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Pooya Ghoddousi

PhD Thesis

Working Title: Being Iranian in London: nomad-sedentary micropolitics


Dr Jason Dittmer

Dr Ben Page

This research uses the concept of nomadism to go beyond socially or geographically bounded notions of diaspora, citizenship, or local communities that abound in urban and migration studies. An ethnographic study of everyday practices and routines in the lives of my interlocutors (snowballing from my Iranian networks in London) will map the micropolitics of how they build and maintain ties with their human-non-human environments as well as trace their mobile trajectories. The resulting ‘cartographies’ show the socio-material (dis)organisations of these transnational assemblages using insights from theories and historical examples of nomadism – especially the dynamic nomad/sedentary mixes found in ‘dimorphic societies’. In addition to an epistemic contribution to the study of these emerging modes-of-being-in-the-world, this study traces the lines of flight and novel becomings of these transnational assemblages with the phronetic hope of increasing the reflexive agency of  the nomadic subjects to navigate their unpredictable lives and negotiate their instances of marginality.


UCL Department of Geography
Room 106
26 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AP


Pooya Ghoddousi (*1974 in Tehran) was originally trained as an architect at the Shahid Beheshti University, in Tehran. He has designed and supervised a number of buildings in Tehran and Dubai where his disillusion with the current state of urban development led him to study nomadism as an alternative to existing human settlements. To live and work with pastoral nomads he joined the Center for Sustainable Development and Environment (CENESTA)—an NGO based in Iran—where he was responsible for various internationally funded projects on sustainable livelihoods and natural resource management in participation with the Qashqai nomads. He earned his second masters degree in urbanization and development from the London School of Economics and Political Science; his thesis explored the nomadic tendencies among modern transnational Iranians.

While working on his PhD thesis at UCL geography department, Pooya is on the steering committee of Stadtkolloquium, a postgraduate research network for urban scholars, and represents this network on the Urban Lab steering committee. He has also assisted teaching on MSc courses Thinking space and Landscape and politics.


  • "Iran Interrupted" Text for Beatrice Minda's photography book (forthcoming by Hatje Cantz publishers, Berlin).
  • “Global Nomads or Temporary Citizens: Transnational mobility of ‘middling’ Iranians”, pp. 311-320 in The Next Urban Question: Themes Approaches Tools, Valentina Bandieramonte, Kaveh Rashidzadeh, Paola Vigano (eds), IUAV University, Venice. 2011.
  • “Nomadism; Glimpses”, in Letters from Tentland, Suzanne Vincenz (ed), pp. 58-65. Transkript publications, Bielefeld. 2005.
  • “From Design Advice to Peer Review: The Role of the Urban Design Panel in Vancouver”, Translated for Me’mar architectural magazine, March 2005.