Dr. Sarah Moser
I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at McGill University (https://www.mcgill.ca/geography/people/moser) and am broadly interested in the ways in which power and ideology are manifested in architecture, urban policy and planning, in embodied performances, nation-building strategies, and more. My primary areas of geographical focus are Malaysia and Indonesia, and I have recently expanded my research to include Saudi Arabia, Gulf states, and Latin America. One major strand of my current research agenda is the global phenomenon of new city projects built from scratch. I have several ongoing projects relating to new cities in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. My graduate students are examining new city projects in Morocco, Indonesia, Tanzania, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Kuwait.
sarah.moser [at] mcgill.ca
Current doctoral students
Jasmine is currently pursuing a PhD in urban geography at McGill University, for which she won a SSHRC doctoral award. Her research examines the development logic for future-proofing Gulf countries and how the creation of new master-planned cities built from scratch are designed to contribute towards national survival in the post-oil era. She has received her Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in Urban Planning from Concordia University and completed her Master’s degree in Urban Planning in the School of Urban Planning at McGill University in 2020. Her Master’s thesis is the first ever attempt to identify and classify the recent new city projects in Kuwait and analyze the key drivers of the trend, the main actors involved, and the form they are taking. In 2019, Jasmine worked as an urban planner with MGP City Plan Ltd in Kuwait on the Master Plan for the Sulaibikhat Coastline Project. The Project developed a vision that responds to local challenges and opportunities, creates a policy framework that defines the type, amount, and mix of future land uses, prepares a Master Plan and implementation strategy to protect the marine and coast environment, creates a distinct and culturally appropriate character, delivers sustainable growth and development, and establishes a framework to manage and monitor the delivery of the plan.
Current Master's students
My research broadly examines the role of foreign actors in the designing and construction of new master-planned cities in Africa. I am fascinated by the social, cultural, and political factors that influence African elites to seek out urban models unlike their local contexts. Using Nigeria as a case study, my research delves into the ways in which Nigerian elites are attracted to ‘seductive’ and grand urban models such as Singapore. I obtained my undergraduate degree in Political Science and Geography from McGill University, where I served as a staff writer for the McGill Journal of Political Studies, publishing articles widely on African politics and some on African urbanization.
My research examines how speculative urban developments in the Gulf Cooperation Council states fit into their ambitious 2030/2035 ‘Visions’ which largely focus on sustainable development and economic diversification. Specifically, I aim to explore how Kuwait’s state-driven ideational urban projects and development in Kuwait City embodies a broader state shift towards ‘moderate Islam’ and liberal economic modernization. I obtained my undergraduate degree in Geography (Urban Studies) while minoring in History and Anthropology at McGill University, where I was cofounder and senior editor of Pulse: McGill’s Urban Studies Journal.
Alyssa Shamsa Wilbur
Alyssa received her undergraduate degree in International Development Studies and Geography from McGill and her MA research explores urban policies and their social impact in Indonesia. She has published an article in ABE Journal - Architecture Beyond Europe titled ‘Constructing heritage through state architecture in Indonesia’s Riau Islands’ and another in Inside Indonesia titled 'Social exclusions in a state urban mega-development'.
Graduated Master's and PhD students
My thesis research examines the socio-cultural impacts of urban mega-developments in Johor, Malaysia, and is funded by SSHRC and FRQSC awards. Specifically, I aim to understand how and why top-down urban megaprojects have emerged at such an unprecedented pace and scale in Johor over the past decade, and to what extent locals are included in, adapting to, or resisting these master-planned urban futures. My broader interests include the sociospatial and cultural impacts of urban planning, including how it influences perceptions of place and identity. I have an undergraduate degree in Urban Studies and Anthropology from McGill University, where I was managing editor of The McGill Tribune, and a background in designing bicycle-friendly cities. (www.linkedin.com/in/emmaeavery/)
Dr. Laurence Côté-Roy
I am jointly appointed as a Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute (National University of Singapore) and the department of Geography at the Université de Montréal where I am investigating growing ties between Asian and African urbanisms through the circulation of Malaysian urban planning expertise and urban ‘models’ in African new city building. My doctoral research focused on Morocco’s contemporary new city building as a strategy of national development, contextualized in the broader surge of new city construction across the African continent. I was the recipient of a Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship and hold a Postodoctoral research fellowship from the Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Société et Culture (FRQSC). My work has been published in journals such as Urban Studies, Geoforum, Urban Geography, and Cities.
