urban inequality; urban flooding and disaster; climate adaptation; climate justice; wellbeing and social justice; critical urban studies; Caribbean cities; entrepreneurship; Global South; comparative Geography.
I am associate professor International Development Studies at the Department of Geography, Planning and International Development Studies (GPIO). Having a background in Human Geography, I have a key interest in spatial dimensions of development issues, in particular those related to urbanization and cities. Leading in my work is a focus on inequality and (in)justice. These themes come back in more specific topics that I work on such as well being economics, everyday flood adaptation, (post)colonial planning practices, digital urbanism, smart cities, and disaster governance. Geographically, my expertise is on small and medium cities in The Caribbean, and increasingly on coastal cities in South Asia. Recently I have started to work in Amsterdam as well.
I teach in the (Research) master programs International Development Studies, Human Geography, and Urban Studies, and in the Bachelor programs Human Geography and Urban Planning, and Future Planet Studies.
I am a member of the , the CEDLA advisory Board and act as advisor for the Johan Ferrier Fonds. I have been involved in several collaborative research programs with the University of the Westindies, University of Guyana and the Anton de Kom University of Suriname on knowledge, spatial planning and climate change (see www.bluespaceCaribbean.com). I was appointed as Global Advisor to the UN Global Compact Cities Programme and held a guestposition at the IHE instiute of Water education. I am a member of AISSR Educational Committee, the Advisory board of CEDLA and the Center for Urban Studies. Finally, I am a board member of Stichting Vista, and advisor to the Johan Ferrier Fonds.
Having a background in Human Geography and in International Development Studies, I have a key interest in spatial dimensions of development issues, in particular those related to urbanization and cities. Leading in my work is a focus on inequality and (in)justice, and I take a critical perspective on urban issues thereby leaning towards theories in the field of critical urban studies (e.g. global urban studies, urban political ecology, southern epistemologies, environmental juctice). These themes come back in more specific topics that I work on such as well being economics, everyday flood adaptation, (post)colonial planning practices, digital urbanism, smart cities, and disaster governance. Geographically, my expertise is on small and medium cities in The Caribbean, and increasingly on coastal cities in South Asia. Recently I have started to work in Amsterdam as well.
Methodologically, I usually conduct mixed methods research, including qualitative, quantitative and spatial methods of data collection and analysis. Where possible I take a comparative approach, combining very different cases.
Currently I work on three research projects:
This project aims at deeper understanding and more precise measurement of urban marginality from the perspective of citizens within prosperous cities like Amsterdam, using a Wellbeing Economy lens that includes safety, social cohesion and sustainability. We currently work in co-creation with civil society organisations (CSOs) of three neighbourhoods in Amsterdam Zuid-Oost, and collaborate with the Amsterdam Municipality, Masterplannen, NGOs and local businesses. Point of departure is the self-initiative of CSOs and mutual trust. We seek to answer the question: ‘How to overcome urban marginality in a sustainable and inclusive manner in the City of Amsterdam?’. The research adopts mixed methods by collecting data on multi-dimensional wellbeing and local economic priorities through: (i) co-creating Wellbeing Dashboards with citizens and CSOs; (ii) neighbourhood surveys; (iii) business and expert interviews; (iv) experimental multi-stakeholder dialogues, and; (v) participatory workshops with all stakeholders. This enables innovative indicator design and comparative econometric analysis, around interventions engaging citizens and stakeholders who seek social and sustainable goals. Validation takes place through participatory workshops and experimental sessions of joint learning, combining capacity building with rigorous research methods. Ultimately, the project aims to contribute to the democratisation of urban policy by improving information on wellbeing, and producing a protocol for future applications. We are currently working to expand our project in Amsterdam NIeuw West. In this project Dr. Nicky Pouw, Dr. Siri Boe-Lillegraven and I work together with PhD candidate Jennifer van Beek, and with mutliple (Research) students. The project is funded incrementally by various partners including the University of Amsterdam (IP project), the Amsterdam municipality, and Master Plan Zuidoost.
