Desiree Fields joins the Urban Institute on a secondment from the Department of Geography, where she is a lecturer in urban geography. Prior to her appointment at the University of Sheffield, she was a visiting assistant professor of urban studies at Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY). Desiree completed her PhD in environmental psychology at the Graduate Center, CUNY in 2013. Her doctoral thesis studied the uneven impacts of property-led financial accumulation on tenants, rental housing, and urban activism in New York City in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Desiree has been a member of the research committee of the Right to the City Alliance in the US since 2013, sits on the editorial advisory board of Environment and Planning A, and is an associate fellow of the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute.
Desiree’s research sits at the interface of political economy, urban geography, and digital geographies. She is concerned with the financial technologies, market devices, and historical and geographic contingencies that make it possible to treat housing as a financial asset, and how this process is contested at the urban scale. Her current project, “Automated Landlord” is a study of how the link between real estate and finance is rebuilt in the aftermath of crisis, paying particular attention to rental housing and a recent proliferation of software platforms for trading, managing, and maintaining properties. Building on Automated Landlord, Desiree is developing a research agenda around digital real estate with Dallas Rogers of the University of Sydney. This program of work will investigate how digital platforms are intersecting with and transforming real estate practices and related social, cultural, political and economic relations.