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Dr Eve Avdoulos

Dr Eve  Avdoulos

Senior Researcher, The Young Foundation

Affiliated Researcher, Centre for Urban Conflicts Research

PhD Supervisor: Professor Wendy Pullan


Eve Avdoulos is a Senior Researcher at The Young Foundation where her role involves developing and delivering high-quality research focusing on community health and wellbeing, while often exploring and facilitating social innovation to do so. 

Eve completed her PhD at the Centre for Urban Conflicts Research under the supervision of Professor Wendy Pullan. Her dissertation, titled 'Detroit in Decline: An investigation into the dynamics of two urban neighbourhoods', explored the phenomenon of urban decline and how this condition differentially affected social and spatial patterns and practices within the city.

Eve holds a BA in Anthropology minoring in Art History and Museum Studies from Michigan State University and an MPhil in Archaeology, with a concentration in Archaeological Heritage and Museums from the University of Cambridge. Prior to beginning her PhD, she worked in urban planning and development in Detroit, Michigan and served as a guest museum curator at the Hellenic Museum of Michigan. 

During her time at Cambridge, Eve convened City Seminar from 2015-2016, was editor-in-chief of Scroope 25 - The Cambridge Architectural Journal, organised the Department of Architecture's PhD symposium in both 2016 and 2017, and was the lead organiser of the one day workshop, 'Doing Architectural Research: socio-political perspectives on theories, methodologies & praxis' which received a funding award from the Graduate School of Arts and Humanities at Cambridge. She served as a supervisor for BA Tripos (ARB/RIBA Part I) individual dissertations and the following courses: Gardens and Landscaped, Divided Cities: The Politics of Mapping and Design, and Urban Issues Today

Eve also presented a lecture titled 'Race, Inequality and Everyday Urbanism in Detroit, Michigan' as part of the Divided Cities: The Politics of Mapping and Design course in February 2018. 

In addition to her academic activities within the Department, Eve served as a Postgraduate Mentor for the University of Cambridge, delivering lectures, presentations and workshops as part of Cambridge's outreach and access initiatives and is an exam invigilator for Fitzwilliam College. She was a Cambridge tour guide, delivering tours to visitors to the city, and has been a member of the Cambridge University Women's Ice Hockey Team as well as the Cambridge Eagles University Women's Football Team. 


Dissertation Abstract 

Detroit in Decline: An investigation into the dynamics of two urban neighbourhoods

Urban decline is often understood as the opposite of urban growth, yet this conceptualization is oversimplified, obscuring a genuine understanding of the social and spatial realities of the city today. Through the study of Detroit and, in particular, through a close reading of two residential neighbourhoods, this dissertation investigates the complexities of decline. It examines the development of decline over time, as well as how it has differentially affected social patterns and practices within the city. This dissertation approaches the topic by engaging with theoretical work on decline, as well as combining historical analysis with empirical evidence through extensive on-site research.

This work traces the historical development of Detroit from the beginning of the twentieth century through to the present day, focusing on the role of public policies, land-use patterns and infrastructural development in laying the foundations for urban decline. It challenges the accepted narrative of the cycle of ‘boom-bust-boom’, which views the city in terms of ‘growth-decline-recovery’, by illustrating how Detroit’s decline today is a resumption of various structural changes that were made during the city’s critical period of physical, economic and demographic growth.

This dissertation then investigates two contrasting neighbourhoods to illustrate the dynamic ways in which different areas of the city have been affected by, and responded to, decline: Brightmoor, the epitome of widespread decay and abandonment, and Grandmont Rosedale, a community of five neighbourhoods that has maintained relative stability. This analysis demonstrates how urban decline transforms the city—dismantling and disassembling existing spatial and social networks and infrastructures—while simultaneously creating new ones. It deviates from much of the current research that romanticises Detroit’s ruination by focusing instead on everyday urban life. Importantly, this dissertation argues that decline is not simply the opposite of growth, and therefore current scenarios speculating full recovery appear to be problematic.


Research presentations, talks, lectures

'Race, Inequality and Everyday Urbanism in Detroit, Michigan', Part II Lecture given as part of the Divided Cities: The Politics of Mapping and Design course, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge (February 2018)

'Urban Decline in Detroit Michigan: Considering Socio-Spatial Perspectives', PhD Symposium, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge (May 2017)

'A Complicated Reality and an Uncertain Future:Navigating Processes of Urban Decline and Regeneration in Detroit, MI', Ruhr PhD Forum in American Studies, TU Dortmund University and the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany (January 2017)

'Defined By Decline: Uncertainty, Resilience and Development in Detroit, MI', City Seminar, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge, UK (November 2016)

'A City in Flux: Navigating Processes of Urban Decline and Regeneration in Detroit, MI', Fitzwilliam College Graduate Conference, University of Cambridge, UK (October 2016)

'The Pop Up City in a Time of Crisis: Experimental strategies for rebuilding Detroit', Moving Cities: Contested Views on Urban Life. European Sociological Association Midterm Conference, Krakow, Poland (June 2016)

'Urban Heritage and Regeneration: The Case of Detroit', Lecture given to Archaeology and Heritage MPhil Students, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, UK (May 2016)

'Detroit's Wall', Pecha Kucha Presentation, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge, UK (October 2015)

Research Interests

Eve's research focuses on the processes and politics of urban decline and regeneration

  • Community development
  • Urban decline and regeneration
  • The politics of ruin and representation
  • The urban imagination 
  • Heritage and national identity
  • Management of sacred heritage sites