Gareth is Professor of Urban Geography and Director of the MSc Urbanisation & Development programme.
From 2016 to 2022 Gareth was the Director of the LSE Latin America and Caribbean Centre (LACC). In this time the Centre established collaborations with InterAmerican Development Bank, CAF Development Bank, and Canning House, and with universities in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Cuba, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the US. The Centre’s research programme managed £4.1 million research grants across six programmes. The blog - in English, Spanish and Portuguese – was the UK’s most read on the region, supported by a significant social media network, and made LACC a ‘go to’ source for international news organisations, think tanks and governments.
Gareth’s current research involves four principal projects. First, research that examines the intersection of cities, youth and violence. Through the 2000s, Gareth conducted ethnography with a group of ‘street youth’ in Mexico, noting how they related to civil society groups, security agencies and the wider state. This work included understanding the role of gangs, the drug economy and violence, and motivated the volume Youth Violence in Latin America: Gangs and juvenile justice in perspective (edited with D. Rodgers, Macmillan-Palgrave). He is presently involved with a five-year European Research Council project entitled Gangs, Gangsters, and Ganglands: Towards a Global Comparative Ethnography, for which he serves on the International Advisory Panel and is undertaking ethnographic fieldwork in Mexico.
Second, he has been Co Principal Investigator on an ESRC-NWO-DFG grant, with Professors Rivke Jaffe (Amsterdam) and Eveline Dürr (LMU), investigating the commodification of urban poverty and violence in four cities in the Americas: Kingston, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans. The research has looked at how inequality, represented through violence and poverty, has become a chic USP for certain communities and agents, sometimes incorporated into city branding, but often highly contested by residents and activists.
Third, research in South Africa considers how gated estates ‘do work’ to affirm class positions, ideas of whiteness, and associating exclusionary practices with ‘good governance’, the management of nature, and the symbolism of architecture and lifestyle. Research in Johannesburg follows how residents of a large township adjacent to a cluster of high-end estates gain skills and conduct labour, and how the estates organise and understand their social responsibilities to workers and neighbours. These projects are in collaboration with Richard Ballard at University of Witswatersrand.
Fourth, funded by a British Academy award on the ‘Infrastructure and Well-Being’ programme, Gareth is PI for the project ‘Engineering food: infrastructure exclusion and ‘last mile’ delivery in Brazilian favelas’. This research, with Dr Mara Nogueira (Birkbeck), Dr Aiko Ikemura Amaral (KCL), and in collaboration with Insper, looks at how food is made available in favela and occupations in Belo Horizonte and São Paulo, Brazil. With fieldwork conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, the research has used the notion of ‘social infrastructure’ to look at how neighbourhoods and civil society responded to make food accessible, and how households relate to food practices, nutrition, and memory.