Dr Juan Miguel Kanai


Miguel Kanai is a Senior Lecturer and Human Geography PGR Lead in the Department of Geography. He joined the Department in 2016 with over a decade of experience in academic positions. These include the University of Miami, the University of California, Irvine and the London School of Economics, as well as shorter engagements at the Federal University of Amazonas (Brasil) and Henan University (PRC). He takes a multidisciplinary socio-spatial approach to urban research to address the challenges of cities and regions at a planetary scale. A global migrant himself Miguel’s training in the social sciences and urban policy and planning spanned across four continents.

Miguel’s research has been supported by the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, ESRC, Newton Fund and the British Council in the UK, and international funders such as NSF (USA) CNPq (Brasil) and the European Union (Horizons2020).  He received the Ashby Prize 2015 from the Environment and Planning A journal for his innovative paper on roadway construction and cross-border (im)mobilities in the Amazon Basin.

Research interests

Miguel’s current research interests focus on the infrastructures of urbanisation. His research programme on the infrastructure scramble engages the role of large-scale infrastructure investments in shaping territorial development in and around cities of emerging and frontier economies. His work on community infrastructures in Latin America includes questions of green infrastructure and socio-environmental challenges in Buenos Aires and the use of digital tools by SOGIE activists in Rio de Janeiro to cater to vulnerable populations such as queer migrants and newcomers to the city.

Kanai, J. Miguel, and Seth Schindler (2019). Peri-urban promises of connectivity: Linking project-led polycentrism to the infrastructure scramble. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 51.2, 302-322.

Kanai, J. M. (2016). The pervasiveness of neoliberal territorial design: cross-border infrastructure planning in South America since the introduction of IIRSA. Geoforum, 69, 160-170.

Kanai, J. M. (2014). Whither queer world cities? Homo-entrepreneurialism and beyond. Geoforum, 56, 1-5.