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Clarkson Chair Planning Research Guide: 2019 Clarkson Chair: Dr. Vanessa Watson

Last Updated: Sep 27, 2023 4:56 PM

Dr. Vanessa Watson


Currently teaches in the City and Regional Planning post-graduate programme in the School of Architecture,
Planning and Geomatics, and is a founder and executive member of the African Centre for Cities at UCT.

She publishes and is on the editorial boards of several international journals in the field of city planning, and is the
Global South Editor of Urban Studies. Her field of research is planning theory, and she is PI on a research project
funded by ESRC/Dfid called Consuming Urban Poverty, and PI of the Dfid funded project Planning and
Corruption in Africa, both operating under the auspices of the African Centre for Cities .

Peer-reviewed journal articles:

Borland, R, R Morrell and V Watson (2018) Southern Agency: Navigating National and Global Imperatives in Climate Research. Global Environmental Politics 18(3): 47-65 doi:10.1162/glep_a_00468

Battersby, J., & Watson, V. (2018). Addressing food security in African cities. Nature Sustainability, 1(4), 153-155. doi:10.1038/s41893-018-0051-y.

Watson V (2017) Planning and the new urban agenda, Urban Design, Winter: 12-13. (non-peer reviewed).

Watson, V (2016) Shifting Approaches to Planning Theory: Global North and South, Urban Planning 1(4): 32-41. DOI: 10.17645/up.v1i4.727 Open access at

Watson, V (2016) Locating Planning in the New Urban Agenda of the Urban Sustainable Development Goal. Planning Theory 15(4) 435-448.

Watson, V (2016) Planning mono-culture or planning difference? Planning Theory and Practice 4. 10.1080/14649357.2016.1230364.

Smit, W., de Lannoy, A., Dover, R. V. H., Lambert, E. V., Levitt, N., & Watson, V. (2016). Making unhealthy places: The built environment and non-communicable diseases in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. Health & Place, 39, 196-203.

Watson, V (2015): The allure of ‘smart city’ rhetoric: India and Africa. Dialogues in Human Geography, 5(1), pp 36-39. DOI: 10.1177/2043820614565868

Watson V (2014): The case for a Southern perspective in planning theory. International Journal of E-Planning Research, 3(1), pp 23-37.

Watson V (2014): Will the profession speak out? Winners and losers in the future African city. Planning Theory and Practice, Interface, 15 (1) pp 115-118.

Watson, V (2014): Co-production and collaboration in planning – the difference. Planning Theory and Practice, 15 (1) pp 62-76. Nominated by Planning Theory and Practice for the AESOP 2015 best paper prize. Listed as one of most popular articles in PT&P 2014-15.

Watson, V (2014): African urban fantasies: dreams or nightmares? Environment and Urbanization, 26(1): 213-229.  DOI: 0.1177/0956247813513705.

Reprinted: Dérive: Zeitschrift für Stadtforschung (2015) April-June, No 59, pp37-45

Watson, V (2013): The ethics of planners and their professional bodies: response to Flyvbjerg, Cities, 32, 167. 168.

Watson, V and N Odendaal (2013): Changing planning education in Africa: the role of the Association of African Planning Schools, Journal of Planning Education and Research, 33(1) pp. 96 - 107.

Watson, V (2013): Planning and the ‘stubborn realities’ of global south-east cities: some emerging ideas, Planning Theory 12(1), 81-100. (online May 24th 2012) DOI: 10.1177/1473095212446301

Vlahov, D., Agarwal, S. R., Buckley, R. M., Caiaffa, W. T., Corvalan, C. F., Ezeh, A. C., . . . Watson, V. J. (2011). Roundtable on Urban Living Environment Research (RULER). J Urban Health, 88(5), 793-857. doi:10.1007/s11524-011-9613-2

Watson, V (2011): Changing planning law in Africa: an introduction, Urban Forum, 3, 203-208. (guest editor of special issue).

Porter, L., Lombard, M., Huxley, M., Ingin, A. K., Islam, T., Briggs, J., … Watson, V. (2011). Informality, the Commons and the Paradoxes for Planning: Concepts and Debates for Informality and Planning Self-Made Cities: Ordinary Informality? The Reordering of a Romany Neighbourhood The Land Formalisation Process and the Peri-Urban Zone of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Street Vendors and Planning in Indonesian Cities Informal Urbanism in the USA: New Challenges for Theory and Practice Engaging with Citizenship and Urban Struggle Through an Informality Lens. Planning Theory & Practice, 12(1), 115–153.

