My evolving research interests currently lie at the intersection of political economy, urban governance, and social justice.
My research engages questions of power and urban governance, and particularly how historically unequal and traumatic urbanization processes affect contemporary development goals and outcomes. Specifically in the context of former South African Bantustan capital cities and high-density peri-urban townships, I investigate residents’ attitudes, values, beliefs, and perceptions about their urban governance arrangements. More broadly, I seek to ask: What impacts do different urban-governance approaches have on participatory democracy, economic and political inequality, and the provision of goods and services? To answer such questions, I examine urban-governance structures, life outcomes, and subjectivities in different city contexts, drawing on quantitative and qualitative methods, archival research, interview-based case studies, and ethnographic approaches.
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.
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 three countries.