The Bartlett Development Planning Unit

Dr Raktim Ray

Dr Raktim Ray

Lecturer (Teaching)

Development Planning Unit

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
22nd Jun 2020

Research summary

My research interest lies broadly in two thematic areas: i) Urban politics ii) Ethnography of state. My doctoral research focused on how people at the urban margins of Kolkata maintain heterogenous relationships with the postcolonial state and how those relationships manifested spatially through adhoc arrangements. I critique the binary framework of resistance and dominance to understand state-political society relations and argue the framework of conflict politics is able to capture some of the nuances of developmental politics in the postcolonial context. Theoretically, I draw from postcolonial and postdevelopment theories and argue for a generative and iterative theory-building process. Methodologically, I rely on critical ethnography and explore the possibility of visual ethnography as a decolonial method. Geographically, my research predominantly focuses on India cities. However, I am willing to expand my research in a similar postcolonial context. 
I will be interested to supervise in the following areas: 
  • Urban resistance and informal politics
  • Ethnography of state 
  • Decolonial methods and visual ethnography 
  • Politics of technology and cyborg urbanism 
  • Postdevelopment politics and political society 

Teaching summary

2020- Current: Lecturer (Teaching), Co- Programme Leader, MSc Development Administration and Planning; Development Planning Unit, UCL, UK

2016: Assistant Professor, Department of Planning, School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal, India 

2013-2015: Assistant Professor, Department of Planning, School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada, India 

Currently, I lead the core module 'Development in Practice' (30 credits) for MSc Development Administration and Planning programme. The module examines how development industry operates in the postcolonial context and what are roles for different actors in the process. Geographically, the module at present focuses on Kampala, Uganda and explores how the "development" is practised there. 

Additionally, I am also engaged in the module ' Critical Ideas of Development: Conceptions and Realities' (30 credits). This module explores the contested nature of development through critically examining various theories of development. 

Earlier, I taught modules on Urban Sociology, Development Planning, Politics and Planning, Planning Techniques etc for Bachelor and Postgraduate courses in Urban Planning. 


I am currently a Co- Programme Leader for the MSc Programme in Development Administration and Planning. I have an academic background in Geography, Urban Planning and International Development. Prior to my doctoral studies, I was involved both as an academic and a practitioner in India. I have professional experience working in various forms of institutions from private companies to civil society organisations. I consider each of these experiences as learning opportunities and enabled me to analyse urban and developmentalism from various vantage points. 

My training includes: 

PhD in International Development, "Spatial Adhocism as Practice for Conflict Politics: Theorising Urban Politics in Kolkata"; The Open University, UK; 2020

Master of Planning (Housing); CEPT University, India; 2011

Master of Science (Geography); University of Calcutta; 2009

Bachelor of Science (Hons. Geography); University of Calcutta; 2007