Parnell, S, E Pieterse and V Watson (2009): Planning for cities in the global South: an African research agenda for sustainable human settlements, Progress in Planning 72: 233-241.

Watson V (2009) ‘Seeing from the South: refocusing urban planning on the globe’s central urban issues’, Urban Studies, 46(11) 2259-2275.

Watson, V. (2009). ‘The planned city sweeps the poor away…’: Urban planning and 21st century urbanisation. Progress in Planning, 72(3), 151-193. doi:

Watson, V (2008) ‘Down to Earth: linking planning theory and practice in the ‘metropole’ and beyond’, International Planning Studies 13(3) 223-237.

Watson, V (2008) ‘The internationalisation of planning education: issues, perceptions and priorities for action: comment’, Town Planning Review 79(1) pp118-20. DOI: 10.3828/tpr.79.1.6.

Watson, V: (2006) “Deep Difference: diversity, planning and ethics, Planning Theory 5(1) pp 31-50. Nominated by Planning Theory for the AESOP best published paper award in 2007. Reprinted in A Mandanipour (ed) 2015: Planning Theory volumes 1-4. In Volume IV: Planning with Contingency, Part 1: Critical Planning: Power, Conflict, and Social Justice.

Stifel, B., Watson V and Abramo P, (eds.) (2005): “Diálogos Internacionais em Planejamento Urbano e Regional”. Special Issue of Cadernos IPPUR. Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Instituto de Pesquisa e Planejamento Urbano e Regional.

Spiegel, A, V Watson and P Wilkinson (2005): “Women, Difference and Urbanisation Patterns in Cape Town, South Africa." Anthropology Southern Africa 28 (1&2). Pp 31-38.

Watson, V (2004): “Teaching planning in a context of diversity”, Planning Theory and Practice Vol5 (2) Pp 252-254. Invited “Insight” article.

Watson, V. (2004): “Of universals and specificities: how different are we?”, Town Planning Review 75 (1). Ppi-iv.  Invited Viewpoint article.

Watson V (2004): “Transforming the South African City: Issues of Culture”, Architecture SA (8), Jan/Feb. Pp 24-26.

Watson, V. (2003): “Conflicting rationalities: implications for planning theory and ethics”, Planning Theory and Practice 4(4) pp 395-408. * Nominated by PT&P for the Association of European Schools of Planning 2004 best published papers award. ** Selected for republication in Hillier J and Healey P (eds) (2008): Contemporary Movements in Planning Theory vol 3. Ashgate: Aldershot.

Todes, A, Harrison P and V Watson (2003): “The Changing Nature of the Job Market for Planning in South Africa: Implications for Planning Educators” Town and Regional Planning, Vol 46, 21-32.

K Diaw,T Nnkya and V Watson (2002) “Planning Education in Africa: Responding to the Demands of a Changing Context”, Planning Practice and Research 17 (3), pp 337-348.

Watson, V (2002): “The Usefulness of Normative Planning Theories in the Context of Sub-Saharan Africa”, Planning Theory. Vol. 1 (1), pp27-52. * Selected by the Global Planning Education Association Network for re-publication in a book of best papers: Dialogues in Urban and Regional Planning, 2005.

Watson, V (2002): “Do We Learn from Planning Practice? The Contribution of the Practice Movement to Planning Theory”, Journal of Planning Education and Research, 22 (2), pp 178-187.

Turok I and V Watson (2002): “Strategic Challenges Facing South African Cities”, New Agenda: SA Journal of Social and Economic Policy, 8, 108-119.

Turok I and V Watson (2001): “Divergent Development in South African Cities: strategic challenges facing Cape Town”, Urban Forum, Vol 12 (2), 119-138.

Watson V (1998): "Planning Under Political Transition: Lessons from Cape Town's Metropolitan Planning Forum", International Planning Studies, Vol 3 No 3, pp 335-350.

Watson V and M McCarthy (1998): "Rental Housing and the Role of the Household Rental Sector: Evidence from South Africa", Habitat International, Vol 22 No 1, pp 49-56.

Harrison P, A Todes and V Watson (1997): "The Economic Development of South Africa's Urban Townships: Realities and Strategies". Development Southern Africa, Vol 14, No 1, pp 43-60.

Gilbert A, Mabin A, McCarthy M and V Watson (1997): "Low-income Rental Housing: are South African Cities Different?” Environment and Urbanisation, Vol 9 No 1, April, pp 133-147.

Gilbert A, Mabin A, McCarthy M and V Watson (1996): "A Neglected Sector of Housing for the Poor: Subletting, Sharing and Informal Rental", Development Southern Africa, Vol 13, No 3, Research Notes, pp 495-7.

