Carlos Estrada Grajales

QUT Urban Informatics > Team > Carlos Estrada Grajales

PhD Candidate


Cert. Cultural Studies, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia


  1. Anthropology, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia


Carlos is a PhD candidate with the Urban Informatics Research Lab, exploring opportunities for digital technologies to enable underrepresented citizens to experience urban spaces. His study is connected to the ARC DECRA-funded project ‘Personal Safety in the City: Design Solutions for After Dark’, headed by Dr Christine Satchell. Carlos’ research critically examines the production of techno-social imaginaries by marginalised populations in urban contexts. He also focuses on the role and impact of location-based technologies and geo-media on the ways these groups experience the city.


In previous working experiences, Carlos has been always interested in equality and social justice. As a researcher employed by the Office of Culture in Bogotá, he participated in a project identifying practices from the citizens’ intangible cultural heritage. Outcomes from this project helped to inform Bogota’s policy for protecting endangered cultural expressions.


Carlos also coordinated a research unit that trained lecturers in distance education at the University of Tolima. The distance education program provided tertiary education solutions for disadvantaged students living in remote areas throughout Colombia.


With the purpose of opening opportunities for inter-institutional collaboration among government and civil organisations in the field of justice services, Carlos helped to organise workshops with the aim of informing the creation of Casas de Justicia (Justice Houses) in remote areas of Colombia with notorious deficits of Government presence.


Working as a volunteer in the Colombian Natural Parks System in the Amazon rainforest, Carlos collaborated with a team formed by indigenous leaders and local authorities responsible for organising cultural and environmental action plans.


In more recent years, he has worked at QUT as a tutor for units such as Design Research Methods, Architecture and the City, and Design Thinking for IT.


During his experience as a Ph.D. candidate, Carlos has opened and participated in different discussion spaces within QUT academic community and abroad. For instance, he co-organised a workshop called ‘Theorising Digital Change’, which brought together a range of nationwide experts and HDR students from various universities in Australia. Carlos has attended different academic events, such as summer Doctoral Programs at The University of Oulu in Finland, The University of Oxford in the UK, and locally at QUT.


Carlos was nominated to QUT Volunteer of the Year Award, acknowledging his dedication to helping and collaborating with colleagues and other members of the community outside QUT.


Contact Details:





Twitter: @carlestrada78



Carlos Estrada-Grajales: PhD Abstract


Imagining the Unseen City: a Participatory Ethnographic Study to Reveal Marginal Construction of Nocturnal Urban Space


Uneven power relations impact the ways in which citizens organise their societies, as well as the forms of everyday interaction with others and the space itself in urban spaces. This results in, among others, intolerance to different worldviews as the principle for xenophobic behaviour. This is the case of excluded urban residents, as their experienced, expected and desired visions of the city become unseen and, hence, bear little relevance for shaping the future of it.


The overarching aim of this project is to examine the affordances of digital technologies and internet-based interactions for enabling marginalised groups, such as immigrants and night-shift workers, to construct nocturnal urban spaces. With the argument that current technologies influence the way urban users experience their environment, my study focuses on the production of urban imaginaries as a research strategy to engage marginalised individuals with the co-creation of narratives about their unique way to be citizens. The ultimate goal is to challenge dominant and exclusionary schemes, present in policymaking practices, by positioning worldviews of misrepresented citizens.


Grounded in Ethnographic Action Research, this project will be conducted through a series of interconnected studies. Ethnographic and participatory methods will be deployed to understand the role of digital technologies and the Internet for facilitating ways in which nocturnal space is imagined. Furthermore, this approach aims at exploring opportunities and implications for marginalised groups to participate actively in the research process and, hence, in social dynamics in public space.


By investigating the forms in which citizens envision the future of the city through the production of urban imaginaries, this study will open potential avenues for designing more tailored strategies for civic engagement in public spaces. This study will enhance current practices in city making and governance, incorporating citizen-centred perspectives in decision-making, and informing more pluralistic strategies to enabling citizens’ right to the city.