Planning Climate Justice in Urban Blue Spaces across the urban North and South (2023-2028)
The global climate emergency creates a clear adaptation imperative in cities in the Global South and North, with water emerging as a key resource at the centre of impacts and responses. Water, its excess (floods) and absence (droughts), shapes and reshapes urban experience, sometimes in unexpected terms. Such transformations are particularly tangible in urban blue spaces – here defined as urban areas adjacent to surface water bodies (salt, fresh and brackish) – where risks, vulnerabilities, and value entwine to produce a complex landscape of urban living, planning, development, and governance. To date, contributions from critical urban and adaptation scholars have called attention to the unjust implications of such transformations and to the need for more research on locating alternative just approaches. This AISSR research project aims to understand how climate justice materializes in cities, particularly in relation to urban blue spaces. The research aims to locate climate justice, conceptually and empirically, in the ordinary adaptation practices of professionals and citizens working and living at the margins of urban waters in the Global North and South. We position climate justice at the intersection of critique and possibility, approaching water as both a risk and a resource. We will investigate this intersection through different conceptualisations and a comparative case study approach. Building on insights from urban studies, critical adaptation studies and post-development work the project will investigate how adaptation ideas and ideals travel across time and space, and their implications for the production, obstruction and proliferation of just urban blue spaces on the ground. The project consists of 4 subprojects including one PhD project (Blue adpation by PhD candidate Lekha Samant; Blue Gentrication led by dr. Jannes Willems; Blue Pluralism, led by Dr. Karen Paiva Henrique; Blue (post-) Colonialism led by me). Each project focuses on ordinary planning practices across the urban South and North to develop, thicken and deepen knowledge from a variety of contexts and moving beyond insights from the typical ‘mega’ (i.e., large-scale, multi-million) adaptation projects. Each WP will establish a dialogue across Northern and Southern urban theories and practices. The project is funded by two AISSR Starting Grants and one AISSR Stimulation Grant.
Over the last decade Smart City has increasingly become a popular urban policy approach of cities in both the Global North and Global South. Such approaches focus on digital and technological driven urban innovation and are often considered to be a universal solution to varied urban problems in different cities. The considerable consequences of Smart City strategies call for critical engagement with the rationale, methods, target group and implications of Smart City approaches in different urban contexts. The aim of this project is to further such critical engagement by distilling dimensions absent in current smart urbanism. The project focuses on three dimensions that facilitate a comprehensive analysis of what Smart City-policies mean for contemporary urban life: 1) the acknowledgement that the urban is not confined to the administrative boundaries of a city; 2) importance of local social-economic, cultural-political and environmental contingencies in analysing the development, implementation and effects of Smart City-policies; and, 3) the social-political construction of both the urban problems Smart City policies aim to solve and the considered solutions. Within this project case studies from cities across the globe are central.
Mustika Angraeni (participation in environmental governance, Indonesia)
Vikas Bagde (frugal innovation and Electric Riksha's, Delhi, India)
Jennifer van Beek (Addressing urban marginality through an economic wellbeing lens, Amsterdam)
Shubhagato Dasgupta ( urban sanitation and state formation, Udaipur and Baleshar, India)
Nina Herzog-Hawelka (Climate Change, Fossil Fuels and Oil and Gas Companies, CLIFF project)
Glen Robbins (Port Cities, governance, Durban, South Africa)
Lekha Samant (Everyday urban Adaption)
Moataz Talaat ( Climate Change, Fossil Fuels and Debt Financiers, CLIFF project)
Margot Hurlbert (2016): Adaptive governance of disaster: Drought and flood in rural areas.
Arjen Alberts (2020): Small island tourism economies and the tourism area lifecycle: Why Aruba and Sint Maarten have exceeded their carrying capacity.
Ricardo Fuentealba Fuentes (2021) : Urbanising disaster governance: The politics of risks in the foothills of Santiago.
Arthur Rempel (2023): Leaving fossil fuels underground in South Africa: From a climate debt to an unsettled stranded asset debt.
Hilmer Bosch (2023): Evolving property rights in water and their impact on water allocation and reallocation
Simona Vezzoli (2015): Borders, Independence and Post-Colonial Ties: the Role of the State in Caribbean Migration.
Tara Saharan (2018): Slum' and the city: Exploring relations of informal settlements comparatively in Chennai, India and Durban, South Africa
Sigrid Heirman (2019): Waarom blijft stedelijke uitspreiding bestaan? Een onderzoek naar stedelijke uitspreiding vanuit een neo-institutioneel perspectief, casestudy: stedelijke uitspreiding in Paramaribo, Suriname.
Lisa Roodenburg (2021): Anticipating Friction: The role of human rights in urban debates on migration and diversity: The case of Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Buenos Aires
Eva Costa de Barros (2023): Water governance in Brazil: The need to share water in the anthropocene
I currently teach courses in the (Research) master programs International Development Studies (Urban Perspectives in Development), Human Geography (thesis projects), and Urban Studies (Research Design in Urban Studies), and in the Bachelor programs Human Geography and Urban Planning (Introduction to International Development Studies), and Future Planet Studies (Spatial Implications of Environmental Change).
Between 2017 and 2022 I was program director of the Bachelor Human Geography and urban Planning, the Master Human Geography and the Master Urban and Regional Planning. Prior to this I was program Director of the Research Master Urban Studies. During this period my focus was on teaching management and my involvement in courses is modest.
Prior to this I have taught multiple courses related to International Development Studies in general, to Urban Studies and to Research Methods and Techniques. These courses are part of the curriculum of the Research Master International Development Studies, the Master International Development Studies and in the Master Human Geography. I
As of 2017 I hold a STQ (Senior Teaching Qualification) and in 2022 I have completed the Program Educational Leadership (LOL).