Solomon Benjamin is a Senior Advisor at IIHS. His recent research areas span across issues of the politics of land titling, small town urbanisation and the urbaness of trans-national trade and manufacturing connections between India and China. His earlier research looked at the politics of urban poverty and governance, chronic poverty, on the urban land transformation as connected to economic development, and on the conceptual and implementation experiences of shelter upgrading. His theoretical contribution revolves mostly around land issues, around the concept of ‘Occupancy Urbanism’ and more recently work on multiple logics of the urban as political spaces. Benjamin has been part of several international research projects: between 2012 to 2017, he was part of the the Global Suburbanisms: Governance, Land and Infrastructure in 21st Century. He was also a member of Surburbin (Subaltern Urbanisation in India) Project a CNRS French Funded project with the Urban Dynamics group of the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CHS), New Delhi. In early 2000, he coordinated a research group in Bangalore working in collaboration with the International Development Group of the University of Birmingham and with the Chronic Poverty Research Centre at the University of Manchester. He has been invited and presented at several national and international conferences including the 2014 Urban Age conference by the LSE, the 2015 Nehru Memorial Library Lecture and in 2002, as member of the opening panel of the World Bank’s inaugural annual symposium on Urban Poverty.
Solomon’s practice has involved a participatory environmental planning projects, housing project and programme evaluations, industrial cluster analysis. He has been associated with the Indian office of UNDP’s Human Development Index programme. His early project work was on the varied urban transformation of Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle area and in Colombo Sri Lanka, on the dynamics of transforming land, housing and economy.
Solomon Benjamin has a Ph D from MIT’s department of Urban Studies and Planning. Working with Prof(s) Lisa Peattie and Bish Sanyal at MIT and Prof William Doebele at Harvard, his doctoral work suggested the concept of ‘Neighbourhood as Factory’. Benjamin’s Masters also from MIT’s Department of Architecture’s Housing and Settlement looked at central Delhi’s Bhogal to trace the connection between incremental shelter evolution to that of a transforming economy at multiple scales. Until recently, Benjamin was at the IIT-Madras’s Humanities and Social Science department where he also coordinated IIT-M’s China Studies Center. Apart from teaching urban courses, he taught on Indian and East Asian Urbanism, with a particular focus on Hong Kong. Between 2006-2009, Benjamin was part of the faculty at the University of Toronto’s Political Science department teaching on city politics, returning to India as Associate Professor and Co-Chair, Urban Research and Policy Program, School of Social Sciences at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. In the late nineties, he was a visiting faculty at the National Law School, Bangalore.