Sustainable Urban Development in India: Role of Urban Design and Planning
A talk by the Co-founders and Directors of StudioPOD
25 June 2021 | 6 pm IST
About the talk:
Indian cities are facing unprecedented growth and change across all levels of urban settlements. Our developmental choices right now will guide the future of urban India. What then is the role of urban design and planning in the midst of the immense challenges that our cities face? What are the opportunities for an urban design or a planning professional in India? The current pandemic crisis and its global impact has forced our profession to rethink our development trends.
Urban design and planning projects involve multiple stakeholders from various backgrounds offering a multitude of data and insights. As an urban design professional, how do you distill this information and research; and offer holistic integrated solutions that are unique to the context and place?
During the course of their professional careers, co-founders and directors of StudioPOD, Mahesh Waghdhare, Mansi Sahu and Sarfaraz Momin, have found that there is no fixed approach or methodology to find the answer to this question. They have explored different kinds of urban design projects, varying in scales and context. Each project has offered unique relationships between the natural environment, urban form, and institutional processes. However, they have learned that the human-scale experiences ultimately enhance the long-term health of natural systems and the vitality of urban communities and that is something we constantly strive to achieve.
In this talk, Mahesh, Mansi, and Sarfaraz, share StudioPOD’s journey in the quest of city building in an Indian context, while sensitising to an environmentally and socially balanced growth. This includes the stories of the small successes, hardships, and challenges to run an Urban Design Practice in India. The session will be moderated by Krishna Balakrishnan, Lead- Research at IIHS.
About the Speakers:
Mahesh Waghdhare, Mansi Sahu and Sarfaraz Momin are co-founders and directors of StudioPOD, an international multi-disciplinary design firm, specialised in city planning, urban design, and landscape urbanism. The studio focuses on creating democratic and resilient social spaces with people-oriented design principles to foster a sense of community and vitality.
Mahesh Waghdhare’s focus lies in creating uniquely innovative, sustainable and dynamic urban places for people, while developing creative collaborations with individuals, local communities, organizations, and governments. Mahesh holds a Masters in Urban Design from the University of California Berkeley, and a Bachelors from Sir J J College of Architecture, Mumbai.
Mansi Sahu leads the sustainable urban design at StudioPOD in a diverse range of projects from redevelopment in existing cities, mixed-use urban areas, institutional campuses, waterfront development, and eco-sensitive new developments. Mansi has a Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Architecture from University of Mumbai.
Sarfarz Momin specialises in balancing landscape design with detailed land-use programme in community masterplans. Sarfaraz has led several urban design and master-planning initiatives as part of StudioPOD, including Open Space Masterplan for Gurgaon, Industrial Masterplans, and Development plans for smart villages in Rajasthan, among others. Sarfaraz graduated from University of Michigan with a Masters in Urban Design, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architure from Sir JJ College of Architecture, Mumbai.
About the talk:
Social scientists have written a great deal about the social embeddedness of markets. In this talk the speaker would like to draw attention to the ecological embeddedness of markets-about the materials economy that we live in, live off. The markets that we have created, especially for agriculture and our food systems, exist outside of ecology, outside of nature. They work on the principle that nature by itself has no value and no limits, and they have facilitated a materials economy that is destroying our planet along with our health. The speaker argues that healing ourselves and our planet requires us to re-embed our understanding of markets within ecology. This implies taking seriously, the three D’s–Degrowth, Diversity and Decentralisation, but also reconsidering what constitutes as value.
About the Speaker:
Richa Kumar is Associate Professor of Sociology and Policy Studies at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT Delhi) in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and holds a position as Associate Faculty, School of Public Policy, IIT Delhi. Her research and teaching interests are in the Sociology of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition, Science and Technology Studies, and Rural and Agrarian Policy. She is a co-author of the State of Rural and Agrarian India Report 2020 and her current research is on the impact of monoculture farming on farm systems, the environment and human health. Her book, “Rethinking Revolutions: Soyabean, Choupals and the Changing Countryside in Central India” was published by Oxford University Press in 2016. She is a recipient of the inaugural Elizabeth Adiseshiah Memorial Award (2019), the New India Fellowship (2010) and is a member of the Network of Rural and Agrarian Studies (NRAS). She completed her Ph.D. from the Science, Technology and Society Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA.
Debating Cell Antenna Signals: Intermedial Relations in Radiant Cities
A talk by Rahul Mukherjee
11 February 2021 | 6:00pm IST
About the talk
Wireless signals emitted by cell antennas disrupt public-private boundaries as they envelop the city’s cluttered atmosphere, entangling unplanned assemblages of people and things. The talk begins with a study of the mediation of debates related to siting of cell antennas in Indian cities from 2010-2017. It then moves to conceptualizing the radiance of cell antennas: the mediated radiance of cell towers as glistening objects of a nation’s development goals (symbolizing and acting as communication pillars to fulfil the mission of “Digital India”) is compromised by the mediated uncertainties about the material effects of cell antenna signals on human bodies and citizens’ well-being. On lifestyle television shows and local newspapers, citizens and patients offered testimonies next to the cell antenna near their apartment, expressing apprehensions about their unwanted intimacies with such infrastructures. Evictions of cell antennas raised concerns about call drops because of the lack of media infrastructures to support phone calls. Borrowing from scholarship in critical infrastructure studies and urban media studies, this talk examines particular radiation sensing practices activated by concerned citizens that rearranged intermedial relations between/across signal detectors, peacocks, microwave ovens, aluminium foils, cell antennas, human bodies and mobile phones. The talk analyses the reconfigurations of urban socialities around the cell antenna radiation (and “call drops”) controversies, including the role played by existing (and shifting) class-based inequalities and cultures of uncertainty in Indian cities.
About the Speaker
Rahul Mukherjee is the Dick Wolf Associate Professor of Television and New Media Studies at University of Pennsylvania. His research examines how the mediation of environmental controversies shapes public perception about the risks to human bodies and the relationship between mobile media uses and the digital cultures of circulation, including piratical and informal distribution networks. Rahul’s research has been published in Media, Culture & Society, Science, Technology & Human Values, and New Media & Society. His first book Radiant Infrastructures: Media, Environment, and Cultures of Uncertainty (Duke University Press, March 2020) explores the ecological dimensions of media and energy infrastructures like cell towers and nuclear reactors. Rahul has been the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future Fellow at Cornell University’s Society for the Humanities (2017-18) and a fellow with the Mellon Project in Humanities, Urbanism, and Design at University of Pennsylvania (2015-17). He presently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Visual Culture and the editorial advisory board of Media+Environment.
This talk will use as its starting point the large-scale migrant crisis precipitated by India’s severe lockdown, imposed by the Central Government in March 2020 as a response to covid-19. As informal migrant workers undertook treacherous journeys on foot back to their home villages, these migrant routes made visible the geography of uneven development in India: that residents in the eastern swathes of the country are forced to migrate to the more prosperous northern and western regions in search of work.
To understand the deeper roots of the urban migrant crisis, this talk will focus on a locational puzzle. From 1991 onwards, the post-liberalization Indian state launched an ambitious new infrastructural program of economic corridors, along which new global competitive enclaves such as SEZs, container ports, and agri-business hubs could be built. But these enclaves are not evenly distributed across the national space; instead, the most economically active corridors, including the ambitious Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, and the Vishakapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor, almost neatly overlap onto former Green Revolution regions. And regions bypassed by the Green Revolution expel distress labour that migrate to find work in these prosperous corridor regions. By focusing on the agrarian-urban changes along India’s first economic corridor, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, this talk will delve into the agrarian origins of contemporary urbanization, and the new urban inequalities generated by these processes.
Sai Balakrishnan is an Assistant Professor of Global Urban Inequalities at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research and teaching broadly pivot around urbanization and planning institutions in the global south, and on the spatial politics of land-use and property. She has worked as an urban planner in the United States, India, and the United Arab Emirates, and as a consultant to the UN-HABITAT, Nairobi. Her work has been published in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Urban Studies, Pacific Affairs, Economic and Political Weekly, and in edited book chapters. Her research has been quoted in media outlets, including The Guardian and Open Magazine. Balakrishnan’s recent book, Shareholder Cities: Land Transformations along Urban Corridors in India (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019) explores new spatial forms of urbanization by focusing on land contestations along infrastructural / economic corridors in liberalizing India.
