Research

Sandra is currently work on the following book projects and research themes:

Experimental Fields (monograph)
West Berlin’s material anomalies, its heterogeneous and elusive terrain, and its role as a generator of distinctive intellectual ideas are the primary focus of this book. Drawing on oral history, archives, and ethnographic insights, the book traces how the unusual characteristics of postwar Berlin—an extensively destroyed city and walled-in enclave—created a “laboratory effect” enabling different forms of cultural and scientific experimentation to emerge. Through different examples, including the design of a modernist concert hall, the cultural and scientific discovery of Brachen (wastelands), the strong presence of feminist theory, and cultural responses to the marooned enclave in the visual arts, Experimental Fields presents an alternative history of West Berlin that was confronted with the institutional and political limits to radical experimentation. The book combines insights from geography, architecture, landscape design, feminist theory, art history, and urban ecology that emerged in the particular context of West Berlin. The book publication is supported by the Graham Foundation.

The Botanical City (edited collection)
Roadside “weeds” and other routinely overlooked aspects of urban nature provide a fascinating glimpse into the complex global ecologies and new cultures of nature emerging across the world. This unique collection of essays explores the botanical dimensions of urban space, ranging from scientific efforts to understand the distinctive dynamics of urban flora to the way spontaneous vegetation has inspired artists and writers. The book comprises five thematic sections: histories and taxonomies, botanizing the asphalt, the art of urban flora, experiments in non-design, and cartographic imaginations. The essays explore developments in Berlin, London, Lahore, Tokyo, and many other cities, as well as more philosophical reflections on the meaning of urban nature under the putative shift to the Anthropocene. Together with Matthew Gandy, I am co-editing this forthcoming collection of essays, The Botanical City (Berlin: jovis, 2020).

Metropolitan Soundscapes (research project)
My new project contributes to the vibrant and interdisciplinary field of sound studies by shifting the focus on the urban realm. Using two cities as case studies- Berlin and Singapore- this project will generate original empirical and conceptual insights on contemporary metropolitan soundscapes. Cities have been widely characterised as sites and sources of noise. This project develops a more nuanced approach by investigating how urban sound is differently constituted and sensed, contingent upon cultural understandings, class and ethnic inequalities, uneven power dynamics and access to urban space. My core hypothesis is that in order to understand how sound, noise and silence have differing effects on distinctive places, intermingling with their material and other-than-human qualities, we must widen our focus beyond the phenomenal experience of the individual human subject. Instead, the project develops an urban environmental approach that foregrounds the multi-species dimension of urban sound that include animals, weather, surfaces and atmospheres, as well as the social and environmental conflicts that arise through urban change, not only through noise, but also through the creation of quieter spaces and subsequent processes of “acoustic gentrification” and social exclusion.