Post-Doctoral Fellow
Cardiff University

Taru is an early career researcher joining WISERD for a postdoctoral fellowship following the completion of a PhD at Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations in 2019. Her qualitative doctoral research which included an ethnographic case study of a former informal settlement in Mexico City draws on sociology and development studies. She holds a BSc in Politics from the University of Helsinki and was awarded distinction for her MA in International Relations and Globalisation. Taru has previously worked on research projects on marginalised majority communities in North Manchester, and peacebuilding in conflict-affected communities in the Global South. In addition to her research activities, she has also taught undergraduate sociology at Coventry University.

With a keen interest in urban sociology, Taru’s work focuses on aspects of urban disadvantage, informal support and social networks. The overarching theme in her research is participation, local agency, social cohesion, collectivism and ‘communities’. Her interest in collective action includes different personal and community networks, informal collaboration and social movements. Committed to interdisciplinary research, with expertise in qualitative methods and ethnography, Taru is interested in broadening the scope of her work to include mixed-methods and participatory research.

Taru’s doctoral research analysed the formation and transformation of informal social networks in a disadvantaged neighbourhood in Mexico City, addressing the deficit of the involvement of local people in development. Her ethnographic neighbourhood study included a historical aspect, researching neighbourhood change alongside transforming social ties and forms of informal support. This has sparked a further interest in place, trust and social cohesion, in addition to the dynamics of contemporary urban communities.
Taru’s postdoctoral fellowship will contribute to the work of WISERD’s Civil Society Research Centre.  In addition to working on various research outputs, she is currently developing further research that explores the relationship between place-making and social cohesion. This builds on her doctoral research, considering how the findings of her doctoral research in Mexico City are applicable to community and urban development in a European context.