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Mary Lawhon, Ph.D.


Mary Lawhon, Ph.D.

Institute of Geography

Drummond Street
Edinburgh EH8 9XP UK

E-mail mary.lawhon(at)



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Visiting Scholar

Professional Posts

University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, School of GeoSciences, 2021


University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, USA

Associate Professor (tenured), Department of Geography & Environmental Sustainability, 2020

Assistant Professor (tenure track), DGES, 2017-2020


Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA

Assistant Professor (tenure track), Department of Geography, 2015-2017


University of Pretoria, Tshwane, Gauteng, South Africa

Lecturer, Department of Geography, Geoinformatics, and Meteorology, 2013-2014


University of Cape Town, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Postdoctoral Fellow, African Centre for Cities, 2011-2013

Advisor:  Susan Parnell

Project Affiliations: Alcohol Control, Poverty and Development, 2011- 2012; MISTRA Urban

Futures (halftime), 2012- 2013; Ways of Knowing Urban Ecology (halftime), 2012- 2013


Clark University, Worcester, MA, USA

Teaching and Research Assistant, Graduate School of Geography, 2007-2009


University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

            Lecturer, Centre for Environment & Development, 2005-2007

            Research Assistant, Urban Ecosystems & Human Health, 2005-2007

                        Supervisors:  Allison Goebel, Queen’s University

                                             Robert Fincham, University of KwaZulu-Natal



Clark University, Worcester, MA, USA

Doctor of Philosophy, Geography, 2011

Dissertation:  Relational Power in the Governance of South Africa’s E-Waste Regime: A Sustainable Transition in Progress?

Advisor:  James T. Murphy

University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Master of Environment and Development, (MEnvDev), 2004

Thesis:  Environmental Issues in the South African Media: A Case Study of the Natal Witness

Advisor:  Robert Fincham

University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA

Bachelor of Science, Environmental Studies, 2003



* publications with a student or postdoctoral researcher under my supervision or working on a project


Lawhon, Mary and Tyler McCreary. In review. Enough! A Modest Political Ecology for an Uncertain Future. Under contract with Agenda Publishing.

Lawhon, Mary with contributions from Lené Le Roux*, Anesu Makina* and Yaffa Truelove. (2020) Making Urban Theory: Learning and Unlearning through Cities of the Global South. Routledge. (Routledge Research on Decoloniality and New Postcolonialisms, edited by Mark Jackson)

Lawhon, Mary. Environment and Society. Open Educational Resource for the class ‘Environment and Society’ (drafted and in use since 2018)


Articles (n=41)

Lawhon, Mary and Tyler McCreary. (In press). Making UBI Radical: On the potential for a universal basic income to underwrite transformative change. Economy and Society.

Lawhon, Mary, Gloria Nsangi Nakyagaba* and Timos Karpouzoglou. (In press). Towards a modest imaginary? Sanitation in Kampala beyond the modern infrastructure ideal. Urban Studies.

Millington, Nate, Kathleen Stokes* and Mary Lawhon. (In press). Whose value lies in the urban mine? Reconfiguring permissions, work and the benefits of waste in South Africa. Annals of the American Association of Geographers

Sseviiri, Hakimu*, Shuaib Lwasa, Mary Lawhon, Henrik Ernstson and Revocatus Twinomuhangi. (2022). Claiming value in a heterogeneous solid waste configuration in Kampala. Urban Geography. 43(1): 59-80.

Nakyagaba, Gloria Nsangi*, Mary Lawhon, Shuaib Lwasa, Jonathan Silver, and Frederick Tumwine. (2021). Power, politics and a poo pump: Contestation over Legitimacy, Access and Benefits of Sanitation Technology in Kampala. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography. 42(3): 415-30.

Henderson, Maya* and Mary Lawhon. (2021). What is a “green city”? Understanding environmental imaginaries in a politically conservative area. Southeastern Geographer. 61(2), 175-192.

Lawhon, Mary, Lené Le Roux*, Anesu Makina*, Gloria Nsangi*, Aditi Singh*, and Hakimu Sseviiri*. (2020) Beyond southern urbanism? Imagining an urban geography of a world of cities. Urban Geography. 41(5): 657-667 (Invited commentary for the journal’s 40th anniversary)

Lawhon, Mary and Tyler McCreary. (2020) Beyond jobs vs the environment: On the potential of universal basic income to reconfigure environmental politics. Antipode.  52(2): 452-474. (Video abstract available online)

Lawhon, Mary and Yaffa Truelove. (2020) Disambiguating the southern urban critique: Propositions, pathways and possibilities for a more global urban studies. Urban Studies. 57(1): 3-20. (Awarded ‘best paper’ of 2020 by the journal)

Lawhon, Mary and Lené Le Roux*. (2019) Southern urbanism or a world of cities? Modes of enacting more global urban geographical textbooks, teaching and research. Urban Geography 40(9): 1251-1269.

Millington, Nate* and Mary Lawhon. (2019) Geographies of waste: Conceptual vectors from the global south. Progress in Human Geography. 43(6): 1044-1063.

Allen, Douglas*, Mary Lawhon and Joseph Pierce. (2019) Placing race: Understanding black geographies through relational place-making. Progress in Human Geography. 43(6): 1001-1019.

Pierce, Joseph, Mary Lawhon and Tyler McCreary. (2019) From precarious work to obsolete labour? Implications of technological disemployment for geographical scholarship. Geografiska Annaler Series B. 101(2) 84-101.

