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Matthew Gandy

Matthew Gandy

Professor of Cultural and Historical Geography and Fellow of King's College

Biography

Matthew was born in Islington, North London. He is a cultural, urban, and environmental geographer with particular interests in landscape, infrastructure, and more recently bio-diversity. The historical scope of his work extends from the middle decades of the nineteenth century to the recent past. His research ranges from aspects of environmental history, including epidemiology, to contemporary intersections between nature and culture including the visual arts. His book Concrete and clay: reworking nature in New York City (MIT Press, 2002) was winner of the 2003 Spiro Kostof award for the book within the previous two years "that has made the greatest contribution to our understanding of urbanism and its relationship with architecture". His book The fabric of space: water, modernity, and the urban imagination (The MIT Press, 2014) was awarded the 2014 AAG Meridian Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography and the 2016 award for the most innovative book in planning history from the International Planning History Society. He is currently writing a research monograph on bio-diversity and urban nature and is Principal Investigator for the ERC Advanced Grant Rethinking urban nature.

Matthew has been a visiting scholar at Columbia University, New York; the University of California, Los Angeles; Newcastle University; the Technical University, Berlin; the Humboldt University, Berlin; and the University of the Arts, Berlin. He was Founder and Director of the UCL Urban Laboratory (2005-11) and is a co-founder of the Urban Salon. Matthew is also actively involved in local issues in Hackney, east London, and is a member of Hackney Biodiversity Partnership and Sustainable Hackney. From 2013 to 2018 he was co-editor of The International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. He was elected a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2015 and a fellow of the British Academy in 2016. In 2020 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Louvain. His work has been translated into several other languages including French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. His next book Natura urbana: ecological constellations in urban space is forthcoming from the MIT Press and explores urban nature in an international context.

You can find more details about his projects and read his blog Cosmopolis at http://www.matthewgandy.org

Career

  • 1992-1997 School of European Studies, University of Sussex
  • 1997-2015 Department of Geography, University College London

Qualifications

  • 1988 BA in Geography, St. Catharine's College, Cambridge (first, with distinction)
  • 1992 PhD in Geography, London School of Economics

Research themes

i) Urban metabolism

This area of work has involved research into the development of sanitation, urban water supply and urban environmental politics. With my book The fabric of space I turn to cultural and historical dimensions to water and human society through a series of developments in Paris, Berlin, Lagos, Mumbai, Los Angeles, and London.

Selected publications:

  • Gandy, M. (2014) The fabric of space: water, modernity, and the urban imagination (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press)

ii) Urban epidemiology

I have a longstanding interest in public health, urban epidemiology, and corporeal geographies. I initially explored these themes in relation to the development of modern cities through the provision of water infrastructure and other basic services. I have also developed the question of disease in relation to the resurgence of tuberculosis, the history of malaria, and the presence of complex boundary phenomena such as multiple-chemical sensitivity. In my current work on urban nature I am interested in expanded conceptions of other-than-human geographies that extend to zoonoses and neglected facets of urban entomology.

Selected publications:

  • Gandy, M. (2014) 'Mosquitoes, malaria, and post-colonial Lagos,' in The fabric of space: water, modernity, and the urban imagination (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2014) pp. 81–108.
  • Gandy, M. (2021) 'The zoonotic city: urban political ecology and the pandemic imaginary,' International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (in press)

iii) Critical landscape studies

I have a long-standing interest in critical landscape studies ranging from the delineation of counter-hegemonic ecological imaginaries to rethinking existing aesthetic categories such as the 'technological sublime' and the implications of new theoretical challenges.

Selected publications:

  • Gandy, M. (2016) 'Unintentional landscapes,' Landscape Research 41 (4) pp. 443–440.
  • Gandy, M. (2021) 'An Arkansas parable for the Anthropocene,' Annals of the American Association of Geographers

iv) Urban political ecologies

Urban nature encompasses a disparate body of work and ideas ranging from scientific analysis of socio-ecological assemblages to the cultural valorization of 'cosmopolitan natures'. I am interested in exploring changing meanings of urban nature and biodiversity through interdisciplinary analysis of emerging cultures of nature under modernity.

Selected publications:

  • Gandy, M. (2019) 'The fly that tried to save the world: saproxylic geographies and other-than-human ecologies,' Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 44 (2) pp. 392–406
  • Gandy, M. (2021) 'Urban political ecology: a critical reconfiguration,' Progress in Human Geography (in Press)
  • Gandy, M. (2022) Natura urbana: ecological constellations in urban space (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press).

v) Post-humanism and new conceptions of agency

By linking urban ecology with post-humanist insights there are clear points of interconnection with network-oriented ontologies of human subjectivity and extended conceptions of agency. I am building on my previous work on cyborg urbanization to examine corporeal dimensions to urban space including geographies of sound, light, and sexuality.

Selected publications:

  • Gandy, M. (2012) 'Queer ecology: nature, sexuality and urban heterotopic alliances.' Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 30 (2012) pp. 727–747;
  • Gandy, M. (2017) 'Negative luminescence.' Annals of the American Association of Geographers 107 (2017) pp. 1090–1107;
  • Gandy, M. (2017) Urban atmospheres. Cultural Geographies 24 (2017) pp. 353–374.

vi) Cinematic landscapes and documentary filmmaking

This on-going strand of work has involved a close engagement with developments in film studies, art history, literary theory, and related disciplines. I am also interested in the use of film as a research methodology. With my first film Liquid city (2007) I explored cultural and political dimensions to water and urban infrastructure in Mumbai with a particular emphasis on the use of interviews interspersed with everyday life and urban landscapes. My most recent film Nature Urbana (2017) also uses interviews but draws on extensive archival material to create a historical document in its own right.

Selected publications:

  • Gandy, M. (2021) 'Film as method in the geohumanities,' Geohumanities

Publications

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Teaching

  • Part IA Urban Geography (contributions)
  • Part IB Berlin (fieldclass)
  • Part II Global Urbanism (contributions)
  • Part II Landscape and Power
  • M Phil Geographical Research (contributions)
  • M Phil Anthropocene Studies (contributions)
  • M Phil Film Studies and Screen Studies (contributions)

External activities

  • AHRC Peer Review College
  • ESRC Peer Review College
  • Co-editor for The International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (2012–2018)
  • Editorial boards for Architecture and Culture (2013-); Cultural Geographies (1999-); Landscape Research (2000-); Local Environment (2008-12); International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (2007-); Sub/Urban (2013-).