CSC’s Felipe Hernández appointed new director of CLAS at the University of Cambridge

CSC’s Chair, Dr Felipe Hernández, has been appointed Director of the Centre for Latin American Studies at the University of Cambridge (CLAS), becoming the first Latin American to have held that office. As the new Director, Felipe will sustain a tradition of high level interdisciplinary research and will bring along his interest in urban studies.

Congratulations, Felipe!!!


Giulia Torino to present a paper at ACIUR 2019: the annual conference of Urban and Regional Studies in Colombia

CSC’s PhD student Giulia Torino, currently in Bogotá for her doctoral fieldwork, will be presenting a paper at the annual meeting of ACIUR (the Colombian Association of Urban and Regional Studies) on 24-26 September 2019, in Barranquilla. The paper is entitled Re-ubicando la injusticia espacial en las ciudades colombianas: Raza, clase, y colonialidad en el urbanismo de Bogotá (“Relocating spatial injustice in Colombian cities: Race, class, and coloniality in Bogotá’s urbanism”). In her paper, Giulia will present a critical overview of some debates in decolonial and critical race theory and how they can be applied to the Colombian case, in order to contextualise Edward Soja’s definition of “spatial justice” in a capital city like Bogotá — characterised by racial injustice, sharp socio-spatial hierarchies and thresholds, and unequal power relations.

Cambridge “Urbanism in the Global South” doctoral workshop

The Cambridge Urbanism in the Global South working group, based among the departments of Geography, Architecture, and POLIS (Centre of Latin American Studies-CLAS; Centre of Development Studies) and co-founded by CSC’s Giulia Torino, is hosting a doctoral workshop on Publication of Research on Global South Urbanism(s) on 12 June, at POLIS, University of Cambridge.
The invited speakers include Prof Matthew Gandy (Department of Geography, University of Cambridge; Editor of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research-IJURR), Dr Sian Lazar (Department of Anthropology, University of Cambridge; Editor of the Journal of Latin American Studies) and Rebecca Bowers (South Asia Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science), Editor of the South Asia @ LSE Blog.

CSC Workshop in Krakov

Beyond Modernist Masters 1.jpeg

CSC’s Chair Felipe Hernández participated to a workshop in Krakov with a group of nine local students from the Academy of Arts, who designed a public space under the supervision of local professor Bartolomé Struzky, Dr Felipe Hernández, Australian landscape artist Charles Anderson.



CSC for the magazine of academic journalism “King’s Review”

CSC’s doctoral researcher Giulia Torino and CSC’s Chair Dr Felipe Hernández interviewed the Colombian architect, urbanist, and professor Jorge Pérez-Jaramillo for the magazine of academic journalism King’s Review based at King’s College, University of Cambridge.

The conversation touched upon a range of key topics for Colombia and its cities, from urban conflict and the Colombian peace process, to the Venezuelan migration and the role of the academia in shaping long-term urban transformation.

You can access the interview for free at:



CSC’s Angela Franco’s narratives from the “field”

CSC’s PhD student Angela Franco has recently completed over twelve months of fieldwork in Cali, Colombia. Here she shares an excerpt from her field-diary.

DSC01231.JPGThe children of the Llano Verde Biblio-Casa. Credits: Angela Franco

Building communities with books
By: Angela Franco

A few days ago, I was visiting Llano Verde, a social housing complex in Cali, Colombia, with 3,500 homes that were granted free of charge by the government to victims of the armed conflict. There live more than 15,000 people of which 98 percent are victims of forced displacement that came from different regions of the country. Despite the laudable intention of the free housing program, living in Llano Verde has not been easy. Having a home of your own is not enough to overcome poverty and definitely does not contribute to improving the employment situation of a displaced family. In fact, Llano Verde is a peripheral neighbourhood with little connectivity and few community services.

However, not everything I found in my visit was modest houses and modest businesses… I have found a house with a library, too! Dora, a social leader and her little neighbour Mabel, a 13-year-old girl who dreams of becoming a teacher, created the Biblio-Casa for the children of the neighborhood. Every Friday afternoon Dora opens the doors of her home and receives for free about thirty children who come spontaneously to read and play with the books that she has obtained with the help of people who have believed in her project. Thanks to the warm climate of Cali, the children sit in the front yard and spend the afternoon amongst books, in the company of Dora and Mabel.

With this project, Dora hopes to contribute to the construction of peace in a neighbourhood of victims of the internal conflict’s violence. She is clear that with the Biblio-Casa she can contribute to the collective construction of this new neighbourhood that has become for many of its inhabitants the opportunity to start a new life.

CSC at the 2019 Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH)

Dr Felipe Hernández and Giulia Torino will co-chair a panel entitled “Historicizing Race and Urban Space in Latin American Cities” at the 72nd Annual International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH), which will take place in Providence (USA), 24-28 April 2019.

The Call for Papers is below, and there is time until June 5 at 11:59 pm CDT to submit an abstract!

“Since their foundation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, black and indigenous populations have occupied different positions in the city vis-à-vis the colonizer’s centrality. These populations remain poor, under-represented and excluded today, they are most likely to live in slums, and significantly less likely to emerge out of poverty.

