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Richard Harris

Title/Position:  Professor
Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University
BA (Cambridge), MA (Ohio State), PhD (Queen’s)

MCRI Projects: A1: Universal Benchmarking; A3: Land (Team Lead); B3: Land and Housing Markets (Team Lead); C1: Africa Research Cluster; C2: North America Research Cluster; C4: South Asia Research Cluster; MCRI Steering Committee.

Background: Richard Harris is an urban historical geographer at McMaster University.His research has focused on housing, housing policy, and the social geography of cities and suburbs in North America. He has also undertaken research on housing and social patterns in the British colonies, including Bombay and Calcutta, c.1901. He is coordinating research on the naming and meaning of suburbs, and on the character of suburban land and housing markets, especially in South Africa and India. He has had visiting appointments at the University of Maryland, the Australian National University, and University College, London. His research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), together with SSHRC, Fulbright, British Academy and Guggenheim Fellowships. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Research Interests: Housing markets; the building industry; the nature and development of suburbs; the significance of cities.

Selected Publications:


Harris, R. 2012. Building a Market. The Rise of the Home Improvement Industry, 1918-1960. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Harris, R. 2004. Creeping Conformity. How Canada became Suburban, 1900-1960. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Harris, R and Larkham, P. (eds.) 1999. Changing Suburbs. Foundation, Form and Function. London and New York: E and FN Spon.

Harris, R. 1996. Unplanned Suburbs. Toronto’s American Tragedy, 1900-1950. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Chapters in Books

Harris, R. 2014. Urban Land Markets: A Southern Exposure. In Susan Parnell and Sophie Oldfield, eds., The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South. London: Routledge.

Harris, R. 2013.  International Policy for Urban Housing Markets in the Global South since 1945. In Faranak Miraftab and Neema Kudva eds. Cities of the Global South (New York: Routledge, in press)

Harris, R. 2013.  Suburban Land. In Roger Keil, ed., Suburban Constellations. Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st Century (Jovis, in press).

Harris, R. and Lewis, R. 2012. Colonial Anxiety Counted. Plague and Census in Bombay and Calcutta, 1901. In Robert Peckham and David M. Pomfret, eds. Imperial Contagions. Medicine and Cultures of Planning in Asia, 1880-1949. (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press), 61-78.

Harris, R. and Parnell, S. 2012. The Turning Point in Urban Policy for British Colonial Africa, 1939-1945”. In Fassil Demissie, ed., Colonial Architecture and Urbanism in Africa. Intertwined and Contested Histories. (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate), 127-151.

Harris, R. 2011. “The Magpie and the Bee. Jane Jacobs’s Magnificent Obsession.”  In Timothy Mennell and Max Page, eds., Reconsidering Jane Jacobs Washington, D.C.: American Planning Association.

Harris, R. 2010. “Meaningful Types in a World of Suburbs.” In Mark Clapson & Ray Hutchison eds, Suburbanisation in a Global Society. Research in Urban Sociology No.10. Bingley: Emerald Group publishing.

Harris, R. 2004. “Suburbanization and the Employment Linkage.” In Robert Lewis, ed. Manufacturing Suburbs. Building Work and Home on the Metropolitan Fringe (Philadelphia: Temple University Press), pp.221-36.

Journal Articles

Harris, R. 2012. ‘Ragged urchins play on marquetry floors’. Filtering Grows Up, 1920s-1950s. Housing Policy Debate 22,3: 463-482.

Harris, R. and Lewis, R. 2012. A happy confluence of planning and statistics. Bombay and Calcutta in the 1901 census. Planning Perspectives. DOI:10.1080/02665433.2012.737245.

Harris, R. and Lewis, R. 2012. Numbers didn’t count.  The streets of colonial Bombay and Calcutta. Urban History 39, 4: 639-658.

Richard Harris. 2009. Housing Policy for the Colonial City.  The British and Dutch Experience Compared.  Urban Geography 30,5: 1-23

Harris, R. 2009. The Birth of the Housing Consumer in the United States, 1918-1960. International Journal of Consumer Studies 33: 525-532.

Harris, R. 2008. Development and Hybridity Made Concrete in the Colonies. Environment and Planning A. 40,1: 15-36.

Harris, R. and Dostrovsky, N. 2008. The Suburban Culture of Building and the Reassuring Revival of Historicist Housing since the Late 1960s. Home Cultures. 5,2: 167-196.

Harris, R. and Arku, G. 2006. Housing and Economic Development: The Evolution of an Idea Since 1945. Habitat International 30, 4: 1007-1017.

Harris, R. and Mercier, M. 2005. How Healthy Were the Suburbs?  Journal of Urban History 31, 6: 767-798.

Harris, R. 2003. The Suburban Worker in the History of Labor. International Labor and Working Class History 64: 8-24.

Harris, R. 2000. More American than the United States: Housing in Urban Canada in the Twentieth Century. Journal of Urban History 26,4: 456-478.

Harris, R. and Lewis, R. 1998. Constructing a Fault(y) Zone:  Misrepresentations of American Cities and Suburbs, 1900-1950″ Annals, Association of American Geographers 88, 4:  622-639.