On Urban Excess and Playability
A talk by Prasad Khanolkar
28 September 2020 | 6:00 pm IST
About the talk:
The order of any city, be it ‘just’, ‘efficient’, ‘smart’ or ‘world-class’, is fundamentally based on nothing but assigning everything their ‘proper’ place and everyone their ‘appointed’ roles so as to create a ‘working community’. However, any operative order that aspires to be a ‘working community’—that is, a coherent and complete system, also secretes an excess—an excess that is immanent to it but cannot be completely ‘put to work’ by it and is hence expended. In the context of contemporary cities under neoliberalism, land, people, habitats, and time are what often constitutes such an excess, which can be displaced and dispensed. Based on ethnographic study of a slum-settlement in Mumbai, in this talk, Prasad explores how such excesses often find their expression in different forms of play in poorer urban neighborhoods. The concept of play here opens itself to different acts: to collect, exchange, waste and gamble; to rehearse, act, mimic, and deceive; to wait, idle, sense, and make a move so as to seize an opportunity. These play-forms, which are integral and common to cities everywhere, Prasad argues, are expressions of the abilities of those expended to open up a space for themselves and to play and alter how the game of urbanisation might get played out. This talk draws from his forthcoming book, which will be published under the Urban Asia Series by Routledge.
Prasad Khanolkar is currently an Assistant Professor of Geography at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Guwahati. By training, he is an architect and planner, with a PhD in Planning and South Asian Studies from the University of Toronto. His past research in academic and policy field has primarily focused on questions of housing, infrastructure, governance, informality, urban redevelopment in different cities, including Mumbai, Gurgaon, Portland, Nairobi and Addis Ababa. He is currently in the process of developing a long term project on urbanisation in the North-East cities, where he is currently located.
The Social Context of Technological Experiences in India
A talk by Anant Kamath
13 August 2020 | 6:00 pm IST
About the talk:
In this talk, author Anant Kamath will present from his recent book, ‘The Social Context of Technological Experiences in India’, which articulates how technology and society shape one another.
Technology is not only about strides in science and engineering but also about political and sociological forces on the ground. That is, technological processes and outcomes are, infact, economic sociology processes, contingent on structures and dynamics of gender and caste. Adopting an inclusive, holistic, and interdisciplinary approach to understanding innovation and technological change, allows us to see how technology and society mould one another and procreate non-obvious development outcomes.
Towards this, Anant employs an array of theoretical concepts and methodological tools to examine the technology-society nexus among three urban groups in India – traditional caste-based handloom weavers, subaltern Dalit communities, and informal female labour. He also calls for the rethinking of our ingrained technological determinism, re-formulating the idea of the “digital divide,” and re-assessing popular notions around a “knowledge economy” or “information society” and the policy formulations that incline towards these. He expands the question “what technologies do people encounter?” to include “what kind of people do technologies encounter?” All this only reiterates that technology has always been an integral part of being human, and that we have always been in a “technological era” a title we attach exclusively to our contemporary era.
Anant Kamath is a social scientist, who will soon begin his term at National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore, India. He has previously taught development, social research, and technological change at Azim Premji University. Anant was a scholar at the United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) in The Netherlands, the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) in Trivandrum, and the Madras School of Economics. His research interests are in the economic sociology of technological change and experiences, and in the political economy of development. He is also involved in the western classical music scene in Bangalore, as principal violinist and lead of the Bangalore School of Music Chamber Orchestra.
Archives as Crucible, Archives as Commons
4 December 2019 | 6:00 pm
About the talk
Archives enable diverse stories. This aim shapes the purpose of an archive and what environments it could nourish in the future. And it serves as our beacon for most steps in the life cycle of a historical record – from sourcing material to making sense of it, and then in making it visible to the public. Collectively, Archives can be reimagined as a crucible for education and as a way to strengthen the commons. This short talk will review the place – physically and intellectually — of the archive in the age of Instagram and the unique opportunity that is in each of our hands as custodians of personal and professional histories. The talk will discuss the use of the physical space of the Archives at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), a public collecting centre for the history of contemporary biology in India that opened in February 2019. The hope is that a living, breathing archive can bridge the gaps between four silos: the scientists, historians of science, storytellers for a non-academic audience, and the public.
At the heart of an archive – both for the archivist and for the user – is an attempt to find meaning in the data stream. This data can arrive at the archive in various containers: a custom-built lab contraption, a four-hour-long audio interview, an annotated album of photographs. Within each object lie many stories waiting to be interpreted, each a reflection of the interpreter. This talk attempts to unpack this idea. For the archives to be continuously relevant, it also has to listen to and speak to those who will be custodians in the next generation. So, during the setup starting in August 2017, the Archives decided to involve students at an early stage. The Archives were positioned as an ecosystem for learning for students across disciplines. In the first 1.5 years of this experiment, the Archives has been host to 40 students from across India and from various disciplines: physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, education, history, art, design, journalism, communication, sociology, and law. They all work independently or with each other and develop projects around their specific interests.
The talk will also briefly allude to a couple of other collaborative projects the Archives is undertaking over the coming three years: an open source storytelling and annotation template as an additional layer to the Archives digital portal, and the development of a global interconnected digital archive of science through standards across archival material.
Disclaimer: This talk is an edited version of previous presentations of the work in the Archives at NCBS.
About the Speaker
Venkat Srinivasan is a visiting researcher and archivist at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru, India. The team at NCBS Archives is developing templates to pull archival material into coherent stories, and connect personal stories to established records of a scientific process. Prior to this, Venkat was a research engineer at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University. He is also an independent science writer. His work has been published in The Atlantic, Scientific American online, Nautilus, Aeon, Wired, and The Caravan. This intersection of science journalism, scientific research and history has led him to probe ways to build diverse science narratives from archival material.
Urban poor and chronic health conditions
The role of local health systems
7 November 2019 | 6:00 pm
About the talk
This talk is based on six-year research and community work in a poor urban neighbourhood in Bengaluru. The research reveals a high burden of chronic conditions among urban poor where the majority rely on private health facilities for care. There are discreet as well as inter-connected, localised conditions that need to be considered for any sustainable and transformative intervention.
Socio-economic conditions play a major role as poverty hinders people from accessing health services, and those who seek care get further impoverished. Further, socially defined roles and positions limit women and the elderly in managing care. Inadequate infrastructure further aggravates the situation as fragmented services imply patients having to visit more than one facility for a single episode of care. In addition, the limited use of medical records and lack of functioning referral systems hinder continuity of care – a key consideration in chronic conditions. These factors are compounded when one considers the complexities of the governance mechanisms and policy structures. Poor regulation of the private sector, lack of platforms for community engagement and corruption mark ineffective governance of the mixed local health system. The government sector struggles to provide adequate care, whereas profit maximization often drives care in the private sector, where more often than not, it is seen, at best, as charity. This talk highlights these overlapping complexities of the urban local health systems, proposes that implementing positive change requires careful consideration of local dynamics and opportunities.
About the Speaker
Upendra Bhojani presently serves as the Director of the Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru and is the Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance Fellow. He graduated as a dentist before transitioning to public health. He pursued a Master’s degree in Public Health at Deakin University, Australia, followed by a PhD in Public Health and Health Sciences from Ghent University, Belgium. He joined the Institute of Public Health in 2007 and has since then been associated with the institute in various capacities. Upendra’s research and teaching interests include chronic conditions, tobacco control, health policy and systems, urban health, health ethics, and the political economy of health.
Impact of demographic dynamics on migration
Professor François Héran, Collège de France
10 October 2019 | 6:30 pm
To watch the talk live, click here.
A wide view among researchers is to believe that the primary motor of international migration is a system of communicating vessels: the least developed countries would migrate mechanically to the most developed, the overpopulated countries to the least dense, the most fertile to the less fertile, and so on. The notion of “climate migrations” seems to add a new example to this series.
Several metaphors have been used to express this traditional “gravity model” of international migration. Some have a scholarly flavour, such as the “natural” circulation of migrants from areas of “high demographic pressures” to “low pressure” areas. Others are more popular and feed public debate (like the “magnet effect”), mingling with classical rhetorical figures: the “slippery slope” argument, the “perverse effect” arguments, etc.
In order to refute this mechanical vision of migration flows, this talk will analyse the “Bilateral Migration Database” which offers a global view of migration systems and facilitates the integration of a wide spectrum of factors. The analysis will be supported by examples from Eastern Europe, the Indian Subcontinent, and sub-Saharan Africa. The talk suggests that quantitative analyses of migration systems should be accompanied by a critical analysis of the rhetorical systems of argumentation.
