Core Faculty

Faranak Miraftab

Professor of Urban and Regional Planning
PhD, University of California, Berkeley, 1995

As an urban scholar of globalization my scholarship is situated at the intersection of geography, planning, and feminist studies, using case study and ethnographic methodologies. A native of Iran, I did my undergraduate studies at the College of Fine Arts at the Tehran University. I graduated with a Master's degree in Architecture at the Norwegian Institute of Technology in Trondheim and then completed my doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Over the years my research and teaching has spanned several countries including Chile, Mexico, Canada, Australia, South Africa, the United States and most recently Togo.

My research interest concerns social aspects of urban development and planning. In this broad area, I am interested in the global and local development processes and contingencies involved in the formation of the city and citizens’ struggles to access dignified livelihood— namely how groups disadvantaged by class, gender, race and ethnicity access resources such as shelter, basic services and income. In the 1980s and 1990s I studied the global through the experience of local communities in Latin America; since the mid-1990s I have studied the global neoliberal policies through the experience of townships in post-apartheid South Africa. In my current project using a relational frame of analysis I seek to reveal the development connections and dependencies across seemingly far away communities located across the globe but intimately connected through everyday practices of their transnational families. My forthcoming book Making a Home in the Heartland accounts for the relational developments processes that take place in Togo, Mexico and Illinois. My scholarship, the kind of questions I ask, the methodologies I use, and the insights I aspire to offer to the public are all greatly influenced by my activist past and drive for global justice.

My teaching covers the following: planning theory, international and community development; socio-cultural formation of cities; grassroots strategies; migration and transnational urbanism; the reconfigured state-society relations for provision of basic services and housing; and a critique of the dominant global neoliberal policy framework. I also serve as the Director of the PhD program and the coordinator of the Transnational Planning Stream at DURP.  Students who are interested to find out more about thePhD in Regional Planning or about Transnational Planning Stream and the International Programs and Activities at DURP should consult the respective websites and feel free to contact me for further information.

Contact Information
Room 218, Temple Buell Hall
611 Taft Drive
Champaign, IL 61820
Phone: 217.265.8238
Fax: 217.244.1717

Current Research Areas

My current research projects include the following:

  • Historical examination of the contemporary urban policies in Cape Town, South Africa, uncovering the colonial roots of neoliberal urban governance.
  • Ethnographic study of transnational processes of community development, examining the trans-local dynamics of immigration that intimately connects development processes in the rural Midwest of the U.S., with those of the communities in Mexico and West Africa.

Selected Publications


(forthcoming) Miraftab, F.  “Displacement: Framing the global relationally" in Framing the Global: Entry Points for the Search. Hilary Kahn (ed.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.


Miraftab, F.  “Colonial Present: Legacies of the Past in Comtemporary Urban Practices in Cape Town, South Africa.Journal of Planning History. 11(4) 283-307.


Miraftab, F.  “Small-Town Transnationalism: Socio-Spatial Dynamics of Immigration to the Heartland" in Kathrin Wildner (ed.) ” The Transnationalism and Urbanism. London, New York: Routledge. Pp. 220-231.


Miraftab, F.  “Planning and Citizenship" in Rachel Weber and Randall Crane (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning.Oxford University Press. Chapter 38, pp. 1180-1204.


Miraftab, F.  “Emergent Transnational Spaces: Meat, Sweat and Global (re)Production in the Heartland.International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 36(6): 1204-1222.


Miraftab, F.  “Right to the City and the Quiet Appropriations in the Heartland,” Remaking Urban Citizenship: Organizations, Institutions, and the Right to the City, M.P. Smith and M. McQuarrie, eds. London, UK and New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. Pp. 191-202.


Miraftab, F.  “Faraway Intimate Development: Global Restructuring of Social Reproduction.Journal of Planning Education and Research 31(4): 392-405.


Miraftab, F.  “Symposium Introduction: Immigration and Transnationalities of Planning.Journal of Planning Education and Research 31(4): 375-378.


Miraftab, F.  “Beyond Formal Politics of Planning” in Urban Politics an Interdisciplinary Dialogue, guest editors Kevin Ward and David Imbroscio. Debates and Development special edition of International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 35(4): 853-71.


Miraftab, F. “Contradictions in the Gender-Poverty Nexus: Reflections on the Privatisation of Social Reproduction and Urban Informality in South African Townships” in Silvia Chant (ed.) The International Handbook on Gender and Poverty: Concepts, Research and Policy. Edward Elgar Publishers.


Miraftab, F. “Insurgent Planning: Situating Radical Planning in the Global South.”  Planning Theory 8(1):32-50.

Diaz McConnell, E. and F. Miraftab. “Sundown Town to ‘Mexican Town’:  Newcomers, Old Timers, and Housing in Small Town America,” Rural Sociology 74 (4): 605-629.


