Urbanisation, Planning and Development

Research Cluster

We offer the highest concentration of specialist geography courses in the School which cover issues of urbanisation, planning and development in the major world regions of Africa, Asia, Europe and the UK, Latin America and North America.

Our courses provide students with the ability to become critical, reflective practitioners and leaders in their chosen fields.


We are the largest group of geographers at LSE working at the forefront of research on urbanisation, planning and development. Our courses provide students with the ability to become critical, reflective practitioners and leaders in their chosen fields. Our students have gone on to work in major international organisations, local and regional government, universities, NGOs, think tanks and top architectural and planning consultancies.


Our internationally recognised research is both local and global in scope. One strand focuses on the social and spatial dimensions of urbanisation and development in cities of the Global South. The second focuses on the economics and politics of land use and planning in cities around the world. 

Our research engages broad theoretical questions but we also have a strong tradition of innovative, international and comparative fieldwork. We take seriously a place-based approach to research, which is foundational to our contributions to urban planning, urban studies and human geography. We are interested in global transformations and the human-level consequences that arise from them in different places.

Our current research addresses questions about cities, infrastructure, politics, class, migration, security, gender and race. Central to our research and teaching are questions such as:

  • How do we plan for a rapidly urbanising world?
  • How does the urban travel across geographies? Do cities in the Global South provide an alternative source of imagining the urban?
  • How can infrastructure be planned and governed in a regional context?
  • How are interconnected forms of racial and spatial difference produced, reproduced, and transformed?
  • How is displacement and dispossession to be re-conceptualised?
  • How does global environmental change shape processes of urbanisation and development?
  • How do we understand violence and security in the cities of the South?
  • How do people conduct everyday lives in conditions of urban inequality?
  • Is the ‘feminisation of poverty’ more or less likely to persist as societies urbanise?


We are a unique and interdisciplinary group of scholars working at the interface of human geography, planning and urban studies.  

Academic staff

Dr Ryan CentnerAssistant Professor of Urban Geography

Prof Sylvia ChantProfessor of Development Geography

Prof Ian GordonEmeritus Professor of Human Geography

Dr Nancy HolmanAssociate Professor of Urban Planning

Prof Gareth A. JonesProfessor of Urban Geography

Dr Alicia Hayashi Lazzarini, LSE Fellow in Human Geography

Dr Murray LowAssociate Professor of Human Geography

Dr Alan MaceAssociate Professor of Urban Planning Studies

Prof Claire MercerProfessor of Human Geography

Dr Ulises Moreno-Tabarez, Postdoctoral Associate

Dr Erica Pani, Assistant Professor of Local Economic Development and Planning

Dr Niranjana Ramesh, Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow

Dr Romola SanyalAssociate Professor of Urban Geography 

Kath Scanlon, Distinguished Policy Fellow at LSE London

Dr Deen Shariff Sharp, LSE Fellow in Human Geography

Prof Hyun Bang Shin, Professor of Geography & Urban Studies

Dr Jayaraj Sundaresan, LSE Fellow in Human Geography

Dr Meredith Whitten, ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr Austin ZeidermanAssociate Professor of Geography


Seminar Series

The cluster runs the Urbanisation, Planning and Development Seminar Series. These seminars are organised by Dr Ryan Centner as part of a series of expert-led discussions. The seminars are open to all.


Summer School

The cluster runs three Summer School courses:

LSE Summer School ‘An urbanising world: the future of global cities’ with Professor Hyun Bang Shin and Dr Austin Zeiderman.

LSE/PKU Summer School ‘The political economy of urbanisation in China and Asia: globalisation and uneven development’ with Professor Hyun Bang Shin.

LSE/UCT Summer School ‘Urban development and planning in Africa’ with Professor Gareth Jones and Dr Ryan Centner.


Links to LSE Institutes

Staff in the cluster play a key role in LSE’s global centres and institutes. 

Professor Gareth Jones is Director of the Latin American and Caribbean Centre and a founding member of the International Institute for Inequalities.

Professor Hyun Bang Shin is Director of the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre

Professor Claire Mercer is a member of the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa.


