Urban ARC 2017 | The City in Transition

IIHS Annual Research Conference, 18~20 Jan, 2017

According to the World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision, Highlights, nearly 90 percent of growth in the global urban population by 2050 is expected to be concentrated in Asia and Africa: in India alone, half of all Indians may live in urban areas by 2050. This global urban transition will have deep economic, political, social, cultural and ecological impacts. It is, therefore, imperative to build a better understanding of what these transitions and related impacts mean in the context of countries in the Global South.


Focusing on the theme of The City in Transition, the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) will be hosting the first edition of its annual research conference, Urban ARC, in January 2017 to begin exploring some of these questions. Building on IIHS’ goals of fostering research and innovation around challenges and opportunities of India’s urban transition, Urban ARC 2017 will be broadly organised around themes of transition, transformation and change, focusing on the urban context in the Global South more broadly and Indian and South Asian urbanisation in particular.


Urban ARC 2017 will host researchers from across the world working on various aspects and facets of transition in urban spaces, geographies, built forms, economies, ecologies, societies, politics, and cultures. It will have a strong interdisciplinary focus, encouraging researchers to engage with multiple perspectives and viewpoints while using the theme of ‘transitions’ as a lens to critically examine urbanisation and related questions.


Urban ARC 2017 will be broadly organised around the theme ‘The City in Transition’. The conference will showcase new and original research which attempts to reconceptualise the urban in flux, engaging with particular themes or sectors such as urban sustainability, equitable economic development, land, infrastructure and services, or housing. The presentations will engage with new urban forms and modes of urban governance and future imaginations of the urban.


Urban ARC 2017 aims to push the frontiers of urban research originating from the Global South and will situate discussions on transition under a larger framework of knowledge creation from the South. In particular, the presentations will examine methods of research particularly useful for southern contexts – for example, activism as research, or community-generated data.


Each presentation has been attached to one of the seven panels mentioned below.

  • Building the City: Examining Intersections of Governance and Growth
  • The City and its Politics: Mirrored Transitions
  • Relating Migration to Future and Current Urbanisation
  • Towards a Southern Practice
  • A City in Flux: Examining Transition in Bengaluru
  • The ‘Periphery’ and the Future of Urbanisation
  • Risk Creation in Urban Areas

In addition to the 7 panels the conference will host two curated roundtables featuring eminent global scholars working in the areas of the urban. These curated engagements will feature work addressing issues of methodology and pedagogy in and from the Global South.


Dates and Procedures:

Urban ARC 2017 will take place from 18 to 20 January, 2017.


Urban ARC 2017 will be held at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements’ Bengaluru City Campus (BCC), 2nd Main Road, Sadashivanagar, Bengaluru – 560 080.


Additional Events:
In addition to the panel presentations, Urban ARC 2017 will also be hosting a set of public events including book reviews, city walks, and art exhibitions. More details about these events will be made available in due time.


All copyright for original work will lie with the author(s). IIHS will use material only with prior permission.

Building the City: Examining Intersections of Governance and Growth | Chairs – Shriya Anand and Neha Sami

Large infrastructure development, especially transport infrastructure, has had a close relationship with how cities and urban regions grow and develop. Over the last couple of decades the Indian national government has also begun to develop specific types of industrial and economic development policies that have led to the emergence of different urban forms. These include the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), National Investment and Manufacturing Zones (NIMZs), and new towns in and around existing urban regions that focus on specific types of industrial and economic activities (Jenkins et al., 2014; Kennedy, 2014). The most recent, and perhaps one of the most ambitious strategies is the push to develop industrial corridors between major Indian cities, which the Indian national government has embraced as a key development strategy. This follows earlier government policies like the development of the Golden Quadrilateral and the North-South and East-West corridors that emphasised building transportation infrastructure (chiefly highways) that connected the four major Indian metros (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai). The development of these industrial corridors has multiple stated goals, which include improving infrastructure, enabling exports, generating employment, and linking fast-growing regions to relatively poorer regions.


At the same time, transportation networks (both road and rail) have played an important role in the emerging nature and geography of urbanisation in India and elsewhere – be it characterised as ‘subaltern’ (Denis et al., 2012),  ‘corridor urbanism’ (Nair, 2015), or ‘highway urbanisation’ (Balakrishnan, 2013). While these trends are becoming increasingly prevalent in the contemporary Indian context, these are not new. There are several historical precedents for infrastructure and industry led development including the steel towns in India, the Tokyo-Osaka corridor in Japan, and the Route 128 corridor near Boston. Research has also focused on the re-shaping of regional geographies around these transport corridors emphasising the consolidation and conversion of land for urban use, a seizing of the state imagination by the idea of larger, super-connected urban regions, as well as the transitions taking place in the large villages and small towns along highways. The interstitial nature of these emerging settlements brings out particular governance disjunctures – for example, a census town along a national highway that is governed by a village panchayat but has a highly urbanised economy connected to the nearby urban agglomeration, a new smart city being planned along the DMIC with an SPV for local government, and the increasing role of non-state actors in the planning and development of large development projects (Anand and Sami, 2016; Datta, 2015; Sood, 2015; Chattaraj, 2010).


