Brandon Finn

Brandon conducts research on African cities and urbanization at the Urban Theory Lab at Harvard University. He is interested in the contributions African urban theory can make to broader geopolitical, social, and economic fields of research. Brandon is currently researching copper and cobalt mining in Lubumbashi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The region has played an important role in continental and international geopolitics since extraction began in the late 19th century. This legacy, and the role of mining and miners, continues to remain important on a global scale. Brandon's research approach combines ethnographic and historical methodologies to tie contemporary African urbanization processes to historical and global developments.

Brandon has previously published papers on informal youth employment, modernist planning, and democracy in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and Kigali, Rwanda. He also has a paper under review that seeks to contextualize South Africa’s present democratic tensions. He is the recipient of Harvard’s Distinguished African Student Fellowship (2017 & 2018), the Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace (2017), and is a Weatherhead Center Graduate Student Affiliate (2018-2019).

Brandon holds a master's degree in Urban Studies from University College London, an Honors in Environmental and Geographical Studies at the University of Cape Town, and a Bachelor of Social Science from the University of Cape Town. He previously worked for the African Center for Cities on land value taxes in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Selected Publications

Finn, Brandon. "Quietly Chasing Kigali: Young Men and the Intolerance of Informality in Rwanda’s Capital City.” Urban Forum, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 205-218. 2018.

Finn, Brandon, and Sophie Oldfield. "Straining: Young Men Working through Waithood in Freetown, Sierra Leone." Africa Spectrum 50, no. 3. 2015.

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Brandon Finn running during his first winter in Cambridge.