FASS Staff Profile


AS2 03-17

Brief Introduction

I graduated from NUS Geography (Hons.) in 2012, and again in 2015 (MSocSci.). I attained my PhD from UCL Geography in 2019, under the supervision of Jennifer Robinson and Andrew Harris. I started as Assistant Professor in NUS Geography in January 2020. I am a recipient of the NUS Overseas Graduate Scholarship. 

Teaching Areas

I see geographical education—as a subset of critical social science education—as a means for students to develop a personalised method of thinking and doing, guided by CARE and COMPETENCY based learning. I am currently teaching GE3204 Cities and Regions: Planning for Change and GE4204 Urban Space: Critical Analysis. I have also taught GE3219 Globalisation and the Asian Cities. My current focus is on Urban Geography and Planning but I have previously tutored extensively for GE1101E Geographical Journeys: Exploring World Environments; GES1003 Changing Landscapes of Singapore; GE2202 Economy and Space; GE2221 Nature and Society; GEH1076 Worlds of Football. My goal is to inspire and convince students that a geographical education enables them to create the best version of themselves. 

Graduate Supervision

I welcome prospective graduate students working in the broad fields of critical urban geography: planning, design, governance, politics, and housing, to contact me for further discussion.

Thematic interests: speculative urbanism; urban social movements; autonomous geographies; experimental urban projects; state-society relations.

Geographical interests: China, Southeast Asia, Asia

Methodological interests: Comparative urbanism (Please see Robinson, J. (2016). Thinking cities through elsewhere: Comparative tactics for a more global urban studies. Progress in human geography40(1), 3-29.)

For students intending to work on urban China, I welcome especially those who intend to use Chinese case studies as drivers for innovative theorization beyond contextual particularisation. (Please see Wu, F. (2020). Adding new narratives to the urban imagination: An introduction to ‘New directions of urban studies in China’. Urban Studies57(3), 459-472.)

Current Research

My current research compares the emergence, evolution and effects of innovative urban projects across the global 'North' and 'South'. It focuses on how state-society collaborations enabled unprecedented project and policy achievments in Shenzhen's urban village redevelopment and London's community-led housing sector. This research contributes to theoretical debates on the state’s relevance for progressive urbanism. It theorises capitalist states as informal associational ensembles where new state formations, models of governance and development outcomes can emerge in efficacious and encompassing ways through context-appropriate collaborative action. It also contributes to debates on the methodological and tactical aspects of comparative urbanism. I focus on developing and reflecting on innovative comparative tactics—such as what I call 'comparative conversation'—to generate new concepts that make original contributions to the analysis of substantive aspects of urbanisation and urban processes from the perspective of global urban studies.  

The core articles from this project are:

1. Localism as informal associational ensemble: the ‘first’ CLT development in London. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. (Published)

2. Shared Projects. Progress in Human Geography. (In preparation)

3. Municipal Entrepreneurialism. Shenzhen's Urban Village upgrading experiment. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. (In preparation)

4. Comparative conversations for a more globalized urban studies. Urban Studies (Special Issue - Accepted and Forthcoming)

5. Mutual Empowerment: Planning London's first CLT development. Environment and Planning: C (In preparation)

6. Whither everyday makers? Between the pragmatic and the political in Shenzhen's urban village upgrading experiment. Antipode (In preparation) 

Research Interests

Urban experiments: Jakarta and Singapore in experimental comparison

Asian cities are fertile sites for situated experiments to reinvent themselves in the face of global modernity. Such experiments often lead to familiar outcomes of dispossession and disenfranchisement, but they are also platforms for embedding actors across the state-society ‘divide’ into a complex network of negotiation, each with their own interpretations and aspirations of what urban life should constitute. My ongoing research proposes an experimental comparison between urban experiments in the central districts of Jakarta and Singapore, investigating the ways in which such experiments are conceptualised and unfold, and how this helps us understand the dynamism of Asian urbanisation and its developmental and political possibilities.