Spiegel A, V Watson and P Wilkinson (1996): "Devaluing Diversity? National Housing Policy and African Household Dynamics in Cape Town", Urban Forum, vol 7, No 1 pp 1-30.

Spiegel A, V Watson and P Wilkinson (1996): "Domestic Diversity and Fluidity Among Some African Households in Greater Cape Town", Social Dynamics, Vol 21, No 2, pp 7-30.

Watson, V (1994): "Housing Policy, Sub-letting and the Urban Poor: Evidence From Cape Town", Urban Forum, Vol 5, No 2, pp 27-45.

Watson, V (1994): "South African Cities: a Challenge for Planners", Muniviro, Vol 11, No 1.

Watson, V (1993): "The Need for More Appropriate Forms of Urban Management: the Case of Land Use Controls and Home Businesses", Development Southern Africa, Vol 10, No 2, pp 155-66.

R and V Watson (1992): "Inward Development: Solutions to Urban Sprawl", Indicator South Africa, Vol 9, No 3, pp 51-54.

Watson, V (1991): "Housing in South Africa: Issues and Possibilities", Architecture SA, September/October, pp 23-4.

Watson, V (1991): "Urbanisation: A Question of Balance", Sash, 33(3), pp 28-30.

Watson, V (1991): "What Kind of Cities Do We Want to Live In?", UCT News Magazine, Vol 18, No 1, pp 16-18.

Watson, V (1991): "Urbanisation Policy: Lessons from South America for South Africa?", Social Dynamics, Vol 17, No 2, pp 155-67.

Watson, V (1990): "Environmental Implications of Urbanisation in South Africa", Black Sash Magazine.

Dewar D, A Todes and V Watson (1986): "Industrial Decentralisation Policy in South Africa: Rhetoric and Reality", Urban Studies, Vol 23, No 5, pp 363-376.

Todes A, V Watson and P Wilkinson (1986): "Local Government Restructuring in South Africa: The Case of the Western Cape", Social Dynamics, Vol 12, No 1, pp 49-69.

Todes A and V Watson (1986): "Local Government Reform, Urban Crises and Development", Geoforum, Vol 17, No 2, pp 251-266.

Watson, V (1986): "South African Urbanisation Policy: Past and Future", S A Labour Bulletin, Vol II, No 8, pp 77-90.

Watson, V (1986): "Regional Services Council: What Chances of Success?", Housing in South Africa, pp 50-53.

Todes A and V Watson (1986): "Implications of the Proposed Reorganisation of Local Government for Development Issues in Cape Town", Architecture S A, pp 32-34.

Todes A, V Watson and P Wilkinson (1986): "Local Government Restructuring in South Africa: The Case of the Western Cape", Social Dynamics, Vol 12, No 1, pp 49-69.

Dewar D, A Todes and V Watson (1985): "The South African State and Urbanisation Policy: Crisis and Response", Habitat International, Vol 9, No 3/4, pp 179-189.

Todes A and V Watson (1985): "Local Government Reform in South Africa: An Interpretation of Aspects of the State's Current Proposals", South African Geographical Journal, Vol 67, No 2, pp 201-211.

Dewar D, A Todes and V Watson (1983/4): "Urbanisation Processes and Policies in Africa : Lessons from Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe", Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Vol 3, No 1/2, pp 79-107.

Dewar D, A Todes and V Watson (1983): "Development from Below? Basic Needs, Rural Service Centres and the South African Bantustans, with Particular Reference to the Transkei", African Urban Studies, Michigan, USA, No 15, pp 59-75.

Published Conference Proceedings

Watson, V (2009): ‘University of Cape Town, City and Regional Planning Programme’, in D Inkoom, P Ngau, T Nnkya and V Watson (eds), Revitalisation of planning education in Africa, conference of the Association of African Planning Schools and the African Centre for Cities, Cape Town, October 2008. ISBN 978‐0‐620‐42928‐3,

“Conflicting rationalities: framing urban theory, practice and education in the cities of the global South”. Architecture Sans Frontieres. Oxford University. 22-23 July, 2008. Invited and funded keynote plenary speaker. 

Cullinan M, Madell C and V Watson (eds) (2006): Proceedings of the Planning Africa Conference 2006. Published on by the South African Planning Institute. ISBN 0-620-36402-5

Watson V (2006): “Best practice planning and the de Soto thesis: questioning the validity of universalism”, Proceedings of the Planning Africa Conference 2006, Cape Town, March. Published on website: by the South African Planning Institute.

