Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Staff Profile

Dr Gabriel Silvestre

Senior Lecturer in Urban Planning, Degree Programme Director MSc Urban Planning


I joined the school in 2021 having previously taught at University of Sheffield, University College London and University of Westminster.

My interdisciplinary background reflects my interests at the interface of urban studies and policy analysis. I have a BA in Management Studies (Mackenzie University, Brazil), a MA in Tourism Management (University of Westminster) and a PhD in Planning Studies (Bartlett School of Planning, UCL). I also had experience working in the public sector for organisations such as Visit Britain and the City of London Corporation.

At APL I am responsible for the MSc Urban Planning programme, a deputy director for internationalisation and a member of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee. Elsewhere, I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a founding member of the Latin American Geographies Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society, and executive editor of the journal International Planning Studies.


My interests have developed around the core themes of urban governance, policy making and social justice. In particular, I am interested in examining the role of knowledge and ideas shaping the policy process through a relational and comparative approach. This is attentive to the (postcolonial) development history of cities in the Global South and to the contemporary dynamics in localising global city ideas. This work has recently been developed around two main thematic areas:

Expertise, policy mobilities and urban change

Ideas are the very stuff of politics and can provide a strategic entry point to examine how structural forces are mediated through agency. My research examines how groups and individuals (elected officials, planners, private interests and activists) rally behind ideas to shape policy discussion and promote urban change. This often relies in the mobilisation of expert networks and circulating ‘best practices’ to attain legitimacy to favoured actions. I have focused on how the localisation of policy templates such as strategic planning, waterfront redevelopment or smart city have facilitated certain groups that were not necessarily aligned to come together while marginalising others. My current research examines how activist groups draw on networks of expertise and new communication practices to contest revanchist urban policies and change the political debate.

Current funded research project: I am a member of the research team in the EU-funded Horizon 2020 MSCA-RISE Contested Territories From Contested Territories to alternatives of development: Learning from Latin America

Governing mega-projects and mega-events

Large scale development projects and the hosting of mega-events (Olympic, World Cups, Expos) are now recurrent practices to accelerate urban development. They also lead to significant changes in governance arrangements and democratic accountability. Rather than simply lavish image projects they can steer cities into development trajectories with long-lasting impacts. Building on a previous research examining the urban transformation of Rio de Janeiro through the hosting of the Olympic Games, I am interested in the comparative analysis of experiences in the Global South and how these projects ‘capture’ national and local urban agendas.

PhD supervision

I am keen to discuss postgraduate research proposals with applicants interested in the following topics: urban governance, participation and contestation; right to the city and social movements; megaprojects and mega-events; postcolonial planning theory and urban Latin America.



Areas of expertise 

Globalisation and urban change; postcolonial urban theory; planning theory; urban development in the Global South; governance, participation and contestation; right to the city and social movements; qualitative research methods.

Undergraduate teaching 

APL2035 Participation: Theories & Practice 

TCP2027 Research Skills

TCP2028 Understanding Cities

TCP2030 Urban Poverty: A Global Perspective

Postgraduate teaching

TCP8025 Linked Research Project

TCP8920 Globalisation and Social Justice Project

TCP8921 Globalisation and Social Justice

TCP8929 Planning, Power and People