BMO Postdoctoral Fellow 2021–2022
Université du Québec à Montréal | ghaffari.leila [at] gmail.com (Email)
Leila Ghaffari holds a joint PhD in urban studies from the Université du Québec à Montréal and urban planning from Université de Tours. She also holds an international research master’s degree (M2) in urban planning and sustainability from the latter university as well as a master’s degree in urban design and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the National University of Iran. In parallel to her doctoral studies, Leila Ghaffari has been working as a researcher at the Centre de recherche sur les innovations sociales (CRISES) since 2016, notably in a research project on indicators of cultural vitality in Montréal neighbourhoods (i.e. Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie, Le Sud-Ouest, and Côte-des-Neiges) directed by Professor Juan-Luis Klein and funded by SSHRC. She has also had the opportunity to work on several research projects related to social inequalities, focusing on the territorial aspect of these inequalities. In particular, she was a researcher in a project on socio-demographic disparities in Montréal-Nord, commissioned by the borough’s mayoral office, in which she conducted detailed research on the population data of this territory in order to analyse the existing social inequalities between the neighbourhoods of this borough. Finally, she was a member of the Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve urban planning advisory committee between 2018 and 2020. Her doctoral thesis, entitled "Pour une gentrification socialement acceptable : le cas d'Hochelaga-Maisonneuve à Montréal et Madeleine-Champ-de-Mars à Nantes" (For a socially acceptable gentrification: the case of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve in Montreal and Madeleine-Champ-de-Mars in Nantes), corresponds to the effects of gentrification and its acceptability by the local populations, in a comparative perspective.
Leila Ghaffari’s postdoctoral research project CIRM-BMO 2021–2022, under the supervision of Professor Guillaume Éthier, focuses on the post-COVID redefinition of “third places” based on the case of the Ontario Promenade in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Montréal.
The pandemic, lockdown, and resulting isolation have affected our societies in various ways. These phenomena have notably modified the relationship between society and territory. Remote working has dissociated us from our living environments by concentrating personal and professional activities in one place. These changes, on the one hand, have underlined the importance of access to decent housing for everyone, and on the other hand, have blurred the boundaries between residential, work and public space; and we are witnessing a spatial reconfiguration of ways of living and working. In this context, Leila Ghaffari asks: how has the pandemic influenced the sense of belonging to the territory, and can we imagine that these changes will be sustainable in a post-pandemic context?
This research will attempt to answer these questions by focusing on a Montréal case, the Promenade Ontario in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. The Promenade Ontario and Place Valois have an important identity for the local population of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and are at the heart of conflicts concerning the gentrification of the neighbourhood. The pandemic has forced the closure of these meeting places for the local population and their survival is in question because of their vulnerable financial situation. Local actors such as the Société du développement commercial Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (SDCHM) have led initiatives to ensure the survival of these businesses and are counting on the opportunities that summer offers to revive these places.
In this context, Leila Ghaffari would like to see how third places are redefined in a post-COVID perspective and how the local population perceives these places. It is important to establish whether the local population values the social interactions in the 'third places' as they existed before the pandemic and whether they want these places to be revived. To this end, the interview is the main tool of data collection. Leila Ghaffari will conduct interviews with residents of the neighbourhood, shopkeepers of the “third places” and local actors. She will also use direct observation of the behaviour of the population on Promenade Ontario to identify the meeting places that emerged during the pandemic and to see how the residents appropriated the various places in the neighbourhood.