Dr. Isabelle Simpson
Isabelle obtained her Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in Western Society and Culture (Honours) from Concordia’s Liberal Arts College in 2013. She completed a Master degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology, for which she won a SSHRC, in 2016. She joined the New Cities Lab in 2016. Her research looks at the ‘startup societies’ movement, initiatives to build private cities or to develop private and judicially autonomous urban enclaves, and focuses on ‘seasteading’, a project to build floating islands to colonize the oceans. You can read her article on Operation Atlantis, a project to build a floating country off the West coast of the United States in the late 1960s, early 1970s here. Isabelle won a FRQSC Doctoral Scholarship and a SSHRC Doctoral Scholarship to pursue this study. (https://www.linkedin.com/in/iloveachallenge/)
I received my undergraduate degree in International Development Studies and Management from McGill University. Before embarking on my master's degree, I spent some time working for a development consulting firm in Washington D.C. and then as a business development associate for a startup in Nairobi. My master's thesis investigates issues of urban fragmentation and spatial justice in Tanzania, where at least 8 new master planned cities are planned for construction. Through interviews with planning authorities and local communities, I hope to better understand the ways in which the new cities trend is being replicated in the African context and how local populations perceive and respond to these new mega-developments. My research interests are rooted in my passion for development issues and my life experiences growing up in Africa and South East Asia. I traveled to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in June 2018 to carry out my fieldwork. (https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanna-ondrusek-roy-98348097/)
Joanna Jordan is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Bologna under the supervision of Claudio Minca. She holds a CGS-M scholarship for her research on irregular migration, borders, and informal transit camps at the periphery of the European Union. Her thesis focuses on the increasingly restrictive border regimes around the EU, the rise of migrant immobility in transit, and the particular spaces and strategies that have emerged in response. In 2018, she completed four months of field work in informal transit camps along the Balkan Route, working in various sites in both Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. She is currently working on her MA thesis, submitting articles to journals and, after being awarded with SSHRC and MITACS scholarships, is conducting a research stay abroad at Aix-Marseille Université in France, under the supervision of Professor Pierre Sintès. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in the Department of History at McGill University in 2014, and spent a year and a half biking across Europe and working as a volunteer among forced migrants in both official refugee camps and informal transit camps before starting her MA.
Jasmine Ali (School of Urban Planning, McGill)
Jasmine has focused her studies on the role of planning in developing countries, new master-planned cities, urban design, and placemaking. She has received her Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in Urban Planning from Concordia University and completed her Master’s degree in Urban Planning in the School of Urban Planning at McGill University in 2020. Her research examines the development logic underpinning Kuwait’s national strategy to construct new cities. By drawing on scholarship relating to Gulf urbanism and new master-planned cities, her research examines how, why, and with what consequences the global ‘new cities’ development strategy is being adopted in Kuwait its main drivers and influences. Jasmine is currently working as an urban planner with MGP City Plan Ltd. in Kuwait on the Master Plan for the Sulaibikhat Coastline Project. The Project will develop a vision that responds to local challenges and opportunities, creates a policy framework that defines the type, amount, and mix of future land uses, prepares a Master Plan and implementation strategy to protect the marine and coast environment, creates a distinct and appropriate character, delivers sustainable growth and development, and establishes a framework to manage and monitor the delivery of the plan.
Contact: jasmine.ali [at] mail.mcgill.ca
Contact: favour.daka [at] mail.mcgill.ca
Contact: rebecca.stewart3 [at] mail.mcgill.ca
Contact: alyssa.wilbur [at] mail.mcgill.ca
Contact: emma.avery [at] mail.mcgill.ca
Contact: laurence.cote-roy [at] mail.mcgill.ca
Contact: isabelle.simpson [at] mail.mcgill.ca
joanna.ondrusek--roy [at] mail.mcgill.ca
Contact: joanna.jordan [at] mail.mcgill.ca
Contact: jasmine.ali [at] mail.mcgill.ca