Bariah Altaf Qadeer
Bariah Altaf Qadeer is a PhD student at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) and the department of geography. She is a researcher whose dissertation focuses on community building in different housing forms in mixed-use areas of Toronto. She was born and raised in Toronto where she received her bachelor’s degree in English. After analyzing the themes of alienation in the city in various forms of literature, she wanted to research this idea further. She then completed a master’s degree in Environmental Studies (MES) with a specialization in Urban Planning from York University. The aspect of community building has been central through an interdisciplinary lens in her master’s project and also in her PhD studies. Bariah believes that places are reshaped through the experiential perceptions of residents and understanding these perspectives is key in bringing positive change in neighborhoods for better community building.
Although Bariah has grown up in a mixed-use neighborhood, she has seen the impact that various societal changes have brought in community building. People do not interact in the same way due to various complex issues in housing. She is interested in analyzing these various issues through an interdisciplinary lens because she sees the clear bridge between academic fields and human societies. By constantly travelling in North America and Europe, she has developed a keen interest in different housing models. Architecture based on New Urbanist ideas can enhance the residents’ experience for developing a sense of community, but it is not the only factor. However, an interdisciplinary approach with the fields of psychology, sociology and geography can provide some answers.
In her PhD project, Bariah Altaf Qadeer uses the multidimensional lens of community to analyze planning practices in mixed-use neighborhoods. Bariah acknowledges that community is not an object but rather an experience. She specifically focuses on different forms of housing to learn how residents feel about their community. Communities are the core unit that people are a part of and it tends to define their relations with the greater surroundings, based on social processes that usually impact geographical processes. Urban planning, architectural design, geographical location and psychological/sociological processes are all key elements that need to be analyzed in this project. Our lives are connected to the environment as we experience community through our choice of social interactions, which defines our identity in the city.