UCL Department of Geography


Global Urbanisms

Most people’s lives across the globe are now shaped by urbanisation. Cities are central to the prospects of some of the poorest and fastest-growing parts of the world.

Urban studies is witnessing a phase of intense and fruitful experimentation in response to the analytical and social justice challenges posed by urbanisation, and UCL geographers are at the forefront of these initiatives.

Researchers in this Group are reformulating comparative approaches to understanding cities across the world and generating regionally-based theorizations grounded in the everyday experience of life in cities to inform wider debates. This includes recent research on youth geographies and ‘hustle’ economies in Kenya (Tatiana Thieme), vertical urbanism in Mumbai (Andrew Harris), popular urban movements in Chennai (Pushpa Arabindoo), land and housing in Mexico (Ann Varley) and urban development politics in Johannesburg and London (Jennifer Robinson).

The Group seeks to develop methodological innovations that address the multiplicities, the diverse histories and the dynamic connectivities of global urbanisms. New approaches have been developed around the politics of neoliberalisation (Jennifer Robinson), urban infrastructure (Pushpa Arabindoo), housing and informality (Ann Varley), global urban art worlds (Andrew Harris) and entrepreneurial and makeshift urbanism (Tatiana Thieme).

As a result of our international approach, we have close links with researchers in the different cities in which we work, as well as with various public bodies and organisations. The group emphasises the importance of policy and public engagement in wider debates on global urban futures.

Interdisciplinary collaborations are a key feature of the Global Urbanisms group which play a central role in running the Urban Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies MSc programmes. The group helped initiate the UCL cross-Faculty Urban Laboratory with three members serving as Co-Directors.

The Group also has an active role in UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies and Grand Challenges on Sustainable Cities. It supports a large cohort of PhD students and the associated Urban Lab Postgrad Urbanists, and co-founded and co-organises the London-wide seminar series on cities, the Urban Salon.

Read the latest Global Urbanisms newsletter (.pdf)

Group Members