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Michelle Buckley

Associate Professor

Phone: 416-287-7302
Location: HL520


  • Research Associate, Cities Centre
  • Member, Association of American Geographers
  • Fellow, Royal Geographical Society (RGS)
  • Member, RGS Geographies of Justice Working Group

Teaching Interests

Teaching Responsibilities for 2017-2018

  • GGRA03 Cities and Environments
  • GGRC13 Urban Political Geography
  • JPG1809 Spaces of Work

Research Interests

I am an urban and economic geographer whose research lies at the intersections of urbanization, work and employment, and labour migration. Two broad areas of interest currently drive my research:

Developing intersectional feminist frameworks for studying urbanization

My research is broadly focused on intersectional feminist perspectives on urbanization, urban labour and everyday life in cities. A key question that has animated my work in research years is: Who is building cities, and under what conditions? This research has explored the contemporary role that non-citizen workers play in producing, maintaining, and transforming urban built environments. Over the past two decades, precarious forms of temporary, foreign labour have become an increasingly prevalent feature of construction sectors in a range of cities across the Global North and South. Drawing on approaches from postcolonial urban scholarship, feminist political economy and critical urban theory, this research highlights the ways that gender, ethno-nationality, race, class and citizenship are mobilized and produced through the incorporation of migrant workers in the urbanization process.

Exploring the urbanization of capital and labour in Gulf Cooperation Council economies

A second area of interest has been the political economic restructuring currently taking place in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States. In a time where processes of neoliberalization, regional economic integration and ‘post-oil’ strategies of economic diversification have been unfolding across the region, I have been interested in the ways that efforts to re-engineer Gulf economies have involved the increasing use of urban built environments and their attendant components – particularly urban mega-projects, construction markets and circuits of urban development finance – to institute these agendas. I have sought to map some of these new capital-urban relationships, and to consider the socio-political implications for migrant construction workers as Gulf cities establish a host of new ties to the global economy.

Awards & Grants

2015                  International Labour Organization Research Grant, ‘Migrant Labour in Construction’

2015-2016       SSHRC Connections Grant (Co-Applicant), ‘Rethinking urban theory through the lens of planetary urbanization’

2015-2017       Connaught New Researcher Award

2013-2015       SSHRC Insight Development Grant, ‘Urbanization from Below: Migrant Construction work in Toronto and London’ 


Journal articles

Book chapters

  • Buckley, M. and Reid-Musson, E (forthcoming 2017) ‘Urbanization as a bordering practice”, in Jonas, A., K. Ward, B. Miller and D. Wilson (eds) Handbook on Spaces of Urban Politics. Routledge.
  • Ogunyankin, G. and M. Buckley (2017) “Incremental and instant development: informal and spectacular urbanisms”,  in Bain, A. and L. Peake (eds.) Urbanization in a Global Context: A Canadian Readers’ Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Buckley, M. (2017) “Migrant Labor” in N. Castree, M. Goodchild, W. Liu, A. Kobayashi, R. Marston, and  D. Richardson (eds), The Wiley-AAG International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology.
  • Buckley, M. (2015) “Construction Work, ‘Bachelor’ Builders and the Intersectional Politics of Urbanization in Dubai.” In A. Hanieh, A. Khalaf and O. El Shehabi (Eds.) Transit States: Labour, Migration & Citizenship in the Gulf. London: Pluto Press. Pp.132-152.
  • s: Labour, Migration & Citizenship in the Gulf. London: Pluto Press. Pp.132-152.

Commissioned reports