The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Dr. Swetha Rao Dhananka

Dr Swetha Dhananka, has joined as an affiliate academic UCL's Development Planning Unit and IIHS (Bangalore, India) for the duration of her post-doc fellowship granted by the Swiss National Science Foundation. With a background in social work and political science, Swetha has taught courses in quantitative methodology during her doctoral studies and later a course on “urbanisation and development" in human geography at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland). Her research interests articulate around how institutions and policy frameworks affect social dynamics and political claim-making in urban contexts. Her previous work explored this relationship in the context of the South Indian city of Bangalore, where she analysed a particular housing policy for the urban poor and the political opportunities it gave for differently resourced civil society organisations to engage with governmental actors in their pursuit for adequate housing. She analysed how networks and practices of corruption skewed the existing political opportunities, leading to the status quo in which the urban poor find themselves.

Swetha's current research focuses on the politics of anticipation of rapid urbanisation in peri-urban areas of Bangalore. Authorities have reclassified 8000km2 of land to constitute the Bangalore metropolitan region development area, the largest of its kind in India. Against this background she will investigate how urban planning visions for peri-urban areas were conceived in the first place and how they affect livelihood strategies and changes in modalities of political engagement of peri-urban inhabitants in reclassified areas. Methodologically, this study will be set in a qualitative case study research design.

Research outputs

Rao Dhananka, Swetha (Forthcoming). “Eviction from and invitation to the city: Competing claims and visions in Bengaluru” In: Seminar
Rao Dhananka, Swetha (in press). “ Encounters at the margins: Situating the researcher under conditions of aid”. In: Undertaking Research in Global Development: Fieldwork Issues, Experiences and Reflections. Edited by Lena Kruckenberg, Nicholas Loubere, Rosemary Morgan, Gordon Crawford. Sage Publications.
 Rao Dhananka, Swetha (2017). “Planning Their Homes in Entrepreneurial City: The Capacities of Urban Poor and the Constraints of Public Policy”. In: Entrepreneurial Urbanism in India. The Politics of Spatial Restructuring and Local Contestation. Edited by KC Smitha. Springer 
Rao Dhananka, Swetha (2016). “The production of space and governmentality in the urban poor’s claims over land and housing”. In: South Asian Multidisciplinary Academic Journal
Rao Dhananka, Swetha (2016). “Knowledge and conditional participation of civil society organisationS in India’s urban governance regime”. In: Negotiating Knowledge. Evidence and experience in Development NGOs. Edited by Rachel Hayman, Tiina Kontinen, Lata Narayanswamy.” Practical Action.
Rao Dhananka, Swetha & Maggetti, Martino. (2012). Bookreview: McAdam D. & Schaffer-Boudet. (2012). Putting Social Movements in their Place. Explaining Opposition to Energy. In Swiss Political Science Review. Vol. 18, Nr. 4, Dec. 2012, 541-543.
Rao Dhananka, Swetha (2011): Bookreview: Shigetomi & Makino (2009). Protest and Social Movements in the Developing World. In: Social Movement Studies. Vol 10, Nr. 4, 448-450
Rao Dhananka, Swetha (2010). Claim-making of urban poor and the role of intermediary brokering organizations. In Julian Chappele (Ed) (Ebook). Boundaries. Dichotomies of keeping in and keeping out. Interdisciplinary Press.
Rao Dhananka, Swetha (submitted). Political opportunities and post-colonial geographies. In: Sociology Compass 
Rao Dhananka, Swetha (Book manuscript in peer-review). “Of housing and politics. Mapping political opportunities in metropolitan India.” submitted to Cambridge University Press
In preparation with Adriana Allen. “Practices and sites of knowledge production and information exchange in the peri-urban"
In preparation with Ian M. Cook. “Advertising as soft infrastructure for India’s urban imaginaries: The case of Karnataka’s Global Investor’s Meet"