Trained as an art historian, with long-standing interest in architecture and cities, my work has explored the history of architecture and urban planning, urban theory and new forms of urbanization, and the visual culture of cities, focusing particularly on France, the Maghrib, and the Mediterranean region. My first book focused on the city of Marseille and how its varied urban imaginaries––inspired especially by the city’s status as a major Mediterranean port and as the key point of connection between metropolitan France and its expanding colonies (especially in North Africa and West Africa)––shaped by proposals urban planners and architects from the 1920s through the intertwining periods of postwar expansion and decolonization. Long ago now, as a graduate student, I came to Marseille in part through a series of classes I took on the history of art and architecture in sub-Saharan Africa. My work on Marseille pushed me to think further about the history of cities and urbanism in the Maghrib, and I have since been working on a book project tracing the history of the bidonville, or shantytown, as an urban form, a subject of visual representation, a site of knowledge production, an object of social and spatial reengineering, and a space of contestation. The project aims to consider how accelerated urbanization and rural-urban migration led to new mappings of the city and to myriad strategies for containing, reordering, and eliminating developments newly perceived as unauthorized and informal.
I am especially excited to participate in collaborative research and shared conversations about everyday spatial practices in cities across Africa, the shifting categories and mappings of the urban-rural continuum (the focus of many on peri-peri conditions is of particular interest to me), as well as our overlapping investments in rethinking informality and exploring the methods we use to understand the urban.