About the Speaker:
In 2017, François Héran was elected Professor at the Collège de France (Paris) on a newly created chair, “Migrations and Societies”. In 2017, he founded an “Institut des Migrations” coordinated by CNRS, which supports 380 fellows of all disciplines.
François Héran earned a PhD from EHESS (Paris) and a “Doctorat d’État” in anthropology from Paris-Descartes University. After four years of fieldwork in Spain and Bolivia, in 1980, he joined the French National Institute for Demographic Research (INED) and the National Institute of Statistics (INSEE) to conduct surveys on sociability, education, family structures, language transmission, migration. He was the head of the Population Surveys Branch at INSEE from 1993 to 1998, and led INED between 1999 and 2009.
He has also presided the European Association for Population Studies between 2012 and 2016. François Héran has published extensively in rural sociology, family sociology, sociology of religion, kinship studies, demography and migration.
A study of food vending in Bengaluru
Drawing on research carried out by IIHS in partnership with the Hungry Cities project, we bring together animation and audio clips, illustrations and photographs to highlight the nuanced and contentious give-and-take between street food vendors, the city and the state.
Through this exhibition, we present the varied experiences of vendors with diverse mobilities, life histories, business strategies, and aspirations. We also present findings from a large scale survey with vendors across Bengaluru that was carried out in 2018.
The research aims to highlight the complexities and differences between food businesses in the city, and present stories that bring out strategies adopted by vendors in shaping their work and workplaces. The narratives remind us to resist easy classification of street vendors’ work into tropes of either poverty and informality on one end, or of choice and entrepreneurship on the other.
The exhibition will be held at the IIHS Bengaluru City Campus from 19 – 22 September 2019.
Prof Tatjana Schneider
10 June 2019 | 6:30 pm onwards
Prof Schneider’s lecture will look at the role of architects and spatial planners in a world that is dominated by an increasing commodification of space, the privatisation of public land and assets, debates on climate change as well as growing inequalities. Against such global tendencies, within which architecture is often reduced to a mere decorative task, the lecture will present a more transformative and emancipatory understanding of practice and teaching – a practice that, in Bruno Latour’s terms, pays critical attention not of architecture as a matter of fact, but as a matter of concern. She will do so, by introducing a series of teaching formats that aim to challenge ’normative’ ways of doing and thereby call into question dominant perceptions of what it means to be an architect.
About the Speaker:
Prof Tatjana Schneider studied architecture in Kaiserslautern (Germany) and Glasgow (Scotland) and completed her doctorate under the supervision of Dr. Jonathan Charley at the University of Strathclyde. She was a founding member of the architectural collective Glasgow Letters on Architecture and Space and from 2004 onwards worked at the University of Sheffield, England, first as a research assistant, then as a lecturer and senior lecturer. Research and international stays have taken her to Università Iuav di Venezia, Hafencity University in Hamburg, Nanjing University in China and CEPT University in Ahmedabad, India. Schneider is the author and editor of numerous books, magazines and articles on socio-political aspects of the production of architecture and space. Since September 2018 she is heading the Institute for History and Theory of Architecture and the City (GTAS) and the Architecture and Civil Engineering Collection (SAIB) of the Technical University of Braunschweig.
An Evening Celebrating the Magic of Nasir Husain
18 March 2019 | 6:30 pm onwards
Nasir Husain was one of the biggest names in mainstream Hindi cinema right through the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. A man who helmed several spectacular hits such as Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957), Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1963), Teesri Manzil (1966), Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973), Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977), Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992), Husain was at the very forefront of shaping commercial Hindi cinema as we see it today. In a career spanning close to five decades in the film industry, Husain left his indelible mark on popular Hindi cinema as writer-director-producer.
Yaadon Ki Baaraat: An Evening Celebrating the Magic of Nasir Husain, will revisit the many terrific moments from Husain’s films. Akshay Manwani, who authored Music, Masti, Modernity: The Cinema of Nasir Husain (HarperCollins; October 2016), will take us through Husain’s pioneering craft and the many key contributions the producer-filmmaker made to mainstream cinema. The entire purpose of showcasing these short musical/dialogue-oriented clips from Husain’s films is to remind the audience of the filmmaker’s cinematic genius.
The audio-visual clips will cover the following facets of Husain’s films:
Akshay Manwani has written on Indian cinema and popular culture for a variety of publications such as The Caravan, The Indian Quarterly, Scroll.in, Firstpost, Mint, Business Standard and Mumbai Mirror. Akshay’s first book, Sahir Ludhianvi: The People’s Poet, was published in December 2013 by HarperCollins. In 2014, Akshay won the RedInk award, given by the Press Club, Mumbai, for his detailed feature on B.R. Chopra’s Mahabharata television series. His second book – Music, Masti, Modernity: The Cinema of Nasir Husain – was published by HarperCollins in October 2016. The book won the Verve Storytellers Award for Best Book of 2016.
Akshay currently works as an expert commentator for National Basketball Association (NBA) India. He is also an amateur wildlife photographer, who has made it his mission to travel to every Indian wildlife park in the next decade. Akshay lives with his daughter and wife in Mumbai.
22 October 2018 | 6:30 pm onwards
Contemporary debates on social and economic life are rife with questions on how technology will shape the future. Where the internet’s presence once revolutionised how we connected with apps and smartphones, tomorrow it will be the robotic charm and anxieties of automation. Will technology free us from the drudgery of hard labour or will it end work and life as we know it?
Futures and their predictions require a retelling of the history of the present. This is especially true of how technology is fundamentally altering work and cities. So far, data scientists, academics and policy makers have had significant currency over technological forecasts. To tell the story of how technology impacts our everyday lives in the city, however, we must look to more creative mediums: the richness and diversity of theatre, science fiction and comics can help us explore technological futures through free and unencumbered imaginations.
Join us for a dramatised reading of excerpts from Algorithms, a theatrical performance, accompanied by a conversation on the role of theatre, science fiction and comics in uncovering the present to decipher urban futures. The event will be held on 22 October 2018 at 6.30pm at the IIHS Bengaluru City Campus.
About the performance
Algorithms is a theatrical performance that deep dives into the platforms of Uber, Ola and BookmyBai to unpack the present history of tech. Platforms have been identified by governments and international agencies as contemporary signposts of the way tech will alter the future of work. The play complicates imaginaries of the future of work using the ideas of employment, work, control, choice and individualism through the eyes of platform drivers whose everydayness is mediated by caste, class, and regional ascribed identities as much as by apps. It foregrounds the ways people navigate work in Indian cities, giving voice and action to the majority of urban residents whose stories are tacit and hidden to policy makers. In doing so, it unpacks the history of the present by foreground the complexity of context, mechanisms of interaction, and how the social is embedded in body and space.
Algorithms is a Hindi, Kannada, and English play suitable for those 16 years and older which will be performed at Ranga Shankara, from 16 to 18 October 2018. The play is written and directed by Chanakya Vyas, Indian Ensemble. Tickets available here.
Chanakya Vyas, playwright and director of Algorithms & Artistic Director of Indian Ensemble;
Padmini Ray Murray, expert in Digital Humanities in India
Aditi Surie, sociologist at IIHS
A talk with Historian and Documentarian Uma Chakravarti
25 September 2018 | 6:30 pm
Prof. Uma Chakravarti is a feminist historian turned filmmaker. Her films relate to history, memory and the archive. Her first film “A Quiet Little Entry” explored women’s unlived lives during the national movement; her second film “Fragments of a Past” centered on a political activist who now does not remember her own past, and her third film “Ek Inquilab Aur Aaya: Lucknow 1920-1949” excavates memories to dwell on two women from Firanghi Mahal, and their struggle to find their own way of being in a time of dramatic changes.
As a feminist historian, Prof Chakravarti has often used documentary as a way to converse; with women whose stories she narrates, as well as her potential audience. In this talk, Prof. Chakravarti will elucidate her tryst with documentary mode as an approach to uncover memories and archives. She will also speak of her long term engagement with issues of gender and identity through historiography and documentary. The talk will be interspersed with clips from Prof Chakravarti’s films.
The discussion will be moderated by Swati Bandi, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at St. Joseph’s College, Bengaluru.
Close Encounters of Another Kind: Women and Development Economics
10 September 2018 | 6:30 pm ~ 7:30 pm
The Indian Institute for Human Settlements invites you to the book launch of ‘Close Encounters of Another Kind – Women and Development Economics’ by Dr. Devaki Jain.
Aromar Revi, Founding Director of IIHS will be in conversation with Padma Bhushan Dr. Devaki Jain, writer and feminist economist.