Watson V (2005): “New Ways of Seeing? Building Bridges for Future Interdisciplinary Research”. In T Richardson, L Stringer and P Meth (eds): Everyday Life and Spatial Governance, University of Sheffield, June. TRP 147 – Research Papers in Town and Regional Planning, Department of Town and Regional Planning, University of Sheffield. ISBN 1 874247 43 9

Watson V (2002): “Interpretations of Place and Territory in African Cities – Implications for Formal Planning Systems”. Plenary paper presented at the Planning Africa 2002 Conference, Sept 18-20. Published on website: by the South African Planning Institute.

Harrison P, A Todes and V Watson (2002): “The Changing Nature of the Job Market for Planning in South Africa: Implications for Planning Educators. Paper presented at the Planning Africa 2002 Conference, Sept 18-20. Published on website: by the South African Planning Institute.

Watson V (2001): “Local Government and Sustainable Urban Development: What will our reforms achieve?”. Report of the Biennial UEF Meeting, Cape Town 2000, Nairobi. Pp 67-68.

Watson V (2000): “Planning Practice and Context – the Relevance of History”, in Proceedings of the Millenium Conference of the Planning History Study Group: Planning for Reconstruction and Transformation. University of Natal. Pp168-175

Watson V (1996): "Social Issues: Migrant Access to Limited Resources", rapporteur's report on workshop 1. Proceedings of the 32nd Congress of the International Society of City and Regional Planners: Migration and the Global Economy: Planning Responses to Disintegrating Patterns and Frontiers, ISOCARP, The Hague. pp 73-74.

Spiegel A, Watson V and P Wilkinson (1996): "Dealing with Diversity: African Household Dynamics and Housing Policy Formation in Cape Town". Proceedings of the IGU Commission on Urban Development and Urban Life: Contemporary City Structuring International Geographical Insights, Society of South African Geographers, Cape Town, pp 287-307.

Watson, V (1994): "The Implications of Urbanisation Trends and Patterns for City Management". Proceedings of the Symposium on A Population Policy for the Western Cape, Western Cape Population Forum, pp 35-41.

Watson, V (1994): "Regeneration of the Apartheid City". Proceedings of the CAPTRUST Conference: A Vision of Cape Town, Cape Town Heritage Trust.

Behrens, R and V Watson (1993): "Well located housing: key issues in the provision of affordable higher density housing in metropolitan Cape Town". Proceedings of the 21st IAHS World Housing Congress: The Future of Human Settlements: Challenges and Opportunities, Cape Town, May, 1993.

Published Book Reviews

Urban Studies 53(16) 2016. Review of Gautam Bhan, In the Public’s Interest: Evictions, Citizenship and Inequality in Contemporary Delhi, Orient Blackswan: New Delhi, 2016 Pp 3584-3586.

International Development Planning Review 37(4) 2015. Review of Urban Poverty and the Global South, Scale and Nature. D Mitlin and D Satterthwaite, Routledge 2013.

International Planning Studies 14(2), 2009, Review of Critical Essays in Planning Theory: Volume 2 Political Economy, Diversity and Pragmatism (2008), Jean Hillier & Patsy Healey (Eds), Ashgate, Aldershot. Pp 224-228.

Planning Theory and Practice 6 (4), 2005, Review of D Mitlin and D Satterthwaite (2004) Empowering Squatter Citizens: local government, civil society and urban poverty reduction, Earthscan: London, pp547-549

Urban Studies 40 (8), 2003, Review of E Gualini (2001) Planning and the Intelligence of Institutions, Aldershot: Ashgate.Pp 1630-31 Urban Studies 39(8), 2002. Review of M Khosa (ed): (2000): Empowerment through Service Delivery and Infrastructure Mandate for Change, HSRC, Pretoria. Pp 1493-4.

Urban Studies 39(8), 2002. Review of M Khosa (ed): (2000): Empowerment through Service Delivery and Infrastructure Mandate for Change, HSRC, Pretoria. Pp 1493-4.

International Planning Studies 6(2) 2001. Review of A Morris (1999): Bleakness and Light: Inner City Transition in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. Pp 238-40

Review of P McCarney (ed) 1996: The Changing Nature of Local Government in Developing Countries, Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto Press; and Cities and Governance: New Directions in Latin America, Asia and Africa, Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto Press. In Urban Forum Vol 8 no 1, 1997.

Review of D. Drakkakis-Smith (ed): Urban and Regional Change in Southern Africa, Routledge, London, 1992. In Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 1993.

Review of D. Drakkakis-Smith (ed): Economic Growth and Urbanisation in Developing Areas, Routledge, London, 1990. In South African Geographical Journal, Dec. 1991.