Faranak Miraftab

Professor of Urban and Regional Planning

PhD, University of California, Berkeley 1995

Room 218 Temple Buell Hall 611 Taft Drive
Champaign IL 61820

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: 217.265.8238
Fax: 217.244.1717

As an urban scholar of globalization my scholarship is situated at the intersection of geography, planning, and feminist studies, using case study and ethnographic methodologies. A native of Iran, I did my undergraduate studies at the College of Fine Arts at the Tehran University. I graduated with a Master's degree in Architecture at the Norwegian Institute of Technology in Trondheim and then completed my doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Over the years my research and teaching has spanned several countries including Chile, Mexico, Canada, Australia, South Africa, the United States and most recently Togo. In 2014 I was named as University Scholar, a prestigious award the University of Illinois bestows on its faculty for excellence in teaching, scholarship and service.

My research interest concerns social and institutional aspects of urban development and planning to address basic human needs including housing and urban infrastructure and services that support it. In this broad area, I am interested in the global and local development processes and contingencies involved in the formation of the city and citizens' struggles to access dignified livelihood — namely how groups disadvantaged by class, gender, race and ethnicity mobilize to access resources such as shelter, basic infrastructure and services and how the institutional arrangements facilitate and frustrate provision and access to such vital urban resources. The core concern of my research is significance of housing and urban infrastructure for equity and social justice in a global context. In the 1980s and 1990s I studied this relationship through the experience of low-income communities particularly female-headed households in Latin America; since the mid-1990s I studied the struggle for justice and equity through the experience of racialized township residents in post-apartheid South Africa. In my most recent project published as a book Global Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives and Local Placemaking I studied the relational development processes of placemaking in Togo, Mexico and Illinois. Using a relational frame of analysis that exposes global inequalities Global Heartland reveals the development connections and dependencies across seemingly far away communities across the globe that are intimately connected through everyday practices of their transnational families. My scholarship, the kind of questions I ask, the methodologies I use, and the insights I aspire to offer to the public are all greatly influenced by my activist past and drive for social justice.

My teaching covers the following: planning theory, international and community development; socio-cultural formation of cities; grassroots strategies and urban movements; global inequalities, migration and transnational urbanism; urban governance and the reconfigured state-society relations for provision of infrastructure, basic services and housing. I also serve as the Director of the PhD program and the coordinator of the Transnational Planning Stream at DURP. Students who are interested to find out more about the PhD in Regional Planning or about Transnational Planning Stream and the International Programs and Activities at DURP should consult the respective websites and feel free to contact me for further information.

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Ongoing Research Projects

Citizenship, insurgency and community development; housing and infrastructure; grassroots movements for sanitation justice; decentralization and urban governance; gendered urban insecurities; displacement, immigration and transnational developments; citizens' insurgent planning practices.

Active Research Projects:

  • Urban movements and transnational solidarities for a humane urbanism
  • Grassroots and insurgent planning practices
  • Radical care, feminism and urban theorization
  • African migration/ displacement to non-metropolitan counties in the US 
  • Global displacements, instant urbanization and camp-city formations

Selected Publications

Books

2016. Miraftab, F. Global Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives and Local Placemaking. Bloomington: Indiana University press. Global Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives and Local Placemaking

2015. Miraftab, F., D. Wilson and K. Salo (eds.) Cities and Inequalities in a Global and Neoliberal World. New York, London: Routledge. ISBN-13: 978-0415705981; ISBN-10: 0415705983. Cities and Inequalities in a Global and Neoliberal World

2014. Miraftab, F. and N. Kudva (eds.) Cities of the Global South Reader.  New York, London: Routledge. ISBN-10: 0415682266; ISBN-13: 978-0415682268 (pp. 350). Cities of the Global South Reader

2008. Beard, V., F. Miraftab and C. Silver (eds.). Planning and Decentralization: Contested Spaces for Public Action in the Global South.  New York: Routledge (Taylor and Francis). ISBN-10: 0415414989; ISBN-13: 978-0415414982 (pp. 248). Planning and Decentralization: Contested Spaces for Public Action in the Global South

1996. Miraftab, F. Women’s Empowerment: Participation in Shelter Strategies at the Community Level in Urban Informal Settlements. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS). ISBN-10: 9211312744; ISBN-13: 978-9211312744 (pp. 119). (This manuscript was commissioned by the United Nation's Women and Human Settlements Development Programme and therefore developed with that Division. it has been translated in three languages and implemented in nine countries.) Women's Empowerment: Participation in Shelter Strategies at the Community Level in Urban Informal Settlements

Refereed Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Miraftab, F. 2017a. "Insurgent Practices and Decolonization of Future(s)" in Michael Gunder, Ali Madanipour, Vanessa Watson (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Planning Theory.

