of being able to do work we enjoy. It has led to the idea that certain work is not really work, and should be done for the sake of passion rather than pay. So what is wrong with this ‘labour of love’ myth? And how can we fundamentally transform our perceptions of work?
In this special live edition of De Dépendance Podcast we listen to a short lecture by sociologist Bowen Paulle on one of the most pressing social issues of our time: educational inequality. In the past education has long served the function of being the 'great equaliser': not your origin or social class, but your talent and effort would determine your level of schooling and future prospects in society. But this engine of emancipation is grinding to a halt. Where you are born and the educational level of your parents increasingly determines the opportunities you get in life. And this growing inequality of opportunity tends to perpetuate or even reinforce itself: it stops intergenerational mobility. So what to do? What are the best practices, scalable solutions and concrete policies to tackle the current divide? And who should take the lead?
In this episode we talk to Professor of International Politics Laleh Khalili on the occasion of her latest book Sinews of War and Trade, Shipping and Capitalism in the Arabian Peninsula. Khalili travelled the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean aboard gigantic container ships to investigate the secretive and sometimes dangerous world of maritime trade. What she discovered was strangely disturbing: brutally exploited seafarers, heavily securitized cargo ports, and often unseen environmental catastrophes. From her research riding the sea lanes, Khalili exposes the frayed and tense sinews of modern capital, and shows that maritime transportation is not simply an enabling adjunct of trade, but a central node within our economic system. 
In this episode we will talk about one of the most pressing urban issues of our time: the housing crisis. Our guest is Leilani Farha, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing and director of The Shift, a global movement to secure the human right to housing. Farha is also the central character in the acclaimed documentary PUSH regarding the financialization of housing. We will discuss why this housing crisis is predominantly a human rights crisis, what the systemic causes behind the growing shortages of affordable residential real estate are, and what we can do to turn the tide.
In this episode we talk to economic historian Aaron Benanav, researcher at Humboldt University Berlin, where he studies the history of unemployment and global labour markets. We will discuss his latest book, Automation and the Future of Work, which is a consensus-shattering account of automation technologies and the falling demand for labour. Benanav argues that Silicon Valley titans, techno-futurists, and politicians from all sides of the political spectrum are wrong when claiming that we are on the cusp of an era of runaway technological change, heralding the end of work as we know it. We will examine why they are wrong, how this dominant belief system came about, and what the real-world, problematic implications of this rhetoric are. And if not technology is destroying our jobs, what is? 
In this episode we talk to Syrian architect and urban thinker Marwa-al-Sabouni. When war enveloped her city, Homs, she refused to leave and remained a virtual prisoner in her home for two years. In her autobiography, The Battle for Home: The Vision of a Young Architect in Syria, al-Sabouni analyses how architecture and city planning have played a role in fueling violence and civil conflict by distorting community relationships and fragmenting societies. In her most recent book, Building for Hope: Towards an Architecture of Belonging, she explores how cities and buildings might and should be rebuilt in the aftermath of war, and what tangible lessons we can draw from the history, culture, and architecture of Syria. We will discuss how the built environment was a factor leading to war and which urban reconstruction strategies will benefit the city the most.  And we will talk about life in contemporary Syria.
In this episode we talk to journalist and author Cal Flyn on the occasion of her book Islands of Abandonment: Life in the Post-Human Landscape. In the book Flyn travels to the most desolate places on earth: ghost towns and exclusion zones, no man’s lands and post-industrial hinterlands – and describes what happens when nature is allowed to reclaim its space. She offers profound insight and new ecological discoveries that together map an answer to the big questions: what happens after we’re gone, how should we relate to nature, and how far can our damage to the environment be undone?
In this episode we talk to sociologist Sharon Zukin about an intrinsically urban phenomenon we have been witnessing all around us over the past decade: The rise of start-up ecosystems, tech hubs,  accelerators, and venture capital investors which have transformed the city into what Zukin calls an ‘Innovation Complex’, which is also the title of her latest book. We will be talking about its origins, the main species inhabiting this new ecosystem, and the often negative effects on the livability of our cities. And we will talk about the belief system that underpins it. How did it become such a powerful narrative for city governments to follow?
In this episode we talk to philosopher Roman Krznaric on the occasion of his latest book The Good Ancestor – How to Think Long Term in a Short-Term World. In the book he argues that we live in an age dominated by the tyranny of short-term thinking. We have unlearned how to empathize with future generations and suffer from political presentism: a bias towards prioritizing short-term political interests and decisions. How did we end up here? What can we do to become good ancestors? And how do we translate long term-planning and inter-generational thinking into significant political practice?
In this episode we will be talking to Leslie Kern, associate Professor of Geography and Environment at Mount Allison University, on her latest book Feminist City, Claiming Space in a Man-made World. In the book Kern offers a way of understanding how gender bias and sexism functions in the built environment, and how this environment has been set up to support and facilitate traditional gender roles, and with men’s experiences as the norm. In this interview we will explore how this manifests itself on our streets, in our public spaces , and in our transit systems. And we will talk about the urban strategies we have to transform this city. From a city of men, into a city for everyone.
In this episode we talk to Christiana Figueres and Tom-Rivett-Carnac. Christiana Figueres is the former UN climate chief and the architect and public face of the most pivotal climate agreement in history, the Paris Agreement. Tom Rivett-Carnac was Chief Political Strategist for this same agreement. Together they wrote a book – The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis – on what can still be done stave off the worst and manage the long-term effects of climate change. They show us that amidst the doomsday reports there are reasons to be hopeful, that some sectors - like power generation and light transport - are transforming quickly, that global mindsets are shifting, and that cities could be the forerunners in the transformation we need. They provide a cautionary but also an empowering account on the agency that we still have to turn things around. 
In this first episode we talk to Brett Christophers, Professor of Social and Economic Geography at Uppsala University, on his latest book Rentier Capitalism. The book is a sweeping critique of early twenty-first-century capitalism in which ownership of key types of scarce assets - such as land, intellectual property, natural resources, or digital platforms - is dominated by a few unfathomably wealthy companies and individuals: rentiers. We talk about what such an economy entails and how an explosion of rent-seeking businesses has led to growing wealth and income inequality, declining productivity and innovation, and falling rates of investment. And we look for answers on what can be done to overcome it, and the ways in which cities could play a role in this.
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