The Politics of urban expertise: experts, devices and the production of space in London and Cape Town

This research project investigates the politics of urban expertise in the context of urban regeneration schemes in Cape Town and London. Paying attention to the politics of scientific techniques, materials and experts, this research builds on science and technology studies and critical urban geography to unveil the process through which dominant ways of seeing the city are produced, and how in turn they impact the production of space. In doing so, it seeks to answer the following questions: how do dominant systems of urban expertise emerge and maintain their hegemony over the production of urban space in particular places, and at a given point in time? What type of abstract understandings of urban space do those hegemonic systems of urban expertise produce? How do these abstract understandings of space translate into spatial transformations? Is this process of translation resisted? What kinds of processes underpin the production of alternative forms of urban expertise?

This work engages with contemporary urban scholarship looking at the role of science and techniques in the production of telescopic forms of urbanism, and the politicization of experts’ activities. It argues that contemporary city-making is characterized by the dominance of a ‘financialised gaze’ in the design and implementation of redevelopment policy, and shows that this gaze has permeated public sector practices. The research also highlights how community organizations and engaged urbanists resist this gaze, exploring the mechanics of counter-expertise and their capacity to generate alternative urban futures.


Robin, E. & Acuto, M. (2018). Global urban policy and the geopolitics of urban dataPolitical Geography 66. 76-87

Robin, E. & Brill, F. (2018). The global politics of an urban age: Creating 'cities for all' in the age of financialisation. Palgrave Communications 4(3), 1-5

Robin, E. (2018). Performing real estate value(s): real estate developers, systems of expertise and the production of spaceGeoforum DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2015.05.006