Phillip Garjay Innis

Research themes
  • Governance and conflict
  • Migration, mobility and urbanization
Research countries
  • Liberia
Working groups

"ZEF in the City" - ZEF-A research group on everyday urbanity, creativity and the governance of informality in the Global South


M.A in Disasters, Adaptation & Development, Department of Geography, King´s College London, United Kingdom, 2017

M.Sc in Environmental Management and Policy, International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE), Lund University, Sweden, 2016 

MBA in Oil & Gas Management, Coventry University, United Kingdom, 2012

B.Sc in Economics (minor in Political Science), University of Liberia, Liberia, 2007

Thesis title

Unlocking vulnerability to urban floods in informal settlements in Monrovia, Liberia

Thesis abstract

The investigation of how landscapes of flood risks are constructed, their complexities, and the practices that create or control flood risks futures reinforce the sustainable development agenda which links the practices of the present and their implications for the future. However, the complex assemblage of socio-economic processes and institutional dynamics that produce unequal flood risks has not been studied in Monrovia. Consequently, questions regarding how flood risks are linked to or overlap with other risks or whether urban flood risks coevolves with rapid uncontrolled informal urbanization in a temporal or spatial sense are neglected. Furthermore, there is little understanding of how residents who face high levels of uncertainty exacerbated by the fragility of post-war normalcy orient their agency, especially decision-making and risk-taking, regarding urban floods. Additionally, questions regarding how or whether the fragility of Liberia´s social structures and the uncertainty it produces impact the decision-making in the present and whether this aggravates the unpredictability of future conditions remains unanswered.

Therefore, I investigate the construction and conceptualization of landscapes of flood risks in precarious settlements in fragile and unstable settings, with emphasis on the ways that risks are materialized, the ways that risk perceptions and risk priorities are created, and the ways that flood risks intertwine and overlap with other risks. To achieve the overarching objective, I will, first, examine how practices and institutions shape flood risks in precarious settlements and understand how landscapes of risks are construed by different actors. Second, I will investigate how flood risks intertwine and overlap with other risks in precarious settlements and how that impacts agency regarding risk-taking and decision-making. Finally, I will analyze the different ways that flood risk futures are imagined and constituted by different actors amid the fragility of the unstable and shifting social landscapes and the precariousness and uncertainty it engenders thereof.

Through a case study approach rooted in an interpretative paradigm, I explore the concept of ‘riskscapes’ to grasp the nuances and contours of the uneven landscape of risk settings that emanates from, interacts with, or links to urban floods and the practices of social actors as well as the lens applied by them to interpret the flood risks and imagine or predict their flood risk futures.


Doctoral research funded by

BMZ (Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development) via DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst)

Supervisors of
doctoral work

Prof. Dr. Detlef Müller-Mahn, Professor, Department of Geography, University of Bonn

Dr. Irit Eguavoen, Department of Geography, University of Bonn

Prof. Dr. Kristof Van Assche, Professor, Planning, Governance & Development, University of Alberta


Innis, P. G. & Van Assche, K..  2023.  Permanent incompleteness: Slow electricity roll-out, infrastructure practices and strategy formation in Monrovia, Liberia.  Energy Research & Social Science, 99   . Further Information


Innis, P. G..  2022.  Official Risks and Everyday Disasters: the Interplay of Riskscapes in Two Unplanned Settlements in Monrovia.  Urban Forum, 34   : 53–77   . (Open Access)   Further Information
Innis, P. G.; van Assche, K.  2022.  The interplay of riskscapes and risk objects in unplanned settlements in Monrovia.  Geoforum, 136   : 1-10   . Further Information

Additionals, Curriculum Vitae
and Downloads

Phillip Garjay Innis

Junior Researcher

Cultural and Political Change