Dr Jayaraj  Sundaresan

Dr Jayaraj Sundaresan

LSE Fellow in Human Geography

Department of Geography and Environment

Office Hours
Tuesdays 14.00-15.30
Key Expertise
Urban Politics, Urban Commons, Planning Violations and illegalities

About me

I joined the Department as a Fellow in Human Geography in 2017.  I teach across Urban, Planning and Development domains in the UPD cluster. Courses I teach/have taught since I joined in 2017 in the Department include ‘Political Economy of Urbanisation’ (GY 311), ‘Introduction to Global Development (GY 202)’, ‘Politics of Housing’ (GY 441), ‘Social and Political aspects of Regional and Urban Planning’ (GY 448), ‘Urban Policy and Planning’ (GY 454), Dissertation (GY 350, GY 499).  

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). I am also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

My research seeks to understand the relationship between urban policy/planning/design practice and political cultures (Global North and South) organised around the following themes: Participations, Commons, Vernacular, and Decolonial. Primary field sites of my research interest are cities in India and London. Methodologically I am an ethnographer. 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 projects are the following: Urban Planning and Violations in India; Urban Commons and wetlands network in South India; Planning movements/activism in Bangalore and London; De-colonial approach and its implications on urban (planning) studies epistemology, pedagogy and policy practice in India.

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 (The 2015 Global Climate Legislation Study), University College London (Future proofing Indian Cities, 2013/14) and LSE Cities (Urban Age Mumbai - 2007 ).

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 also contributed to 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 CEPT, Ahmedabad)

I am a member of the Urbanisation (Sage) journal’s editorial collective. From 2010 - 2017, I was an active member of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) collective to develop a university dedicated to urban studies.

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

Selected publications