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POSTPONED: Namita Vijay Dharia | The Industrial Ephemeral: Labor and Love in Indian Architecture and Construction

  5 - 6:30 p.m.
   New Date To Be Announced (Off Campus)

Namita Vijay Dharia
Sai Balakrishnan

This event has been postponed. A new date will be announced.

The Center on Contemporary India invites you to a talk by Namita Vijay Dharia, Associate Professor of Political Economy at the Rhode Island School of Design, on her new book, The Industrial Ephemeral: Labor and Love in Indian Architecture and Construction.

About The Industrial Ephemeral: Labor and Love in Indian Architecture and Construction
What transformative effects does a multimillion-dollar industry have on those who work within it? The Industrial Ephemeral presents the untold stories of the people, politics, and production chains behind architecture, real estate, and construction in areas surrounding New Delhi, India. The personal histories of those in India's large laboring classes are brought to life as Namita Vijay Dharia discusses the aggressive environmental and ecological metamorphosis of the region in the twenty-first century. Urban planning and architecture are messy processes that intertwine migratory pathways, corruption politics, labor struggle, ecological transformations, and technological development. Rampant construction activity produces an atmosphere of ephemerality in urban regions, creating an aesthetic condition that supports industrial political economy. Dharia's brilliant analysis of the sensibilities and experiences of work lends visibility to the struggle of workers in an era of growing urban inequality.

The talk will be moderated by Sai Balakrishnan, Associate Professor of City and Regional Planning, in a joint appointment with DCRP and GMS (Global Metropolitan Studies), UC Berkeley

DATE: Thursday, November 17, 2022
TIME: 5pm Berkeley | Calculate Your Local Time
VENUE: 106 Bauer-Wurster Hall
This event will also be live streamed on the Institute's FB page: ISASatUCBerkeley

Namita Vijay 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.

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.

Sai Balakrishnan is an Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning, in a joint appointment with DCRP and GMS (Global Metropolitan Studies). Her research and teaching broadly pivot around global urban inequalities, with a particular focus on urbanization and planning institutions in the global south, and on the spatial politics of land-use and property. She is the author of Shareholder Cities: Land Transformations along Urban Corridors in India (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), an exploration of the agrarian-urban changes along India’s first economic corridor, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway; the book highlights the colonial-agrarian origins of contemporary urban inequalities and uneven development. Before Berkeley, Prof. Balakrishnan taught at, amongst other places, the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She has worked as an urban planner in the United States, India, and the United Arab Emirates, and as a consultant to the UN-HABITAT, Nairobi.

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The event is FREE and OPEN to the public.