Recent Research  


Centner, Ryan (2013) ‘Distinguishing the right kind of city: contentious urban middle classes in Argentina, Brazil and Turkey’, In  T. Samara, S. He, and G. Chen (eds) Locating the Right to the City in the Global South (London: Routledge) 

Chant, Sylvia (2016) ‘Women, girls and world poverty: empowerment, equality or essentialism?’ International Development Planning Review, 38:1, 1-24 

Holman, Nancy, Alessandra Mossa and Erica Pani (2018) ‘Planning, value(s) an the market: an analytic for ‘what comes next?’’ Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 50, 3, 608-626

Jones, Gareth and Dennis Rodgers (2016) ‘Standing on the shoulders of giants? Anthropology and the city’, Etnofoor, 28, 2, 13-32

Lees, Loretta; Hyun Bang Shin and Ernesto Morales (2016) Planetary Gentrification (Cambridge: Polity Press)

Mace, Alan (2018) ‘The Metropolitan Green Belt ‐ changing an institution’, Progress in Planning, 121, 1-28

Mercer, Claire (2017) ‘Landscapes of extended ruralisation: postcolonial suburbs in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 42, 1, 72-83

Sanyal, Romola (2018) ‘Managing through ad hoc measures: Syrian refugees and the politics of waiting in Lebanon’ Political Geography 66, 67-75

Zeiderman, Austin (2016) Endangered city: the politics of security and risk in Bogotá (Durham: Duke University Press)

Fellows, past and present

Cowan, Tom (2018) ‘The urban village, agrarian transformation, and rentier capitalism in Gurgaon, IndiaAntipode 50, 5, 1244-1266. 

Evans, Alice (2014) ‘“Women can do what men can do”: the causes and consequences of flexibility in gender divisions of labour in Kitwe, Zambia’, Journal of Southern African Studies 40:5, 991-998. 

Lazzarini, Alicia H. 2017. “Gendered Labour, Migratory Labour: Reforming Sugar Regimes in Xinavane, Mozambique.” Journal of Southern African Studies 43(3): 605-623. DOI: 10.1080/03057070.2016.1197695

Luger, Jason and Julie Ren (eds.) (2017) Art and the city: Worlding the discussion through a critical artscape (Oxon: Routledge). 

Paccoud, Antoine and Alan Mace (2017) ‘Tenure change in London’s suburbs: Spreading gentrification or suburban upscaling?’ Urban Studies, 55, 6, 1313-1328.

Nogueira-Teixiera, Mara 

Ryburn, Megan (2018) Uncertain citizenship: everyday practices of Bolivian migrants in Chile (Oakland, University of California Press). 

Sharp, Deen (2019) ‘Difference as Practice: Diffracting Geography and the Area Studies Turn,’ Progress in Human Geography 43, 5, pp.835-852.

Sundaresan, Jayaraj (2019) ‘Urban planning in vernacular governance: land use planning and violations in Bangalore, India’ Progress in Planning.

Recent Cluster PhD Students

Antona, Laura (forthcoming) ‘Making hidden spaces visible: using drawing as a method to illuminate new geographies’ Area.

Birkinshaw, Matt (2016) ‘Politics, information technology and informal infrastructures in urban governance’, Economic and Political Weekly, 5, 57-63.

Gibbons, Andrea (2018) City of Segregation: 100 years of struggle for housing in Los Angeles, Verso. 

Koh, Sin Yee (2017) Race, education and citizenship: mobile Malaysians, British colonial legacies, and a culture of migration, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.  

Materka, Edyta (2017) Dystopia's Provocateurs: Peasants, State, and Informality in the Polish-German Borderlands, Indiana University Press (winner of Heldt Prize). 

Mohan, Taneesha  (2010) ‘Interrogating temporal and spatial negotiations: home as a gendered site for working women in Delhi”, S. Raju and K. Lahiri -Dutt (eds) Doing gender, doing geography: emerging research in India, pp152- 173, New Delhi: Routledge. 

Navarette, Pablo and Nicolas Navarrete (2017) ‘Unleashing waste-pickers’ potential: supporting recycling cooperatives in Santiago de Chile’, World Development, 101, 293-310. 

Oh, Do Young (2018)

Pettit, Harry (2018) ‘Hopeful city: meritocracy and affect in Global Cairo’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.

Ramalho, J. (2018) 'Empowerment in the era of resilience building: gendered participation in community-based (disaster) risk management in the Philippines', International Development Planning Review. 

Suckling, Chris (2016) ‘Chain work: the cultivation of hierarchy in Sierra Leone’s cannabis economy’ Review of African Political Economy, 43, 148, 206-226.

Uribe, Simon (2017) Frontier Road: Power, History, and the Everyday State in the Colombian Amazon, Wiley Blackwell.  

Zhao, Yimin (2017) ‘Space as method’, City, 21, 2, 190-206.