 Ay, D. and Miraftab, F. 2016a. “Invented Spaces of Activism: Gezi Park and Performatiive Practices of Citizenship" in Daniel Hammett and Jean Grugel (eds.) The Handbook of International Development. Palgrave MacMillan. Pp. 555-574.

Miraftab, F. 2015a. "Crisis of Capital Accumulation and Global Restructuring of Social Reproducation: A Conceptual Note" in Anne Coles, Leslie Gray and Janet Momsen (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Development. London: Routledge. Pp. 446-451.

Miraftab, F. 2014. “Displacement: Framing the global relationally" in Framing the Global: Entry Points for the Search. Hilary Kahn (ed.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Miraftab, F. 2012e. “Colonial Present: Legacies of the Past in Contemporary Urban Practices in Cape Town, South Africa.Journal of Planning History. 11(4) 283-307.

Miraftab, F. 2012d. “Small-Town Transnationalism: Socio-Spatial Dynamics of Immigration to the Heartland" in Kathrin Wildner (ed.) The Transnationalism and Urbanism. London, New York: Routledge. Pp. 220-231.

Miraftab, F. 2012c. “Planning and Citizenship" in Rachel Weber and Randall Crane (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning. Oxford University Press. Chapter 38, pp. 1180-1204.

Miraftab, F. 2012b. “Emergent Transnational Spaces: Meat, Sweat and Global (re)Production in the Heartland.International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 36(6): 1204-1222.

Miraftab, F. 2012a. "Right to the City and the Quiet Appropriations in the Heartland,” Remaking Urban Citizenship: Organizations, Institutions, and the Right to the City, M.P. Smith and M. McQuarrie, eds. London, UK and New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. Pp. 191-202.

Miraftab, F. 2011. “Faraway Intimate Development: Global Restructuring of Social Reproduction.Journal of Planning Education and Research 31(4): 392-405.

Miraftab, F. 2011. “Symposium Introduction: Immigration and Transnationalities of Planning.Journal of Planning Education and Research 31(4): 375-378.

Miraftab, F. 2011. "Beyond Formal Politics of Planning" in Urban Politics an Interdisciplinary Dialogue, guest editors Kevin Ward and David Imbroscio. Debates and Development special edition of International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 35(4): 853-71.

Miraftab, F. 2010. “Contradictions in the Gender-Poverty Nexus: Reflections on the Privatisation of Social Reproduction and Urban Informality in South African Townships” in Silvia Chant (ed.) The International Handbook on Gender and Poverty: Concepts, Research and Policy. Edward Elgar Publishers.

Miraftab, F. 2009. “Insurgent Planning: Situating Radical Planning in the Global South.” Planning Theory 8(1): 32-50.

Diaz McConnell, E. and F. Miraftab. 2009. “Sundown Town to ‘Mexican Town’: Newcomers, Old Timers, and Housing in Small Town America,” Rural Sociology 74(4): 605-629.

Miraftab, F. and E. Diaz McConnell. 2008. “Multiculturalizing Rural Towns: Insights for Inclusive Planning.International Planning Studies 13(4): 343-360.

Beard, V, Miraftab, F and C Silver (eds). 2008. Planning and Decentralization: Contested Spaces for Public Action in the Global South New York: Routledge (Taylor and Francis).

Miraftab, F. 2008. “Decentralization and Entrepreneurial Planning,” in Victoria Beard, Faranak Miraftab and Chris Silver (eds.) Planning and Decentralization: Contested Spaces for Public Action in the Global South. New York: Routledge.Pp. 21-35

Miraftab, F. Victoria Bear and Chris Silver. 2008. “Introduction: Situating Contested Notions of Decentralized Planning in the Global South" in Victoria Beard, Faranak Miraftab and Chris Silver (eds.) Planning and Decentralization: Contested Spaces for Public Action in the Global South.  New York: Routledge. Pp. 1-18

Silver, Chris, Faranak Miraftab, and Victoria Beard. 2008. “Conclusion: Decentralized Planning and the Ways Ahead,” in Victoria Beard, Faranak Miraftab and Chris Silver (eds.) Planning and Decentralization: Contested Spaces for Public Action in the Global South. New York: Routledge. Pp. 216-224

Miraftab, F. 2007. “Governing Post-apartheid Spatiality: Implementing City Improvement Districts in Cape Town." Antipode: Radical Journal of Geography 39(4): 606-626.

