We are excited to welcome Sai Balakrishnan, a scholar and professor of urban studies and planning, to the CED community. Through her research and teaching, Assistant Professor Balakrishnan focuses on urbanization and planning institutions in the global south, and on the spatial politics of land-use and property. She brings this academic expertise to CED, in a joint appointment with Global Metropolitan Studies (GMS), as Assistant Professor of Global Urban Inequalities. In this exciting new role, Assistant Professor Balakrishnan will teach an undergraduate class on urbanization in the Global South, as well as graduate courses on the spatial politics of land and global urban inequalities.
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.
“I am delighted to join DCRP and GMS, where my teaching and research will focus on ‘global urban inequalities.’ The ongoing pandemic and lockdowns have exposed existing fault-lines in our planning and development paradigms, and there is now an acute urgency to focus on emergent forms of urban inequalities, and how these inequalities are linked across places of the global north and south. DCRP, with its long history of progressive and radical planning, is an ideal place for these inquiries.” –Sai Balakrishnan
Areas of focus:
New Spatial Forms of Urbanization, Land-use changes
Credit: Book Cover, University of Pennsylvania, 2019