Conflict Group C: Reflection on Interdisciplinary methods and Team Work

1- How did we use interdisciplinary approaches?

For our presentation on gentrification in Dalston and Brixton, we used different interdisciplinary approaches in order to incorporate each member’s field of studies and ideas into the project.  We decided to use Tatjana’s Fanny Honegger’s major (Film studies) as a mean to convey our ideas to the jury. We chose to present our project through the form of a short film integrating pictures, quotes, interviews, lyrics and other resources we used throughout our research. This form of presenting will enable us to save time in order to cover the complex and inclusive topic of gentrification. We also believe a filmed presentation will enable us to present our ideas in an effective and focused manner, therefore gathering the diverse interdisciplinary approaches together in a clear way. The presentation through a film is also a creative approach to the topic that we thought would be entertaining and original. We used photography to picture the areas we cover in our presentation, showing the development of Dalston and Brixton and how those spaces were affected by gentrification by juxtaposing recent photos to ancient ones taken before the gentrification process was put into effect. Through the analysis of historical events including the protests against gentrification in Brixton for example, the research on the historical background of the districts we cover, and interpretations of development and their effects on inhabitants as well as spaces, Charlotte Dean contributed to the interdisciplinary nature of our project through the application of methods used in her major: History. Jake Allister Glasmacher’s field of studies, politics, informed our decision to use a neutral approach to the topic. We used methods and approaches common in today’s politics, including adopting a neutral stance in face of a complex and polemical topic, by approaching people affected by gentrification’s effects while considering their potential political opinions and personal sensitivities. Our questions evidence this neutral stance and respect for the interviewees’ different political sensitivities. We had to put aside our political opinions in order to cover the topic of gentrification in an effective and clear manner. Through the inclusion of artistic resources in the form of Hip-Hop lyrics, we also used Josephine Coustet’s field of studies, English. By analyzing and close-reading extracts of the different Hip-Hop genres common in Dalston and Brixton (Grime and Drill respectively), we attempted to present youth’s reaction to social, economic and political changes at play in their areas, their reaction to the social situation to which they are subjects on a daily basis, and their potential reaction to gentrification. The use of Hip-Hop lyrics and associated research also permitted us to question the importance of the gentrification process in artistic developments and the artists’ social situation. Other interdisciplinary approaches outside our majors were critical for researching our project. We believe sociological methods permitted us to understand the social forces at play behind the gentrification process. Immigration, social classes and demographic research centered on Dalston and Brixton were topics we had to research in order to understand how gentrification affected negatively certain populations, while others profited from it. Communication methods enabled us to devise our questionnaires, chose how to approach interviewees, informed our journalistic research and choice of presentation form.

2- -Opportunities and how we took advantage of them:

-Working as a team with interdisciplinary methods offered us numerous opportunities we availed ourselves of.

-We understood the importance of interdisciplinarity thank to other team member contribution to the project. We involved ourselves in topics that we do not necessarily cover in our major, including politics, history and film studies. We used art in our project and understood its implication in social, economic and political changes. Interdisciplinarity permitted us to approach our topic in a creative manner, integrating multiple resources from music, photography to interviews. Team work required a lot of organization and research, which turned out to be an entertaining experience for all members.

-The topic of gentrification also permitted us to know and study areas of London with more depth. We had to visit the areas we covered and meet their inhabitants, therefore extending our knowledge of the city. Getting into contact with people affected by gentrification also enabled us to become aware of the practical effects of political, social and economic measures. We also learned how to approach complex and polemical topics while considering differing views than ours. Researching the topic of gentrification also gave us awareness of the diverse impacts of immigration in London, and our own roles as potential gentrifiers.

-The research we undertook for the completion of our project entailed meeting with people concerned by gentrification. From artists to inhabitants, the opportunities we derived from meeting with people were tremendous. Josephine Coustet contacted one of her favorite Hip-Hop band, Foreign Beggars, through social media and they accepted to answer questions in a meeting. This meeting would never have been possible outside the context of our presentation and team work. Tatjana Honegger also contacted a member of the Brixton Windmill. Such interviews will be an advantage for our future careers as it transmitted us communication and journalistic skills.

 3- -Challenges and how we coped with them:

– Researching for our presentation and working as a team confronted us with numerous challenges we had to cope with.

-Working in a group in which team members came from a diversity of departments enabled each of us to learn how to cope with dilemmas relating to the integration of disparate ideas and methods in our project. Mingling those interdisciplinary approaches together was difficult to the extent that the link between them was not always blatant to us. Through discussion during our meetings, sharing notes online and meeting outside the scheduled meeting hours, we managed to associate different ideas together in order to harmonize our very disparate researches. We had to brainstorm how to clearly associate those approaches to make an intelligible argument and presentation. Structuring our research came to be a challenge we believe we coped effectively with. The solution of a film presentation would enable us to mingle all the different approaches together by gathering pictures, quotes and music for example. We also managed to avoid challenges common in team work. We found that we did not argue on how we would proceed in our project, and reached agreement easily thank to clear communication. We managed to avoid dissention by dividing tasks according to what interested us the most. One of the biggest challenge related to team work and interdisciplinarity was how to assemble our ideas, and we came to a handy solution that pleased us all: presenting our project through the form of a film.

-Choosing a topic of interest to the different members of the group was also a challenge we had to overcome. Through brainstorming and communication, we reached an agreement. We would cover gentrification, its development and its effects in the street-markets of Dalston and Brixton. However, another challenged awaited us: the outcome of our researches did not clearly match our original topic. Some critical resources we found were scarce to pursue such a topic. We decided to modify our topic in order to pursue our research. Thank to this plan-change, we managed to gather different relevant resources available to us in order to answer our new topic focused on the pertinence of theories and gentrification’s practical effects on individuals and spaces.

-Structuring our ideas was a serious challenge that we had to deal as a group. We decided to structure individually the project as if we were the sole contributor, to afterwards discuss our ideas and reach an agreement through thorough consideration of each other’s findings.

-Time was also a major challenge we had to deal with. Coping with team member’s availabilities, absences and schedules required communication and organization in order to pursue our research according to the strict temporal requirements that constrained our project. We had to be diligent in our work and research in order to advance effectively and not be overwhelmed. To avoid lateness, we decided to meet outside the schedules class hours and discuss extensively the next steps we would take. Communication through email, and social media also permitted us to share our ideas and marshal our progress in due time.

-Due to the nature of our presentation, one of the biggest challenge we had to overcome was getting into contact with people affected by gentrification. The question was how and who to interview? Thank to interdisciplinary approaches like Politics and Communication, we managed to devise questions that were respectful of the interviewee’s potential political opinions. We had to take moderate risks and get ambitious by getting involved personally with inhabitants of the areas. Tatjana Fanny Honegger was involved in risky situation when she was addressed by hostile people in a market place she intended to visit, picture and interview workers.

-Space-saving methods, what we chose to omit in our project, were critical to our progress. We had to decide to omit topics relevant to our broad and complex presentation subject for the sake of space saving, focus and consideration for extremely complex matters we thought extensive research would be required. For example, we chose not to analyze the significance of race and ethnic issues in gentrification. Extensive and scarce demographic statistics associated to gentrification on Dalston and Brixton would be required to incorporate such a theme in the presentation. For lack of time, space and probably skills, we did not integrate this topic in our project.

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