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Dr Kate Maclean

Senior Lecturer in Social Geography
PhD (York, 2008) MSc (York, 2004) MA (Edinburgh, 1997)


  • Kate is a feminist geographer who explores how economic development recreates and challenges gendered concepts, identities and experiences.  She joined the department in September 2013, and has an interdisciplinary background, with degrees in Philosophy (MA) and Women’s Studies (MSc, PhD). Kate has lived and worked in Paris, Bangkok and Barcelona, and conducted research in Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Mali and Burkina Faso.
  • She has worked on microfinance, rural livelihoods, the financial crisis, contraband and urban regeneration, mostly with a focus on Latin America.  She has published in various journals, including Antipode, Political Geography, Development and Change and Gender, Place and Culture. Her 2015 monograph,‘Social Urbanism and the politics of violence: the Medellín Miracle’ explores how the Colombian city of Medellín, once the most violent on earth, has transformed in recent years to become a 'model' of urban development.  Her latest book is an edited collection with the economist Dr Milford Bateman - Seduced and Betrayed: Exposing the Contemporary Microfinance Phenomenon
  • Her latest project is entitled ‘The 'Aymara' bourgeoisie: Processes of displacement, identity and urban change in the Global South’. Building on her previous work in La Paz, Bolivia, and its satellite city El Alto, this project will explore how patterns of urban accumulation, dispossession and displacement in these locations challenge the way that such processes – often summarised by the word ‘gentrification’ – are generally conceived. This project is supported by a Leverhulme Fellowship, 2015-17.

PhD Supervision

  • Kate has supervised PhDs on microfinance, women's political representation, volunteering and women's self help groups involving case studies from Latin America, Africa and Asia.  She is currently Chair of the Gender Stream of the UBEL Doctoral Training Partnership, and would be interested in hearing from potential candidates in the following areas:
    • Urban and rural development
    • Gender and finance
    • Gender, violence and development
    • Feminist geography
    • Feminist political economy
  • PhD Scholarships are available to study here via the CHASE and the UBEL Doctoral Training Partnerships.  Please get in touch if you would like to know more.

Completed PhDs

  • Charlotte Heales, Microfinance and Economic Scales of Development: A Perspective from Malawi, awarded ESRC funded scholarship 2011-2015
  • Diana Magalhaes, Women’s Elite Political Participation in Mozambique fully funded doctoral scholarship from the Portuguese Government’s Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, 2010-2015
  • Katy Megarry, Gendering Empowerment: The Kudumbashree in Kerala 2008-2013 (part time)
  • Stefanie Hannant, An investigation into the use of volunteer tourists as primary carers of orphans in Mexico 2009- 2013

Research interests

  • Kate’s 2014 monograph Social Urbanism and the Politics of Violence, is an exploration of the politics of ‘The Medellín Miracle’.  Medellín, Colombia, used to be the most violent city on earth. In recent years, however, it would appear that investments and regeneration projects targeted at the poorest, most marginalised areas of the city, as well as innovative public transport projects, have resulted in a sharp decline in violence. Whereas in 1993 the homicide rate was 375 per 100,000 population, the current statistics are now comparable with major cities in the US, and the murder rate in Medellín for 2012 was 52 per 100,000. This book examines the claims made about the 'Medellín Miracle' by looking at the political processes behind the policies that have become known as 'Social Urbanism'. The central contention of this book is that violence – in its many forms – needs to be understood as a political issue. The changes in the political fabric in Medellín and the transformations in terms of urban development policies were far more complex than the term 'miracle' suggests.
  • In 2010 Kate conducted a project on the gender dynamics involved in  informal markets in contraband used clothes in the city of El Alto. The global trade in used clothes is controversial worldwide. In Bolivia, political debate on the trade has demonstrated tensions inherent in the government’s ‘post-neoliberal’ agenda of nationalisation, protection of cultural identity and well-being of the poor in an increasingly liberalised and globalised market place. The trade in used clothes from overseas threatens national production and the sale of western labels in markets dominated by indigenous women challenges the gendered identity politics upon which social inclusion in Bolivia is predicated. This work was supported by the British Academy and has been published in Gender, Place and Culture.
  • Kate’s doctoral work on microfinance in Bolivia examined the income generating strategies and skills which women participating in microfinance employ as their activities take them from rural communities to the more competitive towns and cities. Their use of credit and savings facilities and resistance to the financial discipline encouraged by microfinance institutions and use of the illuminates the gender biases involved in predominant concepts and policies in development theory and praxis. Kate’s work on microfinance can be found in Antipode, Development and Change, and the Journal of International Development, as well as Sylvia Chant’s International Handbook of Gender and Poverty. She is currently working on an edited volume for the School of Advanced Research, Santa Fe NM, Press with Dr Milford Bateman.