This panel invites submissions that explore the governance arrangements in these transitory spaces, in order to better understand how urbanisation that occurs along a transport network is being managed and governed. We are interested especially in the politics of these processes and the governance mechanisms that make these developments possible, as well as historical narratives of the notion of infrastructure-led urbanisation. While we are especially interested in the South Asian context, we also invite papers that engage with these and similar issues in the context of cities in the global south more broadly.


Anand, S. & Sami, N. 2016. Scaling Up, Scaling Down: State Rescaling along the Delhi–Mumbai Industrial Corridor. Economic & Political Weekly, 51 (17) (51)

Balakrishnan, S. S. 2013. Land Conflicts and Cooperatives along Pune’s Highways: Managing India’s Agrarian to Urban Transition. Doctor of Philospohy, Harvard University.

Chattaraj, D. 2010. Roadscapes: everyday life along the rural-urban continuum in 21st century India. Doctor of Philosophy, Yale University.

Datta, A. 2015. A 100 smart cities, a 100 utopias. Dialogues in Human Geography, 5 (1) (49-53)

Denis, E., Mukhopadhyay, P. & Zerah, M. H. 2012. Subaltern Urbanisation in India. Economic and Political Weekly, 47 (30)

Jenkins, R., Kennedy, L. & Mukhopadhyay, P. 2014. Power, Policy, and Protest: The Politics of India’s Special Economic Zones, Oxford University Press.

Kennedy, L. 2014. The Politics of Economic Restructuring in India: Economic Governance and State Spatial Rescaling, Routledge.

Nair, J. 2015. Indian urbanism and the terrain of the law. Economic & Political Weekly, 50 (36) (54-63)

Sood, A. 2015. Industrial townships and the policy facilitation of corporate urbanisation in India. Urban Studies,



The City and its Politics: Mirrored Transitions | Chair – Srinivas Lankala

The urban transformation underway in India has accompanied a series of ‘silent revolutions’ within Indian social and political life. The link between the two is not always apparent, given the aspirational imagination of the urban as global, while the political is forced into a national discursive framework. In this prefiguration, the political is made visible only as the exceptional other of the urban, arriving from the hinterland to periodically interrupt otherwise rationally planned and managed cityscapes with its disruptive interventions. The city is understood as always already cosmopolitan in its self-imagination and its aspiration, while the political is imagined as a manifestation of primordial loyalties and nativist identities.


This panel sees the city as primarily a political institution and invites scholars to present work at the intersection of the urban and the political. The panel is structured as a series of explorations of the relationships between the Indian city and its politics: it seeks papers and presentations that trace the presence and influence of political discourse in the urban environment, and tease out the role of the city within the larger context of social and political movements.


Some of the possible areas of interest to this panel include:

  • The tension between the emerging discourses of smart, global and world-class cities and infrastructure, the tensions between the city’s ostensible publics and its actual politics, and the struggles over identity and representational justice;
  • The reconfiguration of the city through the manifestation of political organizations and movements, such as the physical presence of street protests, political rallies, graffiti and advertising;
  • The politics of urban life itself: discourses and movements of and against urban migration, naming and renaming in and of cities, the physical reorganization of the built environment by the politics of language, religion, caste, race and region;
  • The use of the city’s space by political movements and parties and the imagination of the city as the locus of legislative power;
  • The city as a site of new publics and emerging politics: campus activism, civic movements, gender justice and sexuality rights campaigns, the intersection of urban trades unions and new workers’ movements;
  • The city as a location of mass-mediated politics: the relationship between journalism, mass media, popular cultural discourses and the urban.


The panel invites papers from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives, including urban studies, media and cultural studies, political theory, sociology and anthropology. It also invites papers demonstrating a range of theoretical and methodological approaches, from urban ethnographies, textual and discourse analyses and historiography, to critical and theoretical engagements with the questions of the urban and the political. The panel does not seek to define politics or the urban in any singular way, but is primarily structured around the conceptual relationship between the two, and the ways in which this relationship informs and manifests itself in the varied questions of urban governance, policy, social justice, cultural narratives and discursive imaginations. The panel also welcomes submissions that address this relationship in other forms, such as films, visual art and design, games, creative literature and sequential art.



Relating Migration to Future and Current Urbanization | Chair – Amir Bazaz

Migration serves a variety of purposes for those who migrate, such as – risk spreading through livelihood diversification, lower exposure to place-based events such as droughts or floods,  and coping with existing shocks and stresses (Tacoli 2009). Particularly in the climate change discourse, it is highlighted that increased environmental stress (exacerbated by anthropogenic climate change) will dramatically increase the number of people migrating, thereby potentially destabilizing regional and global security (Foresight 2011; Gemenne et al., 2014). Recent theorizing and evidence has revealed a more complex and dynamic picture of what motivates people to migrate and  challenges this mainstream view (Black, W Neil Adger, et al. 2011; Bardsley & Hugo 2010; Oliver-Smith, 2009).


