Dr Jayaraj Sundaresan

Visiting Fellow

Department of Geography and Environment

Key Expertise
Urban Politics, Urban Commons, Planning Violations and illegalities

About me

I joined the Department in 2017 and teach across Urban, Planning, Environment and Development domains in the department. I am a comparative urbanist interested in Participations, Commons, Vernacular, and Decolonial. 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. Primary field sites of my research interest are India and London. Methodologically I am an ethnographer. I have written about urban commons, geographies of water/urban wetlands and ecological transformations, corruption, violations and illegalities, participation and urban activism. I am currently working on a monograph on Planning Violations in India.

Along with research and teaching, for many years, I worked with local governments in London as a consultant on planning, regeneration and urban design policy shaping projects and contributing to policy documents, which included 'Tall Buildings evidence Framework for London Borough of Lewisham'. Before coming to London, I used to run an urban consulting and advocacy centre in India that I co-founded: among the many projects I developed and implemented 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 (that won UNESCO award). I have worked on heritage conservation in India (Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Udaipur in Rajasthan) and also produced morphological studies of about 150 Cities in India (partly published by CEPT, Ahmedabad).

Over the years my research and teaching positions include Co-Director of the Urban Fellows Program at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Research Associate and Associate Fellow at the Development Planning Unit (DPU - UCLFuture proofing Indian Cities), Research Associate at LSE Grantham Research Institute (2015 Global Climate Legislation Study), and LSE Cities (Urban Age Mumbai).


PhD. Regional and Urban Planning Studies (LSE Geography) 
MSc. City Design and Social Science (LSE-Cities)
M.Arch. Urban Design and Planning (CEPT-Ahmedabad) 
B.Arch. Architecture  (CET-Kerala University)
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy UK

Courses (taught and/or teaching since 2017)

GY311 Political Economy Urbanisation 
GY474 Politics of Environment and Development (with Julia Corwin) 
GY100 Introduction to Geography (with colleagues). 
Gy202 Introduction to Global Development 
GY441 Politics of Housing 
GY448 Social and Political aspects of Regional and Urban Planning (with Alan Mace)
GY454 Urban Policy and Planning (with Nancy Holman)
GY350 UG Dissertation 
GY499 PG Dissertation 
GY500 PhD Seminars (with Austin Zeiderman)




2021. Sundaresan, J., (with Benjamin J)., Emotions, Planning and Coproduction - Distrust Anger and Fear at the participatory boundaries in Bangalore, Urbanisation 5(2), 140- 157  https://doi.org/10.1177/2455747120971978

2019a Sundaresan, J.,Decolonial reflections on urban pedagogy in India, Area, doi: 10.1111/AREA.12596 

2019b.Sundaresan, J., Urban Planning in Vernacular Governance: Land Use Planning and Violations in Bangalore: (28,000 words), Progress in Planning, Volume 127, January 2019, Pages 1-23 (Online in 2017) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.progress.2017.10.001

2016a. Revi, A., Satterthwaite,D., Mathur, O., Mehrotra, R., Goswami, A., Bhan, G., Sundaresan, J., Wankhade, K., Sami, N., Shetty, P., Editorial : Introducing Urbanisation, in Urbanisation (2016), 1(1) vii-xiii. Doi: 19.1177/2455747116646638

2015a. Mace, A; Holman, N; Paccoud, A and Sundaresan, J., Coordinating density; working through conviction, suspicion and pragmatism: (25,000 words), Progress in Planning, Volume 101, October, 1-38  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.progress.2014.05.001

2011a.Sundaresan, J., Planning as Commoning: Transformation of a Bangalore Lake. Economic and Political Weekly. December, 46 (50), 71-79

Under Review

Sundaresan, J., Lion in a jungle or Lion in a cage? Yojana beyond Planning and Powerlessness in Bangalore.  


2015b. Nachmany,M., Fankhauser,S., Davidová,J., Kingsmill,N., Landesman,T., Roppongi,H., Schleifer,P., Setzer,J., Sharman,A., Singleton,C,S., Sundaresan,J and Townshend,T.,  The Global Climate Legislation Study: A Review of Climate Change Policy and Legislation in 99 Countries. Fifth Edition (2015), Published by the Grantham Research Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science


2017. Sundaresan, J., Who is Corrupt and where lies corruption? Thinking with the Land use planning violations in Bangalore, in Tim Hall and Francesco Chiodelli (2017), The Illicit in the Governance and Development of Cities and Regions: Corrupt Places, Routledge

2016b. Sundaresan, J., Planners and others; Politics of Land use Planning in Bangalore, in Yasminah Beebeejuan (2016), The Participant City, Jovis.

2016c.Sundaresan, J., Allen, A., and Johnson, C., Reading urban, past, present and futures through blue infrastructure in India, in Bell, S., Allen, A., Hofmann, P. and Teh, T-H (2016) Urban Water Trajectories, Springer Future City Series.