Dr. Jain’s latest volume of essays brings together her various engagements with public policy, development economics, and women. It examines the mission to gender development that began in 1975 with the First World Conference of Women and went on to become the Women’s Decade, while simultaneously rooting itself in the reality of the Global South. In her newest work, Dr. Jain highlights the ways in which the design of public policy has ignored the lived experience of what has been offered in India as development.
The event will be held at 6:30 pm on 10 September 2018 at the IIHS Bengaluru City Campus. It is open to the public and entry is free.
We are still in the age of encounter
Indigenous rights, the nature of sovereignty, and agonistic constitutionalism
27 July 2018 | 6:00 pm Onwards
This public lecture examines whether Canada’s recent grappling with Indigenous rights has begun to unsettle the longstanding assumption that Canadian institutions are sovereign in a manner that excludes Indigenous sovereignty. It identifies five substantially different claims often associated with sovereignty, arguing that it is worth considering them in disaggregated fashion. It investigates the particular attributes of sovereignty that are placed in issue by the encounter between Indigenous peoples and settler states, in particular the legal and political institutions of Canada. And it explores the specific form that the recomposition of sovereignty should take.
In particular, it suggests that we may be observing a bracketing of the question of sovereignty, not in a way that ignores the question, but that suspends its final determination, allowing multiple assertions of sovereignty to exist in a continual, unresolved – perhaps never resolved – tension. If the question of sovereignty is being reconstructed in this way, then it represents a substantial change in our understanding of what is necessary to sustain a constitutional order. It represents the emergence of what might be called an ‘agonistic constitutionalism’, in which a constitutional order is characterized by divergent, perhaps even contradictory, assertions of fundamental principle, held in continual tension. Such a constitutionalism is especially evident in the Indigenous dimensions of Canadian constitutional practice, but it is also apparent elsewhere. Indeed, it may turn out to be a more common feature of constitutional orders than we have ever suspected.
Prof. Webber is the author of Reimagining Canada: Language, Culture, Community and the Canadian Constitution (1994) and The Constitution of Canada: A Contextual Analysis (2015). He has written widely in constitutional law, Indigenous rights, federalism, cultural diversity, and constitutional theory, in Canada and in relation to other countries (especially Australia). Prof. Webber has held the Canada Research Chair in Law and Society and served as Dean of Law at the University of Victoria. Prior to that, he was Dean of Law at the University of Sydney, Australia, and Professor of Law at McGill University. He was appointed a Fellow of the Trudeau Foundation in 2009 and a Fellow of Royal Society of Canada in 2016.
Cities in the cinemas of South India
15 June 2018 | 6:30 pm
The Media Lab at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) is happy to announce a series of four Masterclasses titled Cities in the cinemas of South India. A large amount of research on Indian cinema has focused on Hindi films. The objective of this series of lectures is to delve deeper into the cinemas of South India – specifically the role, position and trajectories of cities in these films.
The first Masterclass by MK Raghavendra, will touch upon the representation of space in Indian popular cinema and the city as an emblem, focusing on the representation of Bengaluru in Kannada cinema. It will take place at the IIHS Bangalore City Campus on 15th June, 2018 at 6.30pm. Details are also available on Facebook. For those not in Bangal
Representation of Bengaluru in Kannada cinema:
Kannada cinema has traditionally not been a pan-Kannadiga cinema but largely confined to former Princely Mysore. Bengaluru has a specific meaning in Kannada cinema because of its historical role under the British in relation to Princely Mysore and subsequently as a site for central government investment. Bengaluru has been viewed ambivalently by Kannada cinema. The talk will primarily be about the changing meaning of Bengaluru to Kannada cinema and its constituency and whether this can have any bearing on our understanding of how Karnataka’s political class views Bengaluru.
MK Raghavendra, who got a master’s degree in science and worked in the financial sector for over twenty-five years, is a writer on culture and politics, much of his writing focused on cinema. His chosen approach is textual analysis with an emphasis on political discourse. He received the National Award for Best Film Critic in 1997 and was awarded a Homi Bhabha Fellowship in 2000-01. He has authored three volumes of academic film criticism – Seduced by the Familiar: Narration and Meaning in Indian Popular Cinema (Oxford, 2008), Bipolar Identity: Region, Nation and the Kannada Language Film (Oxford, 2011) and The Politics of Hindi Cinema in the New Millennium: Bollywood and the Anglophone Indian Nation (Oxford, 2014). He has also written two books on cinema for the general reader 50 Indian Film Classics (Collins, 2009) and Director’s Cut: 50 Film-makers of the Modern Era (Collins, 2013). His essays on Indian cinema find a place in Indian and international anthologies. He has also published extensively in Indian newspapers, periodicals and journals like The Indian Review of Books, Caravan, Economic and Political Weekly, Frontline, The Book Review and Biblio: A Review of Books. His book The Oxford Short Introduction to Bollywood was published in 2016 and an anthology edited by him Beyond Bollywood: The cinemas of South-India (HarperCollins) in 2017. His academic writings have been anthologized in books published by Oxford University Press, Sage, Routledge, BFI (British Film Institute). His writing has been translated into French and Polish. Two of his books are being translated into Russian. He has also written extensively on politics and culture for Firstpost in the past two years. He is the Founder-Editor of online journal Phalanx, which dedicated to debate: http://phalanx.in/pages/content.html
a critical reflection
23 January 2018 | 6.30 pm – 8.00 pm
In this lecture, Prof Dr Bert de Vries reflects on the SDGs from various worldviews and related ethical positions. He will critically examine some features of the SDGs. For instance, the absence of a proper account of the necessary (sub)national governance structures and regimes required to direct economic growth in alignment with SDGs, and the inadequate manner in which planetary constraints, as already explored in the 1972 report Limits to Growth, are examined.
Against this background, the SDGs have to be judged as a typical product of Modernity. They are formulated within a Modernity bubble – or prison – that is characterised by a mixture of Enlightenment optimism about science and technology and belief in the universality of human rights. The SDGs thus may function as a new morality in the humanist tradition, almost as a new religious ideal. Prof Bert de Vries will evaluate this aspect in the broader context of worldviews and associated ethical positions.
Prof Dr Bert J M de Vries has a background in Theoretical Chemistry. He is co-founder and member of the Institute for Energy and Environment (IVEM) at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, where he received his PhD on sustainable resource use. Since 1990 he has been a senior scientist at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. Between 2003 and 2013 he has been Professor of Global Change and Energy at Utrecht University in The Netherlands.
He has contributed to and published extensively on resource and in particular energy analysis, modelling and policy; climate and global change modelling; and (complex) systems modelling for sustainable development. He has been actively involved in modelling and scenario construction for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). At present, his interest and research is on worldviews and ethics in relation to sustainability and the connection between sustainable development and the financial system.
He has co-edited several books, including Perspectives on Global Change: The TARGETS Approach (1997, Cambridge University Press) and Mappae Mundi: Humans and their Habitats in a Long-Term Socio-Ecological Perspective (2002, Amsterdam University Press). He published the textbook Sustainability Science, based on ten years of teaching the course Sustainable Development – An Integrating Perspective (2013, Cambridge University Press).
Creative placemaking: an artist’s public agenda | 28 September 2017
Born in Ajmer, Rajasthan in 1981, Aastha studied sculpture at the Panjab and later Delhi University. Her art practise can be defined as public, socially engaged and site specific. She has worked in the neighbourhood of Khirkee in South Delhi since 2005, initially with KHOJ International Artists Association as their Community Arts coordinator till 2011 and independently since.
She is also interested in micro broadcasting and since 2008 worked closely with 90.4MHz Henvalvani community radio station in Chamba, Uttarakhand. Her projects are collaborative, multidisciplinary in nature and mostly self-funded / self sustained long term engagements. With a focus on two geographies / locations (Chamba and Khirkee), she is able to weave meaningful projects with a strong subtext of cultural activism.
She has taught at the Ambedkar University, Delhi and is currently working with Srishti Institute of Art Design and Technology. She lives and works between Delhi and Bengaluru.
Spot on a City – Spots in a City: Hamburg Depicted | 7 March 2017
The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, being one of the largest ports in Europe is the second largest city in Germany and the eighth largest city in the European Union.The port district of St. Pauli with its main road Reeperbahn is among the best known European entertainment districts.
