Dr Alex Loftus
Tel: +44 (0)20 7848 7159
Department of Geography
Office: Bush House North East Wing, Room 5.20
My undergraduate degree came from the University of Edinburgh (1998) and my Master’s from Queen’s University in Canada (2001). Whilst at Queen’s I carried out fieldwork in Buenos Aires reinforcing a conviction that the Washington Consensus is a deeply perilous venture and confirming the ways in which critical academic work could contribute to understandings of the possibility for alternative futures. My doctoral research at the University of Oxford looked at the politics of water provision in Durban, South Africa and continued to build on such convictions in what is, perhaps, an even more contradictory city. After finishing the DPhil (2005) I was awarded an RCUK academic fellowship at Royal Holloway, University of London, becoming a lecturer there in 2010, the moving to King’s in 2012.
I am most interested in the conditions of possibility for radical change. The horror that I – and perhaps most people - feel at the social and environmental topsy-turviness of the world is tempered by a sense of the myriad possibilities for making the world differently. I have an inkling that building on such possibilities will rely on a dialectical pedagogy, involving an ongoing dialogue between teaching and learning about the world.
- urban political ecology
- water politics
- Marxist thought
- radical geography
I am a radical geographer who works within the broadly defined area of urban political ecology. Rather than seeing the city as the antithesis of nature, my research seeks to make sense of the urban as one of many produced environments. Most of my concrete research has looked at people’s ability to access water, as well as the acts and the sense-making involved in provisioning a household with water. My doctoral research focused on the South African city of Durban but I’m equally interested in cities in both the global North and South. Probably the easiest way of introducing my research is through several of the projects I have worked on recently.
Everyday Environmentalism: Creating an Urban Political Ecology brings together my main theoretical interests with concrete studies of water politics in Durban and critical spatial practices in London. It develops a sympathetic critique of contemporary environmental movements by pondering what it might mean to develop an environmental politics based upon quotidian acts of making metropolitan natures. The key thinkers put to work in the book are Neil Smith, Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, Georg Lukacs and Henri Lefebvre.
Gramsci: Space, Nature, Politics, this co-edited book with Mike Ekers, Gillian Hart and Stefan Kipfer, brings together a range of different authors all concerned with rethinking Antonio Gramsci’s philosophy of praxis within the present conjuncture and in relation to space, nature and the question of the political. The collection contributes to the renewed interest in Gramsci’s writings and, as with other recent studies, questions some earlier, more instrumental, readings of the Sardinian’s work, paying closer attention to questions of linguistics and the distinctiveness of Gramsci’s marxism.
The Right to Water: Politics, Governance and Social Struggles, co-edited with Farhana Sultana, brings together a series of essays on the political potentials within – as well as the frustrations experienced by – recent movements advocating for the right to water. Within the movement for the right to water, and also within academic debate, many have begun to question whether the UN’s recent recognition of the right to water will be enough to effect genuine change in people’s ability to access water. Rather than simply rejecting the right to water as reformist, obfuscatory, limiting or misleading, the book seeks to make sense of the political possibilities within a growing movement for fairer access to water. The different authors position a range of theoretical debates and concrete struggles within a broader context, recognising both geographical specificity and the potentials for making a broader movement.
British Academy (January 2009): £7,460 to host a two day international workshop, Gramscian Geographies.
With Vandana Desai:
Development Studies Association (March 2012): £7,760 to host a two day international workshop, Speculating on Slums
At King's College London
Richard Bater 'Producing' Water: A mapping of the socio-technical infrastructures of knowledge production and circulations of power in the production of water, (sole supervisor) funded by an ESRC 1+3 Studentship (Sept. 2012 - )
Philipp Katsinas Urban regeneration during severe austerity: The case of Thessaloniki, Greece (2012 - )
Lise Andreassen ‘Optimising low to zero carbon energy technologies in new homes’ (co-supervised with Klaus Dodds and Mike Dolton (Sept. 2010-)
Dr Ashley Dawkins, Urban Interventions and the political, (sole supervisor) funded by an ESRC 1+3 Studentship (Sept. 2008-Sept. 2012)
Dr Stephen Jones, Improving governance at the local level to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals for Water and Sanitation: the case of WaterAid in Mali, (co-supervised with Vandana Desai and Mary Dengler) funded by an ESRC 1+3 Case Studentship (Sept 2008-Sept 2012) in collaboration with WaterAid
Dr Fiona Nash The production of risk in changing water governance relations in Accra, Ghana, (lead supervisor, co-supervised with Vandana Desai and Mary Dengler) funded by an ESRC 1+3 Studentship (Sept. 2009-Sept. 2014)
Dr Shaun Smith, ‘"Slums" and Security: Infrastructure Upgrades, Social Relations and Tenure Security in Two African Cities in Kenya and Tanzania’, (co-supervised with Vandana Desai) funded by an ESRC studentship (Sept. 2011-Sept. 2014)
Dr Rong Zheng, Governance of China 's water resources in key urban areas: the cases of Beijing and Chongqing, (co-supervised with Mary Dengler and Klaus Dodds) funded by the University of London KC Wong Postgraduate Scholar Programme and Thomas Holloway Studentship (Sept 2006-Sept 2010). Completed.