urban inequality; governance; urban flooding and disaster; climate adaptation; digital urbanism; smart city; Caribbean cities; entrepreneurship; Global South; comparative Geography.
I am associate professor International Development Studies at the Department of Geography, Planning and International Development Studies (GPIO). Having a background in Human Geography, I have a key interest in spatial dimensions of development issues, in particular those related to urbanization and cities. Leading in my work is a focus on exclusion and inequality. These themes come back in more specific topics that I work on such as digital urbanism, smart cities, well being economics, flood adaptation and disaster governance. Geographically, my expertise is in small and medium cities in The Caribbean, and increasingly on coastal cities in South Asia. Recently I have started to work in Amsterdam as well.
I teach within the (Research) master programs International Development Studies; Human Geography, and; Urban Studies, and in the Bachelor programs Human Geography and Urban Planning, and; Future Planet Studies.
Having a background in human geography, I have a key interest in spatial dimensions of development issues, in particular those related to urbanization and cities. This also allows me to combine literature from Development Studies and from Urban Geography. Leading in my work is a focus on exclusion and inequality. These themes come back in more specific topics that I work on such as urban governance and spatial planning; digital urbanism and Smart Cities; climate change adaptation; urban floods and disaster; livelihoods and entrepreneurship. Geographically, my experise is in small and medium cities in The Caribbean, and increasingly on coastal cities in South Asia.
Methodologically, I usually conduct mixed methods research, including qualitative, quantitative and spatial methods of data collection and analysis. Where possible I take a comparative approach, combining very different cases.
Currently I work on three research projects:
Climate change presents one of the main challenges to contemporary and future cities, especially those in coastal zones. It may pose new risks or exacerbate existing environmental, economic and social risks. In port cities around the world, private, public and civil actors are tackling anticipated climate change risks, both as individual actors and in joint efforts. While climate governance research emphasizes the relevance of the private sector in addressing risks, in practice it treats the sector as one category, ignoring sectoral diversity, for example in business size. Furthermore we know very little about how local complexities, and characteristics of businesses and entrepreneurs shape the development of responses. Despite their vulnerability to climate change risks and economic importance, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are overlooked in these debates. This project therefore studies the attempts of SMEs to navigate climate change risks. It explores how entrepreneurship and urban governance intersect in addressing urban climate change risks. It does so through a comparative study of multiple Caribbean and Asean cities
Over the last decade Smart City has increasingly become a popular urban policy approach of cities in both the Global North and Global South. Such approaches focus on digital and technological driven urban innovation and are often considered to be a universal solution to varied urban problems in different cities. The considerable consequences of Smart City strategies call for critical engagement with the rationale, methods, target group and implications of Smart City approaches in different urban contexts. The aim of this project is to further such critical engagement by distilling dimensions absent in current smart urbanism. The project focuses on three dimensions that facilitate a comprehensive analysis of what Smart City-policies mean for contemporary urban life: 1) the acknowledgement that the urban is not confined to the administrative boundaries of a city; 2) importance of local social-economic, cultural-political and environmental contingencies in analysing the development, implementation and effects of Smart City-policies; and, 3) the social-political construction of both the urban problems Smart City policies aim to solve and the considered solutions. Within this project case studies from cities across the globe are central.
This project analyses, develops and shares successful strategies and arguments on ‘Leaving Fossil Fuels Underground’ (LFFU) emerging from Africa and Latin America at multiple levels of governance. We assess these LFFU initiatives - with a special focus on LFFU in South Africa and Ecuador and their potential for upscaling in other countries and regions.
For fossil fuel rich low and middle income countries LFFU seems to present negative trade-offs with other important national concerns such aspoverty, inequality, employment and energy access. Nevertheless, LFFU is proposed by various local communities, civil society organizations and scientists in Africa and Latin America - frequently supported by transnational networks. LFFU initiatives have the potential to simultaneously combat socio-environmental injustice, ecosystem degradation, climate change and achieve inclusive and sustainable development.
