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LCS-GY201: Urban Development in Africa

(Revised for 2016)

This course explores the challenges and opportunities of African urban development, engaging intensively with sites in Cape Town while also drawing on lessons from other African cities within and beyond South Africa. In order to understand contemporary urban issues, we critically examine histories of development and inequality, and contemporary dynamics of making, transforming, and managing cities. Through the work of major urban theorists and researchers, as well as and 4-5 fieldtrips, we explore some of the many economic activities and social relations through which cities are constituted. Overall, the course aims to develop critical comparative thinking about urban processes on the African continent.

Full course outline

About the Instructors


Dr Ryan Centner is an urban geographer and sociologist at the London School of Economics. His research and writing focus on urban transformation as it is related to large-scale economic and political shifts, as well as how it matters for life on the ground in terms of social and spatial changes. Connections between redevelopment, struggles over space, and the politics of citizenship feature prominently in this scholarship.

Most of his work has dealt with middle-income countries (especially Argentina, Brazil, and Turkey), but he also has experience with cases in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and the South Pacific. Prior to joining the LSE, he was Assistant Professor of Sociology at Tufts University, and has held visiting affiliations at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Universidad de Buenos Aires.

He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. His research has been published in various academic journals, including Environment & Planning, the International Journal of Urban & Regional Research, and City & Community.


Dr Shari Daya’s research interests lie in the sub-discipline of cultural geography and her theoretical work focuses on questions of modernity and identity in the global South - particularly Africa and India. She is also interested to understand how modernity is not just talked and written about, but embodied, enacted and otherwise materialised in everyday life. To this end, she explores how people imagine and participate in systems of production and consumption – looking at formal, informal and ‘ethical’ economies.

Her current research examines the cultural economies of craft in urban Cape Town, alternative economies in Cape Town, and the literary geographies of modernity in urban India.


Professor Gareth Jones is an urban geographer at London School of Economics where he teaches on urban theory and ethnography on the MSc Urbanisation & Development. He is founding member of the newly established International Institute on Inequalities and is currently setting up a Latin America and Caribbean Centre.

His research has focused on the politics and representations of the urban poor, youth and violence, elite identities and gated communities, and comparative urban theory. He has mostly conducted research in Mexico, Brazil and South Africa, and is presently involved with an ESRC-NWO-DFG grant with colleagues at universities of Amsterdam and Munich on the commodification of poverty and violence in Brazil, Jamaica, Mexico and the USA.