Vanessa Watson

Clarkson Chair in Planning/ Professor of Urban Planning, University of Cape Town

Alt text.

Proposed Vision for Kigali, Capital of Rwanda (2008)

Alt text.

Vanessa Watson, a professor of urban planning at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, comes to UB as the 2019 Will and Nan Clarkson Chair in Planning. She is Professor of City Planning in the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics, and founding member of the African Centre for Cities, both at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Her research and publications focus on southern perspectives on planning theory, African cities and urbanisation, urban food security, and currently on planning and corruption in Africa. Her visit to UB as the Clarkson Chair is co-sponsored by UB's Community for Global Health Equity and the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab at the School of Architecture and Planning.  

The Will and Nan Clarkson Visiting Chair program invites distinguished scholars and professionals to campus for lectures and seminars that engage students, faculty and members of the public in knowledge-sharing and debate on critical issues in architecture, planning and design. The program was founded by Will and Nan Clarkson in 1991. 

Public lecture: Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019

"African Urban Fantasies: Dreams or Nightmares?"

In her public lecture Vanessa Watson will discuss the disconnect between the realities of rapidly growing and mostly poor African cities and the new Dubai-like visions of shiny, glass-box skyscrapers for proposed African cities. The lecture will also address the future of urban fantasy cities of Africa. This lecture is free and open to the public. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019
6 pm - 7:30 pm
Hayes 403

Research guide on Vanessa Watson

Explore research and publications by Vanessa Watson through a research guide compiled by UB architecture and planning librarian Rose Orcutt. 

Panel Conversation: "Deconstructing Postcolonial Planning Institutions in Africa" - Tuesday, Nov. 5

Profile image of Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah and Vanessa Watson.

On Nov. 5, Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah and Vanessa Watson will discuss current dynamics of postcolonial planning institutions in Africa.

Vannessa Watson joins UB assistant professor of urban planning Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah for a brown bag seminar series on global health equity. Hosted by UB's Community for Global Health Equity, the  research with Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah, assistant professor of urban planning, and Vanessa Watson. Boamah holds a joint faculty appointment with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and the Community for Global Health Equity. As an interdisciplinary scholar, he utilizes multiple theoretical and methodological lenses to interrogate issues related to urban health, public policy, environmental governance, land tenure, and sustainable urbanism in both Global North and South countries. Bring your lunch and we'll supply snacks and coffee/tea. 

Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019
12:15 - 1:30 pm
UB Community for Global Health Equity
Hayes 220

Faculty, student, staff and community conversations

Faculty, students, staff, and community partners within the university and across the city will engage in dialogue with Vanessa Watson. Watson will visit classrooms, participate in workshops, and meet with interested individuals. Those interested in meeting with her one-on-one are invited to seek appointments by sending an email to foodsystems@ap.buffalo.edu.

  • Master of Urban and Regional Planning and BA in Environmental Design students are invited to join a luncheon with Vanessa Watson on Thursday, Nov. 7. Please RSVP foodsystems@ap.buffalo.edu (12 pm, Monday, Nov. 4, Hayes 201)
  • Doctoral students affiliated with the School of Architecture and Planning are invited to join a luncheon with Vanessa Watson on Monday, Nov. 4, at 12 pm. Please RSVP foodsystems@buffalo.edu. Lunch will be off-campus, location TBA.

Full biography / Vanessa Watson

Vanessa Watson is Professor of City Planning in the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics, and founding member of the African Centre for Cities, both at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Her research and publications focus on southern perspectives on planning theory, African cities and urbanisation, urban food security, and currently on planning and corruption in Africa. More recently she has followed the new economic forces re-shaping African cities, in particular the private-sector driven property development initiatives. Her work unsettles the geo-politics of knowledge production in planning by providing alternative theoretical perspectives from the Global South. Recent projects also include studying governance of urban food systems in African cities. Watson is the Global South Editor of Urban Studies, an editor of the European Journal of Development Research, senior editor for Oxford Bibliographies Online: Urban Studies, and a member of the editorial boards of multiple national and international journals. She was the lead consultant for UN Habitat’s 2009 Global Report on Planning Sustainable Cities and is on their global reports Advisory Board. She was chair and co-chair of the Global Planning Education Association Network (2007-2011). She is a founder of the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town and the Association of African Planning Schools.

Watson holds degrees from the Universities of Natal, Cape Town and the Architectural Association of London, and a PhD from the University of Witwatersrand. She is a Fellow of the University of Cape Town.

AIA continuing education credits (1 LU) are available for those attending Vanessa Watson's public lecture. AICP members can earn 1.5 Certi­fication Maintenance (CM) credits for this activity. More information about AICP’s CM program can be found at www.planning.org/cmAICP members must be in attendance for the duration of the event in order to receive CM Credit.

AIA continuing education logo.
AICP/APA certification maintenance logo.