Faranak Miraftab
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,Professor
Faranak Miraftab
218 Temple Buell Hall
611 E Lorado Taft Dr
Champaign, IL 61820
Personal Website:


  • PhD, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA
  • MA, Norwegian Institute of Technology, Trondheim, Norway
  • Undergrad studies, Tehran University, College of Fine Arts, Tehran, Iran

Ongoing and upcoming research

Feminist anti-racist grassroots practices, citizenship, insurgency and community development; housing and infrastructure; grassroots movements for sanitation justice; decentralization and urban governance; gendered urban insecurities; displacement, immigration and transnational developments; citizens’ insurgent planning practices.

Active Research Projects:

Selected Publications:

Keynote Address at 2016 World Congress of Planning Schools
"Insurgency, Planning, and the Prospect of Humane Urbanism" (PDF) Keynote delivered at the opening of the World Congress of Planning Schools. "Global Crisis, Planning and Challenges to Spatial Justice." July 3-7 2016, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Personal profile:
I am an urban scholar of globalization. My scholarship is situated at the intersection of sociology, geography, planning, and feminist studies, using case study and ethnographic methodologies. My research concerns social and institutional aspects of urban development and planning that address basic human needs including housing and urban infrastructure and services that support it. I am particularly interested in the global and local development processes and contingencies involved in the formation of the city and citizens’ struggles for dignified livelihood — namely, how groups disadvantaged by class, gender, race, and ethnicity mobilize for resources such as shelter, basic infrastructure, and services and how institutional arrangements facilitate and frustrate provision and access to such vital urban resources.

A native of Iran, over the years my research and teaching has spanned several regions including the Middle East, Latin America, Southern Africa, and North America. In the 1990s, I studied this relationship through the experience of low-income communities, particularly female-headed households in Latin America; since the late-1990s I studied the struggle for justice and equity through the experience of racialized township residents in post-apartheid South Africa. My most recent work among immigrants and displaced laborers in the US is culmination of my earlier research revealing the intimate connections in community development processes across the globe including Michoacán, Mexico, Lomé, Togo and the rustbelt of United States. My Global Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives and Local Placemaking, which won several book awards, through a multi-sited ethnography and a relational frame of analysis exposes global inequalities and development connections and dependencies that intimately connect communities across the globe, in specific revealing the role of transnational families and their everyday practices of care.  For a documentary based on Global Heartland interviews, see “Moving Flesh,” produced by artist-scholar-activists Sarah Ross and Ryan Griffis.

In 2014 I was selected as University Scholar, a prestigious award the University of Illinois bestows on its faculty for excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service.