I joined the Department as a Fellow in Human Geography in 2017. My previous positions include Co-Director of the Urban Fellows Program (2016) at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) and Associate Fellow at the Development Planning Unit (DPU), University College London (2015). Over the years, I have been part of various research projects in LSE including at Grantham Research Institute (2014), University College London (DPU, 2013) and LSE Cities (Urban Age - 2007). I obtained my PhD in Regional and Urban Planning Studies from the LSE (Human Geography), MSc in City Design and Social Science (LSE-Cities), Masters in Urban Design and Planning (CEPT-Ahmedabad), and Bachelors in Architecture (Kerala University).
My research seeks to understand the relationship between urban policy/planning/design practice and political cultures (Global North and South). Primary field sites of my research interest are cities in India and London. Methodologically I am an ethnographer. Conceptually I currently explore the Vernacular and the De-colonial and its possibilities to reshape the urban studies epistemology and pedagogy.
In my PhD (Urban Planning in Vernacular governance, 2014, LSE) I examined planning violations in non-poor neighbourhoods of Bangalore and explained how the intricately networked vernacular politics fundamentally transform the ideal typical planning system. Drawing from that, I have written about urban commons, geographies of water/urban wetlands and ecological transformations, corruption, violations and illegalities, participation and urban activism. Connected to this I am interested in the geographies of rule beyond ‘ the state’ – in particular, the various vernacular formations of power, consequent practices of rule (democracy or otherwise) and its spatial and social outcomes.
My current research focuses on planning movements/activism in India and London.
Along with my research and teaching, for many years, I have worked with the local governments in London as a consultant on planning, regeneration and urban design policy and shaped more than 100 projects and contributed to many policy documents, including authoring the Tall Building evidence framework for the London Borough of Lewisham. In 2001, I co-founded an urban consulting and advocacy centre in India and ran it till 2004 before leaving as its Director. Among the many projects include the tenure security component (housing for about 1000 people) of the DfiD funded Cochin Urban Poverty Reduction Project implemented through community participation and the Arackal Palace and Environs area conservation program in North Kerala that won the UNESCO award. Prior to that I have worked many years on heritage conservation (Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Udaipur in Rajastan) and on producing morphological studies of about 150 Cities in India (partly published by the CEPT University, Ahmedabad)
I am a member of the Urbanisation (Sage) journal’s editorial collective. For the past 7 years, I have also been affiliated with the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) and have been part of various initiatives to develop it as a university dedicated to urban studies.