Research

Interests

I believe we cannot understand urban planning without contestation.

My research engages how planning schemes are implemented and the resultant socio-spatial composition of planned spaces. To do so, I consider how processes of planning implementation give plans distinct underlives and afterlives, and argue that repurposings of specific built projects envisioned within master-plans arise as a resident-driven technique of spatial transformation. From my research, a general lesson applicable to the field of urban planning and processes of urbanization emerges: planning does not end with the plan; it merely begins with the plan. My dissertation research considers specific tactics of bottom-up accommodation, negotiation, and resistance to apartheid-era spatial planning practice in former South African bantustan capital cities, and how such varied resistances produced, fomented, or otherwise reworked master-planning premises. To engage such questions, I draw on institutional analysis, phenomenological approaches, case studies, and mixed methods including archival research, participant observation, oral history, semi-structured interviews, and close analytic readings of built sites. 

 

Related research interests include: urban and planning theory; planning history; political economy and world systems; urban governance, governmentality, and democracy; African urbanism, with a focus on history and politics in South Africa; local government law and planning law; spatial politics and equitable development; participatory methods, oral history, and social justice.
 

Relevant coursework and skills include, but are not limited to: two Columbia Spanish courses and a four-week Spanish immersive course in Antigua, Guatemala through Máximo Nivel; Geographical Information Systems (GIS); quantitative, qualitative, ethnographic methods; research design; urban history; and urban theory.  

Geographically, I am very interested in South Africa, the United States, and Mexico.  My research examines world-historical and political-economy dimensions of urbanization in specific geographies created by the apartheid South African government: the peri-urban township, the bantustan, and large-scale agro-industrial farming. I also seek to analyze public-private arrangements, governance, “zones of exception,” and racialized/gendered labor in the comparative contexts in these places.  

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