Early findings from regional research in Africa and Asia reveal that dominant policy considers migration as a “problem”, a failure to adapt in your original location, which needs to be addressed by filling a gap in public service provision, state-funded infrastructure projects, or social security measures. This orthodoxy is found in policy approaches and development initiatives which emphasize that people remain in situ, be immobile (Ethiopia’s villagization programmes that promote sedentary lifestyles or India’s aim to bring urban services to villages through the Rurban Mission) rather than explore mobility as a potential avenue for enhancing well-being (Deshingkar 2006). On the other hand, when migration is touted as an adaptation strategy (Ober 2014; Upadhyay & Mohan 2014) it may fail to consider how migration exposes people to new vulnerabilities in their transient and final destinations, which can range from small towns to big cities.

Several binaries relating to migration are found embedded in dominant discourses, often based on the assumption that migration is permanent –

  1. migration is a problem for the state but a last option for those who exercise it;
  2. migration is a response to globally or regionally-driven environmental and/or economic stressors but at the same time it enables the urban informal economy;
  3. migration is inevitable as humans are an urban species or it is a transient trend that will be balanced by out-migration over a longer time frame.

In practice, we find that different types of migration are pursued besides permanent migration, including commuting, short-term migration, semi-permanent migration and seasonal or cyclical migration. Migration does not unfold as a straightforward binary process, but is quite complex in its social, economic and spatial characteristics, with highly differentiated impacts across various scales of households, neighbourhoods, economic sectors as well as within cities. It also results from a complex interplay of social, political, and demographic factors, among which the role of climate change is not easily attributable (Black, W. Neil Adger, et al. 2011; Dasgupta et al. 2014). Satterthwaite and Tacoli (2002) consider migration (seasonal or permanent) an integral livelihood strategy, engaged in by the rural poor, which allow insights into the rural-urban continuum.

Empirical findings challenge the binary view of migration, which has tended to dominate research agendas, as well as policy approaches. Chandrasekhar and Sharma (2014) study census data to present results from across India, stating that the proportion of rural male migrants reporting employment as a reason for migration decreased from 47.7% in 1993-94, to 28.6% in 2007-08. They also identify that 63% of migration is occurring between rural areas while rural to urban migration is much lower at 19%. Abbas and Varma (2014) find that in drought-prone states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra, people tend to migrate seasonally to work in brickmaking, construction, tile factories and crop cutting activities.

The rural component of SDG research within ASSAR has identified studies which have tried to test whether climate change or climate variability are push factors for migration. These include Dallman and Millock (2013), who have established drought frequency as a push factor on inter-state migration; and Kumar and Vishwanathan (2013), who note that temperature and rainfall significantly drive temporary migration. Others have tried to approach migration from a well-being lens, trying to understand its dynamism at source and destination (Chandrasekhar & Sharma 2014; Deshingkar 2004).

Agreeably, policy response to migration will find it hard to take into account different forms of migration, underpinning local drivers of migration, partial migration and non-migration, as well as their potential urban, regional and global impacts. This panel is interested in the ways that migration is framed and related, from a research and policy perspective, in the context of cities of the Global South. In particular, we seek panelists to share the basis for tackling empirical work which aims to substantiate how migration is unfolding in dynamic environmental and structural contexts, including climate change. The level of inquiry can be household or community level, across cities of the Global South. It could also be a cross-city comparison, attempting to unearth the drivers and consequences of different trends. We are hoping to identify innovative research of this nature being conducted in the country, in order to establish a regional, or national narrative. From a climate change perspective, we find that well-being, livelihood strategies, vulnerability reduction and peripheral locations dominate the research landscape on migration in the urban context. Are their additional relational perspectives, and additional frames of enquiry on migration being pursued, which can inform policy development for climate adaptation, as well as urban development in the Global South?

Bardsley, D.K. & Hugo, G.J., 2010. Migration and climate change: Examining thresholds of change to guide effective adaptation decision-making. Population and Environment, 32(2), pp.238–262.

Black, R., Adger, W.N., et al., 2011. Migration and global environmental change. , pp.10–11. Available at: http://centaur.reading.ac.uk/27073/.

Black, R., Adger, W.N., et al., 2011. The effect of environmental change on human migration. Global Environmental Change, 21, pp.S3–S11. Available at: http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0959378011001531.

Chandrasekhar, S. & Sharma, A., 2014. Urbanization and Spatial Patterns of Internal Migration in India. , (016), p.39. Available at: http://www.igidr.ac.in/pdf/publication/WP-2014-016.pdf.

Dasgupta, P. et al., 2014. Rural areas. In C. B. Field et al., eds. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Dasgupta, P. et al., Rural areas. In C. B. Field et al., eds. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II t. Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press, pp. 613–657.

Deshingkar, P., 2006. Internal migration, poverty and development in Asia: Including the excluded. IDS Bulletin, 37(3), pp.88–100.

Deshingkar, P., 2004. Understanding the implications of migration for pro-poor agricultural growth. DAC POVNET Agriculture Task Group Meeting,, (June), pp.17–18. Available at:

Foresight, 2011. Migration and Global Environmental Change Future Challenges and Opportunities, London.

Gemenne, F., Barnett, J., Adger, W.N. et al., 2014. Climate and security: evidence, emerging risks, and a new agenda. Climatic Change (2014) 123: 1. doi:10.1007/s10584-014-1074-7Gray and Mueller, 2012

Ober, K., 2014. How the IPCC views migration. TransRe Fact Sheet, (1), pp.2012–2015.