I focus on two areas in Jakarta to tease out the everyday politics of its central city experiments. The first is the Bukit Duri neighbourhood in South Jakarta, where the government has sought to experiment with turning Kampung Bukit Duri into a vertical community, seen as a model for ‘modern living’ for the masses. The residents of Kampung Bukit Duri are heavily supported by Ciliwung Merdeka, an influential NGO seeking to ensure that the interests of residents are properly represented in this process. The second site is the Tanah Abang neighbourhood in Central Jakarta, where Jakarta’s largest traditional market is located. Even though the market contributes to 7% of GDP of Indonesia’s GDP, there are constant reports of its imminent closure and relocation. The day-to-day management of the market falls into the ambit of the city’s largest private developer, the Pomodoro group, which largely depends on an intricate network of informal street-level authorities to police leaseholders who are constituted by residents from different social classes. These residents in turn rely on their own social networks as well as the Urban Poor Consortium—one of the city’s oldest and largest constituency-based urban social movements—to ensure their interests are heard and that their livelihoods remain viable.

I focus on the coneptualisation and implementation of plans and projects within Singapore's Tanjong Pagar and Marina Bay Business Improvement Districts, which are respectively the city’s original and new Central Business Districts. GuocoLand, one of Singapore’s largest developers and an anchor tenant in Tanjong Pagar, has been organising activities alongside other stakeholders at its flagship integrated mixed-use project, Tanjong Pagar Centre. When it unveiled its 150,000 sq ft Urban Park as part of the development in October 2017, the developer started programming community fitness, lifestyle, music and family-friendly activities in order to develop community interest in contributing to the development of the precinct. Similarly, The Marina Bay Alliance was created to encourage private and community stakeholders to work together to take on a more active role in transforming their precinct and activating its surrounding public spaces. The enlistment of private and public participation has not been straightforward, with stakeholders citing funding and organisational issues, as well as the general apathy of the Singaporean public as potential roadblocks to be negotiated.

The complex operations of the abovementioned urban experiments are a platform which embeds actors within and across state and society into a complex network of negotiation. Such negotiations have the potential to illuminate new understandings of the dynamic state-society relations underpinning potential breakthroughs in alternative forms of urbanism and governance constituted through complex and unanticipated social, material and political arrangements which cannot be neatly subsumed into categories of globalisation and/ or neoliberalisation.



  • Teo. S. S. K. Forthcoming. Shared projects and symbiotic state-society collaborations: Shenzhen and London in experimental comparison. Urban Studies.
  • Teo, S. S. K. 2020. Localism partnerships as informal associations: The work of the Rural Urban Synthesis Society and Lewisham Council within austerity. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. DOI: 10.1111/tran.12412
  • Teo 2017 [w Neo H] Encountering enchantment: stories from the street football court in Singapore. Social and Cultural Geography 18(8) 1106-1128


    Teo 2016 Strategizing for autonomy: whither durability and progressiveness? Antipode 48(5) 1420-1440


    Teo 2015 Rethinking graduated citizenship: contemporary public housing in Singapore. Geoforum 65 222-231


    Teo 2014 Political tool or quality experience? Urban livability and the Singaporean State’s global city aspirations. Urban Geography 35(6) 916-937


  • Teo 2019 Shanghai Sacred: The Religious Landscape of a Global City Social & Cultural Geography 20(3) 428-430


    Teo 2015 Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global eds. Roy A and Ong A. Blackwell: UK. Urban Studies 52(2) 401-403


  • 2019 University College London: Symbiotic states and progressive projects—Shenzhen and London in comparative conversation.


  • Teo 2019 City Impact: UABB in Retrospect Volume 52-54 (Leading quarterly magazine in architecture and urban design)

Other Information


Reviewer for Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers; Geoforum; Urban Geography; Environment and Planning: A; CITY; Social and Cultural Geography; Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography; Asian Geographer; Territory, Politics, Governance. 


2017 NUS Overseas Graduate Scholarship. 

2016 Chinese Government Scholarship.

2016-2018 University College London, Graduate Research Scholarship.

2015 University College London, Overseas Research Scholarship.

2015 NUS Graduate Student Teaching Award, AY 14-15 Semester 1

2014 NUS Graduate Student Teaching Award, AY 13-14 Semester 2

2014-2015 NUS, Graduate Student Teaching Scholarship.

2012 NUS Dean’s List AY 11-12 Semester 2

2010 NUS Dean’s List AY 09-10 Semester 2


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