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Juan Miguel Kanai

Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Sheffield

J. Miguel Kanai is an urban geographer. His work engages the urbanisation of the world under contemporary globalised capitalism. He is specifically concerned with the consequences of intensified inter-territorial competition and the various entrepreneurial strategies adopted by cities and regions in the global South as these are pressured to achieve economic upgrading and provide world-class infrastructure amidst unmet social needs and political contentiousness.

His previously published work includes multiple peer-reviewed articles in international geography and interdisciplinary journals taking stock of the consequences and motivations of culture-led regeneration schemes in Buenos Aires, Argentina as well as the rise of eco-entrepreneurialism in the Brazilian state of Amazonas and the urban and regional implications of Manaus’ rise as a city with global aspirations. He has also published collaborative work questioning urban entrepreneurial strategies in the United States and Morocco, and is currently engaged in a bibliometric project taking stock of the cosmopolitan turn in urban globalization research since the turn of the twenty-first century.

Before moving to the University of Sheffield, he taught at the University of Miami (2008-2015) and was a research officer at the London School of Economics affiliated with the Urban Age project (2005-2006). His teaching experience also includes short-term appointments in planning departments at the University of California, Irvine and the University of Southern California as well as international experience lecturing at the Federal University of Amazonas (Brazil) and Henan University (People’s Republic of China). He holds a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles (2008).

His paper “Paving (through) Amazonia: neoliberal urbanism and the reperipheralization of Roraima” (Environment and Planning A) co-authored with the late Rafael da Silva Oliveira received an Ashby Prize in 2014.


  • 2019–present
    Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield
  • 2016–2019
    Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Sheffield


  • 2008 
    University of California, Los Angeles, PhD in Urban Planning