Oliver-Smith, Anthony (2009). Sea level rise and the vulnerability of coastal peoples: responding to the local challenges of global climate change in the 21st century. UNU-EHS InterSecTions. UNU- EHS

Satterthwaite, D., & Tacoli, C. (2002). Seeking an understanding of poverty that recognizes rural-urban differences and rural-urban linkages. Urban Livelihoods: A People Centered Approach to Reducing Poverty, 52-70.

Tacoli, C., 2009. Crisis or adaptation? Migration and climate change in a context of high mobility. Environment and Urbanization, 21(2), pp.513–525.

Upadhyay, H. & Mohan, D., 2014. Migrating To Adapt? Contesting Dominant Narratives of Migration and Climate Change,



Towards a Southern Practice | Chair – Gautam Bhan

Over the last decade, the work of many scholars around the world has suggested the need of what can loosely be termed a “southern urban theory.” Such theory has argued that place matters in shaping geographies of theory as well as those of authoritative knowledge. A series of new conceptual interventions and emphases has been built, be it a deeper understanding of urban informality, notions of alternative and multiple modernities, challenges to core assumptions of urban agglomeration, and ideas of peripheral urbanization. These have come a time of a shared ecological and environmental challenge to all urbanization – north or south – that presents its own provocations to re-think the canons of urbanization.


This panel is located in this moment of theoretical re-formulation but also seeks to push it further in a particular direction. From “here” in the global south, what does this new body of thought mean for modes of practice? If southern urban theory has indicated that our diagnosis of the urban condition has been particular, then the work of this new theory must be not only to suggest a different set of diagnoses but also lessons for new forms of practice. What then are emerging modes of practice that follow from new theoretical frameworks? To take just one example: if informality is a dominant mode of urbanization, then what does that mean for an object called “planning” in the city of the south? What must “planners” do in a city composed of intertwined layers of spatial, economic and legal informality?


By modes of practice, we are not searching for “best practices” but instead a closer relation between new epistemologies and new modes of action and intervention. How should learn from existing modes of practice – what a range of actors already do to live, survive and thrive in the city – to inform new forms of action and intervention that can effectively and equitably respond to urban challenges? This panel seeks to begin a conversation that links southern urban theory to modes of practice, thereby insisting that a new theoretical paradigm must also challenge the relationship between theory and practice as it challenges cannons and concepts.



A City in Flux: Examining Transition in Bengaluru | Chair – Jayaraj Sundaresan

Bengaluru, the site of Urban ARC 2017, has also played host to many of the urban transformations which will be discussed at the conference. Post-independence, the growth of Bengaluru from a relatively small town to one of India’s largest cities has led to significant transformations in land use, land markets, built form, ecosystems, resource use, demographics, industry, and economy. The scale and speed of these transformations has also provided challenges for the city’s administration and planning. As a result, the physical, economic, and social changes in Bengaluru have been accompanied and influenced by multiple experiments in planning and governance, many of which became loci of political contestations.


It can be argued that while transformations in Bengaluru have been largely continuous post-independence, they have also occurred in conjunction with larger cycles of change at regional, state, national, and international levels, while also creating impacts at these levels. The industrial and economic policies of pre-liberalisation India allowed for public investments to be sited in the city, allowing it to emerge as a hub of engineering, technology, and manufacturing. Conversely, the opening of the Indian economy in the mid-1980s helped place Bengaluru within larger international networks of capital and business, culminating in the establishment of its identity as a premier site for Information Technology and Outsourcing. More recently, it has begun to build a reputation as a hub for start-ups and technology-based entrepreneurship, playing a key part in the national and international narratives of disruptive technology and internet-based businesses.


These industrial and economic transformations have had significant impacts upon the physical, environmental, and social profiles of the city. Bengaluru’s population has grown from a little less than a million in 1951 to almost 10 million today. There have been large increases in demand for resources like land and water, infrastructure such as roads and metro rail, and specific forms of real estate such as business parks. The emergence of certain aspirational lifestyles has led to the development of spaces such as malls, multiplexes, and high-end restaurants. These in turn have shifted the popular narratives and imaginations of the city from that of a small town with secluded neighbourhoods to that of a world-class city and a key player in national and international markets. At the same time, the rapid changes in Bengaluru have also led to a narrative of nostalgia for a city lost, with many bemoaning the loss of open spaces, greenery, and water bodies.


The loss of greenery and water bodies is linked to a larger cycle of transformation in resource and ecological systems that has accompanied the changes outlined above. The growth of the city over the decades has placed immense pressure on land, water, and ecosystems. While large tree-planting drives post-independence ensured a significant amount of green cover for the city, recent years have seen an increase in tree-felling due to demand for road infrastructure. Solid waste has become a matter of importance, with landfills polluting surrounding settlements. An even bigger impact can be seen on the city’s lakes and tanks. Once home to over 800 tanks, it is estimated that only 180-200 tanks still survive today, with many of the others being drained and converted to real estate. The city’s natural rainwater channels (the rajakaluves or King’s Canals) have been occupied and built over, leading to frequent episodes of flooding. Social and political changes have also had their impact upon traditional institutions and social structures which used to manage water in the city, with many of the traditional ecological and agrarian commons eroding over time. Most importantly, a project begun in the 1970s allowed water to be pumped to Bengaluru from the Kaveri river and it is now a key actor in the Kaveri basin, a site of deep riparian conflicts.