Lawhon, Mary, Nate Millington* and Kathleen Stokes*. (2018) A labour question for the 21st century: Perpetuating the work ethic in the absence of jobs in South Africa’s waste sector. Journal of Southern African Studies. 44(6): 1115-1131.

Lawhon, Mary, David Nilsson, Jonathan Silver, Henrik Ernstson and Shuaib Lwasa. (2018) Thinking through heterogenous infrastructure configurations. Urban Studies. 55(4) 720-32. (Awarded one of three ‘Best Articles of 2018’ by the journal; video abstract available online)

Lawhon, Mary, Joseph Pierce and Anesu Makina*. (2018) Provincializing urban appropriation: Agonistic transgression as a mode of actually existing appropriation in South African cities. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography. 39(1): 117-131.

Lawhon, Mary, Joseph Pierce and Roy Bouwer*. (2018) Scale and the construction of environmental imaginaries in local news. South African Geographical Journal. 100(1): 1-21.

Pierce, Joseph and Mary Lawhon. (2018) The right to move: Informal land use rights and urban practices of mobility. Urban Geography. 39(5): 667-686.

Lawhon, Mary and Anesu Makina*. (2017) Assessing local discourses on water in a South African newspaper. Local Environment. 22(2): 240-55.

Davine, Toby*, Mary Lawhon and Joseph Pierce. (2017) Place-making at a national scale: Framing tar sands extraction as 'Canadian' in The Globe and Mail. The Canadian Geographer. 61(3): 428-439.

Pierce, Joseph and Mary Lawhon. (2016) What do you mean when you say "urban"? Divergence between everyday language and Northern analytical vocabularies in South African Cities. Die Erde. 147(4): 284-89.

Lawhon, Mary, Jonathan Silver, Henrik Ernstson and Joseph Pierce. (2016) Unlearning (un)located ideas in the provincialization of urban theory. Regional Studies. 50(9): 1611-1622.

Pierce, Joseph and Mary Lawhon. (2015) Walking as method: towards methodological forthrightness and comparability in qualitative urban research. The Professional Geographer. 67(4): 655-62.

Lawhon, Mary, Henrik Ernstson, and Jonathan Silver. (2014) Provincialising urban political ecology: towards a situated UPE through African urbanism. Antipode. 46(2): 497-516. (Video abstract available online.)

Ernstson, Henrik, Mary Lawhon, and James Duminy. (2014) Conceptual vectors of African Urbanism: ‘Engaged theory-making’ and ‘platforms of engagement’ Regional Studies. 48(9): 1563-1577.

Lawhon, Mary, Clare Herrick, and Shari Daya. (2014) Researching sensitive topics in African cities: Reflections on alcohol research in Cape Town. South African Geographical Journal 96(1): 15-30. (Special issue on alcohol in Cape Town)

Drivdal, Laura* and Mary Lawhon. (2014) Plural regulation in spheres of informality: Shebeens in Cape Town. South African Geographical Journal 96(1): 97-112. (Special issue on alcohol in Cape Town)

Grant, Shelby* and Mary Lawhon. (2014) Reporting on rhinos: A critical analysis of newspaper coverage of rhino poaching. Southern African Journal of Environmental Education. 30: 39-52.

Lawhon, Mary and Zarina Patel. (2013) Local sustainability and the politics of scale: Rethinking governance and justice in an era of political and environmental change. Environment and Planning C 31(6): 1048-1062. (Special issue on Rio +20)

Lawhon, Mary. (2013) Dumping ground or country-in-transition? Exploring the Relevance of global electronic waste discourses to South Africa. Environment and Planning C 31: 700-715. (Listed online as “editor’s choice” and in the 2013 “Post-apartheid geographies – a virtual theme issue”)

Lawhon, Mary. (2013) Flows, friction and the sociomaterial metabolization of alcohol. Antipode 45(3): 681-701. (Listed online in the 2013 “Spotlight on South Africa” collection; video abstract available online)

Lawhon, Mary. (2013) Situated, networked environmentalisms: a case for environmental theory from the South. Geography Compass 7(2): 128-138.

Lawhon, Mary and Clare Herrick. (2013) Alcohol control in the news: The politics of media representations of alcohol policy in South Africa. Journal of Health Policy, Politics and Law 38(5): 957-986.

Lawhon, Mary. (2012) Relational power in the governance of the South African e-waste transition. Environment and Planning A 44(4): 954-971.

Lawhon, Mary. (2012) Contesting power, trust and legitimacy in the South African e-waste transition. Policy Sciences 45(1): 69-86.

Lawhon, Mary and James T. Murphy. (2012) Socio-technical regimes and sustainability transitions: Insights from political ecology. Progress in Human Geography 36(3): 354-378.

Lawhon, Mary and Miriam Chion. (2012) Rooted cosmopolitanism: spaces of multiplicity in Cusco. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 36(3): 539-553.

Murphy, James T. and Mary Lawhon. (2011) Market intermediaries and rural people in Bolivia's forest products sector: Are trusting partnerships possible?  Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 32(2): 203-211.

Lawhon, Mary, Panate Manomaivobool, and Hiromi Inagaki. (2010) Transdisciplinarity and e-waste. Futures 42(10): 1212-1221.

Goebel, Allison, Robert Fincham, Trevor Hill, and Mary Lawhon. (2010) Urban ecosystems and human health: a case study of South Africa. Futures 42(5): 475-483.

Lawhon, Mary and Robert Fincham. (2006) Environmental issues in the South African media: A case study of the Natal Witness. Southern African Journal of Environmental Education 23: 107-120.