Fabian Stoltz will present excerpts from two of his comic illustrations in which the city of Hamburg is prominently featured. The first, “an solchen tagen” (on days like these) is a dystopian nightmare, while the second, “Grosse Freiheit” (Great Freedom, the name of a street in the district of St. Pauli) takes place in the 1980s and is inspired by actual facts within the surroundings of pimp gangs of that time.
Fabian Stoltz was born in 1972. He studied Graphic Design and Illustration in Augsburg, Paris and Hamburg, where he graduated in 2004. He works as a freelance illustrator and cartoonist in Hamburg. http://www.artigebilder.com/
THE URBAN PLANNING CONUNDRUM IN INDIA | 9 February 2017
Emerging challenges such as climate change impacts, mitigation, adaptation and resilience building efforts in the urban areas, continuing urban poverty and transfer of rural poverty to the urban areas, and backlog of SDGs require planning interventions to provide safe and liveable urban environments. At the same time, past experiences suggest that urban planning in the Indian context, and much of in global south have been excluding and displacing. What then is urban planning and what should it do in the Indian context? This talk would unpack some of these issues taking somewhat from the history of urban planning as an activity and profession post second world war and its practice in the global south and moving to frame ideas about the profession in the Indian context. This talk refers to only urban planning and not national level planning or non-planning efforts.
Dr. Darshini Mahadevia is Professor, Faculty of Planning, CEPT University, with over 20 years teaching and research experience. She specializes in research on urban development policies, including housing policy, urban poverty, human and gender development. In particular, her research is focused on inclusive urban planning. She has published 13 books, booklets and discussion papers and 73 articles in books and journals besides newspaper and website articles. Her latest publication is ‘Handbook of Urban Inequalities’, co-authored with Sandip Sarkar and published by Oxford University Press. In 2009 she incepted the Centre for Urban Equity which she headed till March 2013; CUE functions as a National Resource Centre for the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India.
NATURE IN THE CITY: BENGALURU IN THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE | 24 November 2016
In this talk, Professor Nagendra examines the past, present, and future of nature in Bengaluru, one of India’s largest cities. Though threatened, nature in the city exhibits a remarkable tenacity. She charts changes in nature from the 6th century CE to the present, drawing on original social-ecological field research, coupled with archival analysis, satellite remote sensing, and oral histories. She concludes by exploring possible pathways to more sustainable and inclusive urban futures with a vision of a better future. Bengaluru is the story of a city where nature strives, yet thrives, providing insights on the prospects for urban sustainability in the era of global change.
Harini Nagendra is a Professor of Sustainability at Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, India. She is an ecologist who uses satellite remote sensing coupled with field studies of biodiversity, archival research, institutional analysis, and community interviews to examine the factors shaping the social-ecological sustainability of forests and cities in the south Asian context. She has conducted research and taught at multiple institutions, including most recently as a Hubert H Humphrey Distinguished Visiting Professor at Macalester College, Saint Paul, Minnesota. Prof. Nagendra received a 2013 Elinor Ostrom Senior Scholar award for her research and practice on issues of the urban commons, and a 2007 Cozzarelli Prize with Elinor Ostrom from the US National Academy of Sciences.
STORIES FROM THE PROTOVILLAGE | 22 November 2016
Kalyan Akkipeddi has been living and working in a remote drought-prone village called Tekulodu in the second driest and one of the poorest districts in India (Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh) since August 2010, building and leveraging local social leadership capacities to co-create ProtoVillage – the prototype of a Resilient village. His vision is a rural India that is a network of self-reliant, interdependent and resilient rural communities. The underlying imperative is to emphasize the idea of ‘creating resilience’, rather than focusing on ‘eradicating poverty’. Kalyan’s presentation will focus on the success stories and inherent challenges in attaining this vision.
UNDERSTANDING FLOODS: PERCEPTIONS AND POLICY | 19 October 2016
Dr. Mishra’s work has centered around the management of floods and State policy around mitigating its effects. His talk will focus on the perception of different stakeholders involved in understanding floods and its control like farmers, engineers, contractors, and politicians. In addition, the talk will explore the shift of floods as a rural phenomenon to an increasingly urban one; and the possible direction of policy initiatives in the area.
Dr. Mishra, an engineer by training, brings years of grass-roots experience to bear in the study of floods, waterlogging and irrigation, with special emphasis on the northern Gangetic plains of Bihar. He has documented the major rivers of north Bihar, their history, the cultural aspects of the rivers and relationship with the rivers and the settlers along the rivers, and the impact of the modern flood control interventions on the rivers and the society. His work uncovers a wide range of aspects that need to be looked into afresh like agriculture, non-farm employment, migration, health, education, and access to civic amenities etc., to fully understand, and inform our approach to, floods. Dr. Mishra is also the convener of an informal group of flood activists called Barh Mukti Abhiyan.
In addition to his research and advocacy work, Dr. Mishra is also a prolific author, publishing in various registers. He has published a book on the River Mahananda (titled Bandini Mahananda in Hindi), a boundary river between Bihar and Bengal, in 1994. This was followed by a bi-lingual (Hindi and English) book on the Bhutahi Balan (2004) (Bhutahi Nadi aur Takniki Jhar Phoonk / Story of a Ghost River and Engineering Witchcraft). In 2005 he wrote a book on the Kamla River (2005) titled Baghawat Par Majboor Mithila Ki Kamala Nadi/ The Kamla-River and People on Collision Course. His book on the River Kosi titled ‘Dui Paatan Ke Beech Mein – Kosi Nadi Ki Kahaani’ was published in Hindi in 2006. Its updated English version titled “Trapped! Between the Devil and Deep Waters – Story of Bihar’s Kosi River” came out in 2008. His most recent work is on the river Bagmati titled Bagmati Ki Sadgati (2010). Its English version was titled “River Bagmati: Bounties Become a Curse” and was published in August 2012.
CITIES OF DESIRE
Periurban Narratives of Land and Land Value in Kolkata and Hyderabad | 3 October 2016
The peripheries of Kolkata and Hyderabad experienced significant land economy transformations, in the period following liberalization and increased decentralization of fiscal responsibilities to state governments. Set within a context of economic and political regionalism, and place- making objectives that looked towards new investments, Kolkata and Hyderabad’s periurban transformations reveal the definitive role of state governments at the city- level, to attract and accommodate local and external investors. The talk will engage with different narratives of land value, which emerged as collaborations and projects took shape. These narratives were embedded in multiple processes of land value creation and articulation, and multiple imaginations of urban futures, differentiated not only across the public- private spectrum, but also across government agencies and different types of land users.
About the speaker:
Sudeshna Mitra is faculty at IIHS. Her teaching and research look at land economy, land administration and urban & regional planning questions. Recently, she has been involved with a project on land records management and process reforms across five states. She has a PhD in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University and has taught at the School of Planning and Architecture, Cornell University and Cornell in Washington.
WHY ALL URBAN HYDROLOGY IS SOCIAL HYDROLOGY? EVIDENCE FROM BENGALURU, INDIA | 28 September 2016
Dr. Deepak Malghan, Centre for Public Policy, IIM Bengaluru
One of the principal concerns of hydrology is to characterise the dynamic water balance in a watershed. Rapidly burgeoning urban agglomerations in Asia present a unique challenge to hydrology as natural hydrological cycles are severely perturbed by human activity. Bengaluru receives an average rainfall of about 1800 MLD (million litres a day) but also imports 1450 MLD of river water from a distant source. Groundwater withdrawal rates are poorly characterised but the last two decades have been witness to major qualitative and quantitative changes in Bengaluru’s aquifers. Deepak Malghan and his colleagues develop a spatially explicit social metabolism framework to account for the tight coupling of social and biophysical systems that is used to characterise this “social hydrology” of Bengaluru. In his presentation, Deepak will show how such a model can contribute to understanding of the three central aspects of the urban water conundrum — equity, biophysical sustainability, and economic efficiency.
About the speaker:
Deepak Malghan is an ecological economist with primary interest in theoretical models of the economy ecosystem interaction problem. He is currently revising a book manuscript, On Being the Right Size: Scale, Ecosystem, and Economy that attempts to reformulate ecological economics from a “scale” perspective. Deepak is also working on another new multiyear book project (provisionally titled Citius, Altius, Fortius: A History of How the World Became Efficient). This project aims to uncover the global social and intellectual history of the idea of efficiency from its origins in the Scottish Enlightenment to the present time. His empirical research interests include social hydrology and ecological distribution. Deepak’s research is highly interdisciplinary and routinely uses technical tools from economics, chemical engineering, historical analysis, hydrology, and ecology. Deepak is on the faculty of Centre for Public Policy at the Indian Institute of Management Bengaluru where he directs the Ecological Political Economy Lab. He holds a Ph.D. in ecological economics from the University of Maryland and MPA from Princeton University.
