Job title: Global Challenges Chancellor's Fellow

Email: aidan.mosselson@ed.ac.uk

Research outputs: Dr Aidan Mosselson on Edinburgh Research Explorer

I am a Chancellor’s Fellow in the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Edinburgh. My research interests focus on urban development in the Global South, migration, infrastructures, the politics of the everyday and relationships between space and social identities.

I completed my PhD in Social Geography at University College London in 2015. Prior to undertaking my PhD, I was employed as an Associate Lecturer in the Sociology Department at the University of the Witwatersrand. I held a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship, hosted jointly between the University of Johannesburg and the Gauteng City-Region Observatory, between 2016 and 2017 and was awarded an International Fellowship by the Urban Studies Foundation which supported a stint as a Visiting Fellow at LSE Cities between November 2017 and April 2018. Prior to joining ESALA I was a Newton International Fellow based in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, University of Sheffield.

I have teaching experience in South Africa and the UK and have taught at undergraduate and postgraduate level. I have fulfilled various teaching roles, including delivering lectures and tutorials for students at undergraduate level and running seminars and contributing guest lectures for Masters courses. I have also run skills development tutorials and worked with students on practice-based modules aimed at exploring ways to bridge the worlds of practice and theory. 

Prior to joining ESALA I supervised Masters students completing their dissertations in the University of Sheffield’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. The students that I supervised  worked on a broad range of topics, including waterfront redevelopment in Korea, youth participation in regeneration initiatives in Thailand and sustainable large-scale housing developments in the UK.

Since joining ESALA I have contributed to teaching on the courses Architectural Theory and Sustainable Design Methodologies.

My research interests focus on some of the key issues shaping urbanisation and development processes in South Africa, the UK and cities across the globe, and contribute new perspectives for analysing process of urban change; questions of race, identity and belonging; security and policing practices in fraught urban environments; urban governance processes in the era of neoliberalism; postcolonial theory; heterogenous socio-material infrastructures and embodied and affective forms of labour; and urban politics at various scales.

Through research in inner-city Johannesburg, I contribute new perspectives for analysing the politics of urban regeneration processes in the Global South and thinking through planning, urban governance and development practices in postcolonial settings. Focussing on the politics of urban regeneration, housing provision and security and policing in the inner-city, this research challenges assumptions that experiences around the globe converge and can be easily captured by terms such as gentrification, revanchism or neoliberal urbanism. Rather, I point to the complexity, contradictory nature and diversity of agendas and outcomes that frame urban interventions. I argue for vernacular understandings of urban processes, drawing attention to the creativity, experiments and competing logics that characterise the actions of developmental practitioners, security personnel and local governments. My research also documents the everyday experiences of people inhabiting urban areas characterised by rapid change, fear and insecurity, contemporary and historic forms of exclusion, contests over space, and novel forms of postcolonial citizenship and belonging. I have produced a monograph entitled Vernacular Regeneration: low-income housing, private policing and urban transformation in inner-city Johannesburg, published by Routledge in 2019, as well as chapters in edited collections and a series of articles in leading urban studies and geography journals based on this research. 

I recently completed a two-year project funded by the British Academy focussing on migration, taken-for-granted, unseen labour and infrastructures in UK cities. The research explores infrastructural and affective dimensions of the hostile environment and the ways in which refugees are both emplaced and displaced from everyday life in cities in the UK. Focussing on the experiences of refugees employed in warehouses and distribution centres, I highlight how low-wage, low-skill work in platform economies recreates and contributes to processes of racailisation and dehumanisation. 

My future research plans centre on migration governance, resource conservation and mobility justice in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as relationships between infrastructures and processes of racailisation.