Potential and limitations of Europe’s academia research infrastructure as a resource to help tackle urban poverty – the case of the UK

Harry Smith, Paul Jenkins

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    Academic institutions in the North have been criticised in the past for acting as vehicles to continue the exportation of Northern theories, values and practices in a post-colonial era. However, these institutions constitute both a hard infrastructure (facilities, libraries, etc) and a soft infrastructure (experts, networks, etc) from which the research needs of tackling urban poverty in the South can benefit. This paper examines the broad evolution and trends in such infrastructures in the case of the UK, examining how changes in UK international development policy have affected broad opportunities for their development, as well as how research capacity focused on urbanisation in the South has changed in UK universities over the last decade. This analysis includes looking at some models for collaborative research which have developed within this institutional context drawing on UK research and international development resources.

    The paper argues that the potential of UK-based and/or resourced research capacity in this field is increasingly limited by structural factors including the changes in resources available to fund research in UK universities, and in particular the low priority given by the UK government to research on urbanisation in the South despite some rhetoric acknowledging the challenge of such urbanisation. The paper suggests that an increasingly viable way to make the UK research capacity available to help tackle issues of poverty linked to urbanisation in the South is through direct engagement between UK-based academic institutions and organisations in the South, on a more equal basis with these and drawing also on resources for research which are becoming available at least in the emerging economies (Brazil, India, China, etc). This may be one way forward which additionally holds the potential to question the current strong Northern infrastructural and conceptual base for the creation of knowledge around this issue, with perhaps more collaborative and at the same time critical conceptual, methodological and empirical frameworks emerging.


    ConferenceNetwork-Association of European Researchers on Urbanisation in the South 9th Conference on 'Securing positive change in international urban poverty reduction policies: Is international action changing urban poverty on the ground or not?'
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Period12/12/08 → …


    • research capacity
    • development policy
    • urbanisation
    • urban poverty


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