Maureen Abi-Ghanem is a PhD candidate in Urban Planning at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. Maureen’s research interests are at the intersection of urban geography, critical urban theory and refugee studies, with a focus on displaced populations to Lebanon and Germany. Maureen traces the UN Urban Refugee Policy that discourages encampment and expands spaces of protection. In her dissertation, Maureen utilizes a comparative case study approach to understand access to refugee accommodation in both Beirut, Lebanon and Berlin, Germany. Maureen’s dissertation addresses a gap in the literature on the geographies that urban refugees produce and inhabit, and investigates what it means to provide protection to refugees in two distinct urban contexts at the socio-spatial, legal and symbolic levels.
Carmen Abouamra is a PhD candidate at The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL. She has a background in architecture, urban design, and development. Carmen’s PhD research is focused on understanding the experience and impact of migration on LGBTQ migrants from the MENA region living in the UK. Particularly in relation to questions of subjectivity formation and the notion of the good life. The research examines spaces, encounters, borders, and infrastructure that shape this migratory experience. Her previous work has engaged with informality, migration, regeneration, heritage, gender and sexuality.
Robert Nutifafa Arku
Robert Nutifafa Arku is pursuing doctoral studies at the Department of Geography and Planning, and an associate of the Spatial Analysis of Urban Systems Lab at the University of Toronto, Canada. As part of the Mobilizing Justice partnership, his work focuses on transit-induced gentrification and displacement in Canada by tracing the impacts of transit infrastructure investment on the property market and on intra-urban migration. Robert received his MA (Planning) from the University of Waterloo (Canada) and BSc (Land Economy) from KNUST (Ghana). His research is published in journals such as Cities, Journal of Urban Affairs, and Progress in Human Geography.
(Photo credit: Sarah Chan, School of Cities, University of Toronto)
Vinisha Singh Basnet
Vinisha Singh Basnet is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and is simultaneously pursuing a master’s degree in Entomology at the School of Integrative Biology (UIUC). Her work focuses on the intersection of human insect entanglement, design-based intervention, and social equity. Through her research she explores how complex social-ecological systems (SES) can be navigated through multiple epistemologies for building collaborative and sustainable futures. Basnet’s work is informed by insects’ ecology, into the planning processes that precede design interventions. Her current research examine how pest, like bed bugs, in low income housing are embedded within complex SES and how bed bugs alter the practices of various stakeholders.
Photo credit: Gautam Bisht
Sanjana is doing her PhD in Geography at the University of Kentucky. She is an urban and digital geographer and a computational social scientist. Her research looks at how the design and use of digital technologies produce a new approach to governance for informal housing in Mumbai. More broadly, she is interested in studying the political economy and material impacts of data, technology and algorithms on the margins and investigate how they works in cities of the South.
Giovanna Lucio Monteiro
Giovanna is a PhD student at the Institute of Social and Political Studies of the State University of Rio de Janeiro (IESP-UERJ). Her research focuses on a comparative ethnography between the West Bank, in Palestine, and Maré in Rio de Janeiro, considering the gendered and daily impact of infrastructural violence. She holds a Master’s degree in Sociology from the same institution (IESP-UERJ) and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), she also coordinates the Feminist Observatory of International Relations.
Prerna is a PhD candidate in South Asian Studies at University of Edinburgh. She has a background in gender studies and has been involved with NGOs in carrying out interventions related to women’s health in India. Her research looks at into how knowledge around menstruation is produced in slums in Delhi inter-generationally, and aims to highlight how infrastructural access, barriers, cultural transformations and migration interact and shape menstrual management, in dynamic ways. She aims to use an anthropological and ethnographic lens in understanding women’s lived experiences in the urban capital city of India, and to integrate existing siloed areas of WASH infrastructure and culture in an urban setting through an intersectional lens.
Zhiwu Wei is a PhD candidate at the Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge. He holds an MSc in Development Economics from University of Birmingham and a BA in Information Management and Information Systems from Renmin University of China. His PhD research primarily applies causal inference methods with GIS analysis to explore how spatial inequality shapes long-run individual values and developmental outcomes. In his areas of expertise, Zhiwu has consulted for OECD and worked as a research assistant at Judge Business School (Cambridge University), Institute of New Structural Economics (Peking University), and Institute for China Sustainable Urbanization (Tsinghua University).
Photo credit: Yiran Zhang
Özge Yüksekkaya is a Political Science PhD candidate in the joint degree program between the University of Amsterdam and Koç University. Her research interests are political economy, urban studies, citizenship and comparative politics with a specific focus on Latin America and Turkey. Her doctoral research focuses on the relationship between citizenship and space, in the form of public lands. By examining public land policies in Mexico and Turkey in the last thirty years, she aims to analyze the transformation of citizenship rights and values attributed to citizenship in the neoliberal era.
Writing Up Grants 2023
Maria Khristine Alvarez
Khristine (Tin) is a PhD Candidate at The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL. Her research critically examines flood-resilient city making in Manila. She is the recipient of the 2018 Gilbert F. White Thesis Award from the American Association of Geographers’ Hazards, Risks, and Disasters Specialty Group. Tin’s peer-reviewed publications include a Top Cited Article in IJURR, a Long Read article in the inaugural issue of Radical Housing Journal, a commentary in a special issue of Journal of Urban Technology, and a Debates paper in Urban Studies. Her essays have also appeared in The Funambulist, Jacobin, and New Left Review (Sidecar).
