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Personal profile


MA (Arch), DPhil (Oxon)

Maria Kaika holds a D.Phil. in Geography from the University of Oxford, and an MA in Architecture from the National Technical University of Athens as well as professional qualifications as an architect. Her previous posts include: Fellow, St. Edmund Hall, Oxford; Director of Studies in Human Geography at St Hugh's College, Oxford;  University Lecturer, Oxford University School of Geography; Junior Research Fellow, Linacre College, Oxford; Lecturer in Human Geography at St Peter's College Oxford. 

She is Editor of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. In 2012, she was appointed City of Vienna Visiting Professor. Other appointments include: Executive Board Member, Remaking Cities Institute, Carnegie Mellon University; Appointed member on International Evaluation Panel of the Academy of Finland (Research Programme on the Future of Living and Housing – 2010). Trustee for the Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies (2005-2010); Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Queen Mary Graduate School of Social Sciences (Sept-Dec 2007); Visiting Professor at the University of Leuven (2008). Visiting Professor at the European University (EUREX) in Urbino (2006). Treasurer of the Royal Geographical Society & Institute of British Geographers’ Urban Research Group (2003-06); and Teaching Liaison Officer for the Royal Geographical Society (2001-2006). 

Public lectures and keynotes include addresses at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, London’s History Society, the Annual Meeting of the institute of Finnish Geographers. Maria Kaika  is regular research funding assessor for the ESRC, and for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and appointed peer reviewer of the European Science Foundation Standing Committee for the Social Sciences (SCSS), the European Union, the Georgian Science Foundation, and the Latsis Foundation. She has given seminars and public lectures for international academic institutions, policy organizations (UN Habitat, Royal Academy of Arts, Amnesty International, European Science Foundation, Architecture Foundation, European Environmental Bureau, Greek Environment Ministry) and the private sector (Seville Water company, Thames Water), and has acted as external examiner for the London School of Economics, UCL, Goldsmiths, the Universities of Otago, New Zealand, the National Technical University of Athens (Architecture), and the Harokopeio University of Athens (Geography)

Research interests

Dr Kaika’s research on urban political ecology contributes to the promotion of a dialogue between geography, urban studies, environmental history & planning. It does so by: (1) Re-conceptualising ‘the urban’, and breaking down the binary between nature and the city. (2) Unpacking the power relations involved in the production of the networks that weave together the cultural, the social, the natural, and the urban. (3) Developing a dialogue between political ecology and post-structural theorizations of the city and nature, and (4) Theorizing the relationship between neo-liberalization, globalisation & environmental policy, focusing on the power relations in EU decision making. 

Dr Kaika’s international collaborative research projects have received funding from the European Commission, the ESRC-NERC-CASE (with the Environment Agency), the British Academy, and the National Research Foundation of Greece. Her research involves collaboration with: (i) Academic Institutions: Carnegie Mellon, Free University of Amsterdam, Darmstadt University of Technology, European University Institute at Florence, Royal Academy of Arts, Bristol University, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, University of the Aegean, Panteion University of Athens, University of Catania. (ii) Policy Making Bodies & NGOs: UN Habitat, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies of the European Commission, Heinz Foundation, Amnesty International, Environment Agency, European Environmental Bureau, City Min(e)d; and (iii) the Private Sector: Thames Water, Seville Water Company. 
Building upon her earlier contributions in urban theory, Maria Kaika is currently developing a research agenda on Iconic Buildings and the changing ethnography or urban patronage in the 21st century.  This project received seed funding from the British Academy in 2007.Using the Corporation of London (CL) as a case study, the project examines how changes in the structure and ethnography of the CL impact the form, function and symbolism of architecture in the Square Mile. The project focuses on recent ‘iconic buildings’ in the heart of the City that form a cluster of high rise in the heart of the Square Mile that will change London’s skyline dramatically.  The project’s objectives are to: (1) deepen our understanding of the relationship between socio-political practices of urban patronage and architectural form and to (2) open up a dialogue between geography, urban studies, cultural studies, and architecture. The project involves interdisciplinary collaboration with Prof. Leslie Sklair (LSE Cities Programme), Dr Luca Ruggiero (University of Catania), and Urban Artists (City Mine(d)).  

