Dr. Esra Alkim Karaagac

Dr. Esra Alkim Karaagac

QROF Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Geography and Planning

People Directory Affiliation Category

I am a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Geography and Planning. In my postdoctoral research, I study International Student Indebtedness in Canada. In this project, I examine the role of private lending practices in Canada’s international higher education system, focusing on the socio-economic impacts of predatory lending on international student experiences in university towns. This research is funded through Queen's University's QROF Postdoctoral Fellowship (Supervisor: Dr. Dan Cohen). Please contact me if you want to learn more about the project or get involved.

I am also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in Geography at the University of Waterloo. I run a research project, titled: Making a Home in Off-Campus Housing: Bringing visibility to international student families through narratives of homespace. This two-year project is funded by an SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2022-24). The research aims to bring visibility to international student families through narratives of homespace and to examine social and cultural economies of homemaking in transience.

I completed my PhD in Geography at the University of Waterloo in 2022. In my PhD research: In Debt to the State, I examined the lived experiences and everyday negotiations of finance and debts in state-led mass housing projects in Istanbul, to understand how housing policies shape relations of homeownership, gendered labour, and household finance. Prior to my PhD, I had seven years of professional work experience within government and non-profit organizations in Turkey as well as international settings, through professional fellowships (American Councils PFP). I have worked in teams and coordinated research projects funded by the United Nations and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey.


  • PhD in Geography (University of Waterloo)
  • Master of City Design and Social Science (London School of Economics and Political Science)
  • BSc (Hons) City and Regional Planning (Middle East Technical University)
  • BA (Hons) Sociology (Middle East Technical University)



I’m a feminist economic geographer, interested in urban inequalities, debt geographies, housing financialization and crises of social reproduction in contemporary Turkey and Canada. I take an ethnographic approach to urban research that draws on multiple qualitative methods, including ethnography, interviews, focus group, participant observation, archival research, mapping and surveys. I often combine ethnographic research with critical policy analysis to examine how policy plays on the ground, shaping people’s experiences of social and economic life in cities. My work is motivated by an interest in urban justice through policy-relevant and interdisciplinary research. It is informed primarily by theories of feminist political economy and critical urban theory, as well as insights from labour geographies, and geographies of finance and debt.


  • Karaagac, E.A. Caring for Debt: Women’s Work in Istanbul’s Mass Housing Estates. In Linda Peake, Elsa Koleth, Grace Adeniyi-Ogunyankin, and Nasya Razavi (eds) special issue: Feminist Explorations of Urban Futures. Urban Geography. (revisions submitted)
  • Karaagac, E.A. (2022). Everyday Negotiations of Finance and Debts in State-led Mass Housing Estates for Low-income Households in Istanbul. In Burcu Özdemir Sarı, Esma Aksoy Khurami, and Nil Uzun (eds) Housing in Turkey: Policy, Planning, Practice. Routledge Pub. ISBN 9781032003269
  • Worth, N., & Karaagac, E.A. (2021). Accounting for absences and ambiguities in the freelancing labour relation. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie. tesg.12491. 10.1111/tesg.12491
  • Karaagac, E.A. (2020). The financialization of everyday life: Caring for debts. Geography Compass, 14(11), e12541. 10.1111/gec3.12541