Skip to main content

Mr Theo Temple

Research Associate

School of Geography and Planning


I am a financial geographer specialising in fiscal geography, urban governance and political theory.

My PhD research explored property tax relief in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 1988-2020 and its relationship to a variety of urban projects, from social housing initiatives and property formalisation to real estate based growth, public private partnerships and anti-poor policies. I am currently a Research Associate for a Leverhulme Trust funded project between Cardiff and Cambridge Universitys, examining local government Council Tax debt collection practices and their impacts on citizens. The project ecompasses all metropolitan councils in England, plus three individual case studies. 

Alongside urban-fiscal issues, I am also interested in financial markets and climate finance and have contributed to this field 



I am interested in the intersection of urban space, state power and finance. Like many I was drawn to consider these issues after the global 2007-2008 financial crisis, considering how the housing and financial markets had become extraordinarily entangled in the preceeding decade, the role of the state in socialising the bad debts and the re-scaling of this 'emergency' response which continues to shaping our cities (and everything else).

I became interested in other financial 'crisis' episodes and their relationship to urban space. I explored the 1975 New York Fiscal Crisis from the response of neoconservative planner Roger Starr for my MA dissertation, presenting this work at the Conference of the European Association for Urban History, Rome in 2018. 

My PhD research originally followed this focus on crisis, I began to explore the financial emergency experienced by Rio de Janeiro in 2016. This developed into a broader study of municipal finance from 1988 to 2020 (encompassing several other crisis moments, but also less dramatic incremental changes) from the perspective of property tax. The work focussed on the spaces where property tax was not paid (i.e property tax relief) and the political projects shaping this 'exceptional' fiscal geography. In doing so I hoped to develop theories of sovereignty, notably Giorgio Agamben's from a 'financial' perspective  whilst also contributing to an emerging fiscal geography feild with this case study from the Global South. The empirical focus led me to an incredible range of projects, political conflicts and governing strategies shaping this radically unequal city via fiscal means. Through this research I developed connections with Brazilian academics working on municipal taxation and planning policy. I was invited to use Centro de Estudos da Metrópole, facilities at University of São Paulo for research work and presented my findings at Sensing The City Conference, Research Committee on Urban and Regional Development, Antwerp.

At the other end of the scale, alongside my PhD work, I have also been involved in several projects around critical climate finance research. This has culminated in the first academic paper into 'transition bonds' a recent inovation within the green bond market, published in Economy and Society in 2023. 

Currently I am a Research Associate for a Leverhulme Trust funded project investigating local government debt collection and the impact of debt on citizens in English urban areas. The research is concerned with the significance of Council tax debt in recent years, the  social and political governance norms shaping collection as well as the institutional politics and  state creditor versus citizen debtor relations that are being engendered by these practices.