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Professor Stephen Graham
Prof of Cities & Society


Stephen Graham is an academic and author who researches cities and urban life. He is Professor of Cities and Society at the Global Urban Research Unit and is based in Newcastle University's School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape.

Professor Graham has a background in Geography, Planning and the Sociology of Technology. His research centres, in particular, on:

 * relations between cities, technology and infrastructure

 * urban aspects of surveillance

 * the mediation of urban life by digital technologies; and

 * connections between security, militarisation and urban life.

Writing, publishing and lecturing across many countries and a variety of disciplines, Professor Graham has been Visiting Professor at MIT and NYU, amongst other institutions. The author, editor or co-author of seven major books, his work has been translated into fifteen languages.


Ph.D. (Science and Technology Policy), Programme for Policy Research in Engineering, Science and Technology (PREST), University of Manchester.

Title: Networking Cities: A Comparison of Urban Telecommunications Initiatives in France and Britain (completed part-time 1992-1996)

1989 M.Phil. (Town and Country Planning), University of Newcastle upon Tyne
(Royal Town Planning Institute Prize)

1986 B.Sc.(Hons.) (Geography), University of Southampton (First Class).

Previous Positions

2005-2010, Professor of Human Geography, Department of Geography, University of Durham

1992-2005 Lecturer, then Reader, then Professor, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University

1999-2000 Full-Time Visiting Professor, Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

1989-1992 Urban Planner, then Economic Development Officer, Sheffield City Council

Honours and Awards

2011: Graham, S. (2010), Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism, nominated for the Orwell prize for political writing.

2004: Graham, S. and Marvin, S, (2001), Splintering Urbanism, nominated by the Urban Geography Speciality Group for the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers annual book prize.

1st Prize for best paper published in European Planning Studies during 1999: Graham, S. and Healey, P. (1999), “Relational concepts of space and place: Issues for Planning Theory and Practice”. European Planning Studies, 7(5), 623-646.


Passable French.

Informal Interests

Keen recreational cyclist; cycle touring; cinema; hill walking; urban history; punk, post-punk and other music; ornithology.

Research Interests

Prof. Graham's research draws on critical social and urban theory to address some of the key challenges facing our rapidly urbanizing world. His focus, specifically, is on four related areas:

* The politics of urban infrastructure, materiality and mobility;

* The urban aspects of social and digital surveillance;

* The links between cities and digital media; and

* The politics of urban security and the 'new military urbanism'

A wide selection of Professor Graham's publications can be downloaded from Newcastle University's e-prints service.

A wide range of Professor Graham's Powerpoint presentations is available at slideshare.

Influence and Impacts

In developing these themes, Prof. Graham's work has had a major influence on a wide variety of recent literatures and research trends in the social sciences and beyond. This influence has straddled three areas.

First, Prof. Graham's individual and collaborative work has been important to the resurgence of research on the politics of infrastructure in cities and the proliferation of 'splintered' styles of urban development (the term was coined in Prof. Graham's highly influential 2001 book with Simon Marvin, Splintering Urbanism).

Second, Prof. Graham's research has played important roles in the rapid recent growth of critical social scientific work on urban surveillance and the proliferation of work across many disciplines on the implications of the digital media revolution for urban life.

Finally, Prof. Graham's research is playing an important role as scholars in Planning, Architecture, Geography, Political Science and Sociology seek to address the ways in which questions of security, war and political violence now permeate deeply into the everyday spaces, sites and circulations of urban life on a planet where 75% of the population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050. The blog subtopia has two interviews  with Prof. Graham which outline this research agenda (see here and here). A recent interview with Vijay Nagaraj, the Executive Director of the International Council on Human Rights Policy, has also appeared in the web journal Open Democracy. Meanwhile, Professor Graham's work in this theme was the  central feature of  Fear Has a 1,000 Eyes, a  major Swiss-German TV documentary by ContainerTV, broadcast on the 10th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. An English version of the programme is forthcoming. 

Recent writing has culminated in the publication of two major books.

Cities Under Siege

The first, Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism (Verso, March, 2010), is a major international and interdisciplinary exposé of the tightening connections across the world between urban life, militarism and security politics. The book, which was entered for the 2010 Orwell Prize, is currently being translated into Mandarin, Arabic, German and French.

 The paperback version of the book, published in November 2011, was Nicholas Lezard's paperback of the week in the Guardian on December 13th, 2013. "Look, you're just going top have to read this book," Lezard says in his review. "After a while you begin to wonder whether books  like this will be allowed to be published much longer." The Glasgow Herald, meanwhile, called the book an "agit-prop classic." .