All these changes in turn have influenced and been influenced by the systems of governance that administer and plan for Bengaluru. As the capital city of Karnataka, it is the physical home of state government apart from its own municipal government. The systems of governance in the city have become increasingly complex over time, characterised by deep fragmentations. Apart from the city municipal corporation, there are a large number of parastatals under the direct control of the state government, operating in key sectors including city planning, transportation, water supply, and electricity. Multiple actors occupy overlapping jurisdictions and operate at various scales of governance. At the same time, there is active participation in issues from non-governmental actors including private bodies, NGOs, and community-based organisations. Experiments in governance have led to the formation of several task forces headed by prominent non-governmental actors. A major role in the city’s governance is played by the courts including the Karnataka High Court and more recently, the National Green Tribunal. Each of these actors have shaped and transformed the narrative of Bengaluru over time.


This panel invites submissions which explore the transformations and transitions that have taken place in Bengaluru over time, particularly post-independence and post-liberalisation. We are interested particularly in the changes which have taken place to the city’s social and political institutions, particularly with respect to issues of resources and ecosystems. At the same time, we encourage submissions to critically examine popular narratives of the city’s social, economic, and political histories as well as the common imaginations of Bengaluru in its various identities as India’s IT Capital, Garden City, world-class city, city of lakes and parks and so on. While we are interested in research which is sited specifically in Bengaluru, we also invite papers which examine Bengaluru within larger geographical, political, and economic contexts, such as within the Kaveri basin or within Karnataka’s economy.



The ‘Periphery’ and the Future of Urbanisation | Chair – Sudeshna Mitra

Since liberalization, downtown rewrites, periurban townships and IT sub- cities are urban imageries frequently referenced in policy and business discourses regarding India’s urban transition. These imageries fit rather easily into a linear discourse of modernization of the Indian economy and a shift from an agrarian national economy to an increasingly urbanized one, connected to global imaginations of spatial transformation and capital flow. However, the unevenness of geographies and governance associated with India’s urban transformation belies this linear imagination. Even metropolitan centers reveal deep spatial and infrastructural fragmentation. Second and third tier cities with distinct land and economic transition dynamics form a significant proportion of urban growth and an additional 80- 140 million people are estimated to be in urbanising settlements, not yet classified as ‘urban’. In all, nearly 50% of India’s billion- plus population are in settlements, on the cusp of being declared as ‘urban’ (IIHS, 2011). Urban transitions extend beyond expanding cores, and include shifts across urban- rural settlements. 14% of India’s population (Census of India 2011) are located in large and very large villages. Also, emblematic economic infrastructure projects, such as Special Economic Zones, infrastructure corridors and special investment regions, being promoted in rural regions, targeting external investors and often pan- regional in spread are reshaping urbanization and industrialization patterns.


Urban ‘peripheries’, as sites of social, economic and political transitions are therefore not just linked to delineated urban cores and restricted to edges of existing urban settlements, but also a conceptual lens to analyze new ‘edges’ of urbanity- rurality associated with emergent patterns of urbanization and industrialization in rural locations. In line with theorisations regarding geographies of global modernity posited in world systems theory and dependency theory, the ‘periphery’ also references relational geographies of development associated with the urban and the rural, given current imperatives for urbanization and industrialization.


Moreover, ‘peripheries’ offer an important conceptual tool for displacing, questioning, expanding and ‘othering’ historically linear and territorially isolated analysis and theories of ‘D’evelopment. Conceptual frames based on the idea of ‘peripheries’ have allowed explorations of simultaneous processes of development and underdevelopment, accumulation and dispossession, conflict and collaboration. They have helped situate the ‘core’ into larger systemic frames of ecology, sustainability and crises. They have fostered dissent, critique and alternate imaginations of transformational trajectories. They have questioned the hegemonic boundaries of theory- building and allowed a place for ‘method’ to lead theory and for the marginal to become the foreground of research and analysis.


This panel invites papers on emergent urban futures based on empirical experiences of ‘peripheries’ in India and other non- core locations. Papers may speak to the ‘periphery’ (1) as a site, (2) as a conceptual tool to unpack the edges of urbanity- rurality, and (3) as a positionality to question trajectories of spatial, social and economic transitions associated with a future that will be significantly urban. Papers that engage with theory- building, comparative research and frameworks privileging ‘method’ as theory are especially encouraged.


