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Sandra Jasper PhD

Sandra Jasper PhD

Research Associate, working with Prof Matthew Gandy.

My research interests are in the corporeal and material dimensions of urban space and urban nature.


After studying Geography and Gender Studies at Humboldt University, Berlin, I became particularly interested in cultural and urban geography. I obtained a PhD from University College London, where my doctoral research was based at and funded by the UCL Urban Laboratory. I am currently working as a postdoc on the five-year ERC-funded project Rethinking Urban Nature.


  • 2015-present: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2014-2015: Research Associate, Department of Geography, University College London


  • 2015 PhD in Geography, University College London
  • 2008 Magister Artium (joint BA + MPhil) in Geography and Gender Studies, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany

Awards and scholarships

  • Graham Foundation production and presentation grant, 2018
  • Travel grant, International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility, 2011
  • Central Research Fund, University of London, 2010
  • Research Projects Fund, University College London, 2009 and 2010
  • Graduate Research Scholarship for Cross-Disciplinary Training at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, 2009
  • Doctoral Studentship, University College London, 2008
  • Travel grant, ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius, 2008
  • DAAD study abroad scholarship, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada, German Academic Exchange Service, 2002


The central trajectory of my research is to understand the histories, corporealities and governance of urban nature and space. I have developed this work through (i) my previous doctoral research on urban experimentation, (ii) my postdoctoral work on urban natures. I am currently developing a new research project tentatively entitled Soundscapes of Late Modernity to investigate the intersections of the human ear, public health and the built environment.

I am currently completing my first book manuscript Experimental Fields: A Cultural History of West Berlin. The books draws on my doctoral research and explores how the extensively destroyed city and walled-in enclave of West Berlin created a "laboratory effect" that enabled different forms of cultural and scientific experimentation to emerge. This research, for which I subsequently received a Graham Foundation production and presentation grant, is under contract with Columbia Columbia University Press. For further information, please visit the book's Graham Foundation website:

My postdoctoral research has developed around 4 key themes:

  • New methodologies: Working across the arts and social sciences, I have explored film as a methodological tool for research dissemination and public outreach. I have recently completed a major project as executive producer and co-author of the prize-winning documentary film Natura Urbana |The Brachen of Berlin (UK/Germany, 2017, 72 mins). The film is winner of the "German biodiversity film award" 2017, NaturVision Filmfestival Ludwigsburg, "Best Documentary Feature" 2017, Yosemite Film Festival, and received a special mention for "scientific rigour and communication quality" by the Karlsruhe Science Days, 2017. For a trailer and further information, please visit the film website:

Natura Urbana- The Brachen of Berlin

  • Multi-sensory cities with a particular focus on urban soundscapes: Often considered ephemeral, I argue that we need to consider the soundscape as part of the built environment and the material fabric of cities. I have published on the the work of landscape designers creating 'sonic refugia' using trees, bushes, and other plants for noise abatement purposes (forthcoming in The Journal of Architecture) and on the idea of an 'acoustic modernism' in architecture through the role of concert halls as influential agents in urban space.

Acoustic geographies

  • Urban nature and terrains vagues: my work on the history of Berlin's vanishing wastelands has focused on different forms of cultural and scientific experimentation in botany, landscape design and the visual and sonic arts. In addition to the documentary film, my publications on urban nature and indeterminate spaces include book chapters ('Phantom limbs: Encountering the hidden spaces of West Berlin', in Urban constellations, Berlin: Jovis, 2011) and my monograph currently in preparation. I am also co-editing (with Matthew Gandy) The Botanical City (Berlin: Jovis, 2019), a collection on the spontaneous dynamics of urban flora and the role of cities as laboratories for the study of ecological processes and environmental change.

Terrains vagues

  • New materialist geographies and historiographies of nature: I have published a critical response paper addressing the recent turn towards neo-vitalism in social theory in Dialogues in Human Geography (co-authored with Matthew Gandy) arguing that it has thus far generally neglected the historiography of scientific metaphors and the wider ethical and political tensions engendered by a contemporary recourse to vitalist ontologies. My interest in new materialism is also drawing on the feminist intellectual history of the cyborg metaphor and its links to socialist feminism and radical publishing culture in West Berlin.

Cyborg imaginations


Journal articles

  • Jasper, S., 2018. Sonic refugia: nature, noise-abatement, and landscape design in West Berlin. The Journal of Architecture 23 (6), pp. 936-960. doi:10.1080/13602365.2018.1505773
  • Gandy, M. and Jasper, S., 2017. Geography, materialism, and the neo-vitalist turn. Dialogues in Human Geography, v. 7, pp.140-144. doi:10.1177/2043820617717848.

Book chapters

  • Jasper, S., 2014. Acoustic ecology: Hans Scharoun and modernist experimentation in West Berlin, in Gandy, M. and Nilsen, B.J. (eds.) The Acoustic City, jovis. p. 145-155.
  • Jasper, S., 2013. Architecture for Expanded Listening: Hans Scharoun's Philharmonie in Berlin, in Cascella D. and Inverni, P. (eds.) What Matters Now? (What Can't You Hear?), Noch Publishing [ebook].
  • Jasper, S., 2011. Phantom limbs: Encountering the hidden spaces of West Berlin, in Gandy, M. (ed.) Urban Constellations, jovis. p. 153-157.


  • Jasper, S., 2017. Metropolitan Preoccupations: The Spatial Politics of Squatting in Berlin. Cultural Geographies, Vol. 24, 505–506.
  • Jasper, S. and Merrill, S., 2014. Was ist so Berlin? Eine kritische Rezension aktueller Linien und Fragestellungen der Stadtforschung in der deutschen Hauptstadt. sub/urban Zeitschrift für kritische stadtforschung, v. 2 (2), p.143-154 (also available in English).
  • Jasper, S. and Künkel, J., 2008. Sexualität und Raum. Feministisches Geo-RundMail, v. 37, p.1-39.


  • Part II Landscape and Power (contributions)
  • Part II Geographies of Global Urbanism (contributions)
  • Part IA Cultural Geography (supervisions)
  • Part IB Berlin (contributions)

External activities

  • Founder of Stadtkolloquium (since 2009), an academic forum organised by PhD students from various disciplines brought together by their research work and interest in cities and urbanism.