"Superb..." Edwin Heathcote writes in the, Financial Times. "Graham builds on the writings of Mike Davis and Naomi Klein who have attempted to expose the hidden corporate and military structures behind everyday life.”

 Red Pepper, meanwhile, calls the book “Sharp, lucid and elegant prose ...Graham is consistently insightful and compelling. Cities Under Siege is an indispensable analysis of the dark fantasies that the military imagination is seeking to realise in the coming century.” Icon Magazine, finally, describes the  book as “a rigorously researched, pioneering book packed with disturbing and at times astonishing information.”

 “Roll over Jane Jacobs,"  Mike Davis says in  his endorsement for the book. "Here’s urban geography as it looks through the eye of a Predator at 25,000 feet." The book, says Davis, is "a fundamental and very scary report from the global red zone.” 

Recent online lectures about Cities Under Siege are available from LSE, Columbia University's Networked Architecture Lab, and Leeds Metropolitan University. Prof. Graham can be heard talking about the book's themes on BBC Radio 4's Thinking Allowed Programme, 10th March, 2010 and on the 9th January 2012.   

Cities Under Siege is having major impacts across the world's newspapers and activist networks. The daily Democracy Now TV show in the United States featured two discussions on the book, and interviews with Prof. Graham, in November 2011 (here and here) at the heights of the Occupy protests there. Chicago's influential 'Worldview' programme at the WBEZ radio station also ran a feature on the book on March 13th, 2012.

Recent journalistic discussions influenced by the book include The Guardian's analysis of the rise of armed robots in warfare, the Cape Town Mail and Guardian's treatment of killer drones, the Huffington Post's discussion of architecture around the World Trade Center and the militarization of London ahead of the 2012 Olympics, the Associated Press' discussion of the London Olympics, and Mike Soron's blog on cities. 

'Lockdown London': London Olympics Feature

On March 12th, 2012, the Guardian published a major  feature on the security aspects of the London Olympics. Titled "Welcome to lockdown London".

Disrupted Cities: When Infrastructures Fail

The second book, an edited collection through Routledge, New York, is Disrupted Cities: When Infrastructures Fail. It is the first book to look in detail at how the failure, disruption and destruction of key urban infrastructures -- communications, transport, energy, water -- impact on cities and urban life. A review is now available from Public Works, Management and Policy. A recent interview on Swedish Television outlines some of the themes of the book.

Currently, Prof. Graham is involved in two ESRC projects. One, titled Every Infrastructures, (with Colin McFarlane and Renu Desai at Durham) is a detailed exposé of the politics of sanitation and water in Mumbai's informal cities. The other, Staging and Performing ‘Emergency Situations’ in UK ‘All Hazards’ Preparedness Planning, (with Ben Anderson at Durham and Peter Adey at Keele) explores how city managers simulate disasters as part of their efforts to plan for disruption and extreme events.

Future Research: The Politics of Urban Security;  the Vertical Aspects of Urban Life

Prof. Graham is currently developing two new research directions. These will be the focus of his work over the next two years. First, he is developing critical analyses of the concepts and discourses which surround discussions of the links between 'security' and contemporary cities.

Second, he is developing a book and Fellowship project centred on viewing the key political challenges of our age from a vertical perspective encompassing two-way connections between the urban subterranean, the architectures and infrastructures of urban life, and aerial and space (geo)politics.

Research Roles

Theme leader of the Cities, Security and Vulnerability theme within the Global Urban Research Unit (GURU). 

Postgraduate Supervision

Stephen Graham has been involved in the supervision of twelve successful PhDs. He is currently co-supervisor on three PhD projects:

Ulpia Elena Botezatu, The politics of security at Gare du Nord, Paris (co-supervisor, Dr Martin Coward) (2010-2013)
Sobia Ahmad Kaker, Enclaves, circulation and security in Karachi (co-supervisor, Dr Martin Coward) (2010-2013)
Chrysoula Toufexi, Cyberattacks and the militarisation of the Internet (co-supervisor, Dr Martin Coward) (2010-2013)

Prog. Graham welcomes discussions with prospective Graduate Students who are interested in undertaking Ph.D. projects in areas related to his research interests.

Visiting Positions, Advisory Roles, Involvement in Academic Journals

Visiting Positions (Selected): 

November 2008, Distinguished International Visitor, Department of Sociology, New York University.

