University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Usmaan Masood Farooqui

Professional Title: 

PhD Candidate
Teaching Associate, Teaching Assistant


Thompson 712


Office Hours: 

Spring 2019: 1:30pm - 3:30pm, Wednesdays


MA, London School of Economics, 2012; MA (Hons.), University of Edinburgh, 2011


I am a fifth-year PhD candidate in the department. My research interests are broadly located in the subfield of 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, Pakistan”, examines these issues through the lens of water access in Karachi, Pakistan's largest, notoriously conflict-prone and most water-stressed city. Despite popular and scholarly discourses warning that an escalating water crisis in the city will soon cause widespread violence, Karachi remains stable as Pakistan’s cultural and economic hub. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and an analysis of the city’s planning practices since independence in 1947, this project explores how historical rationalities of urban governance have filtered down to the everyday level, producing a patchwork means of water access that are not only indicative of how overt violence is prevented, but also how the state employs evolving logics of rule in times of scarcity and how everyday citizens of the city engage and respond to the structures that seek to govern them.

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 goals are twofold in doing so. First, I seek to bridge the theoretical divide between studies of cities in the developed and developing worlds. Second, I hope to use the South Asian experience to better address the politics of environmental change as a truly global issue that can benefit from theory building .



Curriculum Vitae: 

Download pdf (110.4 KB)


  • Political Science