August 2017 Member Highlight: Javier Martínez
Assistant Professor at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-Information Management, Faculty ITC, University of Twente. The Netherlands.
ISQOLS Vice President of Publications
ISQOLS Board of Directors Member
What initially attracted you to the field of quality-of-life studies?
I graduated as an architect from the Faculty of Architecture, Planning and Design at the Universidad Nacional de Rosario in Argentina. Later I moved to the Netherlands where I obtained an MSc degree in geo-information for urban planning (ITC - University of Twente). During my master studies, I was interested in understanding how housing needs not only vary over space but also how the housing indicators traditionally used by experts vary from what residents perceive. My PhD research at the Faculty of Geographical Sciences at Utrecht University brought me closer to the field of quality-of-life. In my dissertation, I looked into how GIS-based indicators could be used in monitoring intra-urban inequalities, including quality-of-life conditions. I developed a methodology that combines the use of urban indicators and GIS as a valid diagnostic and prescriptive tool to generate policy-relevant information on spatial inequalities.
Currently as Assistant Professor at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-Information Management at ITC I continue within the QoL field. My teaching and research interests include mixed-methods, social and urban indicators, quality-of-life and community well-being monitoring, poverty, inequality mapping and GIS-based indicators development.
I encourage my students to engage with the field of quality-of-life research. In many opportunities this is reflected in scientific joint publications such as the article: "Adaptation and dissonance in quality of life: a case study in Mekelle, Ethiopia" awarded “Best Social Indicators Research Article of 2014”.
What are some areas of quality-of-life studies you feel are lacking attention? Any advice for future QoL researchers?
One advice that I give to my students when they are engaging with QoL research for the first time is that they critically reflect on the choices and perspectives they take in their study. The fields of geography and quality-of-life offer many possibilities for future research, in particular if we take into account the increasing generation of geocoded data. It is also because of the growing availability of data generated both by public organizations and by residents (e.g. big data, volunteered geographic information) that I would advise future QoL researchers to be transparent about their perspective and position. In a recently published article on “Factors shaping cartographic representations of inequalities: maps as products and processes” we indicate that the extensive digitization of information, and increasing use of social media is producing alternative knowledge sources on quality-of-life and well-being through various types of ‘crowd-sourcing’. In this paper, we argue that in order to analyze the extent to which maps function as catalysts for equitable social change we need to look into the genealogy of map production. It is in this mapping process that we should also recognize both experts and residents view on quality-of-life conditions and how they are elicited. Mixed-methods are also useful to better understand and explain divergences between these two views.
How long have you been a member of ISQOLS? Why did you choose to be a member of ISQOLS? How has your involvement in ISQOLS impacted your career/research/advancement in your knowledge of QoL studies?
I have been a member of ISQOLS since 2014 after the annual conference in Berlin. Before that conference, I had published in ISQOLS related journals such as Applied Research in Quality of Life and Social Indicators Research. During the ISQOLS conferences, I had the chance to meet some of the key researchers and authors in the field. I am always fascinated by the diversity of disciplines and perspectives and the quality of the work presented. The involvement in ISQOLS gave me the opportunity to collaborate with other researchers, embark in joint publications, education, and research partnerships.
For more information and details on my publications see: www.itc.nl/resumes/Jmartinez
 Martínez, J.A., Pfeffer, K. and Baud, I. (2016) Factors shaping cartographic representations of inequalities : maps as products and processes. In: Habitat International : A Journal for the Study of Human Settlements, 51 (2016) pp. 90-102.