Matthieu Giroud, Associate Professor at Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée, and noted critical geographer specializing in urban social change, was killed at the Bataclan concert hall during the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015.
Matthieu Giroud was born on September 24, 1977. He was from the village of Jarrie just south of Grenoble in southeastern France.
Giroud began his geographical studies in the Institute of Alpine Geography at Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble. He then moved to England and gained a bachelor’s degree in geography at the University of Leeds in 1999.
He returned to Joseph Fourier University for a master’s degree in geography, his research looking at the evolution of a historic neighborhood of Grenoble. This was followed by a Diploma of Advanced Studies in 2003 at the University of Poitiers, in Migrinter, a research center specializing in international migration, spaces and society. His focus was on immigration and inter-ethnic relations, specifically in Grenoble.
Giroud remained at the University of Poitiers for his doctorate, under the supervision of Françoise Dureau. He studied two old working class neighborhoods – Berriat Saint-Bruno in Grenoble (France) and Alcântara in Lisbon (Portugal) – and examined how they were being affected by urban renewal. His thesis, entitled “Résister en habitant? Renouvellement urbain et continuités populaires en centre ancient” was completed in 2007 and received mention très honorable avec felicitations, the highest academic distinction awarded in the French academic university system. He was also awarded the 2008 thesis prize by the French National Geography Committee.
He continued working on various research projects at the Migrinter research center on migration and urban change while also passing the national qualification to become a university lecturer. He then moved to Blaise Pascal University in Clermont-Ferrand in 2008 where he spent four years as Maître de conférences en géographie (Associate Professor equivalent).
In 2012 Giroud moved to the University of Paris East at Marne-la-Vallée where he was Associate Professor in geography and a member of the multidisciplinary research unit Analyse Comparée des Pouvoirs (Comparative Analysis of Powers).
His ongoing research focused on the social effects of gentrification including resistance and evictions; spatial mobilities and living spaces; and critical analysis of contemporary urban development.
Giroud attended the AAG Annual Meeting in New York in 2012, presenting a paper on “Gentrification and the contested representations of the popular.” He questioned the assumptions often made by public authorities that the process of gentrification is an effective means of revitalizing declining urban areas by drawing attention to the existing inhabitants of such neighborhoods and the tensions experienced and expressed as their spaces are rebranded.
Giroud coordinated the translation of David Harvey’s Paris: Capital of Modernity, published in French in 2012. He was also the co-editor, with Cécile Gintrac, of Villes contestées: Pour une géographie critique de l’urbain (Contested cities: for a critique of urban geography), the first French reader of critical urban studies, published in 2014. At the time of his death he was involved in several major research projects on urban change.
Aside from his academic success and promising career ahead, Giroud loved music, soccer, cities, life and friendship. He leaves behind a son, aged 3, and a wife, Aurélie, expecting their second child.