Tom Slater is trained as an urban geographer and works in the style of institutional political economy on a range of urban issues, particularly gentrification and displacement, urban marginality, territorial stigmatization, critical urban theory, and housing justice movements. Prior to joining Columbia GSAPP in September 2022, he was Professor of Urban Geography at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, where he worked for 14 years. He holds an M.Phil. (2000) and Ph.D. (2003) from King’s College London and a Bachelor’s degree (1998) from Queen Mary, University of London.
Professor Slater is the author of 6 books and over 75 scholarly articles, and over the last decade he has delivered keynote and public lectures in 20 different countries. A particular highlight was delivering the prestigious annual David M. Smith Lecture in London in November 2016. Slater’s writings on two related themes, gentrification and territorial stigmatization, are among the best known in urban studies. His work has been translated into 9 different languages, and he has held Professorial Fellowships at the University of Trento, Italy; the University of Cape Town, South Africa; and the University of Chile-Santiago. He sits on numerous editorial boards and is a former Editor of the Journal of Urban Affairs and The Sociological Review.
His most recent work provides a theoretically rich and empirically grounded body of scholarship on the vested interests currently shaping urban and housing policies. It resulted in a single-authored monograph, Shaking Up The City: Ignorance, Inequality and the Urban Question (University of California Press, 2021). This book is about urban inequalities in multiple contexts: how they emerge, how they are sustained, and what can be done to reduce them. While exploring these urgent issues, it also provides a critical analysis of the concepts, categories, and methods of mainstream urban studies, where the structural and institutional conditions generating inequalities tend to go unquestioned and accepted. The book articulates an approach to urban studies that weds epistemological critique with social critique in an effort to encourage the formulation of research-driven policies, as a counterpoint to mainstream, policy-driven, approaches to urban research.
In addition to receiving numerous teaching awards over the last 20 years, Professor Slater led an award-winning field class to Cape Town from 2015-2019, working closely with community partners in that city. This resulted in the University of Edinburgh awarding an Honorary Doctorate to Joe Schaffers of District Six Museum: the full story behind this award, which had very deep meaning for many people in Cape Town who lived through apartheid forced removals, can be read here.