Interrogating and theorizing, using the ‘periphery’ as a frame to unpack urban futures, may include, but are not be restricted to:

  1. Exploring theoretical categories and conversations based on empirical discussions of periurban dynamics
  2. Developing conceptual frames to unpack urbanization trajectories using empirical dynamics emerging in the ‘periphery’
  3. Conceptually exploring and expanding the scope and content of the term ‘periphery’ in light of emergent dynamics of urbanization and industrialization
  4. Developing conceptual frames to understand the relational geographies of current urbanization patterns
  5. Engaging with paradigms embedded in urban policies, including ‘Smart Cities’, AMRUT, HRIDAY, Make in India, etc., using the ‘periphery’ as a site for empirical analysis or as a conceptual tool to explore relational geographies of urbanization



Risk Creation in Urban Areas | Chair – Garima Jain

Historically, people have inhabited riverbanks, highlands and ports as they offered socio-political and economic advantages.  However, these locations have been inhabited without enough information about the risks that these locations pose in the form of ecological and natural hazards such as flooding, cyclones, storm surges and earthquakes. This holds greater significance now due to the perceived impacts of climate change that are making these hazards more frequent and intense (IPCC, 2014). It is here that planning and planning permissions play a key role—to understand the anticipated needs in the long-term and regulate for a safe and flourishing future for cities and its citizens. However, a series of recent disasters across the country raise the question whether climate and hazard risk reduction considerations may be incorporated effectively within planning and development practices.


India will be predominantly urban by 2030 (World Urbanization Prospects, 2014) and is now shifting its focus from being an agrarian society to largely an urban centric economy with the new national policies on cities (e.g. Smart City Scheme, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, etc.). But at the same time, studies show, that about 75 per cent of the Indian population is exposed to high to medium hazards, of which nearly 30 per cent lives in the 468 cities with population more than 100, 000 (Jain, Jigyasu et al. 2015). Increasing urbanisation is leading to pressures on physical and social infrastructures and their disparities of access are increasing vulnerabilities, particularly among the poor and powerless. Land is becoming increasingly contested with growing populations and their concentrations in few cities. In this context of concentrations of people and economy in cities, and growing risks, it is pertinent for the planning agencies to understand ways in which future risk creation could be averted, and current risks are reduced for the most equitable and sustainable outcome.


United Nations has recently laid out the new 2030 agenda for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which brings together various dimensions of development together. One of the key objective is to end extreme poverty in all its forms by actions including: “By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance” followed by “By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters”. It is the relationship of poverty, access to land resources and risk resilience that inspires this call for research papers. This panel invites submissions that interrogate these relationships in ways that may include (but need not be limited to):

