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Martin Murray

Professor of Urban Planning
Professor of Sociology

Martin Murray is a tenured full professor of the Taubman College urban planning faculty. He began his academic career as sociologist with a strong foundation in urban geography. His current research engages the fields of urban studies and planning, global urbanism, cultural geography, distressed urbanism, development, historical sociology, and African studies.

In addition to six books and three co-edited volumes, he has produced close to seventy journal articles and book chapters that focus on diverse geographical areas of the world at different historical periods. After his first book on French colonialism in Indochina (University of California Press), Professor Murray pursued a deep and abiding interest in the politics of South Africa and has published on a range of topics including class formation and rural transformation, the transition from apartheid to parliamentary democracy, city building, and urban planning.

Besides chapters in edited volumes, his research has appeared in a number of influential journals, including the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Environment & Planning A, Cultural Geography, the Canadian Journal of African Studies, International Sociology, Journal of Southern African Studies, and the Journal of African History. His most recent book is entitled Commemorating and Forgetting: Challenges for a New South Africa (University of Minnesota Press, 2013).

Professor Murray has completed two books on city building and spatial politics in Johannesburg after apartheid. The first – Taming the Disorderly City (Cornell University Press, 2008) – examines the challenges for urban planning in Johannesburg after the end of apartheid. The second – City of Extremes: Spatial Politics in Johannesburg (Duke University Press, 2011) – looks at the spatiality of wealth and poverty in Johannesburg. In addition, the third (as yet unfinished) installment in the intended trilogy – Panic City: Johannesburg in the Popular Imagination – investigates the intersection of public policing and private security in contemporary Johannesburg.

His current research focuses on two fields of inquiry: first, the trajectories of global urbanism at the start of the 21st century; and second, the turn toward master-planned, holistically-designed "private cities" built from scratch, especially those currently under construction or in the planning stages in urban Africa.

In Taubman College, Professor Murray contributes significantly to the "Planning in Developing Countries" concentration offered by the Urban and Regional Planning Program. Professor Murray allows the Urban and Regional Planning Program to expand its developing-country course offerings, and affords the program expertise in African urban development policy. He is also affiliated with the Department of African-American and African Studies (DAAS) in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.