Photo of Theodore, Nik

Nik Theodore

Professor, Urban Planning and Policy

Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs, CUPPA


Building & Room:

231 CUPPA Hall, MC 348


412 S. Peoria St., Suite 231

Office Phone:

(312) 996-8378


Research interests

  • Urban political economy
  • Urban informality and informal economies
  • Labor markets and labor standards
  • Policy mobilities
  • Labor organizing

Courses taught

  • UPP 508 Global Urbanization and Planning
  • UPP 521 Globalization and International Planning II: Comparative planning and policies
  • UPP 594 Urban Informality: Conceptual issues, policy debates and interventions
  • UPP 594 Globalizing cities: Policy mobilities, planning paradigms & urban imaginaries

Selected Grants

Ford Foundation, Labor Standards and the Future of Work, PI

Selected Publications


Antipode Editorial Collective, eds. (2019) Keywords in Radical Geography: Antipode at 50. Oxford: Wiley.

Peck J and Theodore N (2015) Fast Policy: Experimental Statecraft at the Thresholds of Neoliberalism. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Brenner N, Peck J and Theodore N (2012) Afterlives of Neoliberalism. London: Bedford Press/Architectural Association.

Brenner N and Theodore N, eds. (2002) Spaces of Neoliberalism: Urban Restructuring in North America and Western Europe. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.


Recent articles

Theodore N (2020) “Governing through Austerity: (Il)logics of Neoliberal Urbanism after the Global Financial Crisis,” Journal of Urban Affairs, early view.

Peck J and Theodore N (2019) “Still Neoliberalism?” South Atlantic Quarterly 118(2): 245-265.

Theodore N, Gutelius B, and Burnham L (2019) “Workplace Health and Safety Hazards Faced by Informally Employed Domestic Workers in the United States,” Workplace Health & Safety 67(1): 9-17.

Tilly C, Rojas-García G, and Theodore N (2018) “Intersectional Histories, Overdetermined Fortunes: Understanding Mexican and US Domestic Worker Movements,” Political Power and Social Theory 35: 121-145.

Theodore N, Pretorius A, Blaauw D, and Schenck C (2018) “Informality and the Context of Reception in South Africa’s New Immigrant Destinations,” Population, Space and Place 24(3): 1-10.

Theodore, N (2018) “The Ballad of Industry: Recuperating Alienated Identities through Day Laborers’ Song,” South Atlantic Quarterly 117(2): 410-419.

Schenck C, Theodore N, Blaauw D, Swart EM, and Viljoen JMM (2018) “The N2 Scrap Collectors: Assessing the Viability of Informal Recycling Using the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework,” Community Development Journal 53(4): 656-674.

Theodore N, Blaauw D, Pretorius A, and Schenck C (2017) “The Socioeconomic Incorporation of Immigrant and Native-Born Day Labourers in Tshwane, South Africa,” International Migration 55(1): 142-156.

Visser MA, Theodore N, Meléndez EJ, and Valenzuela Jr A (2017) “From Economic Integration to Socioeconomic Inclusion: Worker Centers and the Social Inclusion of Day Laborers,” Urban Geography 38(2): 243-265.

Theodore N (2016) “L’informalité et la sélectivité stratégique de l’État: La montée de l’emploi précaire dans l’industrie de la construction aux États-Unis,”Lien Social et Politiques 76: 114-136.

Theodore N (2016) “Worlds of Work: Changing Landscapes of Production and the New Geographies of Opportunity,” Geography Compass 10(4): 179-189.

Peck J and Theodore N (2016) “Retracing Fast Policy” as part of the symposium “Reading Jamie Peck and Nik Theodore’s Fast Policy,Political Geography 53: 89-99.

Theodore N and Habans R (2016) “Policing Immigrant Communities: Latino Perceptions of Police Involvement in Immigration Enforcement,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42(6): 970-988.

Meléndez EJ, Visser MA, Valenzuela Jr A, and Theodore N (2016) “Day Labourers’ Work-Related Injuries: An Assessment of Risks, Choices, and Policies,” International Migration 54(3): 5-19.

