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Research

Research
Interests

I believe urban planning does not end with a plan. It only begins there. 

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 one former South African "Bantustan" capital city, and how varied resistances produced, fomented, or otherwise reworked master-planning premises. To engage such processes, I draw on institutional analysis and mixed methods including archival research, semi-structured interviews, and a close analytic readings of built sites.

 

My broader 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 Sub-Saharan Africa and history and politics in South Africa; local government law and planning law; spatial politics and equitable development; participatory methods, participatory action research, and social justice.

Geographically, I study South Africa and the United States. 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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