Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences


Student blog - Inaugural Lecture | Fast Urbanism: Between Speed, Time and Urban Futures

23 January 2020

Written by Jonathan Ren, BSc Geography student, UCL Department of Geography

Rickshaws in Delhi’s urban margins | © Rohit Madan

The contemporary trend of rapid urbanisation has incorporated speed into our new societies. Specifically, the speed at which we, as individuals, can complete various tasks. For example, being able to get from point A to point B; or, from a more technological viewpoint, the speed at which we can access online services.

While positive changes can be observed across the world, India, and the ‘Smart City’ initiative, has highlighted that not everyone benefits from these fast urbanisms. As such, India has been the subject of a majority of Professor Ayona Datta’s research.

An architect by training, Ayona recognised from an early stage the importance of social dynamics beyond and in addition to urban designs, especially for those left behind in the wake of rapid modernisation. In India, this has manifested itself in the already impoverished, but especially in women. Already historically limited to the peripheries of knowledge, these groups have become increasingly marginalised. While being connected through digital infrastructures, the existing weak and failing urban infrastructures places them at a disadvantage.   

Throughout her career, Ayona has tied her research across themes of Postcolonial and Feminist Urban Futures in addition to Smart Cities and the present Digital Urban Age. Through these, she has been internationally recognised by prestigious institutions such as the UN and the Royal Geographical Society.

Furthermore, her research has been linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals – leading to a practical impact in which her work has been instrumental in empowering women through knowledge. This impact can be seen through varied research outputs, which includes a music video, Khadar Girls, which was shown at the end of the lecture.

Ayona’s work, however, is not limited to her efforts in India. Rather, she has additionally investigated Eastern European workers in London, Emergency Shelters in Arizona, Gated Communities in Izmir, amongst other varied topics.

Ayona brings her expertise to UCL, an institution that is rich in urban studies. Congratulations and a very warm welcome to you, Ayona!

Ayona’s work can be followed mainly on her website: https://ayonadatta.com/, as well as twitter: @AyonaDatta.

Listen to Ayona's lecture:

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/68653348

Inaugural Lecture Series 2019/20

This lecture is part of the 2019/20 series for UCL's Faculty of Arts & Humanities and Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences. The series provides an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the achievements of our professors who are undertaking research and scholarship of international significance, and offers an insight into the strength and vitality of the arts, humanities and social sciences at UCL.

All our lectures are free to attend and open to all. You don't have to be a UCL staff member or student to come along.

Lectures begin at 18:30 and are typically one hour long. A drinks reception will follow, to which everyone is welcome to join.

We look forward to meeting you at one of our events.

For information on other upcoming lectures please visit: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/social-historical-sciences/news-events/inaugural-lectures