Dr Idalina Baptista
Associate Professor in Urban Anthropology, Director DPhil in Sustainable Urban Development, Director of Studies in Anthropology
Idalina Baptista is associated with the DPhil and MSc in Sustainable Urban Development. She is a Fellow of Kellogg College, an Associate Fellow of the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities, an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, and a member of the Consultative Committee of the African Studies Centre. She is also a Visiting Professor at the School of Architecture and Physical Planning, University Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique. She has taught on diverse themes relating to urban planning and environmental management at the University of California, Berkeley, the New University of Lisbon, Universidade Aberta, and Universidade Atlântica, in Portugal. She held a visiting position at the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon and collaborated with colleagues at the New University of Lisbon on projects involving public participation in urban and environmental planning and policymaking. Her teaching and research are informed by past experience as an environmental planning consultant and as a member of an environmental NGO.
Idalina holds a PhD in City and Regional Planning (2009) and a Master of Landscape Architecture (Environmental Planning concentration) (1999) from the University of California, Berkeley, USA, and a 5-year BEng in Environmental Engineering (1996) from the New University of Lisbon, Portugal.
Idalina currently teaches in the MSc in Sustainable Urban Development the stream on Urban Theory. She also contributes to teaching doctoral seminars in the DPhil in Sustainable Urban Development and in the Department's Graduate School.
Her current research interests focus on the colonial and post-colonial geographies of urban energy infrastructure and urbanisation in African cities, using Maputo, Mozambique as a case study. Idalina’s work adopts a multi-perspective approach, drawing intellectual and methodological insights from a diversity of disciplinary fields, including urban studies/geography, anthropology, and science and technology studies. Through her research, Idalina seeks to deepen our understanding of African urbanization, the governance of urban infrastructures in Africa, and what urban livelihoods emerge as a result.
Idalina welcomes prospective doctoral students whose research interests match hers, whether their projects focus on Africa or elsewhere. She is particularly keen to supervise students who may be interested in any of the research lines outlined below:
(1) Governance of Electric Urbanism in Africa
This research line explores the governance of electricity services in cities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Idalina has been investigating the widespread turn to prepayment in electricity provision in the sub-continent as part of this research line.
The project Electric Urbanism – The Governance of Electricity in Urban Africa, uses the case study of Mozambique to examine how the transition to prepayment is re-shaping processes and practices of electricity production, distribution and consumption.
(2) Urban Electricity Practices in the Global South
Using a socio-technical and ethnographic perspective, this research line investigates everyday practices related to electricity infrastructures in contexts of weak infrastructure planning and provision, urban informality and poverty.
Her most recent project focuses on Sustainable Energy Access in Mozambique: Socio-political factors in conflict-laden urban areas, a project developed in collaboration with Vanesa Castán-Broto (PI) and Joshua Kirshner (Co-I) and funded by the British Academy Sustainable Development Programme. Idalina is the leader of the project's Working Package 3 "Everyday processes of symbolic and economic violence constraining energy access," focused on how management practices of the electric network may enact forms of symbolic and economic violence that lead to inequality of service provision.
In the context of the Electric Urbanism project (see above), Idalina has been examining how prepayment is shaping access to electricity among lower income populations and how meters mediate practices of electricity consumption and other broader social practices and interactions.
(3) Colonial Urban Energy Landscapes
This research line examines the co-evolution of urban environments and energy infrastructures in colonial Africa as the product of historically contingent and context-specific socio-political processes.
Drawing mostly on archival research on urban services in colonial Maputo, Idalina is currently working on a number of articles and a book proposal on “Urban Electricity Landscapes in Colonial Mozambique.”
(4) Urban Governance in Conflict and Crisis
This research line focuses on strategies to deal with contention, conflict and crisis in urban politics and governance involving a variety of urban problems.
Idalina's most recent project on Sustainable Energy Access in Mozambique: Socio-political factors in conflict-laden urban areas (see above), also looks at the ways in which conflicting agendas for electricity access are translated into specific modes of managing and planning Mozambique's national electric grid.
One past collaborative project, Understanding the Dynamics of Urban Flexibility and Reconstruction, investigated notions of ‘urban flexibility’ in cities facing situations of crisis. The project looked at the intersection between urban planning, governance and urban development in the context of hurricane management in Cancún, Mexico and malaria control in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Another past project, Regimes of Exception in Urban Planning and Governance: The Case of the Polis Program, Portugal, studied the use of regimes of exception to govern urban rehabilitation projects in Portugal. This project was Idalina’s doctoral dissertation and it focused on an in-depth study of the implementation of the Polis Program (Programa Polis), between 2000 and 2006, in two Portuguese cities where it faced considerable conflict (Costa da Caparica and Viana do Castelo). The study focused on understanding how and why policymakers are increasingly using regimes of exception to harness the uncertainty and complexities of urban development processes, often with unintended consequences.