  1. Explore the role of land ownership in planning decisions for risk reduction
  2. Historical studies of geographies and changes in hazard impact outcomes
  3. Engaging with the policy landscape of India and questioning their implications on risk creation
18 JANUARY 2017 
8:30 – 9:00Registration
9:00 – 11:00Opening Panel – Research methods: How to do research in the context of the global south
11:00 – 11:15Break
11:15 – 1:15Panel 1Building the city: Examining intersections of governance and growth
Chair/DiscussantDr. Neha Sami
Indian Institute for Human Settlements
Chair/DiscussantMs. Shriya Anand
Indian Institute for Human Settlements
Paper 1Ms. Salwa Y Salman
The American University in Cairo
Egypt’s desert paradoxes, promises, and possibilities: A study of capital formations along Cairo-Alexandria highway
Paper 2Ms. Meenakshi Sinha
Kings India Institute, Kings College London
Role of the state in facilitating institutionalisation of large-scale urban development projects
Paper 3Dr. Ashima Sood
NALSAR University of Law
Exception as rule? Industrial area local authority in Hyderabad
Paper 4Ms. Keerthi Purushothaman
Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
On the intersection between the religious arm of the state and its infrastructural focus
Paper 5Mr. Amogh Arakali and Ms. Jyothi Koduganti
Indian Institute for Human Settlements
Large infrastructure projects in Asia: The emergence of corridors
1:15 – 2:15Lunch
2:15 – 4:15Panel 2Relating migration to current and future urbanization
Chair/DiscussantDr. Amir Bazaz
Indian Institute for Human Settlements
Paper 1Ms. Amruta P Khairnar
Government College of Engineering, Pune
On the quality of life of agricultural workers at the place of work compared to the quality of life at the places from where the workers begin their migration
Paper 2Ms. Sreedevi R S
Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Exploring the changing domestic migration patterns in Kerala
Paper 3Ms. Tanvi Deshpande
Indian Institute for Human Settlements
Barriers and enablers of city scale adaptive measures: A case study of Bengaluru’s informal settlement dwellers
Paper 4Ms. Deekhsa
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
Migration for healthcare: Insights into the phenomenon through a exploration of access to Urban Shelters
Paper 5Ms. Soundarya Iyer
National Institute of Advanced Studies
Circular migration and localized urbanization in rural India
19 JANUARY 2017
8:30 – 9:00Coffee
9:00 – 11:00Panel 3Risk creation in urban areas
Chair/DiscussantMs. Garima Jain
Indian Institute for Human Settlements
Paper 1Ms. Prachi Acharya
University of Cambridge
Capabilities-centred building standards: An approach to enhance risk-reduction in the built environment?
Paper 2Mr. Juan Del Castillo
Peruvian Union University / Universidad Peruana Union
Hybrid interstices in metropolitan borders: Open space, Andean architectural heritage and informal urbanization in Lima, Peru
Paper 3Ms. Sumedha Jain
Sushant School of Art and ArchitectureMs. Vanita Verma
Sushant School of Art and Architecture
Land in Delhi: Learning from the narratives of layered spatialities
Paper 4Dr. Kavya Michael
Indian Institute for Human Settlements
A case study of interstate migrants from West Bengal
Paper 5Mr. Vignesh M
Indian Institute of Technology, IndoreDr. Neeraj Mishra
Indian Institute of Technology, Indore
Understanding urban lake governance – A case study on Pipliyahana lake, Indore
11:00 – 11:15Break
11:15 – 1:15Panel 4A city in flux: Examining transition in Bengaluru
Chair/DiscussantDr. Jayaraj Sudaresan
Indian Institute for Human Settlements
Chair/DiscussantMr. Amogh Arakali
Indian Institute for Human Settlements
Paper 1Ms. C Yamini Krishna
The English and Foreign Languages University, HyderabadMr. Prashant Sankaran
Independent Researcher
Reading the walls: Graffiti and street art in Bengaluru.
Paper 2Ms. Arzu Mistry
Srishti Institute of Art Design and Technology
Public art practice in a city in transience: A pedagogic approach
Paper 3Dr. Salila Vanka
RV College of Architecture
Public space and public life in Bengaluru: Notes on an Indian city in transition
Paper 4Dr. Swetha Rao Dhananka
Indian Institute for Human Settlements/The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL
Reading Bengaluru peri-urbanisation through the conceptual triad of space/time/information: Groundwork to conceive a ‘right to the city yet to come’
Paper 5Ms. Tsvetelina Hristova
Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University
Health in the web of urban infrastructure: Digital healthcare in the city of Bengaluru
1:15 – 2:15Lunch
2:15 – 4:15Panel 5Towards a southern practice
Chair/DiscussantDr. Gautam Bhan
Indian Institute for Human Settlements
Paper 1Ms. Iromi Perera
Centre for Policy Alternatives, Colombo, Sri LankaMr. Vijay Nagaraj
Law and Society Trust
Space, power and politics in Colombo’s many transitions
Paper 2Mr. Himanshu Burte
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, MumbaiDr. Lalitha Kamath
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
The violence of worlding: Producing space in neoliberal Durban, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro
Paper 3Mr. Balaji Mohan Rajkumar
Nila-a, Architecture and Urban Design
On riverfront revitalization projects
Paper 4Dr. Tanu Priya Uteng
Institute of Transport Economics
(Im)mobilities in the city: creating knowledge for planning cities in the Global South and postcolonial cities
Paper 5Dr. Yaffa Truelove
Yale-NUS CollegeDr. Colin McFarlane
Durham UniversityDr. Jonathan Silver
University of Sheffield
Incongruent cities within a city: Pluralizing the practices, politics and governance of infrastructure in Delhi
20 JANUARY 2017
8:30 – 9:00Coffee
9:00 – 11:00Panel 6The city and its politics: Mirrored transitions
Chair/DiscussantDr. Srinivas Lankala
The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad
Paper 1Ms. C Yamini Krishna
The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad
Geographies of cinema: Urban development of the city of Hyderabad around cinema
Paper 2Mr. Thomas Oomen
Sushant School of Art and Architecture / School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi
The politics of infrastructural aesthetics: a case of Delhi’s BRT and Metro
Paper 3Ms. Aprajita Sarcar
Queen’s University
Were the DDA flats the ‘original’ gated community? An explorative answer
Paper 4Ms. Samra Irfan
National Human Rights CommissionMs. Akanksha Baruah
Jamia Millia Islamia
A study of Shahpur Jat: Understanding an ‘urban village’ vis-a-vis a ‘smart city’
Paper 5Dr. Jaideep Gupte
Institute of Development Studies
“These streets are ours”: Mumbai’s urban form and security in the vernacular
11:00 – 11:15Break
11:15 – 1:15Panel 7The ‘Periphery’ and the future of urbanisation
Chair/DiscussantDr. Sudeshna Mitra
Indian Institute for Human Settlements
Paper 1Dr. Karen Coelho
Madras Institute of Development Studies
Water’s edge urbanisms: Entrenchment projects in intra-urban ‘Peripheries’
Paper 2Dr. Sreoshi Singh
HI-AWARE, ICIMOD, KathmanduDr. Ramachandraiah
Centre for Economic and Social Studies, Hyderabad
Emerging water dynamics and in-securities in peri-urban Hyderabad: Implications for policy and governance
Paper 3Ms. Anamica Singh
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
From suburb to globurb: Case of Gurgaon
Paper 4Ms. Chhavi Sharma
Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay
Mumbai city in flux as seen through its taxi sector
Paper 5Mr. Pratik Mishra
TERI University
The honor economy in the land market of peri-urban Budhera: Implications for urbanization
1:15 – 2:15Lunch
2:15 – 4:15Closing Panel – Pedagogy: Teaching from the South

The Indian Institute for Human Settlements presents ‘Art, City and Transition: An Exhibition‘. As part of Urban ARC 2017: The City in Transition – a research conference dedicated to conversations on urban transitions in the global south, IIHS will exhibit works of five artists who explore the self and the city from different perspectives.

The exhibition will run from 18th – 27th of January 2017.


