Dr Sonia Roitman

Senior Lecturer

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Science
s.roitman@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 57270

Overview

Sonia Roitman is an urban sociologist and planner by training. She is currently the Planning Program Lead. She joined the University of Queensland in 2013 following previous academic, research and professional appointments at University College London (UK), School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS, UK), Free University Berlin (Germany), Universidad Nacional de Cuyo (Argentina), Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Técnica (CONICET-Argentina) and Secretaría de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sustentable, Gobierno de Mendoza (Argentina). Before moving to Australia, Sonia lived and worked in Argentina, United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico and Uganda. Her contributions to the field of development planning and urban sociology include influential research on urban inequalities and how they manifest in cities. Her research interests include housing and poverty alleviation policies; the role of grassroots in the production of space; and, gated communities, segregation and planning instruments in global South cities. Her current research locations are Indonesia and Uganda. She serves in the Board of the RC21 Committee (Research Committee of the Sociology of Urban and Regional Development, International Sociological Association) since 2014 and is a joint-coordinator of the RC21 Doctoral School.

I lead the 'Urban Inequalities Research Group'. We are a group of researchers working on understanding how urban inequalities are manifested and reproduced in cities. The topics we examine include: land tenure and collective action in Cambodia; informal livelihoods and the use of public space in the Philippines and Bangladesh; housing policies in Indonesia; land acquision processes in Indonesia; displacement and livelihoods in Myanmar; social justice, planning and sanitation infrastructure provision in Indonesia; the impacts of gated communities; the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Uganda; informal settlements and land tenure in Indonesia; social housing and segregation in Brazil; inclusionary planning instruments in Indonesia; and women empowerment and governance.

Teaching responsibilities

PLAN3005/7121 Community planning and participation (Course coordinator and lecturer - 2019 to date)

PLAN3200/7200 Understanding development complexities: Indonesia fieldtrip course (Course coordinator and lecturer - 2015 to date)

PLAN4001/7120 Planning theory (Guest lecturer 2014-2019)

PLAN4130/7130 Planning practicum (Course coordinator - Summer 2018)

PLAN7010 Planning project (Course coordinator and lecturer - 2015-2016)

PLAN7612 Global South Cities (Course coordinator and lecturer - 2014 to date)

PLAN7614 Urban management and governance (Guest lecturer 2013-2016)

PLAN7638 Assessment of development projects (Course coordinator and lecturer 2013-2015 and lecturer 2016)

SOSC7140 Development effectiveness (Lecturer 2017)

ENVM2100/7100 Sustainable Development (Guest lecturer 2013)

Service and Engagement

Student Advisor Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (BRTP) and Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP), UQ (since 2019)

Planning Institute of Australia UQ Representative (since 2019)

Full Member of Planning Institute of Australia

Board Member RC21 Committee (Research Committee of the Sociology of Urban and Regional Development) International Sociological Association (since 2014)

Scientific Committee Member of Prospectiva Journal (Revista Prospectiva, Universidad del Valle, Colombia) (since 2015)

Scientific Committee Member of Bitácora Urbano-Territorial Journal (Revista Bitácora Urbano-Territorial, Universidad Nacional de Colombia (since 2012)

Editorial Member of Journal of City and Regional Development (Jurnal Penbangunan Wilayah & Kota, Universitas Diponegoro, Indonesia) (since 2018)

Research Interests

  • Urban inequalities, segregation and exclusion
  • Social movements and collective action
  • Land access, housing policies and development
  • ‘Glocalisation’, urban growth and planning
  • Gated communities and private governance
  • Development planning, international cooperation and the role of the Third Sector
  • Qualitative research methodology and participatory methods for development

