Liza is a Senior Researcher at the African Centre for Cities. Her work focuses on the relationship between hybrid infrastructures and governance, with a specific interest in technological transitions, urban statecraft, and fiscal assemblages. She is currently working on three research areas, largely in collaboration with with colleagues located around the world:

Techno-worlding and speculation. This work includes projects on digital infrastructure fintech innovation in Nairobi (Kenya) and Mogadishu (Somalia). These projects engage with the technological works enacted through emerging fintech platforms and ecosystems, developing rich empirical information on the key players and discourses involved in financial and technological change in African cities.

Knowledge co-production and trans-lation: Anchoring this work are two projects funded by the Wellcome Trust, both of which substantively focus on the climate/health interface and practically on tran-disciplinary and policy-relevant knowledge creation. One of the two projects involves creating ‘city labs’ in Ghana and Rwanda. The other project focused on informal settlements in Cape Town (South Africa).

Infrastructural rescaling and urban statecraft: This work focused on the evolution of new technologies for service delivery, and the relationship between these technologies and questions of urban governance. This work focusses on Freetown (Sierra Leone), Kampala (Uganda) and Cape Town (South Africa). This work challenges existing debates about the role of large technical systems in Africa.

Her teaching contribution falls into several areas:

Advancing theory production and writing from Africa: Liza is currently involved in a set of projects aimed at developing network and platforms for thinking and writing in/from the African context. She is the co-founder of the UTA-Do African Theory Workshop (with Wangui Kimari). Liza also organizes and leads writing workshops at the ACC (including two upcoming workshops on Platformization and African Cities, with Andrea Pollio, which will take place in 2024).

MA Sustainable Urban Practice (MSUP) teaching: Liza convenes two of the four core modules for the ACC’s MSUP course. These include module 2 on Sustainable Infrastructure and module 4 on Financing Cities (with Astrid Haas).

Supervision of master and PhD students: Liza currently supervises 4 students, two PhD and two master students. Student topics generally align to the research projects currently under development.

Liza received her PhD from University of Cape Town. She received a Master in City and Regional Planning from the University of Cape Town. She received her undergraduate degree in Development Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Liza is a corresponding editor for Urban Studies, Finance and Space, and Platforms & Society.


Journal Articles

Cirolia, L. R., Sitas, R., Pollio, A., Sebarenzi, A. G., & Guma, P. K. (2023). Silicon Savannahs and motorcycle taxis: A Southern perspective on the frontiers of platform urbanism. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space55(8), 1989-2008.

Cirolia, L.R., Pollio, A. (2023). Queer Infrastructures: Objects of and Orientations towards Urban Research Practice. Urban Forum 34, 235–244

Maina, M. & Cirolia, L.R. (2023). Ring roads, revived plans, & plotted practice: the multiple makings of Nairobi’s urban periphery. Habitat International 142, (102932)

Pollio, A., Cirolia, L.R., & Ong’iro Odeo, J. (2023). SUTURING: Platforms, Motorcycles and the ‘Last Mile’in Urban Africa. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 47 (6), 957-974

Baptista, I., & Cirolia, L. R. (2022). From problematisation to propositionality: Advancing southern urban infrastructure debates. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

Pollio, A., & Cirolia, L. R. (2022). Fintech urbanism in the startup capital of AfricaJournal of Cultural Economy.

Cirolia, L. R., Hall, S., & Nyamnjoh, H. (2021). Remittance micro‐worlds and migrant infrastructure: Circulations, disruptions, and the movement of moneyTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

Nyamnjoh, H., Hall, S., & Cirolia, L. R. (2021). Precarity, permits, and prayers:“working practices” of Congolese asylum-seeking women in Cape TownAfrica Spectrum

Cirolia, L. R. & Robbins, G. (2021) Transfers, taxes and tariffs: fiscal instruments and urban statecraft in Cape Town, SouthAfricaArea Development and Policy. Cirolia, L. R. & Harber, J. (2021) Urban statecraft: The governance of transport infrastructures in African cities. Urban Studies.

Cirolia, L. R., Hailu, T., King, J., da Cruz, N. F., & Beall, J. (2021). Infrastructure governance in the post-networked city: State-led, high-tech sanitation in Addis Ababa’s condominium housing.Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space

Hall, S., Nyamnjoh, H., & Cirolia, L. R. (2021). Apportioned city: Gendered delineations of asylum, work and violence in Cape Town. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.

Ngwenya, N., & Cirolia, L. R. (2021). Conflicts between and within: The ‘conflicting rationalities’ of informal occupation in South Africa. Planning Theory & Practice. 

