Desiree Fields

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Room number: E13
Telephone (internal): 27969
Telephone (UK): 0114 222 7969
Telephone (International): +44 114 222 7969
Email: D.Fields@sheffield.ac.uk

Desiree Fields is an urban geographer who theorizes the rise of financial markets, actors and imperatives as a contemporary process of global urban change. With a particular focus on housing, Fields is interested in how the link between real estate and finance is being reconstructed since the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, how residents experience this process, and its implications for housing policy and advocacy.

She was trained as an environmental psychologist and urbanist at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where she completed her PhD in 2013. Before joining the University of Sheffield as a Lecturer in 2014, Fields was Visiting Assistant Professor in the department of Urban Studies at Queens College of the City University of New York.

Research Interests

Urban geographies of finance and real estate

A significant body of geographic research has explored the relationship between finance and real estate. However, such work tends to follow boom-and-bust cycles of speculative investments. This tendency has produced an episodic pattern of inquiry in which similar questions are pursued and similar conclusions derived. As a result we know a lot about the crisis tendencies that can result when real estate markets become dominated by investors seeking to capture value, and about the consequences of speculative activity for the urban landscape and everyday life. But we know much less about how the real estate-finance link is rebuilt in the space between the bust and the next boom. I am interested in advancing geographies of finance by attending to financial capital’s ongoing importance in reproducing urban space, beyond the moment of crisis and its immediate aftermath.

Socio-technical and political workings of financialization

Financialization is a process often understood in terms of patterns of accumulation, corporate priorities, and the apparently complex workings of capital markets and financial instruments. But it is also a process that is intimately tied in with everyday life: the global financial crisis taught us that the fate of local housing markets and indeed households and homeowners is very much enmeshed with the operations of global financial markets. I am interested in how people encounter, question, and struggle with the financial markets, actors, and imperatives with which their lives are intertwined. Furthermore, I want to understand financialization not as a monlithic process, but one achieved through a web of actors and institutions, and through devices such as market data and information-communication technologies.

Current Research

Informational Practices, Data Infrastructures, and the Financialization of Renting

This project, in collaboration with colleagues from critical data studies and management, investigates the mutually constitutive relationship between institutional investment in the private rental market and emergent technologies and practices of (big) data generation, processing, distribution and use.

Comparative Geographies of Post-Crisis Housing Financialization

The US, Ireland, and Spain all experienced severe and systemic mortgage-financial crises in 2007-2008; today a similar process of international private equity firms (mainly based in the US) purchasing and renting out distressed real estate assets is emerging in all three countries. This project explores the trajectories of post-crisis financialization, considering how local rental markets are being rescaled as an institutional asset class and how this process is experienced at the local level.

Teaching

My undergraduate teaching interests include:

  • Urban geography and urban transformations
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Economic geography
  • Political economy

I am also interested in supervising graduate students on the above topics, as well as those with interests related to financialization, real estate, and urban space.

Key Publications