Namita Vijay Dharia

Associate Professor

on sabbatical academic year 2023–24

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.

Courses

Fall 2024 Courses

HPSS S464-01 - OPEN SEMINAR
Level Undergraduate
Unit History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences
Subject History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences
Period Fall 2024
Credits 3
Format Seminar
Mode In-Person
Start date
End date

HPSS S464-01

OPEN SEMINAR

Level Undergraduate
Unit History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences
Subject History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences
Period Fall 2024
Credits 3
Format Seminar
Mode In-Person
Start and End 2024-09-04 to 2024-12-11
Times: F | 9:40 AM - 12:40 PM Instructor(s): Namita Vijay Dharia Location(s): College Building, Room 302 Enrolled / Capacity: 12 Status: Closed

SECTION DESCRIPTION

This experimental course offers students the opportunity to seriously explore some topic or question in history, philosophy, or one of the social sciences, which has a bearing on their degree project. Students will be guided through the process of formulating a research project, identifying the relevant literature, critically reading that literature, and working out how the HPSS material (content and/or methodology) can deepen and enrich their studio practice. We'll look at some artists and designers who have made these sorts of connections but spend most of the time in discussion of student work. Coursework will be tailored to the needs of individual participants. To obtain permission to register for the course, send an email to the instructor with the following information: your name, major, year in school (junior, senior, graduate student), and a description of (a) your studio degree project, as you currently conceive of it, and (b) the area, topic, or question in history, philosophy, or the social sciences that you want to explore.

Elective