School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Professor Stephen Graham

Professor of Cities and 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:

 * Vertical aspects of cities and urban life

 * Links between cities, technology and infrastructure

 * Urban aspects of surveillance

 * The mediation of urban life by digital technologies; and 

 * Links 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 eighteen 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

2016: Graham, S. (2016), Vertical: The City From Satellites to Bunkers, Guardian book of the week and Financial Times and Observer book of the year.

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

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.


Inadequate 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 five related areas:

      * The vertical aspects of cities, geography and urban life;

      * 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 or from his Research Gate site. More information on his publications can also be found on his Google Scholar page.

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 latest work, culminating in the Verso book Vertical: The City From Satellites to Bunkers (October, 2016), is contributing much to  fully three-dimensional re-theorisation of the politics of cities and geography. A full PDF of the book is available here. Through a series of interlinked chapters exploring everything from satellites, drones and helicopters through air pollution crises, skyscrapers, elevators and housing towers to bunkers, mines, basements and sewers, Vertical reimagines urban life fully into three-dimensions above, within and below ground. It explores what it means to be above or below in today’s rapidly urbanising world. As humans excavate deep into the earth, build ever-higher into the skies, and saturate airspaces and inner orbits with a myriad of vehicles, sensors and platforms, the book reveals like never before how might we understand the remarkable verticalities of our world? 

A video of the U.S. launch of the book, a conversation with Keller Easterling at New York's Skyscraper Museum in November 2016, is available here. Slides and audio from a public lecture about the book at Newcastle are here. The book is also receiving excellent reviews. Book of the week in the Guardian for the week ending November 26th, Vertical was also amongst the books of the year for  2016 for both the Observer and the  Financial Times (the latter is only accessible to subscribers). Vertical has also been featured on BBC Radio 4's Thinking Allowed and reviewed in Nature, the Financial Times (subscription only), the Library Journal,  the Spectator magazine and the influential  Deterritorial Investigations blog.  The book is currently being translated into Korean and Turkish; reviews have also appeared in Spanish at  Rebellion web magazine and Italian at Pagina99 magazine.

A discussion of the book's chapter about how humans increasingly make their own geology appeared on the popular 99% invisible blog on September 13th, 2016. (See also the presentation here). The influential global research and activism NGO the Transnational Institute has also published a version of the chapter on the politics of drones as an interactive 'long read'-style essay under the title of Robot Imperium. A keynote on the book's chapter on elevators, presented at the Networked Urban Mobilities Conference in 2014 in Copenhagen, is available here

Second, Prof. Graham's research is playing an important role as scholars from across the social and urban studies and activist communities 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. Most important here is the book Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism (Verso, March, 2010) -- a major international and interdisciplinary exposé of the tightening connections across the world between urban life, militarism and security politics. The book was entered for the 2010 Orwell Prize for Political Writing.

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.”

Since publication, Cities Under Siege has been translated into FrenchSwedishTurkishGreek,Polish, Arabic and Brazilian/Portuguese  editions. A web TV debate on the latter book's ideas about 'new military urbanism' is available (Portuguese). Online lectures about the book are available from LSE, the Glasgow School of Art, Columbia University's Networked Architecture Lab, and  a 2013 conference in Talinn, Estonia.  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.  An in-depth interview to mark the publication of the Brazilian edition of the book was published by the O. Estado de S.Paulo newspaper on the 8th of October, 2016 (Portuguese).

Cities Under Siege has had 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.

Other journalistic discussions influenced by the book include The Guardian'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  the militarization of London ahead of the 2012 Olympics, and the Associated Press' discussion of the London Olympics. Prof. Graham's cover-story on the crackdown  associated with the London Olympics in the Guardian's G2 in March, 2012 also drew on the book.

Finally, 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). A more recent  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. Prof. Graham's work on infrastructure has featured in the 2011 film Bundled, Buried and Behind Closed Doors.

Prof. Graham's most recent collaborative book project on urban infrastructure, Infrastructural Lives (with Colin McFarlane) draws together a range of cutting-edge essays which focus on how modern urban life is necessarily maintained by huge completes of infrastructure.

Research Roles

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

Coordinator of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape's PhD bids to the ESRC's North East Doctoral Training Centre.

Postgraduate Supervision

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

?* Jennie Day, Experiments in Autonomous Vehicles (2017-)

* Chrysoula Toufexi, The Politics of Cyberwar Discourses (2010-)

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)

November, 2013, International Visitor, Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver,, 

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 ResearchCultural 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.