Mizes, C. and Cirolia, L.R. (2019). Contournements. Fiscalité et exceptions informelles dans les villes de M’Bour et de Kisumu. Politique Africaine.

Berrisford, S., Cirolia. L.R., and Palmer, I. (2018). Land Based Financing in Sub-Saharan Cities. Environment and Urbanization.

Cirolia, L.R. and Scheba, S. (2018). Towards a multi-scalar reading of informality in Delft South Africa: Weaving the ‘everyday’ with wider structural tracings. Urban Studies.

Amin, A. and Cirolia, L. R. (2018). Politics/Matter: Governing Cape Town’s Informal Settlements. Urban Studies.

Cirolia, L.R. and Smit, W. (2017). Fractured Approaches to Urban Transformation:  Analysing Parallel Perspectives in South Africa. Transformation.

Cirolia, L.R. (2017) Overcoming the disjunctures: competing discourses on informal settlements in South Africa. International Development Planning Review.

Cirolia, L. R. and Berrisford, S. (2017). ‘Negotiated Planning’: Diverse Trajectories of Implementation in Nairobi, Addis Ababa, and Harare. Habitat International.

Croese, S., Cirolia, L. R., and Graham, N. (2016). Towards Habitat III: Confronting the Disjuncture between Global Policy and Local Practice on Africa’s ‘challenge of slums’. Habitat International.

Cirolia, L. R. (2015). Reframing the ‘Gap Market’: Lessons and Implications from Cape Town’s Gap Market Housing Initiative. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment.

McGaffin, R., Cirolia, L. R., and Massyn, M. (2015). Overcoming the Challenge of Vertical Consolidation in South Africa’s Low-Income Settlements: a Case Study of Du Noon. Urban Forum.

Cirolia, L. R. (2014). South Africa’s Emergency Housing Programme: A Prism of Urban Contest. Development Southern Africa.

Cirolia, L. R. (2014). (W)Escaping the Challenges of the City: A Critique of Cape Town’s Proposed Satellite Town. Urban Forum.

Edited Books

Cirolia, L. R., Görgens, T., van Donk, M., Smit, W., and Drimie, S. (Eds.) (2016). Pursuing a Partnership Based Approach to Incremental Informal Settlement Upgrading in South Africa.  Juta.

Book Chapters

Sassman, N and Cirolia, L.R. (2018 forthcoming) Overcoming urban sprawl: Exploring the potential and challenges of implementing social housing in Cape Town (in print).

Cirolia, L. R. (2017). Negotiating Cities: Nairobi and Cape Town. In J. Rokem and C. Boano (Eds.) Urban Geopolitics: Rethinking Planning in Contested Cities. Routledge.

Pieterse, E. and Cirolia, L. R. (2016). Shaping the urban horizon in South Africa: reflections on the Integrated Urban Development Framework process. In: Pursuing a Partnership Based Approach to Incremental Informal Settlement Upgrading in South Africa.  Juta.

Cirolia, L. R., Görgens, T., van Donk, M., Smit, W., and Drimie, S. (2016). Introduction. In: Pursuing a Partnership Based Approach to Incremental Informal Settlement Upgrading in South Africa.  Juta.

Cirolia, L. R., Smit, W., and Duminy, J. (2015). Grappling with Housing Issues at the City Scale: Mobilizing the Right to the City in South Africa. In P. Herrle, A. Ley, and J. Fokdal (Eds.), From Local Action to Global Networks: Housing the Urban Poor.  Ashgate.

Cirolia, L. R. (2012). Recasting the Development Agenda for Informal Land and Housing Markets in Nairobi: a Critical Examination of Actors, Claims, and Urban Governance in Kibera.  In L. Herzer (Ed.) Changing Cities: Climate, Youth and Land Markets in Urban Areas. Woodrow Wilson Center Publication.

Working Papers

Cirolia, L. R. and Rode, P. (2019) Urban infrastructure and development. London School of Economics.

Cirolia, L. R. and Mizes, C. (2019) Property Tax in African Secondary Cities: Insights from the Cases of Kisumu (Kenya) and M’Bour (Senegal). International Centre of Tax and Development.

Popular Media

Huchzermeyer, M. and Cirolia, L. R. (2016). When property rights and occupational rights clash. The Mercury.

Cirolia, L. R. (2014). The architect can’t save the slum: reflections on design fix housing solutions. SLUMLab.

Cirolia, L. R. (2012). The logistics corps: Colombo’s urban militarization. CityScapes – Rethinking Urban Things.