Aireen Grace Andal
Aireen Grace Andal is a PhD researcher in Social Sciences (Geography and Planning) at Macquarie University, Australia. She is also a research fellow at the Space for Engagement and Epistemic Diversity (SEED) (University of Melbourne) and Centre of Global Urbanism (Ural Federal University). Her research pays attention to children’s urban spaces and the importance of children as co-creators of spatial knowledge. In her recent grant, she analyses the urban imaginaries of slum-dwelling communities in the Philippines. Her recent publications include examining vital cities, slum soundscapes, coastal cities, winter cities, Southeast Asian cities and urban nightlife.
Bojana Babic is a PhD Candidate in Urban Anthropology at the European Ethnology Department and the Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology at Humboldt University of Berlin. Her current research explores how displaced Syrian women perform their market activities in the different urban settings encountered through various situations circulating in daily life within the oldest neighbourhood of Istanbul, Faith. This research is a continuation of Bojana’s long interest in getting beyond the categories of refugees and migrants and their gender dimension by focusing on the materialities of the women’s practices on the ground, especially those built up around the markets. This specific interest comes from a rather vast personal and professional experiences, starting from the war and the socio-economic and political transformations in the former Yugoslavia, where she is originally from, and followed by her later movements through other geographies either for education or research purposes. Bojana holds two Master’s degrees in public policy, and migration and intercultural relations studies from Italy and Germany/Norway, and BA in economics from BiH with almost ten years of extensive research experience. She is a passionate ethnographer with long-term conducted fieldworks in various cities of the former Yugoslavia, Cairo, Istanbul and Palermo, which she aims to bring together in a book upon completing her PhD. She has already published in journals such as Routledge, Peter and Lang and similar.
Angana Banerjee’s research interest stem from the challenges and issues faced by cities of the global South. The trends and patterns of rapid urbanization, examples of incorporation of new cities, and changing nature of suburbs have grasped her attention in urban studies. She is interested in looking at the mixed nature of urban and trying to locate her queries along that boundary. Her research interests include urbanization, local governance, politics of urban policies, and restructuring of urban spaces. She is working as a full-time research fellow at CUPG, TISS, and has actively taken part in organizing and managing workshops, conferences, and research projects.
Kriti Budhiraja is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Her research is an ethnography of inequality at a public university in India. It examines conflicts and collaborations between students as they navigate university life. Her work reframes students’ sociality as an account of a new urban citizenship articulated at the intersecting axes of caste, class, language, and gender. Kriti’s research has been published in Sociological Forum. She has also written for Newsclick, The Quint, and Kafila. Before studying Sociology, Kriti completed her MA and M. Phil in Political Science at Jawaharlal Nehru University, India.
Joyce Angnayeli Eledi Kuusaana
Joyce Angnayeli Eledi Kuusaana is a PhD candidate of a joint doctoral program between Utrecht University, The Netherlands and TU Darmstadt, Germany. Her PhD research, “The making of urban resilience: Critical energy infrastructure in Accra and Dar es Salaam”, focuses on functional failures of electricity infrastructure and the responses to such disruptions. Joyce is an architect by profession from Ghana, with a master’s degree in Infrastructure Planning. Her research interests are in urban and spatial/infrastructure planning, and she is passionate about finding sustainable place-based solutions to localized problems. She is married with two wonderful children.
Tarh M. Eyong
Tarh M. Eyong is a Ph.D. fellow in Political Studies at the University of the Western Cape.
He is also a junior researcher with the off-grid cities research group. His research interests include Civil Society, Democracy, Social Justice, urban infrastructure, housing, and Urban Governance.
Ángel Gómez originally from Ciudad Juárez, a community on the border between Mexico and the United States. He am sociologist and master in planning; he is currently studying his doctoral studies at the Centre for Demographic, Urban and Environmental Studies of El Colegio de México. His work experience has led him to know the administrative process of higher schools and his teaching experience is integrated by planning courses, research methodology and regional history in the programs of the Department of Architecture at Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez.
Vivek Mishra is a PhD candidate at the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University, Boston. His research interests lie in the area of urban political economy, urban informality, governance, citizenship, queer urbanism, and urban social movements. His doctoral research focuses on elite informality in Delhi, India, and examines how elite informals negotiate their citizenship rights and claims to legitimacy when state denies them legal properties rights. He holds a Masters degree in Development from Azim Premji University, Bangalore and a Bachelors of Engineering degree in Information Technology from Bengal Engineering and Science University Shibpur, Howrah.
Faizaan is a PhD Candidate in Regional Planning at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He studies community and state building in the global south with an emphasis on displacement and political violence. Faizaan’s doctoral research studies how subnational ethnic identities influence urban experiences and community organizing among displaced Afghans in Quetta, Pakistan. Faizaan has a master’s degree in planning from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a bachelor’s in Economics from the Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan.
Ceyda Sungur is a feminist geographer and urban planner. As a Ph.D. candidate at the urban planning and geography department of the University of Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne and a researcher of the Géographie-Cités research lab, she works on the labour geography of Istanbul and women cleaning workers’ agency. She is one of the co-directors of Observatoire Urbain d’Istanbul at Institut Français d’Études Anatoliennes- Istanbul (IFEA) since November 2022.