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Urban Uncertainty report launch

Report launch hosted by LSE Cities

Projections of uncertain futures pervade public and political debates around the world. Spectres of natural disaster, disease outbreak, economic crisis, infrastructural breakdown and violent conflict persistently threaten to disrupt city life. Social, economic and political stability have become central concerns for urban governance, development and planning. With future projections, calculations and imaginings increasingly shaping space, politics and everyday life throughout the contemporary urban world, there is a political imperative to plan for and manage uncertainty. But with what effects, and for whom?

The launch of the Urban Uncertainty report explored these issues in the context of an LSE Cities research project led by Austin Zeiderman from 2012 to 2015. The research team, which included Sobia Ahmad Kaker, Jonathan Silver and Astrid Wood, incorporated anthropology, geography, politics and planning to focus on the environment, security, infrastructure and transportation in Latin America, Africa and Asia. It aimed to conceptualise uncertainty and better understand how, and with what effects, uncertainty interacts with and shapes urban life. The report launch involved a presentation of the project’s key findings by three of the lead researchers, commentary by Adriana Allen and a panel discussion chaired by Ricky Burdett.


  • Sobia Ahmad Kaker

    Sobia Ahmad Kaker

    Dr Sobia Ahmad Kaker is an urban studies scholar who studies issues relating to urbanisation, security and governance in global south cities. She holds a PhD degree in Architecture, Planning and Landscape from Newcastle University. Her PhD thesis titled ‘Enclaves as Process: Space, Security and Violence in Karachi’ investigates processes of enclavisation across low income and middle class neighbourhoods in Karachi. Her thesis unravels how processes of securitising ordinary residential spaces shape urban socio-political relations in ways that exacerbate conflict and violence in the already divided Pakistani megacity. Sobia has extensive research experience in leading Pakistani and British research institutions. She has worked at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Islamabad, the Collective for Social Sciences Research in Karachi, and LSE Cities in London. She is currently affiliated with the Centre for Civil Society and Human Security at the London School of Economics.

  • Jonathan Silver

    Jonathan Silver

    Jonathan is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the Urban Institute in the University of Sheffield. Where he is undertaking a project on ‘Postcolonial urbanisms and a comparative theory of infrastructure’. He holds a PhD from Durham University and an MA from the University of Manchester. As an urban geographer, his research agenda is concentrated on developing new ideas and vocabularies specialising in the politics of urban infrastructure with a specific focus on Ghana, Uganda and South Africa.

  • Austin Zeiderman

    Austin Zeiderman

    Austin Zeiderman is an interdisciplinary scholar who specializes in the cultural and political dimensions of cities, with a specific focus on Latin America. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from Stanford University as well as a Master of Environmental Science degree from Yale University. His book, Endangered City: The Politics of Security and Risk in Bogotá (2016, Duke UP), focuses on how security and risk shape the relationship between citizens and the state in the self-built settlements of the urban periphery. Austin is also beginning a new research project on urban, environmental, and infrastructural transformations motivated by the promise of a post-conflict future in Colombia.

  • Adriana Allen

    Adriana Allen

    Adriana Allen is Professor of development planning and urban sustainability at The Bartlett Development Planning (DPU) / University College London, where she leads the DPU Research Cluster on Environmental Justice, Urbanisation and Resilience and is actively engaged in various initiatives promoting trans-local learning and enhanced research capacity, both within UCL and internationally. Originally trained as an urban-regional planner, she specialised over the years in the fields of urban environmental planning and political ecology. She has 30 years of international experience in research, postgraduate teaching and consultancy undertakings in over 20 countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Her work focuses on investigating and promoting transformative links between socio-environmental change and justice and sustainability in urban and peri-urban contexts. Her most recent publications include Untamed Urbanisms (Routledge 2015) and Urban Water Trajectories (Springer 2016).

  • Ricky Burdett

    Ricky Burdett

    Ricky Burdett is Professor of Urban Studies and Director of LSE Cities and the Urban Age Programme. He sits on the Mayor of London’s Cultural Leadership Board, is a Council Member of the Royal College of Art and Trustee of the Norman Foster Foundation. He was Chief Advisor on Architecture and Urbanism for the London 2012 Olympics and architectural advisor to the Mayor of London from 2001 to 2006. He was Director of the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2006 and curator of the Global Cities exhibition at Tate Modern in 2007. Burdett has been on architectural juries for high-profile projects including Tate Modern, London’s Aquatic Centre, Rothschild Bank Headquarters, Holland Green and Elizabeth House and has worked on major regeneration projects across Europe and the USA, including the 8-million sq ft redevelopment around Penn Station in New York City. He was appointed CBE in the Queen’s 2017 New Year’s Honours List.