New Spatial Forms of Urbanization, Land-use changes
- PhD Urban Planning, Harvard University
- Master of Urban Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Master of Urban Design, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
- Bachelor of Architecture, Manipal Institute of Technology, India
Sai Balakrishnan is an assistant professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning. Her research focuses on urbanization and planning institutions in the global south, and on the spatial politics of land-use and property.
Professor Balakrishnan’s work has been published in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Pacific Affairs, Economic and Political Weekly, and in multiple edited book chapters. Her research and teaching revolves around three themes. First, she is interested in the new spatial forms of urbanization in the global south. Her recent book, Shareholder Cities: Land Transformations along Urban Corridors in India (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), focuses on urbanization along economic corridors in India, thus moving beyond the territorial limits of the city as the key site of urban change. Second, her research explores new processes of land commodification. Her ongoing research is at the intersection of fiscal politics and land-use planning, examining the commodification of air via transfer of development rights programs in India and Brazil. Third is a key normative focus on the emergent forms of urban inequalities in both the global north and south. She is involved in a long-term interdisciplinary research collaboration with MIT and the University of Massachusetts Amherst on caste capitalism and the institutional process by which colonial-era infrastructural and property institutions shape contemporary forms of postcolonial urban inequalities.
Professor Balakrishnan comes to us from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design where she was an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning. Prior to that, she taught International Development at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. She has also worked as an urban planner in the US, India and the United Arab Emirates and as a consultant to UN-HABITAT in Nairobi. Professor Balakrishnan holds a PhD in Urban Planning from Harvard and a Masters in Urban Planning from MIT.
- Courses Taught
CYPLAN 115: Urbanization in Developing Countries (Fall 2020)
- Awards + Recognition
- William Holland Prize for outstanding article published in Pacific Affairs in 2013
- 2014 ACSP (Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning) Gill Chin Lim Award for Best Dissertation on International Planning
- Outstanding Master of City Planning Thesis, MIT, June 2008
- Selected Publications
Balakrishnan, S. “Highway Urbanization and Land Conflicts: The Challenges to Decentralization in India,” Special Issue on “Decentralization and Urban Transformation in Asia,” Pacific Affairs, vol. 86 no.4 (2013): 785-811.
Balakrishnan, S. “Narratives of Waste Land: Politics of Land Commodification and Decommodification in Liberalizing India,” in Asher Ghertner and Robert Lake (eds), Land Fictions, Ithaca: Cornell University Press (Forthcoming).
Balakrishnan, S. “New Towns in India.” In Ann Forsyth and Rick Pieser (eds) New Towns, University of Pennsylvania Press (Forthcoming).
Balakrishnan, S. “Land-based Financing for Infrastructure: What is New About India’s Land Conflicts?” In R.Nagaraj and Sripad Motiram (eds) Political Economy of Contemporary India, Delhi: Cambridge University Press (2017).
Balakrishnan, S. “Peri-Urban Land Markets in Bangalore: New Conditions of Informality and a New Politics of Inclusion.” In Eugenie Birch, Shahana Chattaraj and Susan Wachter (Eds) Informal Real Estate Markets, University of Pennsylvania Press (2017).