Meet the Director

Professor Edgar Pieterse is founding director of the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at the University of Cape Town and holds the South African Research Chair in Urban Policy. His research and teaching explore urban development politics, everyday culture, publics, radical social economies, responsive design and adaptive governance systems. He publishes different kinds of text, curates’ exhibitions, as well as difficult conversations about pressing urban problems. He is consulting editor for Cityscapes—an international occasional magazine/platform on urbanism in the global South. He has published two books, City Futures: Confronting the Crisis of Urban Development (Zed, 2008) and New Urban Worlds (Polity, 2017, with AbdouMaliq Simone), as well as eight co-edited books, dealing with a wide-ranging set of topics related to contemporary urbanism and place-making.

Edgar serves on various editorial boards of academic journals and research advisory boards of leading knowledge centres: Social Science Research Council (New York); The Science Circle of the Robert Bosch Stiftung (Stuttgard); LSE Cities (London); Indian Institute for Human Settlements (Bangalore); Gauteng City-region Observatory (Johannesburg); The Global Cities Programme of CIDOB – Barcelona Centre for International Affairs; Pathways to Sustainability – Utrecht University; United Nations Innovation Technology Accelerator for Cities (UNITAC-Hamburg); the World Economic Forum: Shaping the Future of Urban Development and Services Initiative; Ubuntu Board of United Cities and Local Government (Barcelona); and the Coalition for Urban Transitions (London). Furthermore, he is co-lead author of the Urban Chapter of the report of the International Panel on Social Progress. In the African context, Edgar has been active in the growth of two key pan-African knowledge networks: Association of African Planning Schools (59 schools in 18 countries) and the African Urban Research Initiative (18 institutions in 16 countries); both are anchored in the African Centre for Cities.

Current research is focussed on a major exhibition—CompleXities—on urban futures that will be mounted in 2022, as well as exploratory work on radical social enterprises that seeks to define alternative modalities of service delivery in African cities. Lastly, Edgar is working on an institutional framework to promote city-level innovation ecosystems in Africa that will promote the localisation of sustainable infrastructure in low-income contexts.

Being both critical and propositional is not a choice but a necessity.

Edgar Pieterse