Search site

School of Geography

Tim Joubert Tim Joubert

Contact details

Room 9.01 Garstang
School of Geography
University of Leeds
University Road
Leeds LS2 9JT   UK



Project title

Rebel Ordinary Cities? Interrogating the Radical Potential of the Urban through a Comparative Study about Leeds

Project overview

My research aims to understand the potential role of the 'urban' in providing a foundational basis for mobilising radical, anti-capitalist social movements. The urban has increasingly been seen as a pivotal terrain of social and political struggle, undergirding a new emphasis on the political and theoretical centrality of cities for radical social movements. Building on insights from critical and postcolonial urban theory, my project looks to situate this purported centrality and potential of 'urbanised' radical politics in Leeds, a medium-sized 'ordinary city' that has relatively weak traditions of civic engagement. As a critique of the way urban insights are too often derived from paradigmatic 'world cities', the ordinary cities concept seeks to refocus urban theory production on the (perhaps more representative) experience of relatively understudied cities. My project brings this critique to bear on recent theories about the urbanisation of social and class struggles - which tend to build on certain highly visible cases such as Occupy and the 15M - asking instead what insights are gained by studying places beyond these paradigmatic 'rebel cities'?

The project will be conducted through in-depth interviews with urban activists and extensive participant observation fieldwork. At present the project is also intended to include a brief comparative study in another European city, as a means of 'thinking cities through elsewhere' to provide an alternative perspective on the particular conditions facing urban activism in Leeds.


  • University of Leeds 110 Anniversary Research Scholarship

Conferences/training courses attended

  • Centre for Urban Research on Austerity (CURA) Inaugural Conference. De Montfort University, Leicester. November 2015
  • Urban Governance and its Discontents. Oxford City Debates. Oxford University, Oxford. February 2016.
  • Critical Urban Ethnography: People, place and power. University of Edinburgh, Peckham, London. May 2016.
  • Contested Cities International Conference. Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid. July 2016.


  • November 2015. Invited guest lecture on "Urban (In)justice and the Right to the City" for students on the first-year undergraduate module Doing Sociology at Leeds Beckett University.