URBANIZATION, DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION AND THE GROWTH OF CITIES IN INDIA, 1870-2020 | 19 August 2016
Chinmay Tumbe, Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A)
Why is India urbanizing slowly? Why do some regions urbanize faster than others? Why do some cities grow faster than others?
This talk examines these questions and the nature of urbanization and urban growth in India since the late 19th century against the backdrop of the unfolding demographic transition. We conceptualize two important themes – demographic divergence and remittance urbanism- that have had and continue to have a major influence on the evolution of urban India. These themes are important to understand several urban mysteries such as India’s relatively low level of urbanization corresponding to its level of income, the sustenance of large rural-urban wage gaps despite considerable labour mobility and the paradox of faster urban growth combined with slower urbanization in North India relative to South India.
Chinmay Tumbe is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A). An economist by training, he has worked in academic, corporate and government institutions in India, UK and Italy and his research has been featured in journals, newspapers and policy portals. He holds a Masters from the London School of Economics and a doctorate from the Indian Institute of Management Bengaluru. He was the Jean Monnet Fellow at the Migration Policy Centre, European University Institute in Florence, Italy in 2013 and was with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences Hyderabad in 2014-16. His research interests lie in urban economics and economic history and his latest research project is titled “The Growth of Cities in India, 1870-2020.”
PUBLIC PANEL ON RETHINKING RISK AND RESETTLEMENT IN URBAN AREAS | 13 August 2016
About the Panel
People have been ‘resettled’ for decades by governments and institutions in the hope of achieving development or moving them out of harm’s way. Current forms of resettlement, as experienced by the people as well as the city, most often do not have the outcomes imagined at the outset. There are social, economic and environmental implications that most often outdo the limited physical ‘benefits’ of resettlement, in the immediate and/or the long term, especially given the pressures of urbanization and growing climatic risks, neither as well understood.
This Public Panel is aimed at broadening the debates on existing practices of resettlement, planning and policy frameworks in the context of which these are undertaken and re-imagining resettlement for achieving risk-reduction.
About the Panelists
Allan Lavell is a founding member and coordinator for Central America and the Caribbean of the Latin American Network for the Social Study of Disaster Prevention-LA RED. At present is member of the International Council for Sciences World Committee on Integrated Research on the Reduction of Disaster Risk. Author of more than 100 texts, books, chapters and articles of which more than 50 are on environmental risk and disaster themes; international consultant to more than 20 international agencies on 60 different missions, he has also given 139 conferences in 36 countries in four continents, and has worked in all Latin American countries and in some African (3) and Asian (6) nations. At present he coordinates the Programme for the Social Study of Disaster Risk at the Secretariat General’s office for the Latin American Social Science Faculty FLACSO- in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Anant Maringanti is the director of Hyderabad Urban Lab, a multi-disciplinary research programme run by the Right to the City Foundation. His research and teaching interests centre on questions of urbanization and globalization from the South Asian vantage point. He is widely published in national and international academic journals on social movements, politics of development and urbanization. As an evolving experiment in urban research, Hyderabad Urban Lab, has been developing collaborative projects involving media professionals, planners, technologists, academic researchers and legal professionals.
TSUNAMI HAZARD AND FLOOD RISK FOR COASTAL CITIES | 5 May 2016
Uncertainties and visualization for planning and emergency relief
About the talk
Planning needs to account for a wide range of adequate predictions in order to mitigate, not exacerbate, the risk due to floods. This talk will present approaches to flood hazard modelling and associated risk calculations. The emphasis is on uncertainties for planning purposes, particularly in the context of tsunamis. The role and limitations of early warning systems for tectonic events are addressed. The presentation will showcase visualization tools for planning and decision-making under uncertainty.
About the speaker
Dr. Serge Guillas is Reader in the Department of Statistical Science, University College London. He works on environmental statistics and uncertainty quantification of complex computer models. He has long been involved in an interdisciplinary effort to assess the long term evolution of stratospheric ozone. His most recent work include uncertainty quantification for tsunami models.
ANTICIPATION AND THE CITY | 10 February 2016
Rhythm, Learning and Virtue amongst the Moving Flower Sellers of Mangaluru
Ian M. Cook
How do poor ‘low-caste’ migrant street vendors navigate their multiple marginalities and the ethical-political contestations of their place of work to become an acknowledged and expected part of everyday urban life? Ian M. Cook argues that, for door to door flower sellers in the smaller coastal city of Mangaluru, acceptance is, in part, predicated on being anticipated. Arriving to the same place at the same time each day to deliver flowers for garlanding deities in homes and workplaces is not only vendors’ crucial market advantage, but also a rhythmic practice that, through performances of regularity, produces temporal depth, re-frames customer-seller dependencies and ultimately allows flower sellers to ethically affirm their place in the city.
Part of a wider project that rethinks cities as experiences of patterned movements – collections of rhythmic modes – rather than through abstract ‘spaces’, and an attempt to shift urban studies’ gaze away from the metropolises and to India’s ‘smaller cities’, the talk explores rhythms and the city through a detailed ethnography of one particular group of flower sellers. The presentation will also include short film excerpts, shot with the same group.
Bio: Ian M. Cook is from the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at the Central European University, Budapest. He is visiting IIHS as part of the Urban Knowledge Network Asia programme.
GANGES WATER MACHINE | 28 January 2016
Terrestrial and Celestial Change in the Ganga Basin
Of all the ways one might qualify the Ganga River Basin—rural, urban, suburban, landscape, drosscape, edge city, and megalopolis–none of these accurately defines such elaborately engineered spaces and infrastructures. Instead, through the construction of thousands of kilometres of canals and the sinking of millions of tubewells, the basin has been transformed into a giant water machine. From the foothills of the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, the Ganges Machine cuts across agricultural fields, cities, and hamlets, inscribing in its monumental re-organization of space and infrastructure a new way of life. Throughout this transformed river basin flowed the forces of tradition and innovation, dotted by diffuse urban projects (regional urban capitals), temporary tent cities (Magh and Kumbh Melas), miniature infrastructures (tubewells), and colossal public works projects (Ganges Canal). Its spiritual and religious significance inspired reverence in pilgrims; its archaeological and architectural monuments attracted painters in search of the picturesque; its seasonal ebb and flow of water perplexed farmers and engineers alike; and its fast paced urbanization vexed geographers, planners, and architects. In short, the physical and cultural complexity of this territory has challenged traditional terminology. Even though various infrastructures of the Ganges Machine affect millions in their daily lives, there is no map that legibly renders the terrestrial and celestial layers of this unexampled landscape. This discussion will focus on a decade long project to create an atlas—a dynamic atlas—of the Ganges Machine: a method of mapping that exposes the juxtaposing layers of infrastructure and adjoining built forms. The goal of this dynamic atlas is to not only map space, but also map how spaces change over time. At a time when the Government of India is beginning to invest a $1.5 billion loan from the World Bank to clean up the Ganges River, mapping the choreography of water and human settlement is more important than ever.
Anthony Acciavatti is an architect, cartographer, and historian. He is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University in the City of New York and is a principal of the design firm Somatic Collaborative. He has spent the last decade hiking, driving, and boating across India’s Ganga River Basin in order to map it and to understand the growing conflicts over water for drinking, agriculture, and industry. The results of this field and archival work are published in his recent book, Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India’s Ancient River (2015) Along with the book, Ganges Water Machine is an internationally traveling exhibition. His work has been exhibited in Asia, Europe, as well as North and South America.
THINKING FROM AND ABOUT CITIES | 18 JANUARY 2016
Reflections from Jakarta and Johannesburg
AbdouMaliq Simone (Max Planck Institute) is an urbanist whose work has been central to thinking about African and Southeast Asian cities, notions of urban change and everyday life, infrastructure and politics. He is the author most recently of “City Life from Jakarta to Dakar: Movements at the Crossroads”, as well as “For the City Yet to Come: Changing Life in Four African Cities.“
Kelly Gillespie teaches Anthropology at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her work has focused on violence and security in pre- and post-apartheid South Africa, with a particular focus on prisons.
They will be in conversation with Gautam Bhan on themes of southern urbanism, sharing insights from their research and political practice.