Urban Political Ecology

Maria Kaika's Research comprises four interrelated themes

1. Urban political ecology

2. Urban Radical Imaginaries: Iconic Architecture, Iconic Infrastructures

3. Land Financialisation as a Lived Process

4. Cities and Crisis: from macroeconomics to the everyday


  • Brian Rosa - Residual Urban spaces: the case of the urban archway
  • Lazaros Karaliotas - Glocalising Urban infrastructures: the port of Thessaloniki, Greece
  • Yong Yu Hin - Urban food Networks and urban security: the case of Hong Kong
  • Mark Usher - The Built Environment and environmental security: Securing the Hydrosocial Cycle in Singapore and tapping into the 'Intelligent Island' discourse
  • Suraya Fazel-Ellahi - Critical perspectives on nature-society: the political ecology of water in South Africa
  • Isaac Tchuwa - Neoliberal Reforms and Water Resource Governance in Non-equilibrial Water Systems of Southern Africa

Further information

Convener of conferences and related events

  • 2010 - Coordinator (for Manchester University) International PhD Workshop and Summer School on Cities and Environmental Conflict. Funded through the ERASMUS European PhD student exchange programme. Participants: Autonoma University of Barcelona, University of Manchester, University of Lund, and European University Institute at Budapest.
  • 2010 - Coordinator (for Manchester University) ERASMUS European PhD exchange programme with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
  • 2010 - Coordinator: Transforming Cities Institute Initiative. Faculty of Humanities, University of Manchester
  • 2010 - Organiser and Coordinator: Transforming Community Landscapes in Spain, Greece and the UK. Workshop. Manchester, 1-4 November
  • 2009 - Organiser and Coordinator: 1st Graduate Student International Forum for Human Geography: Institute of British Geographers Conference, Manchester, August
  • 2009 - Organiser and Coordinator (with P Devine-Wright and G Baeten) 'Urban Imaginaries: Utopian and Dystopian Thought and Praxis on Nature and the City', RGS-IBG Conference, Manchester, August
  • 2009 - Organiser and Coordinator (with K Furlong) 'Technology, Materiality and the City: Urban Techno-natures and STS', RGS-IBG Conference, Manchester, August
  • 2008 - Coordinator of European Science Foundation Urban Research Programme Forum
  • 2008 - Co-organiser (with CRESC and CITY journal) Invited Seminar: Loic Wacquant, University of Manchester, 29 May

Wider professional service

Editorial Boards - International Journals

  • 2005 - International Journal of Urban and Regional Research
  • 2004 - City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory
  • 2005 - Guest Editor: City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory. Special issue on 'Iconic Building'

Visiting Appointments

  • 2007 - Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Queen Mary Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of London
  • 2007-08 - Visiting Professor, Department of Geography, University of Leuven

International Foundations, Boards & Advisory Bodies

  • 2007 - European Science Foundation Peer Reviewer
  • 2007 - Georgian Scientific Society and Georgian National Science Foundation (GNSF) Peer Reviewer
  • 2007 - Invited Professor: EUREX, European Seminars on Urban Transformation, Poverty, Spatial Segregation and Social Exclusion
  • 2007 - Advisor to Edexcel (the British Educational Excellence Board) on restructuring A level Urban geography teaching
  • 2006 - Trustee, Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies (FURS)
  • 2005 - Invited Expert, European Science Foundation 'Forward Look on Urban Science' programme
  • 2005 - External Assessor: Masters Programme on 'Gender and Space', School of Architecture National Technical University of Athens

Industry / Policy Advisory Roles

  • 2003 - Invited Expert, Thames Water Forum on Water as a Commodity (St Antony's College, Oxford)
  • 2001 - Invited Expert, European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Forum on Water Pricing (Brussels)

Participation in International Academic Networks

  • EUREX, European Seminar on Urban Transformation, Poverty, Spatial Segregation and Social Exclusion
  • RC 21: The Research Committee for the 21st Century, on Sociology of Urban and Regional Development of the International Sociological Association
  • INURA: International Network for Urban Research and Action
  • URBISnet Network on Urban Sustainability
  • IWHA: International Water History Association
  • PUBCITGOV: Public services, liberalisation, citizenship, and governance
  • PARADOX Methodologies of Integrated Water Resources Management and Transboundary Issues
  • SIWAM Network for sustainable and integrated water management

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Urban Institute


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