Lorena Melgaço

Lorena Melgaço

Associate Senior Lecturer

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Personal profile

Research

I am an urban scholar with a background in Architecture and Urbanism interested in the entwinement of digital technology and the production of space, micropolitics of socio-spatial and technological peripheralisation in the postcolony; the intersections of technological dependency, capitalist production of space and the socio-environmental crisis, and the challenges of planning education and practice from a socio-spatial justice perspective. I want to understand the forms of local agency within a global political structure of knowledge and technological production and its relation to the production of space.

 

In my PhD research at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, in Brazil, I investigated the socio-spatial aspects, agencies and conflicts inherent to the process of introduction of the internet in three rurban communities in Brazil and in the UK. From the perspective of the everyday, I discussed the microscalar character of technology adoption and the macroscalar power relations that impact on accessibility of technology itself. During that time, I was also a researcher in the project “Digital Neighbourhoods”, at Plymouth University in the UK, which focused on the impacts of superfast fiber internet in rural communities in Cornwall.

 

Currently, I am investigating “actually existing smart cities” in the Northeast of Brazil to unveil the multiscalar processes of implementing settlements from scratch in peripheral areas in Brazilian cities. I want to investigate the discourses, governance structures and planning practices that allow such projects to proceed and how they further socio-spatial inequalities while arguing otherwise.

 

Another field of interest is planning education and practice. As a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Birmingham, UK and the University of the Free State, South Africa, we focused on the appropriateness, usefulness and impact of the contemporary Higher Education urban planning curriculum in the country. Developing from this research, I continue to look at planning education and practices especially in the global South, critically discussing the role of International Planning Education, on the one hand, and the ongoing role of the field in the production of racialised spaces in Brazil and South Africa, on the other.

 

I am also part of a multidisciplinary team in the FORMAS project “Geosystem services underneath for sustainable communities and improved spatial planning practices”. In this project we address the lack of consideration of the subsurface in spatial planning processes until the implementation phase, which hinders any attempt to promote more sustainable cities. Starting in 2021, we will look at four cases to develop develop a planning framework which enables a socially oriented considering of the subsurface in ongoing and future urban projects.

 

 

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