Writing up Grants 2024

Umar Al Faruq

Umar Al Faruq is a PhD candidate at the Department of Geography, King’s College London. He is interested in exploring how new forms of urbanisation are taking place in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Particularly, he is looking at the material processes by which Nusantara, Indonesia’s new capital city, came to be in the first place and, by extension, introduces new dynamics of urbanisation in the region. This involves exploring how the megaproject is being imagined, driven, contested, or otherwise shaped by different actors and how certain urban imaginaries are produced and prioritised over others.

Photo credit: Nathan Clarke

Personal Website / Twitter

Sara Amare Gebremeskel

Sara is a passionate landscape and urbanism expert with extensive research and project experience. Working in Mekelle University’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning, She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Architecture, City and Design at Università Iuav di Venezia in Venice, Italy. She is also working as a freelancer landscape architect consultant for ZANA Landscaping, for the international mega-scale projects in Addis Ababa (Mehamedia village and La-Gare Real Estate). Her research focuses on transforming streets into inclusive spaces that prioritize people over cars, which explores strategies for creating truly inclusive streets that cater to diverse needs and abilities.


Marcela Alonso Ferreira

Marcela Alonso Ferreira is a PhD candidate in political science at Sciences Po, affiliated with the Centre for European Studies and Comparative Politics (CEE) and the Urban School. Her doctoral research examines changes in institutions governing informal land tenure in São Paulo and Mexico City over the past 50 years. Marcela has a master’s degree in public policy from the Getulio Vargas Foundation and a bachelor’s degree in architecture and urbanism from the University of São Paulo. Prior to joining Sciences Po, she worked with applied research, consultancy, and policymaking in the public sector, international development, and non-governmental organizations.

Photo credit: Aurore Papegay

Personal Website / Google Scholar / Twitter

Nihal Hafez

Nihal Hafez is an Egyptian Ph.D. student at the Development Planning Unit (DPU), University College London (UCL). Her research interests are the politics of heritage in the Middle East and the intersection of critical heritage studies with urban governance. In her PhD, Nihal discusses the intersection between changes of political regimes and heritage practices. She explores the making of new “heritage regime(s)” in Cairo after the 2011 revolution focusing on the interventions of the private sector in heritage governance. Her background intersects academia and practice. For the last decade, Hafez worked as a teaching assistant in Cairo University and University College London (UCL). She also joined different heritage conservation projects in Cairo, Egypt and Tunis, Tunisia.

Linkedin / Twitter / ORCHiD

Lamis Jamil

Native to Lebanon in Southwest Asia, my migrant journey instilled a deep appreciation for diverse worldviews and ways of beingness. Across cultures, food remained a central theme, weaving stories and relationships over something as intimate as a cup of butter tea. At Coventry University, my PhD research explores the intersection of food culture and community kitchens, focusing on the Granville Community Kitchen in South Kilburn, London. Beyond simply the verbal, I delve into the mysterious visceral, In the hope of unveiling food’s nuanced impact on emotion, identity and on ever-evolving cultures.

Photo credit: Kerrie Palmer Photography: https://www.kerriepalmerphotography.co.uk/

Linkedin / University profile / Personal Website

Mengzhi Ling

Mengzhi is a PhD candidate in the Department of Architecture at the University of Singapore. Her research interests include urban spaces, urban daily life, urban studies and ethnography. In her dissertation, Mengzhi investigates the interplay between urban fabric and ownership and, more importantly, their mixed effects on urban daily life. Her study demonstrates the complex dynamics among physical form, ownership structure and lived experiences in urban spaces, through an ethnographic study of Yong Qing Fang (永庆坊) in Guangzhou, China. Before joining NUS, Mengzhi obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Planning from Guangzhou University, China.

Photo Credit: Li Xiaojiao


Janaina Maldonado

Janaina Maldonado is a PhD candidate at the University of Hamburg in the Graduate School “Democratising security in
turbulent times”; and a Fellow Anniversary in the Institute for Latin American Studies at GIGA Hamburg. Her dissertation focuses on different aspects of urban governance in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) – violence, materiality, resources and respectability. Maldonado did her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Federal University of São Carlos, Brazil. She also currently contributes to the Security in Context research initiative. Her research interests focus on urban ethnography, urban conflicts, violence, security and difference.

University profile / Twitter / Linkedin

Manuela Monarcha Murad da Silveira

Manuela Monarcha is a PhD candidate in Geography at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) and an associate researcher at the Geography, Image and Education Laboratory (UERJ) and Bodies, Territory and Feminism Working Group (CLACSO). Her research deals with emerging Latin American feminist cartographies that has in the mapping of/on the body its fundamental core. Those mapping processes not only have an important impact on denouncing and making visible the violence against women in its multiple aspects and scales of incidence, but also brings new keys to understanding urban and regional dynamics with which they are deeply intertwined.


Boitumelo Veronica Matlala

Boitumelo Matlala is doing her PhD in regional planning at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Her research explores the mediation of state-society relationships in urban development. It examines the role of civil society as an intermediary between local communities and the local state in the redevelopment of one of Cape Town’s oldest neighbourhoods. Her work centres on understanding governance through the lens of grassroots-based groups, exploring their interactions with the state and strengthening their voices in governance processes to do with land, housing, and urban services. She has published on select issues around participatory development and inclusive governance.

Women's participation in urban development (Matlala, 2018) / Geoforum article / Popular Politics in SA cities book

Diana Torres Obregon

Diana is a PhD Candidate at The Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú- PUCP in combination with the trAndeS programme at the Institute of Latin American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin. She has an interdisciplinary background in sociology, urban studies and architecture. Her research critically examines modes of urban space production, socio-spatial inequalities, and public policies on access to land and housing in Latin America and the Caribbean. Diana is the recipient of the 2017 International Research Thesis Award “Transformación urbana: densidad habitacional y ciudad compacta” from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and INFONAVIT. Currently, she is a lecturer at PUCP and independent researcher at Urbes-Lab.

ResearchGate / Google Scholar

Harshita Sinha

Harshita Sinha is a PhD Candidate at the Department of International Development at the London School of Economics. Her doctoral research focuses on Internal migrant workers access to welfare and social rights in the Indian Informal Economy. She looks at the intersection of citizenship, social protection, Digital governance and informal migration regimes in urban destination states. She curated Voices of Informality, a knowledge platform which aims to bring forth grassroots stories on informality for practice-based action. She was previously awarded the LSE Life Research Prize, 2019 and the India Migration Fellowship, 2021. Her work on informality and migration has been covered in: India Development Review, IndiaSpend, and WIRE amongst other.

Personal Website / Research webpage / Linkedin / Twitter

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