Menu Close

Colin McFarlane

Professor of Urban Geography, Durham University

My work focusses on the experience and politics of the city. I explore how cities are known, lived and politicised. This includes research on urban densities, infrastructures, and learning across different cities, focussing in particular on the economic margins of the city. My current work seeks to understand:

1: The experience and perception of high densities in Asian cities. This research examines how high urban densities – or ‘intensities’ - are lived and perceived in Asian cities, focusing on Mumbai, Dhaka, Hong Kong, Manila and Tokyo. It explores several themes that cut-across different sites in urban Asia: urban markets, waste and informality, urban mobility, vertical densities, and ways of seeing and knowing intensity. This research is supported through a European Research Council Consolidator grant;

2: The potential for urban equality in contemporary cities. This work examines the forms of knowledge, distribution and recognition required for equality in various cities across Asia, Africa and South America. This is a large project supported by an GCRF grant, on which I am one of several co-investigators.

I am author of 'Learning the City: Knowledge and Translocal Assemblage' (Blackwell), a book focussed on the intersections between urban inequality, materiality, resistance and learning, as well as related edited collections, including: 'Smart Urbanism: Utopian Vision or False Dawn?' (Routledge, with Simon Marvin and Andres Luque-Ayala), 'Infrastructural Lives: Urban Infrastructure in Context' (Earthscan-Routledge, with Steve Graham), 'Urban Navigations: Politics, Space and the City in South Asia' (Routledge, with Jonathan Anjaria), and 'Urban Informalities: Reflections on the Formal and Informal' (Ashgate, with Michael Waibel).

My work has been previously supported by a Leverhulme Prize, an ESRC project on urban sanitation (, with Stephen Graham and Renu Desai), and an ESRC project on urban social innovation (, with Joe Painter, Paul Langley, Sue Lewis, and Antonis Vradis).


  • –present
    Professor of Urban Geography, Durham University


  • 2004 
    Durham University, PhD Geography