These are my impressions as I move through Bengaluru, a city that is in transition. Bengaluru is being dug in out to give it a new face – a Metro and wider roads and fast transit from here to somewhere. But what lies in between?


Sounds: Location sounds in Bengaluru.

  • Some effects from freesound https://www.freesound.org
  • Title song from a 1970s popular film “Mr. Rajkumar”


Usha Rao
I am an anthropologist by training and my interest is in understanding what cities mean to people. In particular, I have been attempting to understand the transformation of Bengaluru, India. I have worked with sound recording on a couple of projects- location sound for a documentary film titled Our Metropolis (2014) and a soundscape of a dhobi ghat (washerman’s zone) in Bengaluru for Berlin based artist/photographer Stephan Koppelkam.


I have only the most basic knowledge and skills but I feel that sound (not words) is an exciting storytelling medium which I would like to explore. This piece was featured at the IAWART Festival, New Delhi 2014 as part of the Soundphiles section curated by Iram Ghufran and Samina Misra, and has been accepted as part of an online journal Cities Plus in 2016.



A series in abstract painting, this installation work can be seen as apalimpsest of ways in which we make sense of cities, in which cities continue to grow the dead-weight of urbanisation (quite literally even in its concrete infrastructure), in which we walk and indulge cities, in which lie the spectres of urban processes, this work can be seen as not so coherent perhaps, an interweave of the lived space and the imagined, the constructed and the multiple, the urban landscape and the mindscapes.


While each of the painting, by itself is a text and a method to my own sense making and reading of the city, together, they build for me a longer engagement with the understanding of cities and spaces, both politically and culturally. Abstraction for me is an important mode of expression, for it allows a distant view of, and raise question of the structure, of the form, of the processes and patterns of space making, and living.


Chan Arun Narendra
Trained in Architecture and Visual Art, my research artistic concerns lie at the intersection of complicating our understanding of space, politics of representation, and gender and sexuality. As a transgender identified person, my works attempt to raise questions that destabilise our notions of home making, urban space, juxtaposed with intricate selfrepresentational politics. Photography, abstract art and mixed media installation continue to deeply inform my sense making of the urban space we get to live in.



Nehru place is the largest IT market in India, a hub for both informal retailers and multinational technology companies. With 1,30,000 visitors each day, it has degenerated into an unwelcoming public space, faced with congestion, poor sanitation, infrastructure and management. ICLEI, South Asia, along with its partners, conducted a year-long research on the restructuring of Nehru Place, in order to turn it into an operative public space. The client needed persuasive communication material for negotiations with interested parties.


Damage Control Consultancy Private Ltd
Damage Control Consultancy Private Ltd. was founded in August 2012, as a communications agency in the sustainable development context. Over the years, we noticed a trend of ground-breaking research slipping into the cracks, and important campaigns lacking depth. We seek to convert knowledge into accessible forms of communication. We work across all media, based on the understanding that information needs to be disseminated differently depending on the content and target audience. We cater to the specific communication demands of our clients, producing work in various formats: film, photography, booklets, print exhibitions and website management. Our consultancy takes pride in its ability to turn unwieldy research into meaningful communication



Our cities are in a constant flux. We move between the old and the new with ease and often find ourselves caught in between. One of the ways we experience the city is the way we move through it. It molds our understanding of the city and the way we interact with its ever changing elements.


The introduction of technology-based transport companies such as Uber and Ola, have changed the way many people travel within Indian metros. These cabs are in a constant tussle with autorickshaws, which have been providing an affordable and convenient means of travel for decades. The project attempts to visualise the city as a photographic frame and to highlight the tussle between the two modes of transport. It attempts to pause and reflect on one of the city’s transitions and give the audience a glimpse into this superimposed world. These images are a part of a larger visual installation which was showcased as part of an international exhibition titled ‘Visualising Contested Cities 2016’ in Madrid.


Zohrab Reys Gamat
Zohrab Reys Gamat is a photographer and filmmaker based in Bengaluru.



Even though I was born in Dimapur I have lived away from it for most of my adult life. When I decided to return ‘home’ a year ago, I had it in mind to photograph Dimapur but hadn’t defined a perspective yet. I set up a photo studio to have a base in Dimapur, meet people and interact with them to get a better understanding of the place. Through the approach I’ve selected for my subject I intend to present a personal, nuanced and contemporaneous vision of a place; through it, a complex idea of people usually labeled under the limited tag of traditional Naga identity. My intention is to draw a composite picture of a place in transition through portraits and photos of selected aspects of the city. The project has taken the shape of a dialogue as it has led me to interact with many people and to make repeated visits to some areas and spaces I’ve decided to photograph. It is a conversation with subjects of this world from my perspective, which is at the same, time that of an insider and an outsider.


Zubeni Lotha
This work is a photographic project of looking at my town Dimapur and the many changes it is going through. From a small sleepy railway town at the foothills of the Patkai Range, Nagaland, it is expanding into a very busy commercial center of Nagaland. The changes are rapid and the town is built upon political conflict, personal tragedies and stories, memories and a continuous struggle to find ones own space. The photographs are about the everydayness of a town that is transitioning.