Namita Vijay Dharia
Namita Dharia is a socio-cultural anthropologist and an architect who does research on urban South Asia. Her interest in urban areas developed during her studies and career as an architect and urban designer in India in the late ’90s. After working as an educator and an architectural journalist, she moved to study the broader social dynamics of construction worlds for her PhD research in anthropology. In her work, Dharia researches urban areas through a scalar methodology. She moves between the scale of a single individual in the city to that of objects and architectures to urban infrastructures and regions.
An interdisciplinary scholar, Dharia is interested in bridging design, planning and social science methodologies and theories. She experiments with the creative energies of anthropology and architectural and urban planning to explore their common interests in social justice, human-object relations, infrastructures, ecologies and urban political economy.
Dharia conducted research in cities across northeast India, north India, central India and west India. Within them she studied urban governance and planning policies, private construction industry practices and labor migratory pathways. Her research collaborations include a study of large-scale temporary cities and architectures such as the Kumbh Mela festival city that assembles and dissembles within the span of three months and ethnographic design projects in Detroit.
Academic areas of interest
Dharia is currently working on an ethnography of the building construction industry in India’s National Capital Region. Moving through the ranks of producers from developers to migrant laborers, she writes of urban phenomenologies of labor and work. She explores the scalar interrelationships between bodies, built environments and urban regions and ties the politics of labor and class to contemporary urban aesthetic experience. She argues that the aggressive actions of the building construction industry produce an atmosphere of ephemerality in India’s urban regions. Ephemerality, like blight, she argues, is an urban aesthetic condition that enables forms of power in the region.
In her next project, Dharia plans to explore dreams as metaphorical devices of urban experience, engagement and critique. She connects the dreams of diverse Mumbai citizens to the objects, architectures and urban spaces of the city in order to explore the slippery slope between dreams, imagination, aspiration, utopias, fantasies, fears and nightmares.
Dharia’s research interests move from labor, urban aesthetics and political economy to the planning, infrastructural and ecological dimensions of urban regions.