Theodore N (2015) “Generative Work: Day Labourers’ Freirean Praxis,” Urban Studies 52(11): 2035-2050.

Theodore N (2015) “Rebuilding the House of Labor: Unions and Worker Centers in the Residential Construction Industry,” Journal of Labor & Society 18(1): 59-76.

Theodore N, Blaauw D, Schenck C, Valenzuela Jr A, Schoeman C, and Meléndez EJ (2015) “Day Labor, Informality and Vulnerability in the United States and South Africa,” International Journal of Manpower 36(6): 807-823.

Theodore N (2015) “Uneven Development and the Remaking of the Local Welfare State,” in Whatever happened to local government? A review symposium, Regional Studies, Regional Science 2(1): 434-446.


Recent book chapters

Theodore N (2019) “Policy Mobilities,” in B. Warf, ed., Oxford Bibliographies in Geography. New York: Oxford University Press.

Theodore N, Jazeel T, Kent A, and McKittrick K (2019) “Keywords in Radical Geography: An Introduction,” in Antipode Editorial Collective, eds., Keywords in Radical Geography: Antipode at 50, 1-13. Oxford: Wiley.

Theodore N (2018) “Taming Globalization: Raising Labor Standards across Supply Chains,” in Fine J, Burnham L, Griffith K, Ji M, Narro V, and Pitts S, eds, No One Size Fits All: Worker Organization, Policy, and Movement for a New Economic Age, 341-358. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Peck J, Brenner N and Theodore N (2018) “Actually Existing Neoliberalism,” in Cahill D, Cooper M, Konings M, and Primrose D, eds., SAGE Handbook of Neoliberalism, 3-15. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Theodore N (2018) “Urban Informality and the New Politics of Precarity: Day Labourer Activism in the US,” in Ward K, Jonas AEG , Miller B, and Wilson D, eds., Routledge Handbook of the Spaces of Urban Politics, 293-303. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Gutelius B and Theodore N (2017) “The Future of Work: Urban Economies in Transition,” in Pagano MA, ed., Jobs and the Labor Force of Tomorrow, 3-22. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Theodore N (2017) “Regional Unemployment and Regional Labor Markets,” in The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology, 5701-5709. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Theodore N (2016) “Unions in the Obama Era: Laboring under False Pretenses?” in DeFilippis J, ed., Urban Policy in the Time of Obama, 149-163. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Peck J and Theodore N (2016) “Paying for Good Behavior: Cash Transfer Programs in the Wild,” in Roy A and Crane ES, eds., Territories of Poverty: Rethinking North and South, 103-125. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.

Theodore N (2015) “Migrant Civil Society and the Metropolitics of Belonging,” in Pagano MA, ed., The Return of the Neighborhood as an Urban Strategy, 139-159. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.


Recent reports

Theodore N, Gutelius B, and Gonzalez AL (2019) The Worker Center Ecosystem in California: Organizing to Transform Low-Wage Industries. New York: LIFT Fund.

Theodore N and Requa-Trautz B (2018) Day Labor in Las Vegas: Employer Indiscretions in Sin City. Los Angeles: National Day Laborer Employment Network.

Theodore N (2017) After the Storm: Houston’s Day Labor Markets in the Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Chicago: UIC Great Cities Institute.

Theodore N (2017) New Southern Strategies: Employment, Workers’ Rights and the Prospects for Regional Resurgence. Oakland: Funders for a Just Economy and Neighborhood Funders Group.

Theodore N, Boggess B, Cornejo J, and Timm E (2017) Build a Better South: Construction Working Conditions in the Southern U.S. Austin, TX and Oakland: Workers Defense Project and Partnership for Working Families.

Publication Aggregators

Service to Community

  • SACOM (Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior), Academic Advisory Board
  • LIFT Fund (Labor Innovations for the 21st Century), Executive Committee

Professional Leadership

Editorial Board, Intl Jrnl of Urban & Regional Research

Editor-in-Chief (2013-2019), Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography

Notable Honors

2016, University Scholar 2016-2018, University of Illinois at Chicago

2015, Researcher of the Year, University of Illinois at Chicago

2014, Highly Cited Researcher 2002-2012, Thompson Reuters