About Faranak Miraftab
I am an urban scholar of globalization. My scholarship is situated at the intersection of sociology, geography, planning, and feminist studies, using case study and ethnographic methodologies. My research concerns social and institutional aspects of urban development and planning that address basic human needs including housing and urban infrastructure and services that support it. I am particularly interested in the global and local development processes and contingencies involved in the formation of the city and citizens’ struggles for dignified livelihood — namely, how groups disadvantaged by class, gender, race, and ethnicity mobilize for resources such as shelter, basic infrastructure, and services and how institutional arrangements facilitate and frustrate provision and access to such vital urban resources.
A native of Iran, over the years my research and teaching has spanned several regions including the Middle East, Latin America, Southern Africa, and North America. In the 1990s, I studied this relationship through the experience of low-income communities, particularly female-headed households in Latin America; since the late-1990s I studied the struggle for justice and equity through the experience of racialized township residents in post-apartheid South Africa. My most recent work among immigrants and displaced laborers in the US is culmination of my earlier research revealing the intimate connections in community development processes across the globe including Michoacán, Mexico, Lomé, Togo and the rustbelt of United States. My Global Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives and Local Placemaking, which won several book awards, through a multi-sited ethnography and a relational frame of analysis exposes global inequalities and development connections and dependencies that intimately connect communities across the globe, in specific revealing the role of transnational families and their everyday practices of care. For a documentary based on Global Heartland interviews, see “Moving Flesh,” produced by artist-scholar-activists Sarah Ross and Ryan Griffis.
In 2014 I was selected as University Scholar, a prestigious award the University of Illinois bestows on its faculty for excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service.
- PhD, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA
- MA, Norwegian Institute of Technology, Trondheim, Norway
- Undergrad studies, Tehran University, College of Fine Arts, Tehran, Iran
Research and publications
Ongoing and upcoming research
Feminist anti-racist grassroots practices, 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
2019, Miraftab, F. Salo, K. Huq, E. Aristabal D. and Ashtari A. (eds). Constructing Solidarities for a Humane Urbanism. Open source e-Book. DOI: https://doi.org/10.21900/pww.5
2016, Miraftab, F. Global Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives and Local Placemaking. Bloomington: Indiana University press.
- Winner: Davidoff Book Award, Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP)
- Winner: Global & Transnational Sociology section Book Award, American Sociological Association (ASA)
- Finalist: C. Wright Mills Book Award, Society for Study of Social Problems (SSSP)
- For reviews of the Global Heartland see IJURR (PDF); Antipode (PDF); Urban Studies (PDF); AAG Annals (PDF); Contemporary Sociology (PDF) and Social Forces (PDF).
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.
2015, 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).
Keynote Address at 2016 World Congress of Planning Schools
"Insurgency, Planning, and the Prospect of Humane Urbanism" (PDF) Keynote delivered at the opening of the World Congress of Planning Schools. "Global Crisis, Planning and Challenges to Spatial Justice." July 3-7 2016, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- For Portuguese translation see "Insurgência, planejamento e a perspectiva de um urbanismo humano.” Revista Brasileira de Estudos Urbanos e Regionais, v. 18, n. 3, 2016, pp. 363-377.
- For Spanish translation see "Insurgencia, planificación y la perspectiva de un urbanismo humano.” Territorios Revista de estudios urbanos y regionales / Bogotá Vol 38, 2018, pp. 215-233.
Teaching and advising
I teach at both undergraduate and graduate levels and my classes attract a multidisciplinary group of students across the campus. My teaching covers the following: planning theory, international and community development; sociocultural 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.
- UP 185: Cities in a Global Perspective
- UP 423: Grassroots Community Development in the Global South
- UP 580: Advanced Planning Theory
- UP 521: Transnational planning Seminar
(The content of this seminar has changed frequently to cover timely concerns to transnational planning, including: Globalization and Planning, Urban Management and Governance, State Decentralization, Globalization and Urban Inequalities; Transnational Urbanism; Cities and Citizenship; and Migration and Development; Displacement and Global Inequalities.)
- Fidaa Yaseen Araj, (Chair), 2006-2010, “Planning under Deep Political Conflict: The Relationship Between Forestry Planning and the Struggle over Space in the Palestine,” Assistant Professor at An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine.
- Gamal Ahmed, 2012-2016. “Peri-urbanization of Poverty, Indonesia”. Department of Urban and Regional Planning, UIUC. Assistant Professor, Dept. of Architecture, College of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia.
- Dwayne Baker, 2012-2016. “TOD and Spatial Inequalities in St Luis.” Department of Urban and Regional Planning, UIUC. Assistant Professor, Department of Urban Studies, Queens College-CUNY, New York.
- Efad Huq, 2016-present. “Reclaiming Hybrid Eco-Urbanism: Subaltern Entanglements In Dhaka’s Contested Wetlands.”
- Atyeh Ashtari, 2018-present.Gender and Urbanization.
- Faizaan Qayyum, 2018-present. Displacement and urban violence, Quetta, Pakistan.