Prof Vanessa Watson’s Obituary

Today we heard the sad news of Prof Vanessa Watson’s passing. Vanessa was one of the most influential scholars on urban planning in the Global South. Based at the African Centre for Cities (ACC), University of Cape Town, she has been an inspiration for many of us at UQ|UP over the years.

In 2013, the UQ Planning Program hosted the ISOCARP (International Society of City and Regional Planners) conference in Brisbane. Prof John Minnery, the head of the UQ Planning Program at that time, invited Vanessa as keynote speaker. Vanessa presented on ‘African cities for sale! Smart, eco or just profitable’. It was a sharp critique of the master-plan approaches made by foreign planners in African cities, without acknowledging local knowledge and practices. Vanessa also highlighted the ‘conflict of rationalities’ in planning in the South and the importance of ‘seeing from the South’. Her work was instrumental in shaping urban discussions and influencing the work of international organisations, such as UN-Habitat. More about her work can be found at the ACC site.

She will be greatly missed. But her work will continue to inspire us. The Association of African Planning Schools and the Global Planning Education Association Network have published this tribute: