My research interests are broadly located in comparative politics with a focus on urban contexts of South Asia. I am particularly interested in how South Asian cities respond to the pressures of climate change and skyrocketing urbanization in terms of governance and popular politics.
My dissertation, entitled “Precarious Pipes: Governance, Informality and the Politics of Access in Karachi”, examines state and everyday responses to water scarcity in Pakistan's largest, notoriously conflict-prone and most water-stressed city. I argue that despite its objective weakness in terms of institutional capacity, the Pakistani state has responded to scarcity by deploying a form of rule grounded in the imaginary of urban "improvement." Drawing on field research in Karachi and a qualitative analysis of the city’s planning practices since independence in 1947, this project explores 1) how this form rule is established to produce a distinctive political economy of water access; 2) how this political economy is received at the everyday level by those marginalized by its logic; 3) and how new forms of political contestation emerge in such circumstances. In making these arguments, I provide a critical analysis of the governance practices and everyday politics that not only establish Karachi's intermittent stability, but also shape its political future.
Going forward, my research agenda aims to apply insights learnt from South Asian cities to better explain and understand the social and political effects of environmental and demographic change in cities of the global North.
My research has been funded by the UMass graduate school and the American Institute of Pakistan Studies, and is forthcoming in Urban Studies. I am currently completing my dissertation as a American Council of Learned Societies/Mellon dissertation completion fellow (2019-2020).
- Political Science