The climate challenge requires aglobal phase out of fossil fuels and calls for a global transition. Through aprocess of co-creating new knowledge with various stakeholders as well as connecting to, and expanding, existing networks, this project expects to have positive impact on the promotion of LFFU.
I have been involved in several collaborative research programs with the University of the Westindies, University of Guyana and the Anton de Kom University of Suriname on knowledge, spatial planning and climate change (see www.bluespaceCaribbean.com). I hold a guest research position at the UNESCO-IHE in Delft (since 2013) and am appointed as Global Advisor to the UN Global Compact Cities Programme. I am a member of the Advisory board of CEDLA and the Center for Urban Studies. Finally, I am a board member of Stichting Vista, and advisor to the Johan Ferrier Fonds.
Arjen Alberts (tourism) St Martin and Aruba)
Mustika Angraeni (participation in environmental governance, Indonesia)
Ricardo Fuentealbes Fuentes (urban disasters, Chili)
Arthur Rempel (Leaving Fossil Fuels underground, South Africa)
Margot Hurlbert (2016): Adaptive governance of disaster: Drought and flood in rural areas
Tara Saharan (2018): Slum' and the city: Exploring relations of informal settlements comparatively in Chennai, India and Durban, South Africa
Simona Vezzoli (2015): Borders, Independence and Post-Colonial Ties: the Role of the State in Caribbean Migration.
As off September 2017 I am program director of the Bachelor Human Geography and urban Planning, the Master Human Geography and the Master Urban and Regional Planning. Prior to this I was program Director of the Research Master Urban Studies.
While my current focus is more on teaching management and my involvement in courses is modest, I have taught multiple courses related to International Development Studies in general, to Urban Studies and to Research Methods and Techniques. These courses are part of the curriculum of the Research Master International Development Studies, the Master International Development Studies and in the Master Human Geography. I am still involved in student fieldwork and thesis-writing.
As of 2017 I hold a STQ (Senior Teaching Qualification).
The MSc-IDS provides students with a thorough background in contemporary theories and debates in international development, as well as specific insights into key themes within international development processes. A characteristic feature of this Master’s programme is a fieldwork period of roughly 8-10 weeks in country in the global south.Within this program I taught the compulsory course Core Issues in International Development Studies: theoretical approaches and current debates and the elective course Urban Inequalities. In addition I supervise MA-fieldwork and thesis projects focusing on the Caribbean, on urban development, climate change, inequality and exclusion and livelihood and entrepreneurship.
The RM-IDS focuses on development processes and transformations and shifting balances of power in the Global South. It concentrates on current debates on political, social, cultural, environmental and economic issues. The programme trains students in a variety of research methodologies and techniques to understand these processes from a predominantly Southern and internationally comparative perspective. Within this program I taught the compulsory course Research Design: Mixed Methods. In addition, I supervise students with fieldwork, thesis writing and article development, mostly, but not exclusively linked to my research interests.
The Msc HG at the University of Amsterdam has a focus on urban and political geographies. The programme offers four specialisations: Economic Geography, Environmental Geography, Political Geography and Urban Geography. In this program I have taught a course on Development Geography and I am involved in the Urban Geography track. Currently I am the program director of this program.
New conditions of the network society and relational geography have rapidly influenced urban and regional development. The Master’s programme in Urban and Regional Planning offers a broad training in urban and regional planning, with a focus on strategic planning, climate proof cities, mobility in transformative spaces as well as urban planning and property-led development. During the programme, students focus on innovative forms of planning aimed at solving problems of collective action in metropolitan areas. Currently I am the program director of this progr
Geographers and Planners engage with spatial organisation and use on mutliple levels across the globe. By studying Human Geography and Planning students develop a spatial lense on the world. They focus on relations between people and their environments and study interactions and tensions between people and space. Recently we have redisgned the curriculum of this program. I am involved in the courses Geographies of Inequality, Inleiding Sociale Geografie and Methoden en Technieken 3. Currently I am program director of this program