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Sandra Jasper PhD

Sandra Jasper PhD

Research Associate, working with Prof Matthew Gandy.

My research interests are in the areas of urban cultures and urban nature with a particular focus on Berlin from the 1960s to the present.


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: 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

  • 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


My research to date has focused on the corporeal and material dimensions to urban space. I am currently working on a book manuscript, tentatively entitled Experimental fields: a cultural history of West Berlin (under contract with Columbia University Press). The book draws on my doctoral research, which examined the cultural and material particularities of West Berlin as a walled-in enclave from 1961 to 1989. Drawing on oral history, archives, and ethnographic observations, it explored the forgotten history of the island city as an experimental space. Case studies included modernist experiments with sound in Hans Scharoun's Philharmonie, the city's extensive Brachen (waste spaces) or terrains vagues and their scientific and cultural use by botanists, artists, writers, and others, and the enclave's role as a radical intellectual island through the strong presence of feminist theory and a multifaceted progressive local politics.

My postdoctoral research expands my previous work on the intersections of the human body, nature, and urban space to connect with the ERC project theme of Rethinking Urban Nature. As part of the ERC project, I have worked as producer and co-author of the documentary film Natura Urbana(directed by Matthew Gandy, 2017, 72 mins) about urban nature in postwar and contemporary Berlin. For a trailer and further information, please visit the film website:

Conceptually, my research has developed around three key themes:

  • Acoustic geographies: corporeal dimensions to urban space and the sensory experience of space with a particular interest in sound.
    Acoustic geographies
  • Terrains vagues: urban wastelands and indeterminate spaces as sites of cultural and scientific exploration.
    Terrains vagues
  • Feminist materialism: 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., Sonic refugia: nature, noise-abatement, and landscape design in West Berlin. The Journal of Architecture (forthcoming, 2018).
  • Gandy, M. and Jasper, S., 2017. Geography, materialism, and the neo-vitalist turn. Dialogues in Human Geography, v. 7, p.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.