Underground Water: Techno-Political Ecology in ‘Unauthorised’ Delhi | 5 November 2015
India is the world’s largest user of groundwater, and North Indian aquifers are being depleted at some of the fastest rates in the world. As urbanisation increases, water security is likely to become an increasingly pressing issue. Like many of India’s fastest growing cities, groundwater use in peri-urban, unplanned areas of Delhi is extensive and essential, while also being weakly regulated. The minimal service provided through tubewells and tankers has till now allowed a discretionary role for elected representatives, while deferring the cost of providing treated ‘piped’ water and passing it to consumers forced to rely on expensive ‘informal’ supply through tankers, tubewell networks, and ‘local’ bottled water. This ‘underground political ecology’ of water, both sub-soil and illicit, is under-explored in research to date. Using the election of the Aam Aadmi Party and its mandate of providing water through a public network, and the emergence of Public Private Partnerships aimed at delivering water as a profitable enterprise, as two ‘diagnostic events’ this presentations analyses the techno-politics structuring human-water relationships in a complex and changing environment. It draws on 18 months’ field research with residents, private suppliers and government agencies, to follow these initiatives, and their attempted restructuring of water governance in two unauthorised colonies in the south of the city.
Matt Birkinshaw is a PhD researcher in Human Geography and Urban Studies at the London School of Economics. He studies urban infrastructure and governance in Indian cities with a focus on water supply in the south of Delhi. Matt has research experience supporting a number of projects, mainly working on South Asia and urban governance; and has professional experience with international and community development NGOs in various capacities.
Live stream link
Taming cities or repoliticising urban policy? | 19 August 2015
Prof. Adriana Allen
Cities can be understood as the product of multiple taming practices and strategies, ranging from the domestication of nature to secure key resources, to the disciplining of the relational and organizational structures and behaviours that shape everyday urban life. But cities are also profoundly untameable because they are a complex and often unintelligible web of policy-driven and everyday practices that produce them in fundamentally political ways.
In this presentation I navigate through this web exploring a repertoire of urban policies applied in two Latin American metropolises (Lima and Mexico) through a number of favorite taming narratives: from the containment of urban sprawl through zero growth pacts, service non-provision, and payment for ecosystem services to risk mitigation and land titling policies. The talk explores how these policy narratives and interventions try to act upon seemingly undesirable trajectories of socio-economic and environmental change though often perpetuating and reproducing what is deemed as ‘undesirable’ in the first place.
Adriana Allen is Professor of Development Planning and Urban Sustainability at The Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU), University College London, where she leads the Research Cluster on Environmental Justice, Urbanisation and Resilience (EJUR). Originally trained as a planner in Argentina, she specialised over the years in the fields of urban environmental planning and political ecology.
An illustrated lecture on “Creative Spaces in South Asian Cinema” | 30 June, 2015
Meenakshi Shedde explores how spaces are imaginatively used in South Asian cinema–literally and metaphorically, as well as lively, invisible spaces, and otherworldly spaces, with clips from hard hitting, reflective and nuanced contemporary films, including “Queen” and “Char..The No Man’s Island” (India), “Television” (Bangladesh), “28” (Sri Lanka) and “Highway” (Nepal).
About the speaker
Meenakshi Shedde is India and South Asia Consultant to the Berlin International Film Festival, and Consultant to the Dubai International Film Festival, based in Mumbai. She has been Curator/Consultant to film festivals worldwide, including the Toronto, Locarno, Busan, IFFI-Goa, Kerala and Mumbai film festivals. Winner of India’s National Award for Best Film Critic, she has been on the jury of 20 international film festivals, including Cannes, Berlin, Venice. She has been Script Consultant/Mentor to the Locarno Film Festival, Mumbai Mantra-Sundance Institute Screenwriters’ Lab, Clinik South Asian Filmmakers’ Lab-Kathmandu, and the NFDC Script Committee. She freelances for media worldwide, including Variety, Screen International, Cahiers du Cinema, Forbes Life India and Sunday Midday. Her India Indie Club, a video film review series of indie and regional language films, appears on CNN-IBN TV and ibnlive.in.com. A filmmaker, she has taught and lectured on cinema worldwide, and been Mentor to film critics at the Berlin and Melbourne Film Festival talent campuses. She has written for 12 books.
Economic Survey: Taking Stock of the Indian Economy | 22 June, 2015
Talk by Dr. Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Advisor, Government of India.
About Dr. Arvind Subramanian
Arvind Subramanian is on leave for public service from his position as the Dennis Weatherstone Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He currently serves as the Chief Economic Advisor to the Government of India. He has also served as a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. His book Eclipse: Living in the shadow of China’s Economic Dominance was published in September 2011, and he is co-author of Who Needs to Open the Capital Account? (2012). Foreign Policy magazine has named him as one of the world’s top 100 Global thinkers in 2011. He was assistant director in the Research Department of the International Monetary Fund. He served at the GATT (1988-92) during the Uruguay round of negotiations and taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (1999-2000) and at Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies (2008-10). He has written on growth, trade, development, institutions, aid, oil, India, Africa, and the World Trade Organisation. He has published widely in academic and other journals. He advises the Indian Government in different capacities, including as a member of the Finance Minister’s expert group on the G-20. His book India’s Turn: Understanding the Economic Transformation was published in 2008 by Oxford University Press. He obtained his undergraduate degree from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi; his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad, India; and his M.Phil and D.Phil from the University of Oxford, UK.
“It’s a Question of My Dignity”
Narratives of Immigrant Workers in Montreal – A Talk by Yumna Siddiqi 18 June, 2015 | 6 pmCanada has historically relied on immigrants to meet its labour needs, and this continues to be the case today. Though the Provincial and Federal Governments have established programs aimed at helping immigrants integrate and find jobs, they consistently experience higher rates of unemployment, are employed at lower levels than their educational qualifications and experience merit, and increasingly form a “precariat.” These imbalances are increasing as the government shifts towards temporary rather than permanent migration opportunities for workers. In collaboration with the Immigrant Workers Center in Montreal, Yumna Siddiqi interviewed a number of immigrant workers in 2011. When she began, Siddiqi had hoped to glean accounts of immigrant experiences and analyse these narratives. But the project took another dimension when the workers used her interview drafts to conduct their own interviews and produce podcasts. Yumna Siddiqi will speak about her project and discuss the significance of sharing stories in the context of community organising. Yumna Siddiqi is an Associate Professor of English at Middlebury College, where she teaches postcolonial literature and theory, diaspora, migration studies, and literary theory. Her book Anxieties of Empire and the Fiction of Intrigue (Columbia University Press, 2008) explores the contradictions of postcolonial modernity. Her current research is on cities, postcolonial migrants and literature. She volunteers and serves on the board of the Immigrant Workers Center in Montreal.
Urban-scale Energy Analysis of the Built Environment | 8 May 2015
Dr. Ruchi Choudhary, Associate Professor Energy Efficient Cities Initiative, Engineering Department, University of Cambridge The use of transient computer simulations (e.g. TRNSYS, EnergyPlus) for quantifying energy use of individual buildings is now standard in both research and industry. However, their use has been computationally prohibitive at larger scales, in the context of thousands or millions of buildings within districts and cities. As a result, city scale analyses of the built environment, even when bottom up, have to neglect or simplify dynamic and transient features of buildings. Yet, it is often that time varying features (concurrence of peak energy demand) and dynamically interacting components (diurnal heat storage) yield the most economically achievable energy efficiencies. Furthermore, tradeoffs with related energy systems – such as transportation – necessitates flexible spatial and time scales of analysis. We present a new city-scale energy simulation platform that offers a spatially differentiated, hourly analysis of energy consumed by the built environment. The City of Westminster, within central London, was chosen for the first pilot application of this simulation platform due to diversity of building types and high-energy demand. The lecture will highlight the challenges associated with its development, as well how it supports the assessment of synergistic energy systems in cities.
The origins of astronomy, the universe, and earth
Dr. Bryan Penprase gave a talk entitled ‘The origins of astronomy, the universe, and earth – and how astronomy influences modern culture and the frontiers of science’. It focused on archeoastronomy, the history of the early universe and its impact on the contemporary earth systems and the methods that we are using to explore this.
About the Speaker
Dr. Bryan Penprase is the Frank P. Brackett Professor of Astronomy at Pomona College.