Research Impacts

As an internationally recognised urban sociologist and planner, I have had the opportunity to regularly disseminate and promote my work within the academy and also with policy-makers and practitioners. In Latin America, my 20 years of work on understanding the phenomenon of gated communities and how we can minimise their negative impacts at the city and society levels as well as maximise their positive impacts for families who choose them as their residence have been considered by policy-makers in the design of urban planning regulations (i.e. Plan de Ordenamiento Territorial de Mendoza (Argentina) – Urban Development Plan, Mendoza Province). I was also invited as keynote speaker at the Inaugural International Conference on Urban Residential Enclosure (National Valle University, Colombia, 13-14 October 2015) and founder member of the Red Internacional de Investigación sobre Encerramiento Residencial (International Research Network of Residential Enclosure). I was a member of the Urban Private Governance and Gated Communities Research Network since 2003 to 2015, and became a member of the Scientific Committee in 2011. In 2020, I had the honour to be invited by UN-Habitat to produce an Online Lecture on Gated Community Development (available here) for their series UN-Habitat Urban Lectures.

In Indonesia, my work on urban inequalities and the impact of gated communities has attracted the attention of governments, policy-makers and the private sector. I have been a speaker in urban debates on the problems and future of Jakarta, with the participation of government (Office of Environmental and Spatial Planning, DKI Jakarta) and private sector (Real Estate Indonesia). I have also been working with grassroots organisations and local NGOs in Yogyakarta, Indonesia since 2014. My work analyses the local practices and strategies for bottom-up planning and has contributed to strong advocacy and dialoguebetween community groups and local governments in Yogyakarta Special Region.

My work and research partnerships in Indonesia have informed the design of a new course (PLAN3200/7200 Exploring Development Complexities). This is an international fieldtrip course for UQ and UGM (Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia) that takes place annually since 2015 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. It has received several teaching awards, including the Curriculum Innovation Award, from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (USA) and Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (USA) in 2019. The course has also received mobility funding from the Australian Government ($280,000) to contribute to cultural awareness and to develop student employability skills through Work Integrated Learning.

In Queensland, Australia, I am working with researchers and Aboriginal families from Wakka Wakka Country, on mapping Aboriginal routes and artefacts that are significant to protect and preserve Aboriginal cultural identity (ARC Linkage). As part of this project we are examining the value of research partnerships between universities and Aboriginal groups, and how best research can benefit communities.

I am a regular contributor to non-academic outlets, including The Conversation and national and local media in Australia and Argentina (Los Andes, Página 12). I regularly present my work at international conferences and events, including the World Urban Forum (UN-Habitat).

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of London

Publications

View all Publications

Supervision

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • I am interested in how social inequalities are manifested in cities. This includes analysing how planning can contribute to tackle inequalities and create more just cities. You can read more on this in my article in The Conversation https://theconversation.com/how-to-use-the-power-of-urban-planning-to-tackle-inequality-91010 This also includes the analysis of the impacts of gated communities to the outside areas, including positive and negative impacts.

    Please note that currently there are no funding opportunities for this project.

  • I am currently analysing how SDG11 is being implemented in several cities around the world and in particularly in the Global South. I examine the potential changes in governance structure and dynamics that result as a consequence of the New Urban Agenda and the implementation of SDG11.

    Please note that currently there are no funding opportunities for this project.

  • Urbanisation is increasing in the Pacific Island Countries, while the region is one of the most vulnerable to climate change. The project aims to analyse the role of urban planning in responding to climate change. A PhD scholarship for this project is available through the QUEX Institute. More information here. Deadline 24 May 2021.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book

Book Chapter

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • I am interested in how social inequalities are manifested in cities. This includes analysing how planning can contribute to tackle inequalities and create more just cities. You can read more on this in my article in The Conversation https://theconversation.com/how-to-use-the-power-of-urban-planning-to-tackle-inequality-91010 This also includes the analysis of the impacts of gated communities to the outside areas, including positive and negative impacts.

    Please note that currently there are no funding opportunities for this project.

  • I am currently analysing how SDG11 is being implemented in several cities around the world and in particularly in the Global South. I examine the potential changes in governance structure and dynamics that result as a consequence of the New Urban Agenda and the implementation of SDG11.

    Please note that currently there are no funding opportunities for this project.

  • Urbanisation is increasing in the Pacific Island Countries, while the region is one of the most vulnerable to climate change. The project aims to analyse the role of urban planning in responding to climate change. A PhD scholarship for this project is available through the QUEX Institute. More information here. Deadline 24 May 2021.