James Duminy

Role/Position: Researcher | General Secretary, AAPS Website: http://www.africanplanningschools.org.za/

My primary research interests surround the history of key discourses and practices that underpin contemporary African urban planning and development. This includes concepts such as ‘poverty,’ ‘informality,’ and ‘security.’ My PhD research (starting in 2015) focuses on the history of the governance of food systems in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Zambia, Zimbabwe and Kenya. This research is funded through the ‘Consuming Urban Poverty: Food Systems Planning and Governance in Africa’s Secondary Cities’ project based at the ACC.


Through my involvement in the Association of African Planning Schools (AAPS), I have worked extensively on developing revitalized approaches to planning education and research that are relevant to the contemporary African urban context. As one outcome of this work, my colleagues and I published a co-edited volume in 2014 arguing for the utility of the case study methodology for African urban planning research and pedagogy. From 2011 to 2015 I helped to establish the African Urban Research Initiative (AURI), which seeks to enhance and upscale applied research on African cities through, for example, developing and promoting approaches to the co-production of urban knowledge. AURI has also sought to promote awareness of and contribute to the ongoing debates and processes surrounding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and post-2015 development agenda.


I am also interested in emerging approaches to theorizing and researching African and Southern cities and urbanization, and the ethics of planning thought and praxis in the urban South. In addition, some of my previous research has examined the dynamics of post-apartheid South African cities in terms of spatial growth trends, place-naming practices, and the application of the ‘right to the city’ discourse.



Journal articles:

Winkler, T. and Duminy, J. (2014) ‘Planning to Change the World? Questioning the Normative Ethics of Planning Theories’, Planning Theory, doi: 10.1177/1473095214551113

Ernstson, H., Lawhon, M. and Duminy, J. (2014) ‘Conceptual Vectors of African Urbanism: “Engaged Theory-Making” and “Platforms of Engagement”’, Regional Studies, 48(9), pp. 1563–1577.

Duminy, J. (2014) ‘Street Renaming, Symbolic Capital, and Resistance in Durban, South Africa’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 32, pp. 310–328.



Duminy, J., Andreasen, J., Lerise, F., Odendaal, N. and Watson, V. (eds) (2014) Planning and the Case Study Method in Africa: The Planner in Dirty Shoes. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


Book chapters:

Odendaal, N., Duminy, J. and Inkoom, D.K.B. (2015) ‘The Developmentalist Origins and Evolution of Planning Education in Sub-Saharan Africa, c1940 to 2010’. In Silva, C.N. (ed.), Urban Planning in Sub-Saharan Africa: Colonial and Post-Colonial Cultures (New York and London: Routledge).

Duminy, J. (2015) ‘Using the Case Study Approach to Inform Planning Practice and Research in Africa’. In Silva, E.A., Healey, P., Harris, N. and Van den Broeck, P. (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Planning Research Methods. New York and London: Routledge.

Duminy, J., Odendaal, N. and Watson, V. (2014) ‘The Education and Research Imperatives of Urban Planning Professionals in Africa’. In Parnell, S. and Pieterse, E. (eds), Africa’s Urban Revolution: Policy Pressures. London: Zed books.

Duminy, J., Watson, V. and Odendaal, N. (2013) ‘Doing Research in African Cities: The Case Study Method’. In Kresl, P.K. and Sobrino, J. (eds), Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Urban Economies. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.


Conference and workshop papers:

Duminy, J. (2012) ‘(Ab)using informality and (In)formalising Lefebvre: Emerging meanings of the Right to the City as a political concept in South Africa’. Paper presented to Nordic Africa Institute workshop on ‘Changing socio-spatial configurations of inclusion and exclusion: planning and counter-planning in the African city’, 7-8 March, Uppsala (Sweden).

Duminy, J. and Watson, V. (2011) ‘The Right to the City – Political Slogan or Useful Concept?’. Paper presented to ACC-CUBES South African Cities Conference, 7-9 September, Cape Town (South Africa).

Duminy, J. (2010) ‘Towards a Curriculum Framework for Postgraduate Planning Education in Africa’. Background paper presented to AAPS 2010 Conference, 5-8 October, Dar es Salaam (Tanzania).

Odendaal, N., Duminy, J. and Watson, V. (2010) ‘Case Research in Planning: Literature Landscapes and Academic Geographies’. Paper presented to SAPI 2010 Planning Africa Conference, 13-15 September, Durban (South Africa).

Duminy, J., Odendaal, N. and Sanders, P. (2008) ‘Is Digital Technology Urban? Understanding Inter-Metropolitan Digital Divides in South Africa’. In Vetere, F., Graham, C. and Satchell, C. (eds), Proceedings of the Conference of the Computer-Human Interaction Special Interest Group (CHISIG) of Australia on Computer-Human Interaction, 8-12 December 2008, Cairns, Queensland (Australia).

Odendaal, N. and Duminy, J. (2008) ‘Does Technology Shape Our Cities? Understanding the Relationship between Digital Technologies and Urban Change in eThekwini, 1992-2007′. Paper presented to SAPI 2008 Planning Africa Conference, 14-16 April, Johannesburg (South Africa).


  • ACCConference_5 (29) James Duminy

    ACC International Urban Conference: A personal reflection

    African Centre for Cities researcher James Duminy reflects on his experience of the ACC International Urban Conference which took place from 1 to 3 February 2018 at the University of Cape Town.  The ACC 2018 International Urban Conference was an important experience for me, both intellectually and personally. (more…)