Dr Matthew W. Caulkins

Urban planning and policy analysis to benefit marginalised communities

Matt’s research focusses on urban planning and policy analysis from the vantage point of marginalised communities. His PhD looked at informal governance in two longstanding urban property struggles, one Indigenous Mapuche community centre in Santiago, Chile and the other the occupation of a vacant building by homeless activists in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This study highlights the radical potential of vacant spaces in the city (Vasudevan 2015). One of the key insights was to view these struggles as already existing forms of property rather than lacking-property. This provides a focus on the informal governance strategies that hold up these spaces and the political projects behind them.

In previous work, Matt has looked at planning conflicts regarding ground anchor policy and the approval of new zoning regulations in Santiago. These studies have analysed the negotiation of regulatory informality and the importance of a practice lens to understand the importance of narratives and context for implementation in urban planning. A previous study looked at accessibility for people with disabilities to social housing units also in Santiago.

Matt is currently interested in looking at planning and public administrations in (sustainability, smart cities, social justice, etc.) transitions through a practice theory lens. This work will shed light on the institutional barriers, slippages and potentialities for transitions. He started teaching in the discipline of Sustainability and Urban Planning at RMIT University in January 2018.

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Homeless activism, Indigenous urban communities, property vacancy, social housing in Chile and Brazil

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