  • Books
    • Bateman, M., & Maclean, K. (Eds.). (2017). Seduced and Betrayed: Exposing the Contemporary Microfinance Phenomenon. Santa Fe, NM: University of New Mexico Press.
    • Maclean, Kate (2015) Social Urbanism and the Politics of Violence: The Medellín Miracle, Palgrave Macmillan. Preview available here
  • Journal articles
    • Maclean, Kate (2019) Fashion in Bolivia's cultural economy International Journal of Cultural Studies 22(2), 213-228
    • Butcher, Melissa and Maclean, Kate (2018) Gendering the city: the lived experience of transforming cities, urban cultures and spaces of belonging Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography 25(5), 686-694 (Introduction to Special Edition on Gendering the City, co-edited with Melissa Butcher)
    • Maclean, Kate, (2018) Envisioning gender, indigeneity and urban change: the case of La Paz, Bolivia, Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography 25(5), 711-726
    • Maclean, K. (2017). Ninguna ciudad común: Lo que la teoría urbana crítica puede aprender de La Paz, Bolivia. Journal de Comunicación Social 5(5), 15-4
    • Maclean, K. (2017). Disarming charisma? Mayoralty, gender and power in Medellín, Colombia. Political Geography, 59, 126-135.
    • Maclean, K. (2016). Sanity,“madness,” and the academy. The Canadian Geographer/Le Géographe canadien, 60(2), 181-191.
    • Maclean, K. (2016). Gender, risk and the Wall Street alpha male. Journal of Gender Studies, 25(4), 427-444.
    • Duvendack, M., & Maclean, K. (2015). (Mis) use of evidence in microfinance programming in the global south: a critique. Contemporary Social Science, 10(2), 202-211.
    • Maclean, Kate (2014) ‘Evo’s jumper: Identity and the used clothes trade in ‘post-neoliberal,’ ‘pluri-cultural’ Bolivia’ Gender, Place and Culture, 21(8): 963-978
    • Hopkins D, and Maclean, K (2014) 'Climate change perceptions and responses in Scotland’s ski industry' Tourism Geographies 16(3): 400-414
    • Maclean, Kate (2014) ‘Chachawarmi: Rhetorics and Lived Realities’ Bulletin of Latin American Research 33(1): 76-90
    • Maclean, Kate (2014) The ‘Medellín Miracle’: The politics of crisis, elites and coalitions for the Developmental Leadership Program available at:
    • Evans S; Maclean K; MacLeavy J; Stepney M; Strauss K; Tarrant A; Wallace I; and Brickell K (2013) 'Naming the Next Generation: Early Career Perspectives on the Future of the Women and Geography Study Group' Area 45(1)
    • Maclean, Kate (2013) ‘Risk, Responsibility and Gendered Microfinancial Subjectivities’ Antipode 45(2) 455-473
    • Maclean, Kate (2012) ‘Banking on Women’s Labour? The Village Banking Approach to Microfinance’ Journal of International Development 41(S1) 100-111
    • Bateman, Milford; Juan Pablo Duran; and Kate Maclean (2011) ‘A post-Washington consensus approach to local economic development in Latin America? An example from Medellín, Colombia’ ODI Background Note
    • Maclean, Kate (2010) ‘Capitalising on Women's Social Capital? Women-targeted Microfinance in Bolivia’ Development and Change 41 (3) pp 495-515
    • Maclean, Kate (2007) ‘Translation in Cross-Cultural Research: An Example from Bolivia’ Development in Practice 17 (6) pp 784-790
  • Chapters in books
    • Maclean, Kate (2018), 'Prólogo' in Casanovas, N. Pollera y Ojos Verdes: Racismo en la interacción pública rutinaria La Paz, Bolivia: Plural editores.
    • Maclean, Kate, (2017), ‘Microfinance and The ‘Woman’ Question’ in Bateman, Milford and Maclean, Kate (eds) Seduced and Betrayed: Exposing the Contemporary Microfinance Phenomenon, University of New Mexico Press pp 251-264
    • Bateman, Milford and Maclean, Kate, (2017), ‘The ‘Solidarity Economy’ Model and Local Finance: Lessons from New Left Experiments in Latin America?’ in Bateman, Milford and Maclean, Kate (eds) Seduced and Betrayed: Exposing the Contemporary Microfinance Phenomenon, University of New Mexico Press pp 279=297
    • Maclean, Kate (2013), 'Identity and Microfinance: Gendered financial subjectivities in Luribay, Bolivia' in Haleh Afshar and Mary Maynard eds Women’s Identity Across Diversities Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
    • Maclean, Kate (2010) ‘Gender and Microfinance in Bolivia’ (2010) in Sylvia Chant ed. International Handbook on Gender and Poverty, Massachussets: Edward Elgar pp 569-574
  • Book Reviews
    • Maclean, Kate (2019) Book Review: Horton, L. (2017). Women and Microfinance in the Global South: Empowerment and Disempowerment Outcomes. Cambridge University Press, Gender and Development, 27, 180-182
    • Maclean, Kate (2018) Book Review:
      Zeiderman, A. (2016). Endangered city: the politics of security and risk in Bogotá. Duke University Press, Journal of Latin American Studies 50 (3) 738-740
    • Maclean, Kate (2013) Book Review: Cornwall, A., Edstrom, J. & Greig, A. eds. (2011) ‘Men and Development: Politicizing Masculinities’ London: Zed Book,Journal of International Development 25(1) 140-141
    • Maclean, Kate (2010) Book Review: 'Ordinary Families, Extraordinary lives: Assets and Poverty Reduction in Guayaquil, 1978-2004' by Caroline MoserEconomic Geography 86 (4) pp 457-458
  • Other publications
    • Maclean Kate (2015) ‘World Factory and Global Games’, intervention published in the online forum edited by Louise Owen ‘World Factory: The politics of conversation’ for Contemporary Theatre Review
    • Maclean, John and Maclean, Kate (no date) ‘The Feminist Geographer in Residence’,collaboration with The Open Council, an AHRC funded Self Institution, Fine Art Department, University of Newcastle
  • Articulos traducidos al español

Talks available online


  • Convenor, Globalization in the Contemporary World, UG
  • Lecturer, Critical Social Geographies, PG
  • Lecturer, Gender and Development, PG


Contact details

+ 44 (0)20 3073 8392