Dr Ashima Sood

Visiting Research Fellow

Ashima Sood is an Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Centre for Urbanism and Cultural Economics at Anant National University. Her visit is supported by an Urban Studies Foundation International Fellowship.

Sood’s work lies at the intersection of institutional economics and urban and development studies and combines qualitative and quantitative methods to examine privatized forms of urban governance and urban informality in India.  Her research has received recognition and/or funding from the India Foundation of the Arts, the Azim Premji University Foundation, the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, the Centre de Sciences Humaines and the Regional Studies Association. A co-edited volume entitled India’s Greenfield Urban Future: The Politics of Land, Planning and Infrastructure is forthcoming at Orient BlackSwan.  She has served as International Corresponding Editor at Urban Studies, as part of the Editorial Board at the Journal of Urban Affairs, and as an editorial advisory group member with the Economic and Political Weekly’s Review of Urban Affairs. Her previous affiliations include the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Hyderabad, NALSAR University and the Indian School of Business. She earned her PhD in Economics from Cornell University.

Planned research at ODID

Titled Capital Citizens, Ashima Sood’s project brings institutional and political economy lenses to analyse specialized models of urban governance in postcolonial and post-liberalization growth hubs in India. What happens when democratic politics at the local level are undercut through exceptional forms of local government? How are variegated forms of urban citizenship constituted through architectures of territorial management? This project examines these questions through a comparative case study of three iconic sites of greenfield urban-industrial development: a company town developed in the colonial era by one of India’s largest conglomerates; a public sector steel town set up in the heady post-colonial period of the 1960s and not least, industrial and Information Technology (IT) parks dotting one of South India’s largest metropolises. At stake in all three settings are two key features of infrastructure governance in the Indian context that resonate far beyond the specificities of these sites. These are first, the fragmented and spatially targeted nature of basic services provisioning and closely linked, second, unelected and non-representative urban local bodies. These case studies thus provide unique laboratories for understanding urban growth dynamics and offering insight into the emergence of informal settlements and economies around master-planned enclaves in India and elsewhere in the Global South.

Research interests:

India, urban governance, local government, real estate, Southern urbanisms, public spaces, urban informality