Changing ideas and practices for making cities fair | 15 January, 2015
Ideally being born a man or a woman, black or white, Muslim or Christian, gay or straight, able or disabled, should make no difference to an individual or communities life choices, but in contemporary cities this is rarely if ever the case. Starting with questions about what an increasingly urban world implies for fairness at the national or global scale in the 21st century, the geographical reference points for this investigation of “fair cities” are both northern and southern urban places. This lecture traces the divergent and contradictory intellectual and practice based traditions that the notion of fairness in the city implies, including the work on urban equity (rights, opportunity, access, affordability); justice (electoral; procedural, distributional, enforcement and); redistribution (urban welfare and post conflict); the public good and the good city. The central point is to demonstrate that ideas and practices about fairness in the city vary over time and space and that while there is appropriate concern about rising exclusion and the withdrawal of social protection in some centres, typically older more affluent cities, from new urban nodes, largely in the global south, there are counter tendencies and new innovations that support the utopian aspiration that cities will provide a better future for the millions of new residents that will call them home over the decades to come.
About the speaker
Susan Parnell is an urban geographer in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and is on the Executive of the African Centre for Cities at UCT. She has held previous academic positions at Wits University and the University of London (SOAS) and visiting research fellowships from the LSE, Oxford University, Durham University, the British Academy and was a Leverhulme Visiting Professor at University College London in 2012. She is a widely published author of scholarly papers. Recent co-edited books include Climate at a City Scale, A Routledge Handbook of Cities of the Global South and Africa’s Urban Revolution. She serves on the Editorial Boards of many ISI ranked academic journals dealing with urban and development issues.Sue’s early academic research was in the area of urban historical geography and focussed on the rise of racial residential segregation and the impact of colonialism on urbanisation and town planning in Sub-Saharan Africa. Post democracy in South Africa much of her work focused on issues of urban transformation (local government, welfare and urban environmental justice. By its nature this research was not purely academic, but involved liasing with communities, local and national government and international donors. This mode of translational research now forms a core mode of work at the African Centre for Cities.). Recently Sue has returned to historical research, working with a number of other partners on explaining the planning deficits of African cities. Sue has a prominent position with UCT leadership structures, served on the boards of several local NGOs concerned with poverty alleviation, sustainability and gender equity, is a regular keynote speaker and is part of national and international advisory research panels.
Urban Legacies and Futures: India and China in Southeast Asia | 9 January, 2015
Urban Legacies and Futures: India and China in Southeast Asia will be a conversation between Brian McGrath, Dean of Parsons School of Constructed Environments in New York and Aromar Revi, Director of the India Institute of Human Settlement on the deeply entwined histories of India, China and Southeast Asia, and how these past links can inspire the design of sustainable urban futures. The conversation will be structured around four questions
Today new infrastructures, mass tourism and social media are relinking people to the architectural splendors and genius of the pre-colonial world system across Asia. How can these renewed connections overcome the uneven and unsustainable development of the more recent colonial and cold-war eras? Is it possible to recover a place for the architecture of the Asian city as a collective cultural legacy and future of the form and structure for India, China and Southeast Asia?
How have the architectural legacies of India and China impacted Southeast Asia? How have Chinese and Indian diasporas shaped cities in Southeast Asia? Examples from will be presented including Angkor, Pagan, Sukhothai, Ayutthaya; and Bangkok,
How did colonial and cold war eras create new boundaries and discontinuities between India, China and Southeast Asia? The recent history of political strife and unprecedented flooding in Bangkok since the 1997 financial crisis will be presented in parallel with a description of the transformation of the city’s central shopping district as well as the industrial periphery.
How will the new infrastructural logistics reconnect ASEAN with India and China?
Decolonizing Architecture | 25 November 2014
Join us as two of the founders of the DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency) share their work. DAAR is an architectural studio and art residency programme based in Beit Sahour, Palestine. DAAR’s work combines discourse, spatial intervention, collective learning, public meetings and legal challenges. DAAR’s practice is centred on one of the most difficult dilemmas of political practice: how to act both propositionally and critically within an environment in which the political force field is so dramatically distorted?
Jinnealogy: Archival Amnesia and Islamic Theology in Post-Partition Delhi | 20 Oct 2014
What is the relationship between theology and the shifting textures of urban life? In contemporary Delhi, stories are told about long-lived jinns as transmitters connecting human beings centuries apart in time. In petitions deposited to jinn-saints in a ruined medieval palace, medieval ideas of justice come together with modern bureaucratic techniques. Both stories and rituals attest to a theological newness intricately entwined with the transformations of the post-colonial city’s spiritual and physical landscapes. Jinns are present in the blank spaces of the map, where the plans of the bureaucracy, the verdicts of the judiciary, and the illegibility of the post-Partition Indian state coincide to attempt vast erasures of the city’s Muslim landscapes. Jinnealogy, the supercession of human chains of memory by the long-lives of the jinn, challenges the magical amnesia of the state by bringing up other temporalities, political theologies, and modes of witnessing against the empty, homogenous time of a bureaucratically constituted present.
About the Speaker
Anand Vivek Taneja is a historically informed anthropologist working on Islam in urban South Asia. His research and teaching interests include historical and contemporary Islam and inter-faith relations in South Asia, the anthropology of religion, everyday life and post-colonial urbanism, and Bombay cinema.
From Hierarchy to Heterarchy in the Information Age – The state and the Municipal Reforms Programme in Karnataka | 16 Oct 2014
The presentation uses the Municipal Reforms Programme in Karnataka, India to examine the role of the state in ‘heterarchies’, an emerging organisational and institutional arrangement, cited appropriate to address ‘wicked problems’ of development. In tracing the outcomes of two reforms, Helpline and Aasthi, the presentation demonstrates the criticality of the state’s centrality in ensuring envisaged outcomes.
About the Speaker
Dr. Anjali K. Mohan is a regional planner with a PhD in e-governance from IIIT Bengaluru. Her research areas include development, governance, public policy and information and communication technologies and development (ICTD).
CLIMATE CHANGE 2014
Mitigation of Climate Change – IPCC Assessment Report 5 | Thursday 1 May 2014
N H RAVINDRANATH
Professor, Center For Sustainable Technologies, Indian Institute Of Science, Bengaluru
IIHS Director Aromar Revi In Conversation with Professor N H Ravindranath on IPCC working group III Report on Mitigation of Climate Change
Prof. Ravindranath has focused his research, advocacy and publications on various dimensions of Climate Change -Mitigation Assessment, Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory in Land Use Sectors, Impact of Climate Change and Vulnerability Assessment in Forest and Agro-ecosystems, Adaptation and Climate Resilience, Forest Ecology, CDM and REDD+ Projects. He has also worked on Bioenergy, Biofuels and Biomass Production, Environmental/Ecosystem Services, and Citizen Science. Having published over 150 peer reviewed research papers and 8 books, he has also authored several IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Assessment Reports on Climate Change. Currently he is an author for Working Group 3 – Mitigation. He is also an author for the IPCC Synthesis Report – 2014
Professor Ravindranath is a member of Expert Committees of several national and international organizations.
IPCC Approved the Working Group 3 report on “Mitigation of Climate Change” during April 2014. This presentation will focus on the key findings of the report. Working group III contribution to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) assesses literature on the scientific, technological, environmental, economic and social aspects of mitigation of climate change. The report created tremendous interest among the policy community, media, NGO’s and corporate sector on the political and economic implications of various mitigation pathways and scenarios. Some questions to be addressed include: Can we stabilize climate change at < 20C? What are the mitigation opportunities to stabilize climate change in different sectors and regions? What are the costs and potentials of different mitigation opportunities in different sectors and regions? What policies and measures are required to promote mitigation actions? What are the implications of delayed actions?
The talk will specifically address the following issues:
Trends in flows and stocks of greenhouse gases and their drivers
Mitigation pathways and measures in the context of sustainable development
Long-term mitigation pathways to stabilize climate change.
Sectoral and cross-sectoral mitigation pathways and measures
Mitigation policies and institutions
Implications of delayed actions to stabilize climate change at < 20C.
What role for cities in the battle for sustainable development?
An IIHS public lecture by David Sattherthwaite, Senior Fellow, International Institute for Environment and Development | 27 February 2014
In his public lecture, London-based David Satthertwaite, Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development and one of the world’s leading urban experts, will talk on what is needed to make cities around the world meet sustainable development goals. He will outline key urban agendas that will allow cities to address risks locally, including critical areas such as urban poverty and universal coverage for basic services, disaster risk reduction, as well as climate change adaptation and resilience.
David will highlight the central role of local governments and of the representative organisations and federations of the urban poor, key learnings from innovators and what allowed them to be effective, and the need for an international financial system that gives far more attention to supporting locally driven sustainable development, with examples from cities around the world.