Saskia Greyling

Role/Position: ACC Researcher Email: [email protected]

Active Projects

As a researcher on the Mistra Urban Futures programme at the African Centre for Cities, I am involved in the Governance and Policy for Sustainability project, which seeks to examine the factors within local government that enable and constrain decision-making for sustainable urban development. Exploring, through a co-production methodology, the power and tacit knowledge that is leveraged in spaces and contexts that lie beyond and are more subtle than formal decision- and policy- making arenas are a key research interest.


My Masters degree in Environmental and Geographical Science from the University of Cape Town (completed in 2012) engaged with the everyday lived experiences of those who wait for the state, particularly in relation to formal housing. On the surface mundane, waiting for housing is a significant non-movement in South Africa. Here, my research has focused on understanding the micro-politics of waiting: how people live and make do for long periods of time, and how the permanent temporariness that is waiting shapes their perceptions of and encounters with the state. The day to day functioning of formal institutions of governance, together with the everyday lived experiences of those who are governed form the two cornerstones of my research enquiry.


During my time at ACC I have been the editorial assistant for two books, Africa’s Urban Revolution (edited by Edgar Pieterse and Susan Parnell, Zed Books, 2014) and the Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South (edited by Susan Parnell and Sophie Oldfield, Routledge, 2014). Additionally, part of my role on the MUF team is to (co-)produce and maintain the Cape Town Local Interaction Platform databases and archives – this includes publications, evaluations of various projects, minutes of meetings, reports and news items.


Latest publications

Journal articles:

Greyling, S., Patel, Z. and Davison, A.  Engaging with sustainability disjunctures in Cape Town: Learning the City from within. Local Environment. (for special issue The Future of Sustainable Cities: Governance, Policy and Knowledge)

Oldfield, S. and Greyling, S.  Waiting for the state: A politics of housing in South Africa. Environment and Planning A. (in press)

Greyling, S. and Berrisford, S. forthcoming. Using planning tools to enable informal settlement upgrading: Identifying future opportunities for South African cities. In Cirolia, L., Görgens, T., van Donk, M., Smit, W. and Drimie, S. forthcoming. Pursuing a Partnership-based approach to incremental informal settlement upgrading in South Africa. Cape Town: UCT Press.

Patel, Z., Davison, A. and Greyling, S. forthcoming. Tackling wicked problems and tricky transitions: Change and continuity in Cape Town’s environmental policy landscape. Local Environment.

Patel, Z., Greyling, S., Parnell, S. and Pirie, G. 2015. Co-producing urban knowledge: Experimenting with alternatives to ‘best practice’ for Cape Town, South Africa. International Development Planning Review. 37 (2): 187-203.