ECLAC indicates that 8% of the region’s population are indigenous and 30% are black, more than a third of the region’s total. These estimates do not include mixed-race people (Mestizos, Zambos, Mulatoes, etc.). The 2010 Brazilian census showed that Afro-Brazilians make 7.6% of the country’s population, while 43% identified as preto. These two groups, which together amount to half of the Brazilian population, represent almost 80% of those living below the poverty line and contribute under 20% of the national GDP. In the 2005 Colombian census, 10.6% of the population self-identified as Afro-descendant, 70% of whom live in peri-urban areas.

This session proposes that the conditions of exclusion and marginality in most Latin American cities today are magnified expressions of a segregationist approach to urban planning initiated during the colonial period. We address the question of racial discrimination as a key-contributing factor to the formation of particular urbanisms that have not been rigorously historicized and remain excluded from urban and architectural debates. We aim to develop new understandings of the diverse processes of urbanization taking place in Latin American cities focusing on the contribution of racial minorities to the continuous production of urban space, ‘non-white urbanisms.’

We seek contributions that search for alternative ways of theorizing ‘non-white urbanisms,’ embracing multiple methodological agendas to analyze these pressing urban realities. We are also interested in papers that articulate the prevalence of colonial forms of urbanism with twentieth- and twenty-first-century processes of urban growth, which facilitate the historicization and theorization of ‘non-white urbanisms.’”

Dr Felipe Hernández to give a talk on “Urban Spaces of Internal Displacement” at CRASSH

CSC Chair Felipe Hernández will be giving a talk on urban spaces of internal displacement and the reproduction of inequalities at the Power & Vision Seminar Series of CRASSH (University of Cambridge), on February 21st.
The talk is part of a panel entitled “Visual Production of Alterity in Urban, Digital and Genetic Spaces”, in which Dr Paulo Drinot (Senior Lecturer in Latin American History, UCL) and Dr Sarah Abel (Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Iceland) will also speak.
The panel will discuss the production of alterity, racism and inequalities in urban spaces, digital technologies and genetic science. Their presentations will approach from different, yet complementary, perspectives the idea of difference and its constitution and representation through images. More importantly, they will shed light on how these images are materialised in our everyday interactions and make us reflect on the consequences of this. Their presentations will be followed by an open discussion with the public.

All welcome!

Dr Felipe Hernández’s new book: “Marginal Urbanisms”

CSC Chair Dr Felipe Hernández co-edited a new book entitled “Marginal Urbanisms: Informal and Formal Development in Cities of Latin America” (2017, Cambridge Scholars Publishers).


The volume reflects on urban development strategies that have been implemented recently in Latin America. Over the past twenty years, there has been great improvement in governmental efficiency, with local and national governments executing important projects that increase the quality of life in cities. However, the causes of collective disadvantage – which created the problems governments attempt to resolve – continue to affect many people throughout the continent. Thus, the essays here examine a wide range of socioeconomic, political, ethnic and historical issues that have influenced the emergence of marginal urbanisms in Latin American cities. The argument most strongly presented in this book is that infrastructural insertions need to be considered as the baseline for urban development, not as its main goal.


CSC’s Giulia Torino founded new inter-departmental working group, ‘Urbanism in the Global South’, at the University of Cambridge

Giulia Torino, together with PhD colleagues Noura Wahby and Shreyashi Dasgupta at the University of Cambridge (Centre for Development Studies/POLIS), just launched a new interdisciplinary working group at the University of Cambridge: Urbanism in the Global South. The initiative is supported and funded by the Department of Architecture, the Department of Geography, the Centre of Latin American Studies (CLAS), and the Centre for Development Studies at POLIS, University of Cambridge. Members of the group’s Academic Committee include: Dr Felipe Hernández (CSC’s Chair), Prof Matthew Gandy, Dr Graham Denyer-Willis, and Dr Charlotte Lemanski.

The group is chiefly aimed at:

– filling the existing gap of research groups in Urban Studies at the University, whereby individual researchers in Urban Studies find themselves scattered throughout the many different departments of the University, without a solid base to share their ongoing research endeavours, questions, and progress;

– focusing specifically on the challenges met by cities in the Global South, both from a theory- and practice- based perspective;

– introducing new perspectives in urban studies research undertaken at the University of Cambridge, in particular for what concerns Global South cities as the loci of enunciation and production of knowledge in Urban Studies, rather than merely as the sites of fieldworks and data collection, as Western traditions in Urban Studies often seem to suggest;

– constituting a safe environment for doctoral and Early Career Researchers (alongside other members of the academic staff) at the University of Cambridge to share their ongoing research works in a variety of forms (conference papers, informal talks, round-tables, research dilemma, drafts of upcoming journal publications, etc.) and discuss critical issues in “Global South urbanism(s)” and existing scholarship;

– contributing to ongoing efforts at the University of Cambridge to “decolonise the academic curricula”, by means of a critical reflections on postcolonial and decolonial theory in urban studies, as well as on the limits, gaps, and ways to constructively contribute with other epistemologies and languages to the mainly Anglo-Saxon production of knowledge in the interdisciplinary field of Urban Studies.

The group meets biweekly during term time, in Michaelmas, Lent, and Easter. Each term is tailored to meet the specific academic pace of the different Cambridge terms, and it involves the active participation of all members (currently over 30, from over nine different departments of the University of Cambridge).
If you’d like to contribute to or to learn more about the group, please get in touch with Giulia at

UGS  supports the “Decolonising the Curriculum” initiative at the University of Cambridge, and Giulia is also an active member of the reading group “Decolonial Geographies”, based at the Department of Geography (Cambridge) and led by Professor Sarah Radcliffe.