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The material of city making

In this research strand we recognise the socio-technical nature of infrastructure in making the city. While the networks of roads, electricity, water, sanitation and housing for example, are all provided through the technology of road, pipes, cables and wires, they are also socially regulated, and in many parts of the world, these supplies are provided through a mix of human and technical effort. We are particularly interested in how these socio-technical materials of city making are frequently employed as tools to exacerbate existing social difference and perpetuate marginalisation, contributing to broader processes of exclusion.

Research projects

Research projects currently being undertaken on this theme include:

Energy innovation for low-cost housing in India and South Africa: strategies for inter-disciplinary and cross-institutional dialogue

Energy innovation for low-cost housing in India and South Africa: strategies for inter-disciplinary and cross-institutional dialogue

This interdisciplinary research project, funded by the British Academy Cities and Infrastructure Programme, explores the collaborations and contestations between diverse stakeholders (government, market, communities) in designing, implementing and using innovative forms of domestic energy for low-income urban settlements in South Africa and India.

Infrastructural Citizenship: Spaces of Urban Life in Cape Town, South Africa

Infrastructural Citizenship: Spaces of Urban Life in Cape Town, South Africa

This research project, funded by the Cambridge Humanities Research Group, explores the relationship between infrastructure and citizenship in cities of the global South.

Infrastructures of life in the urban age

Infrastructures of life in the urban age

This project examines the contemporary mainstream framing of urban poverty, and the counter-narratives of inclusion and empowerment. This work is both conceptual and empirical, with the former focusing on contrasting arts of the politics of inclusion, and the latter focusing on attempts by the poor themselves to build housing and infrastructure (in the city of Belo Horizonte in Brazil, with further work planned in Kenya and India).

Earlier projects