(5) Knowledge for Sustainable Urbanisation
This research line focuses on the production, circulation and transfer of knowledge about what constitutes ‘good’, ‘just’ and ‘sustainable cities’.
Idalina is currently interested in examining what kinds of knowledge and methods of knowledge production are needed in order to effectively understand and address urbanisation trends across the African continent. Her approach to this topic seeks to unsettle the dominance of Anglo-American models of what constitute ‘good’ cities and develop a more localised understanding of African urban environments.
One past project, The ‘Unplanned’ Country – Narratives of ‘Disorderly’ Urban development, sought to understand the intellectual origins and scholarly construction of a narrative that arguably defines Portuguese urban development as unplanned, disorderly and chaotic.
Baptista, I. 2018. Space and energy transitions in sub-Saharan Africa: Understated historical connections. Energy Research and Social Science. Available online first on 3 October 2017 here.
Baptista, I. and J. Plananska. 2017. The landscape of energy initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa: Going for systemic change or reinforcing the status quo? Energy Policy, 110 (November): 1-8. Download
Baptista, I. 2016. Maputo: Fluid flows of power and electricity - Prepayment as mediator of state-society relationships. In Energy, Power and Protest on the Urban Grid: Geographies of the Electric Grid, edited by Andrés Luque-Ayala and Jonathan Silver. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. Get the book
Baptista, I. 2015. ‘We live on estimates’: everyday practices of prepaid electricity and the urban condition in Maputo, Mozambique. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 39(5): 1004-1019. Download
Baptista, I. 2015. Prepaid electricity in Maputo, Mozambique: Challenges for Urban Planning. In Urban Planning in Lusophone African Countries, edited by Carlos Nunes Silva. Surrey, UK: Ashgate. Get the book
Córdoba Azcárate, Matilde, I. Baptista and F. Domínguez Rubio. 2014. Enclosures within enclosures and hurricane reconstruction in Cancún, Mexico. City & Society, 26(1): 96-119. Download
Baptista, I. 2014. Book review – African Cities: Alternative Visions of Urban Theory and Practice, by Garth Myers. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 35(1): 152-153. Download
Baptista, I. 2013. Everyday Practices of Prepaid Electricity in Maputo, Mozambique. Working Paper, Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, University of Oxford, UK. Download
Baptista, I. 2013. The travels of critiques of neoliberalism: Urban experiences from the ‘borderlands’. Urban Geography, 34(5): 590-611. Download
Baptista, I. 2013. Practices of Exception in Urban Governance: Reconfiguring Power Inside the State. Urban Studies, 50(1): 37-52. Download
Baptista, I. 2012. How Portugal became an ‘unplanned country’: a critique of scholarship on Portuguese urban development and planning. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 36(5): 1076-1092. Download
Baptista, I. 2008. O Programa POLIS e o ‘País Desordenado’: percepções sobre governância e planeamento urbano em Portugal [POLIS Program and the ‘Unplanned Country’: perceptions on governance and urban planning in Portugal]. In: Cidade e Cidadania: Governança urbana e participação cidadã em perspectiva comparada [City and Citizenship: Urban governance and citizen participation in a comparative perspective], Cabral, M.V., T. Saraiva and F.C. Silva (eds). Lisbon, Portugal: Imprensa de Ciências Sociais. Get the book
Baptista, I. 2006. Citizen participation, stakeholder involvement, and the planning process in Portugal. L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, 366: 32–36.
Vasconcelos, L.T. and I. Baptista (eds). 2002. Environmental Activism in Society. Proceedings of the workshop held on 25–26 January 1999, organized by the Luso-American Foundation and Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Lisbon, Portugal: Luso-American Foundation for Development.
Oliveira, R. and I. Baptista. 2001. Guadiana Vivo: Uma Abordagem Participada ao Planeamento e Gestão do Parque Natural do Vale do Guadiana [Guadiana Vivo: A Participatory Approach to Planning and Management of the Guadiana Valley Natural Park]. Mértola, Portugal: ADPM, Associação de Defesa do Património de Mértola.