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Department of Geography


Professor Charlotte Lemanski BA, MSc, DPhil

Professor of Urban Geography

Urban Geographer interested in everyday urban inequality in the global south, primarily through the lens of infrastructure (housing, land and services), urban governance and citizenship. She has conducted extensive qualitative fieldwork in South Africa and India.

I am currently Director of Postgraduate Studies for the Department of Geography. If you are contacting me in that capacity, please e-mail me at:



  • 2014-present: Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2007-2014: Department of Geography, University College London
  • 2005-2006: Environmental and Geographical Sciences, University of Cape Town (Leverhulme Trust Postdoctoral Fellow)
  • 2001-2005: Development Planning Unit, University College London (Research Assistant and Part-time lecturer)


  • 2007-2009: PG Cert in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, University College London
  • 2002-2005: DPhil, Department of Geography, University of Oxford
  • 2000-2001: MSc Development Management, London School of Economics
  • 1995-1998: BA Politics, St Aidan’s College, University of Durham


As an overarching research theme, I am committed to conceptualising the global South as a valid site of knowledge production. I have three current core research topics:

1) Off-Grid Infrastructure transitions in African cities: I am currently exploring how the off-grid infrastructure transitions of urban elites (e.g. solar panels, water boreholes, water tanks) have environmental, political, infrastructural and financial implications for African cities:

2) Infrastructural Citizenship: I developed this concept to explicitly connect infrastructure and citizenship, focusing on the ways in which citizenship perceptions, identities and practices are mediated through infrastructure (in material and political terms) for both citizens and the state:

  • I am currently writing a monograph Infrastructural Citizenship: Accessing, Adapting and Avoiding the Networked system in Cape Town, South Africa, to be published by the RGS-IBG book series in 2023.
  • My fellowship at the University of Cape Town, 2018-2019 (funded by a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship and an Isaac Newton Trust Research Grant) explored Infrastructural Citizenship through new fieldwork. Initial findings were published in the Transactions of the Institute of British Geography in 2020.
  • My edited book Citizenship and Infrastructure was published in May 2019 by Routledge. It brings together scholars working on urban infrastructure and citizenship around the world (see book review).
  • Pilot fieldwork in a state-subsidised housing settlement in South Africa (2016) funded by the Cambridge Humanities Research Group, explored how housing/infrastructure and citizenship identity/practice are connected for low-income urban dwellers.

3) Inter-disciplinary and de-colonial approach to critically examining urban infrastructure. I work in partnership with non-geographers and non-academics to create knowledge about infrastructure that spans the physical and social sciences, and is grounded in local expertise:

Previous research

  • Previous research (funded by the British Academy, the Royal Geographical Society, and the British Council) explored the urban participatory governance strategies amongst what I label ‘in the middle‘ urban citizens and households – ie. those who function in the social, economic, political and cultural ‘gap’ between the poor and the elite, and who consequently fall into the interstitial spaces of policy provision. This research has focused empirically on South Africa and India, using housing as a lens through which to explore the reality of life in the Southern city for those neither poor nor wealthy, with a particularly focus on governance strategies.
  • My first book, co-edited with Colin Marx (UCL) The City in Urban Poverty (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2015) addressed the absence of robust theories related to ‘the city’ within urban poverty causation, arguing that in contemporary scholarly and policy discussions of urban poverty, the physical space of the city (i.e. urban geography) has become noticeable by its absence.
  • Doctoral and postdoctoral research explored various aspects of the South African city as an example of a highly divided Southern city – e.g. segregation, fear of crime, gated communities, global cities, low-income housing.

Potential PhD and MPhil students

I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students and MPhil in Geography students. Please look at my current and recent research interests, and my current postgraduate students , then get in touch with me with your ideas about research topics that I may be able to supervise.

Postdoctoral researchers

The following postdoctoral researchers currently, or have recently, worked with me:


[Publications will load automatically from the University’s publications database…]


  • 1A Paper 1 Contemporary Urban Geographies
  • IB Paper 4 Citizenship, Cities and Civil Society
  • IB Dissertation training
  • Part II Global Urbanism
  • Postgraduate: SSRMP Doing Qualitative Interviews
  • Newnham College Special Supervisor (2017-present)
  • Robinson College Director of Studies (2014-2018)
  • Wolfson College Director of Studies (2017-18)
  • OPdA Mentor for postdoctoral fellows across the University (2017-2020)


  • Director of Postgraduate Studies (2020-2023)
  • Member of Departmental Management Group (2020-2023)
  • Part II Exam Board (2019-2022)
  • Development Studies Management Committee (2020-)
  • Member of the Geography Department’s Equality and Diversity Athena-Swan team (2017-present)
  • Department of Geography Trust Fund Manager (2020-present)
  • Member of the Board for Mary Euphrasia Mosley, Bartle Frere and Worts Funds (2017-present)

External activities

  • Trustee, The IJURR Foundation (2017-present)
  • Senior Research Fellow, Department of Geography, University of Johannesburg (2011-present)
  • Expert Panel Member, Digital Built Britain, Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS), UK Government (2017-2020)
  • Co-Editor, European Journal of Development Research, (2011-2017)
  • Committee member, RGS/IBG Developing Areas Research Group (DARG) (2007-2014)