Miraftab, F. 2006. "Informalizing the Means of Reproduction: The Case of Waste Collection Services in Cape Town, South Africa,” in Beneria, Lourdes and Neema Kudva (eds.) Rethinking Informalization: Precarious Jobs, Poverty and Social Protection. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University e-Publishing Program. Pp 148-162.  Open access.

Miraftab, F. 2006. "Feminist Praxis, Citizenship and Informal Politics: Reflections on South Africa’s Anti-Eviction Campaign." International Feminist Journal of Politics vol. 8.

Miraftab, F. 2006. "On Loan from Home: Women’s Participation in Formulating Human Settlements Policies” in Jaquette, Jane and Gale Summerfield (eds.) Institutions, Resources, and Mobilization: Women and Gender Equity in Development Theory and Practice. Duke University Press.

Miraftab F. and S. Wills. 2005.“Insurgency and Spaces of Active Citizenship: The Story of Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign in South Africa.Journal of Planning Education and Research 25(2):200-217.

Miraftab, F. 2005. “Making Neoliberal Governance: The Disempowering Work of Empowerment.International Planning Studies 9(4):239-259.

Miraftab, F. 2004. “Can you Belly Dance? Methodological Questions in the Era of Transnational Feminist Research.Gender, Place and Culture: Journal of Feminist Geography 11(4):595-604.

Miraftab, F. 2004. “Neoliberalism and Casualization of Public Sector Services: The Case of Waste Collection Services in Cape Town, South Africa.International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 28(4): 874-92.

Miraftab, F. 2004. “Public-private Partnerships: the Trojan Horse of Neoliberal Development?Journal of Planning Education and Research 24(1):89-101.

Miraftab, F. 2003. “The Perils of Participatory Discourse: Housing Policy in Post-apartheid South Africa.” Journal of Planning Education and Research. 22(3):226-239.

Miraftab, F. 2001. “Risks and Opportunities in Gender Gaps to Access Shelter: A Platform for Intervention.” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society. 15(1):143-160.

Miraftab, F. 2000. “Sheltering Refugees: The Housing Experience of Refugees in the Metropolitan Vancouver, Canada.” Canadian Journal of Urban Research. Vol. 9(1): 42-63.

Miraftab, F. 1999. “Sustainability in Environmental Design: Case Studies from the Vernacular Tradition in Iran.” Australian Planner Vol.36 (4): 210-215.

Miraftab, F. 1998.“Complexities of the Margin: Housing Decisions of Female Householders in Mexico.” Society and Space: Environment and Planning D Vol. 16: 289-310.

Miraftab, F. 1997. “Flirting with the Enemy: Challenges Faced by NGOs in Development and Empowerment.” Habitat International Vol 21 (4):361-375.

Miraftab, F. 1997. “Revisiting Informal Sector Homeownership: The Relevance of Household Compositions for Housing Options of the Poor.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. June Vol 21(2): 303-322.

Miraftab, F. 1996. "Space, Gender and Work: Home-Based Workers in Guadalajara, Mexico,” in Eileen Boris and Elisabeth Prugl (eds.) Homeworkers in Global Perspective: Invisible No More. New York: Routledge. Pp.63-80.

Miraftab, F. 1994. “(Re)Production at Home: Reconceptualizing Home and Family." Journal of Family Issues Sept. Vol. 15(3): 467-489.

Miraftab, F. 1993. "Shelter as Sustenance: Exclusionary Mechanisms Limiting Women's Access to Housing," in Hemalata Dandekar (ed.) Shelter, Women and Development. Ann Arbor: Wahr Publishing Co. Pp. 225-233.

Teaching and Advising

I teach at both undergraduate and graduate levels. My teaching covers the following: planning theory, international and community development; socio-cultural formation of cities; grassroots strategies; migration and transnational urbanism; the reconfigured state-society relations for provision of basic infrastructure services and housing; and a critique of the dominant global neoliberal policy framework. I also serve as the Director of the PhD program and the coordinator of the Transnational Planning Stream at DURP. Students who are interested to find out more about the PhD in Regional Planning or about Transnational Planning Stream and the International Programs and Activities at DURP should consult the respective websites and feel free to contact me for further information.

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