Tolu Lanrewaju-Kadri

Rutgers University – Newark & University of Witwatersrand

Newark, NJ, USA & Cape Town, South Africa


Tolu Lanrewaju-Kadri is a PhD candidate in Global Urban Studies at Rutgers University – Newark. Her research interests are housed within urban sociology and legal geography. Tolu focuseson the spatiality of the legal process of displacement, and the consequential city-making. Focusing on refugees facing evictions in Cape Town, she uses mapping and ethnographic methods to make visible the effects of the displacement and dispossession of vulnerable urbanites in South Africa, a country that affords residents a right to housing. As an understudied subpopulation, displaced urban refugees call into question the way eviction cases are handled as well as the limitations of universal rights to housing given the structures that predicate displacement. Through a grounded theory analysis of strategies and responses to evictions (court-ordered removals), ejectments (removals by sheriffs), and the auctions of evictees’ belongings, Tolu breaks from familiar neo-Marxists narratives to bring attention to dispossession beyond land and territory. She wishes to start a conversation that explores several urgent questions for urban scholars and activists. How do we study individual evictions alongside collective displacement? Who are the actors that can help map threats and actual displacement? How does research that uncovers individual evictions join and inform activist networks against displacement at the local and global scale? A native of Newark who has traveled to over 150 cities throughout 50 countries, Tolu received a Master of Public Health degree from Rutgers University and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Princeton University. Prior to returning for her doctoral studies, Tolu worked as a managing program director for innovation for the City of Newark.