Namita Vijay Dharia

Namita Dharia is a socio-cultural anthropologist and 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. Dharia moved to conduct ethnographic research on the construction industry in order to understand the field through a critical lens and challenge core assumptions of design and designers. 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. Dharia works with students and studios in design departments to deepen the analytical and social justice aspects of projects. She experiments with the creative energies architecture and urban planning to challenge representation and form in anthropological thought.

Dharia conducted research in cities across northeast India, north India, central India and west India. Her research collaborations include a study of large-scale temporary cities and architectures such as the Kumbh Mela festival city that assembles and disassembles within the span of three months and ethnographic design projects in Detroit. 

Academic areas of interest

Dharia is author of The Industrial Ephemeral Labor and Love in Indian Architecture and Construction, an ethnography of the building construction industry in India’s National Capital Region. Moving through the ranks of producers from developers to migrant laborers, Dharia argues that industrial political economy relies on ephemeral aesthetic and atmospheric conditions. She adopts a poetic and storytelling style to introduce readers to the ephemeral energies behind stages of construction such as regional planning, finance, design and construction. 

Dharia is currently working on a book-length project that studies the relationship of rest and sleep to urban environments. She asks: If urban areas, architecture and ecologies are produced through the relentless working of capital, what does it mean for people, spaces and the planet to rest? What socio-cultural and economic challenges and spatial and environmental impacts does rest face and create? The project combines urban political ecology and labor politics. 

Dharia’s research interests range from labor politics and urban architecture to aesthetics, political economy, planning and infrastructural development and environmental studies.

Fall 2022

GRAD-702G-01 Inventive Political Ecologies
HPSS-C702-01 Inventive Political Ecologies
LAEL-1022-01 Modern Architecture
NCSS-702G-01 Inventive Political Ecologies
NCSS-799G-05 Thesis

Spring 2023

HPSS-S101-05 Topics: History, Philosophy, & The Social Sciences
HPSS-S436-01 Cities Of The Global South