Miraftab, F. and E. Diaz McConnell.  “Multiculturalizing Rural Towns: Insights for Inclusive Planning.International Planning Studies 13(4): 343-360.

Beard, V, Miraftab, F and C Silver (eds). Planning and Decentralization: Contested Spaces for Public Action in the Global South. New York: Routledge (Taylor and Francis).

Miraftab, F. “Decentralization and Entrepreneurial Planning,” in Victoria Beard, Faranak Miraftab and Chris Silver (eds.) Planning and Decentralization: Contested Spaces for Public Action in the Global South.  New York: Routledge.Pp. 21-35

Miraftab, F. Victoria Bear and Chris Silver. “Introduction: Situating Contested Notions of Decentralized Planning in the Global South" in Victoria Beard, Faranak Miraftab and Chris Silver (eds.) Planning and Decentralization: Contested Spaces for Public Action in the Global South.  New York: Routledge. Pp. 1-18

Silver, Chris, Faranak Miraftab, and Victoria Beard. “Conclusion: Decentralized Planning and the Ways Ahead,” in Victoria Beard, Faranak Miraftab and Chris Silver (eds.) Planning and Decentralization: Contested Spaces for Public Action in the Global South.  New York: Routledge. Pp. 216-224


Miraftab, F. "Governing Post-apartheid Spatiality: Implementing City Improvement Districts in Cape Town." Antipode: Radical Journal of Geography 39(4): 606-626.

2006 Informalizing the Means of Reproduction: The Case of Waste Collection Services in Cape Town, South Africa,” in Beneria, Lourdes and Neema Kudva (eds.) Rethinking Informalization: Precarious Jobs, Poverty and Social Protection. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University e-Publishing Program. Pp 148-162.  Open access

Miraftab, F. "Feminist Praxis, Citizenship and Informal Politics: Reflections on South Africa’s Anti-Eviction Campaign." International Feminist Journal of Politics vol. 8.

Miraftab, F. "On Loan from Home: Women’s Participation in Formulating Human Settlements Policies” in Jaquette, Jane and Gale Summerfield (eds.) Institutions, Resources, and Mobilization: Women and Gender Equity in Development Theory and Practice. Duke University Press.


Miraftab F. and S. Wills. “Insurgency and Spaces of Active Citizenship: The Story of Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign in South Africa.Journal of Planning Education and Research 25(2):200-217.

Miraftab, F. “Making Neoliberal Governance: The Disempowering Work of Empowerment.International Planning Studies 9(4):239-259.


Miraftab, F. “Can you Belly Dance? Methodological Questions in the Era of Transnational Feminist Research.Gender, Place and Culture: Journal of Feminist Geography 11(4):595-604.

Miraftab, F. “Neoliberalism and Casualization of Public Sector Services: The Case of Waste Collection Services in Cape Town, South Africa.International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 28(4): 874-92.

Miraftab, F. “Public-private Partnerships: the Trojan Horse of Neoliberal Development?Journal of Planning Education and Research 24(1):89-101.


Miraftab, F. “ The Perils of Participatory Discourse: Housing Policy in Post-apartheid South Africa .” Journal of Planning Education and Research. 22(3):226-239.


Miraftab, F. “Risks and Opportunities in Gender Gaps to Access Shelter: A Platform for Intervention.International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society. 15(1):143-160.


Miraftab, F. “Sheltering Refugees: The Housing Experience of Refugees in the Metropolitan Vancouver, Canada.” Canadian Journal of Urban Research. Vol. 9(1): 42-63.


Miraftab, F. “ Sustainability in Environmental Design: Case Studies from the Vernacular Tradition in Iran.” Australian Planner Vol. 36 (4): 210-215.


Miraftab, F. “Complexities of the Margin: Housing Decisions of Female Householders in Mexico.Society and Space: Environment and Planning D Vol. 16: 289-310.


Miraftab, F. “Flirting with the Enemy: Challenges Faced by NGOs in Development and Empowerment.Habitat International Vol 21 (4):361-375.

Miraftab, F. “Revisiting Informal Sector Homeownership: The Relevance of Household Compositions for Housing Options of the Poor.International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. June Vol 21(2): 303-322.


Miraftab, F. "Space, Gender and Work: Home-Based Workers in Guadalajara, Mexico,” in Eileen Boris and Elisabeth Prugl (eds.) Homeworkers in Global Perspective: Invisible No More. New York: Routledge. Pp.63-80.


Miraftab, F. “(Re)Production at Home: Reconceptualizing Home and Family." Journal of Family Issues Sept. Vol. 15(3): 467-489.


Miraftab, F. "Shelter as Sustenance: Exclusionary Mechanisms Limiting Women's Access to Housing," in Hemalata Dandekar (ed.) Shelter, Women and Development. Ann Arbor: Wahr Publishing Co. Pp. 225-233.

Faranak Miraftab