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ePortfolio of Alexandra Kviat


I am a research assistant in an ERC funded project Toxic Expertise and an early career fellow in the Warwick Institute of Advanced Study. Before joining the Department of Sociology as a PhD student, I worked as a communication and media studies teacher and researcher at the Omsk State University, Russia (2007–2014) and a Fulbright fellow in the Institute of Communications Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2013–2014).

My PhD research project, Placemaking in the Post-Functionalist and Post-Digital City: the Case Study of Ziferblat, funded by the Chancellor’s International Scholarship and supervised by Prof. Alice Mah and Dr. Hannah Jones, explores a new form of urban public place—multifunctional venues called ‘pay-per-minute cafes’, ‘public living rooms’, or ‘anti-cafes’. Charged by the minute and provided with free wifi and access to kitchen facilities, visitors of such spaces are entitled to use them however they like, as they are designed to accommodate various social, cultural, home-from-home and work activities. The first venue of this kind, Ziferblat, opened in 2011 in Moscow as a social experiment seeking to build ‘social media in real life’, turn customers into participants and overcome the limitations of the functionalist urban planning separating home, work and leisure from each other. In the next couple of years, Ziferblat’s look-alikes have spread overseas to Europe, Asia and North America; meanwhile, Ziferblat itself has developed into an international franchise with 18 branches, five of which are located in the UK.

Using this phenomenon as a lens on two emerging urban trends—the post-functionalist city and the post-digital city—my thesis investigates the ‘who’, ‘why’, and ‘how’ of placemaking in the context of current debates on sociability, diversity and social inclusion in the urban public space, participatory culture and sharing economy, and neoliberal urban policy. This critical case study, drawing on large-scale media analysis, 48 qualitative interviews and over 160 hours of ethnography conducted in four Ziferblat branches in Moscow, London and Manchester, employs an interdisciplinary theoretical framework, combining urban sociology, human geography, cultural anthropology, media studies, and consumer and service research to examine the intricate connections and contradictions between the social and the spatial, the global and the local, the social and the commercial, the public and the private, the physical and the digital. The research findings are of potential interest to academics, practitioners, social activists, urban planners and policymakers dealing with the issues of placemaking and community building in the city.


2014 – 2018 PhD in Sociology, University of Warwick

2017 – 2018 Postgraduate Award in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, University of Warwick

2007 – 2010 Kandidat Nauk (Russian first-step doctoral level degree) in Marketing/Cognitive Linguistics, Omsk State University

2002 – 2007 BA & MA in Public Relations, Omsk State University (distinction)


Oct 2018 – Jan 2019 Research assistant | Toxic Expertise Project | Sociology Department | University of Warwick

Oct 2016 ­– Jun 2018 Associate tutor | Sociology Department | University of Warwick

Aug 2013 – Jan 2014 Fulbright fellow | Institute of Communications Research | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Oct 2010 – Dec 2012 Lecturer | Centre for Advanced Training | Omsk State University

Sep 2009 – May 2014 Lecturer | School of Philology and Media Communications and Department of Political Science | Omsk State University

Oct 2007 – Jun 2014 Lecturer and Communications Officer | Department of Design and Media Communications | Siberian Institute for Professional Retraining and Business Education, Omsk

Awards, scholarships, grants

2018 – 2019 Early Career Fellowship, Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick

2014 – 2018 Chancellor’s International Scholarship, University of Warwick

2013 – 2014 Fulbright Faculty Development Program scholarship

2013 Open Society Foundations Higher Education Support Program travel grant

2009 Russian Academy of Sciences and Russian Association of Cognitive Linguists award for the best postgraduate paper in cognitive linguistics

Invited and keynote talks

Home, work and leisure in the post-functionalist city: the case study of anti-cafes | Guest lecture for the Masters level module | University of Warwick | November 2017

Social network in real life: anti-cafe as a new form of urban public space | Guest talk at the Media & Communication Department | Södertörn University | April 2017

How and why Russian internet users desacralise the Sochi Olympics Myth | Keynote talk at the Russian, East European & Eurasian Center Current Affairs Forum | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | October 2013

Conference presentations

It takes two to wash dishes: community building in anti-cafes | Warwick Sociology doctoral conference | June 2017

Anti-cafe, pay-per-minute cafe, or post-cafe? A new type of urban public space in Russia and the UK | BSA annual conference | Aston University | April 2016

Third places in the city 3.0: anti-cafe as a postvirtual space | Digital humanities conference ‘Digital topologies: spaces, connections, subjectivities’ | Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration | December 2015

Social network in real life: anti-cafe as a new form of urban public space | ECREA TWG 'Media & the City' 2015 conference 'Urban media studies: concerns, intersections, and challenges' | University of Zagreb | September 2015

City 3.0: the postvirtual paradigm in contemporary mediated urbanism studies | Public Spaces and City in New Media Age conference | Volgograd State University| May 2014

Two communication cultures in modern Russia | NCA annual conference, Washington D.C. | November 2013

Urban studies in Russian PR education | ICA annual conference, London | June 2013

A new trend in contemporary Russian media system: the demand for the offline | Comparative media systems: audience transformations: postgraduate research summer school conference | Inter-University Centre, Dubrovnik | April 2013

The vertical of power and the horizontal of communication in Russia: 2011 – 2012 | Mass media after post-socialism. Trends of 2000s: IV International scientific conference | Moscow State University | November 2012

Selected publications*

Kviat, A. (2015). ‘Recenzija na knigu Tjora, A., Scambler, G., Cafe Society, 2013’ (Tjora, A., Scambler, G., Cafe Society, 2013. Book Review). Forum for Anthropology and Culture, 26, 245-263.

Kviat, A. (2014). ‘Geterotopija gorodskogo piknika s tochki zrenija teorii publichnoj sfery: krossdisciplinarnoe keis-stadi’ (Heterotopia of the City Picnic and the public sphere theory: a cross-disciplinary case study). The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology, 4(75), 136-149.

Kviat, A. (2014). ‘Vsio budet inache: gorodskoj piknik kak geterotopija’ (Everything Will Be Different: City Picnic as a Heterotopia). Tomsk State University Journal, 388, 65-75.

Kviat, A. (2014). ‘Kafe bez edy, fastfud kak media, vremennyj park: postvirtualnost i gorod 3.0 v Rossii’ (Anticafes, Fastfood as a Media, and Pop-up Parks: The Postvirtual city in Russia). Journal of Volgograd State University. Philosophy, Sociology and Social Technologies, 3(23), 126–136.

* My other works, published in 2007-2014 in Russian peer-reviewed journals, are listed on Google Scholar

Teaching at Warwick

Researching Society & Culture | UG, 1st year, core, seminars | 2016 – 2018

Designing & Conducting Social Research | UG, 2nd year, core, seminars | 2016 – 2018

Commercial Cultures in Global Capitalism | UG, 3rd year, optional, seminar | 2017

The Sociology of Urban Life | PGT, guest lecture | 2017

Professional service

Peer reviewer for Urban Studies and Practices Journal (since 2017)

profile picAlexandra Kviat

a dot kviat at warwick dot ac dot uk