Cities, Environment, And Liveability

Suggested Readings

Below are some readings that have been chosen by the Cities Environment and Liveability (CEL) director and deputy directors that we have found interesting, useful and exiting. We hope that you might find them of use too. We’ll keep adding to the list so check back for new recommendations.

This article provides an example of a sociologist collaborating with a film-maker to document a work-place over an extended period of time, using an audio-visual montage approach. It offers a very thoughtful reflection on the use of creative methodologies to capture the intangible qualities of place and to evoke multi-sensory responses in its readers. In addition, it offers an empirical example derived from the writings of a philosophical writer whose work is, more typically, thought of in highly abstract terms.

  • Foster, K. and Lorimer, H. (2007) Some reflections on art-geography as collaboration. Cultural Geographies, 14, pp. 425-432.

An admirably clear articulation of the issues and opportunities afforded when academic and artistic cultures are brought together in collaborative work. This might serve as a primer for…

  • Wylie, J. and Webster, C. (2018) Eye‐opener: Drawing landscape near and far. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, forthcoming,

An in-depth analysis of a creative collaboration between a cultural geographer and a visual artist. Reflects on the use of drawing and painting to mediate theoretical/philosophical understandings of landscape. The substantive focus on landscape speaks to the wider pathway themes.

  • Back, L., Shamser S., with C. Bryan. New hierarchies of belonging. European Journal of Cultural Studies 15.2 (2012): 139-154.

A critical contribution to debates about multiculturalism, the governance of migrant communities and questions of belonging in contemporary cities. I think it is valuable for students on the pathway as it raises questions of participatory research and the ethical obligations of social science research to research participants. So, what happens when research that works across disciplines also transcends the typical line of researcher and research participant.

  • Wacquant, L. (2014). ‘Marginality, ethnicity and penality in the neo-liberal city: an analytic cartography’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 37(10), 1687-1711.

This reading provides an example of a theroretical approach which unifies empirical investigation and theory in developing new lines of inquiry which transcend disciplinary boundaries.  Wacquant follows the questions raised during his “research-theorising” on the US ghetto, which leads him to new areas and fields (e.g. criminology, punishment) of academic inquiry and “specialism”, which he brings into one analytical frame.

  • Easthope, H. (2004). A place called home. Housing, theory and society, 21(3), 128-138. –

This article shows a mastery of literature across disciplines and provides a brilliant example of how to synthesize insights from different fields.

This reading shows the value of a historical perspective in making sense of the present and argues that contemporary social scientists are guilty of a pernicious “present-centredness” with reference to the English city riots of 2011.

  • Lancione, M. (2014). The spectacle of the poor. Or: ‘Wow!! Awesome. Nice to know that people care!’. Social & Cultural Geography, 15(7), 693-713.  

This paper shows how empirical data can be drawn upon and collated in very innovative and imaginative ways in shedding light on social issues such as homelessness and care.

  • Pinker, A and Harvey, (2015) Negotiating uncertainty: neoliberal statecraft in contemporary Peru. Social Analysis 62 pp. 15-31.

I think this paper is a brilliant example of using ethnographic study to illuminate how micro-affective moments can be critical to determining negotiations and in turn urban politics.

  • Purcell, M (2013) The Deep Down Delight of Democracy. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford.

A fantastic and accessible journey through key theoretical seeking to develop a hopeful treatise on the possibilities for urban democracy rooted in everyday practice.

  • Easterling, K (2014) Extrastatecraft: the power of infrastructure space. Verso, New York.

This book is artfully written and make an impressive argument on the ever-increasing role of infrastructure in shaping and governing everyday life, situated in the context of a ‘global corporate order’ of capital.

  • Brown-Saracino, J. (2009) A Neighbourhood that Never Changes: Gentrification, Social Preservation and the Search for Authenticity. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

This is a beautifully written book that explores the everyday processes of gentrification focusing on the beliefs, practices and motives that drive processes of gentrification. Based on a really engaging ethnography of two New England towns and two Chicago neighbourhoods it busts many of the myths surrounding gentrification and provides a great example of how to do comparative research well.

  • Datta, A. (2018) The digital turn in postcolonial urbanism: Smart citizenship in the making of India’s 100 smart cities. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 43, pp. 405-419.

This paper is a really good example of postcolonial urban scholarship. It is also an important work that explores the emerging ‘digital turn’ toward smart cities in the postcolonial context.

  • Chatterton, P. (2018) Unlocking Sustainable Cities: A Manifesto for Real Change. Pluto Press.

This book is a really good example of how to combine scholarly research with campaigning/activism. It explores the ways in which urban innovators are unlocking the potential of real sustainability by taking back cities from corporate investors. There’s a really interesting accompanying website with sample chapters at