1999-2000 Full-Time Visiting Professor, Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Advisory Roles: 

Invited member of Advisory Board for UCL Urban Laboratory (2009-)

Canada Foreign Affairs, expert contributor to ‘Fast Talk’ Programme on human and urban security, 2006

Member of Advisory Panel for Cambridge University's Conflict in Cities and the Contested State ESRC research programme

Member of Scottish Executive’s Cities Review Panel 2001-2002

Member of Independent Transport Commission's panel for their Land Use and Transport in Britain, 2025 study (2000-3)

Consultant to United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS) on cities and new technologies for their Cities in a Globalizing World report (2000)

Consultant to the Economic and Social Research Council to establish the Cities: Economic Competitiveness and Social Cohesion Research Programme (1995) (with Ash Amin, Cambridge University)

Involvement in Academic Journals and International Jury Roles: 

Founding Co-Editor of the peer-reviewed web journal Surveillance and Society.

Current or past participation on the Editorial or Advisory Boards of  a wide range of  international academic journals, including the International Journal of Urban and Regional ResearchCity, Cultural Politics, Urbe: The Brazilian Journal of Urban Management, the Journal of Urban Technology, Surveillance and Society (founding co-editor) (2002-),  Information, Communication and Society, Flux: Cahiers Scientifiques Internationalux Réseaux et Territoires (CNRS, Paris), and Mobilities.

Membership of Juries for International Prizes: 2nd International Bauhaus Award, Dessau, November 2002; International Competition on Sustainable Urban Design, Tokyo, June 2003.

Research Funding (Selected)

ESRC, (RES-000-22-2970) Staging and Performing ‘Emergency Situations’ in UK ‘All Hazards’ Preparedness Planning, (Co-Investigator with Ben Anderson of Durham University and Pete Adey of Keele University, 2009-2011)(£73,000).

ESRC, Everyday Infrastructures: A Comparative Study of Sanitation in Mumbai’s Informal Settlements, (Co-Investigator with Colin McFarlane and Renu Desai of Durham University)(2009-2011) (£230,000).

ESRC (RES-155-25-0087) Non-Government Public Action Programme, Contested Borders: Non-Governmental Public Action and the Technologies of the ‘War On Terror’ (Co-Investigator with Louise Amoore and Alex Hall of Durham University, 2007-2009)(£125,000).

Sept. 2003- Sept. 2005 British Academy Research Readership, £70,000, The Software-Sorted Society: Rethinking the Digital Divide (One of 15 in the UK - Included 24 month covering lectureship). An article on this project is available at the British Academy's web site.

ESRC E-Society Programme (RES-335-25-0015) 2002-2004 Multispeed Cities and the Logistics of Living in the Information Age (Co-Investigator with Mike Crang of Durham University and Tracey Crosbie, now of Teesside University) (£60,000).

United Nation Centre for Human Settlements: Information Technologies and Urban Polarization, £8,000 (2000).

Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Marginalised Neighbourhoods and Business Disinvestment in Essential Private Services (1997-9), £55,000 (Principal investigator with Suzanne Speak).

Event and Conference Organisation (Selected)

Science Fiction in the Present: Military Technology and Contemporary Culture, Newcastle, May 26th, 2011 (Co-Organiser with Mark Dorrian)

 School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Public Lecture Series, 2009-2010, co-organiser.

Everyday Infrastructure and the City, Durham, May 2011, Co-organiser with Colin McFarlane and Renu Desai. 

Unmaking England? Policy and Infrastructure in the Production of New State Space, Manchester, January 2009 (Co-organiser with Simon Marvin)

Targeted Publics:  Arts and Technologies of the Security City, at the CCCB - CENTRE DE CULTURA CONTEMPORANEA DE BARCELONA, 2008 (with Louise Amoore)

Architectures of Fear: Terrorism and the Future of Urbanism in the West, at the CCCB - CENTRE DE CULTURA CONTEMPORANEA DE BARCELONA, 2007 (Organiser). Published in book form within the Urbanitats series, Number 19.

Going Underground: Excavating the Subterranean City (Manchester, 2006)(Co-Organiser with Simon Marvin) 

Urbicide: The Killing of Cities (Durham, 2005)(Co-Organiser with David Campbell and Dan Monk) 


cities; infrastructure; technology; mobility; surveillance; security; splintering urbanism; new military urbanism; disrupted cities 


TCP 8025, Linked Research Project (Module Leader), Planning Diploma 2.

 TCP 8934, Cities, Security and Resilience (Module Leader), MSc Town Planning.

 TCP2028, Understanding Cities (Module Leader), BA Town Planning (Stage 2).

 Arc 5004, Architectural Theory, member of teaching team. 

 Postgraduate Planning Dissertation, supervisor. 

 TCP3099 Undergraduate Planning Dissertation, supervisor.