Universiteit Leiden

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Cristiana Strava

University Lecturer

Dr. C. Strava
+31 71 527 4676

I am a social anthropologist, trained at Harvard (BA) and SOAS, University of London (MARes, PhD), with a broad interest in urban spaces and the forces that shape our lives in and around them. I have conducted fieldwork in North, Western and East Africa on topics ranging from informal housing, gendered forms of waged and unwaged labor, marginalization, and the politics of planning and development regimes. Prior to my PhD studies, I worked with the UNDP and the German Technical Cooperation Agency on issues related to sustainable development and adaptation to climate change.

More information about Cristiana Strava

Fields of interest

urban ethnography; housing inequality; security and militarisation; urban futures; urban commons; critiques of neoliberalisation and development; visual methods; anthropology of the state;


My research to date has broadly focused on the relationship between space and society, with a particular attention to the nexus of inequality, economic liberalisation, and forms of resistance in post-colonial urban contexts.

Precarious Urban Lives
A large strand of this research has studied the history and everyday life of criminalized and marginalized urban spaces and the communities that inhabit them. Based on several years of ethnographic research in Casablanca, Morocco, I document the political continuities, security logics, economic ideologies and competing forces that shape the possibilities open to precarious communities on the margins of a mythical metropolis.

Publications based on this research show that marginalized inhabitants often develop pragmatic & gendered ways of appropriating or resisting powerful state and developmentalist agendas. As a result, they produce new and alternative vocabularies of political participation which are slowly reviving and reconfiguring notions of class and belonging.

Projecting the Future: Infrastructural citizenship in neoliberal North Africa
Building on my earlier research, I am interested in how the current push for 'megaprojects' is reshaping state-society relations in contemporary North Africa. Using as case studies the creation of new special economic zones (SEZs) and the construction of large-scale infrastructure projects (high-speed rail), my goal is to examine how they re-shape and inform experiences and ideas of citizenship and belonging. Who are megaprojects for and how do they re-arrange social and spatial relations? What kind of promises do they make about possible futures? And how inclusive are these projected futures? I contend that large-scale infrastructure projects increasingly act as a site for the political as well as a resource 'through which political participation is structured', which allows me to think outside the confines of conventional approaches to the study of the state, governance, and citizenship.

Curriculum vitae


PhD, Anthropology and Sociology, SOAS, University of London (2016)
MARes, Anthropological Research Methods, SOAS, University of London (2012)
BA, Anthropology and Visual and Environmental Studies, Harvard University (2009)

Grants & awards

  • African Studies Association Leiden - Research Leave and Teaching Relief Grant (2019)
  • PCF, Hivos, & European Culture Foundation – ‘Force of Art’ Team Grant (2018)
  • Leiden Asian Modernities and Traditions (AMT) – Small Research Grant (2018)
  • Royal Anthropological Institute – RAI/Sutasoma Award for Potentially Outstanding PhD Merit (2016)
  • KHI - Max Planck Institute - Doctoral Fellowship (2014 - 2015)
  • Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies, Oxford (FURS) – Writing-Up Grant (2014)
  • The Wenner-Gren Foundation – Dissertation Fieldwork Grant (2013 - 2014)
  • UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) – 1+3 Doctoral Studentship (2011 - 2015)
  • SOAS, University of London – Master’s Bursary (2011 - 2012)
  • Harvard Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Fellowship (2009)

Key publications

"Dissenting poses: Marginal youth, viral aesthetics, and affective politics in neoliberal Morocco" (Focaal, forthcoming)

"Losing or Gaining Home? Experiences of Resettlement from Casablanca’s Slums" (with Beier, R., Ethnographies of Urban Inequality, 2020)

"At Home on the Margins: Care Giving and the ‘Un‐homely’ among Casablanca's Working Poor" (City & Society, 2017)

University Lecturer

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Institute for Area Studies

Work address

Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 3
2311 BZ Leiden
Room number 1.02a


No relevant ancillary activities

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