Sophie Oldfield

Sophie Oldfield is internationally recognized for her research on cities in the Global South through her theoretical and primary research. From 2016 to 2021, she held the University of Cape Town and the University of Basel Professorship in urban studies. Passionate about fieldwork, theory, and practice, Oldfield's work is grounded in empirical and epistemological questions to engage debates on informality, planning, and governance in African cities. She has a track record of excellence in pedagogy and collaborative research practice, challenging how academics work in and between "university" and "community" Commitment to this collaborative approach lies at the heart of her research and writing on cities of the Global South. She holds degrees in geography from Syracuse University and the University of Minnesota.

Academic Research/Specialty Areas

  • Cities
  • Collaborative practice
  • Community-based planning and development
  • Housing
  • International studies in planning
  • NGOs
  • Participatory and collaborative planning
  • Social policy
  • Urbanism

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Awards, Grants, and Fellowships (Selected)

  • Society of South African Geographers Fellowship (2020)
  • Distinguished African Scholar, Cornell University (2018)
  • British Academy Newton Advanced Fellow (2015–⁠2018)
  • University of Cape town Social Responsiveness Award (2014)
  • Mandela Mellon Fellow, WEB Du Bois Institute, Harvard University (2010)

Exhibitions and Presentations (Selected)

  • Claim, Occupy, Contest, The Anthropocene, Environment, Modernity, University of Louisville, USA (April 8, 2021)
  • Urban Theory in Partnership, Zurich Human Geography Colloquium, University of Zurich, Switzerland (December 8, 2020)
  • Urban Vocabularies, TheoriSE: Southern Eastern Frontiers of the Urban, University College London Urban Laboratory (November 1, 2019)

Publications (Selected)

  • S. Oldfield (2019) Step, Step, Breathe: Running the City. Agitate: Unsettling Knowledges volume 2.
  • S. Oldfield (2019) In everyday housing struggles: Experiments in collaborative research. In: A. Roy and H. Malson (eds.) Housing Justice in Unequal Cities. Los Angeles: Institute on Inequality and Democracy, pp. 23-28.
  • S. Oldfield (2015) Between the Academy and Activism: The Urban as Political Terrain, Urban Studies, 52(11): 2072-2086.
  • Parnell, S. and Oldfield, S. (Eds.) (2014) A Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South. London: Routledge.
  • S. Oldfield and S. Greyling (2015) Waiting for the State: A Politics of Housing in South Africa. Environment and Planning A, 47: 1100-1112.
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