2023, Sundaresan, J.,God in the Machine: Theorising politics of rule with Nagarjuna. At Political Futures, Annual International Conference of Political Studies Association, Liverpool, April 2023 (Forthcoming)

2022,Sundaresan, J and Malini Krishnankutty, M., Decolonising Local Planning: Language, articulation, representation Propositions from Kerala, India, RC21Conference, Athens, August 2022

2022, Sundaresan, J and Ram Bhatt.,  Bypassing the cloud? JAM, a new architecture of rule in India? RGS- IBG September 2022


2014a.Sundaresan, J. et.al., Future Proofing Indian Cities: Spatial and social analysis for sustainable development of Madurai, 2014, available from www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/dpu

2014b.Sundaresan, J. et.al., A report on the Action Planning Process : Towards a sustainable development of the blue-green infrastructure in Madurai, 2014, available from www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/dpu and Future proofing Indian cities: Final urban diagnostic for Madurai - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


2023, 2022, 2021., “Yours is not to reason why” – Exhibition of Photographs by Sudeesh Yezhuvath on Auschwitz. Co-curated with Bangalore based Artist Murali Cheeroth, Lalitha Kala Academy Gallery, Kochi, Kerala, (2021); Chitrakala Parishat Bangalore Karnataka (2022), International Film Festival Venue, Ottapalam (2022), CITU National Congress Bangalore. (2023)

2020. “Behind the Tin Sheets” Film Screening and discussion - Director Ekta Mittal in conversation with Prof Sunil Kumar, (LSE Social Policy) and Prof  Laura Bear (LSE Anthropology), LSE Festival 2020


2008. Rode, P; Wagner, J; Chandra, R, Brown, R and Sundaresan, J., Integrated City Making: Governance Planning and transport, Urban-Age working paper series; LSE Cities, 2008


2013.Sundaresan, J., Evidence based document to support LDF Core Strategy policy on tall buildings in Lewisham, 2013, London Borough of Lewisham, www.lewisham.gov.uk


2016 d.Sundaresan, J and Arkali, A., Communities and the making of Urban Commons: Learning from the wetlands activism in Bangalore, in Urban Inclusion, integrated case development archive, published by Indian Institute for Human Settlements, 2016, www.cases.iihs.co.in

2015c. Nachmany, M., Fankhauser,S., Davidová,J., Kingsmill,N., Landesman,T., Roppongi,H., Schleifer,P., Setzer,J., Sharman,A., Singleton,C,S., Sundaresan,J and Townshend,T.,  The Global Climate Legislation Study: A Review of Climate Change Policy and Legislation in 99 Countries. Grantham Research Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science, 2015, http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/publication/2015-climate-legislation-study/


2020.Sundaresan,J.To reimagine Trafalgar Square is to redesign the curriculum, LSE Higher Education Blog, https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/highereducation/2020/07/16/1563/

2018a.Sundaresan, J., The university ‘in the world’ – some reflections beyond convenient abstractions, LSE, TLC blog 2018. https://lsepgcertcitl.wordpress.com/2018/05/10/the-university-in-the-world-some-reflections-beyond-convenient-abstractions/

2018b.Sundaresan, J., Redesigning Trafalgar Square: Reflections on postcoloniality, learner identity and pedagogy, LSE TLC blog, 2018. https://lsepgcertcitl.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/redesigning-trafalgar-square-reflections-on-postcoloniality-learner-identity-and-pedagogy/

2014c. Sundaresan, J., Who plans, who lives? Urban Planning lessons from Bangalore, LSE India Blog, Part 1 and 2, June 2014, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/southasia/2014/06/11/who-plans-and-who-lives-urban-planning-lessons-from-bangalore-part-two/

2012. Sundaresan, J., Urban commons and public interest coalitions: learning from the restoration of Bangalore’s lakes, LSE India Blog, 2012, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/southasia/2012/08/20/urban-commons-and-public-interest-coalitions-learning-from-the-restoration-of-bangalores-lakes/


2015d. On planning, violations and the limits of informality,interviewed by Dr. Tucker Jordan (2015): available from https://favelissues.com/2015/11/30/on-planning-violations-and-the-limits-of-informality-an-interview-with-jayaraj-sundaresan/


2001.Sundaresan, J., The vanishing Tharavads of Kerala: The Hindu ‘Folio’ on Cities, August 2001
2000.Sundaresan, J., Recognizing Urban Design for better cities: Indian Architect and Builder, Jasubhai Media publications, Mumbai, India, November 2000


2022-2023 – Advisor on first Participatory Planning Process for Chittur-Thathamangalam Municipality , Kerala, India.

2015- Advisor on Planning Process and Procurement of Master Plan Consultants for Bangalore Development Authority, Bangalore, India.

2003 - Advisor on Public Land Management to Mayor of Kochi, Kerala, India

Expertise Details

Comparative Urbanism and Global South; Indian Cities; Urban Politics (policy/planning/design); Urban Commons; Planning Violations and illegalities; Corruption; Planning Power; Urban Nature; Urban Activism; Vernacular Governance; Decolonization