Natalia Cervantes


I was born and raised in Culiacan, Sinaloa. I graduated from the Faculty of Architecture at the Autonomous University of Sinaloa in Mexico with honours, in 2011.  I spent two months in 2009 in an Academic Research Summer with the Mexican Academy of Sciences, at the University of Yucatan, and my interest for academic research was ignited!

Since and during my college times, I have been involved in city’s issues; first as a volunteer, then as an intern, and finally as professional; but overall, as a citizen. I have become critical, analytical and participative.  I collaborated with local NGOs at Culiacan, my hometown. I worked for Suma Sociedad Unida, and Ciclos Urbanos. I also worked for a year in a private development called Jardines de Mexico in Cuernavaca, Morelos.

Before starting my PhD Research, I completed the master programme ‘Global Urban Development Planning’ at the Institute for Development Policy and Management IDPM, University of Manchester in 2013 with the dissertation ‘Achieving inclusive cities: transport and public spaces in Culiacan, Mexico’. I was awarded a leadership scholarship from the Institute for Development Policy and Management, and currently holder of a scholarship from the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT) from the Mexican Government.

Nat photo Researching Security ProfileI am a passionate of the cities, its development and processes; I firmly believe that a fundamental step towards social equity is to invest in public space, but with a different approach to the conventional, one which will facilitate security, harmony and closeness to all people; raising the quality of life in cities, through proposals that foster a culture of respect, order and social justice. This is why my PhD proposal is based on the premise that, adequate urban development planning holds the potential to reduce levels of violence in cities of the Global South.

Research Interests

Academic interests
  • Urban development
  • City planning
  • Social exclusion
  • Inequalities
  • Spatial Justice
  • Public space
  • Violence, drug (economic) violence
  • Organised crime
  • Security
  • Policy responses to violence
  • Planning responses to violence
  • Planning systems, institutions, and instruments
  • Citizen Participation
  • Participatory mechanisms
Geographical areas of interest
  • Mexico
  • Colombia
  • Latin America

PhD Research

University affiliation: School of Environment, Education and Development / Institute for Development Policy Management, University of Manchester

Title: Urban violence and crime prevention through community-led                        development planning

Geographical area: Latin America, Mexico

Abstract: My PhD research explores the interactions between urban violence and the built environment. It is based in the argument that, since urban violence has social, spatial and institutional roots, a successful approach to reduce urban violence should include those three dimensions. This research sustains that the deficiencies and absence of participatory processes in urban development planning for cities of the Global South, generates –or exacerbates existing conditions of– inequalities, spatial injustice and social exclusion, which consequently may contribute to increasing levels of violence. It explores social, physical, political and institutional aspects of urban development as causalities of urban violence and the intersection of urban violence with organised crime.


3 thoughts on “Natalia Cervantes

  1. Pingback: Researching Security fellows share their very personal views on the PhD trajectory (Part 1/3) | Researching Security

  2. Pingback: Impact on personal life – Researching Security fellows share their very personal views on the PhD trajectory (Part 2/3) | Researching Security

  3. Pingback: The ‘dark age’ of writing up a doctoral thesis – and how to survive it | Researching Security Network

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