Global Urbanism

Global Urbanism working group

Project Title: Politics of Displacement in Global South Cities: A Study on Dhaka, Beijing, Karachi, and New Delhi

Our research project, Documenting Market Driven Displacement, aims to look at market driven displacement in cities in North America and in the Global South. Our group members will be travelling in the late spring to Karachi, Beijing, Washington D.C., Dhaka, and Delhi, while some research will also be done in Toronto. We will be documenting past and present land development initiatives which have contributed to the displacements of vulnerable residents and workers in these areas. We aim to document displacement caused by both public and private land development projects within these cities.


Presentation Description

This collaborative project examines the politics of displacement across the Global South to see how market forces, governmental agencies, and urban residents interact with each other and shape the landscape of displacement and redevelopment. This comparative study as a whole reflects upon a wide set of issues, such as the process of land marketization, the rise of gated communities, the crisis of low-income housing, and the dilemma of urban governance. Although the discussion seems to be quite diverse, all of them deal with cities in the Global South and intend to offer critical perspectives to decode the dynamics between the hegemonic discourse of urbanization as the marching of modernity, the politics of displacement, and the question of social inclusion/exclusion. 


Working Group Members

  • Zixian Liu (Graduate Representative) – PhD in History
    Zixian Liu is a PhD Candidate at the Department of History. With interdisciplinary training in history, anthropology, and geography, he is committed to historiographical and ethnographical studies of socialist/post-socialist cities in China. His dissertation examines the vicissitude of one Chinese mining town from the perspective of ordinary workers' experience at the production line. His research will grasp how urban and economic planning bundle together workers, factory managers, political organizations, workplace culture, industrial buildings, and everyday life that defines the Maoist everydayness and reflects the nature of Maoism. Meanwhile, he is preparing a journal article focusing on the role of the neoliberalizing developmental state in the cleansing of unskilled migrant workers and the redevelopment of Beijing peri-urban slums in the past decade.
  • Amelia Ellis (Undergraduate Representative) – Bachelor in Urban Studies and French
    As a student of Urban Studies and International Relations, Amelia is passionate about urban issues on both a micro and macro scale.  She is hoping to pursue a Master of Urban Planning in Toronto, and thus have a particular interest in understanding the city's place in global trends such as financialization, displacement, and environmental sustainability. Her professional experience has ranged from assisting individuals in struggling urban communities, to researching complex urban issues in the Canadian and global contexts. She has had the opportunity to engage with diverse stakeholders, from small businesses to marginalized communities, in order to better understand these issues.
  • Sabahat Zehra – Master's in Art History
    Sabahat Zehra completed her undergraduate degree in 2017 from the Dept. of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts at IBA, Karachi, majoring in Psychology, and minoring in Urban Studies. She is currently enrolled in the Master of Arts program at the Department of Art History at the University of Toronto.  Her research interests primarily engage with urban spaces and their politics, but taking an interdisciplinary approach, she engages with other disciplines to inform her research; some of these include History of Arts, Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, and Postcolonial studies. In addition to her research within the school of cities, she is currently also exploring the ways in which photography has historically informed activism, specifically in South Asia. She wants to explore ways in which photography has enabled activist movements to continue their visibility, giving protest an after life in the form of photographs.
  • Purbita Sengupta – PhD in Political Science
    Purbita is pursuing her PhD in Political Science at the University of Toronto. Her research is political economy-focused, with regional specialization in India. Her doctoral project is looking at urban governance reforms of the Indian government specifically, examining the contradictory policy options in three distinct urban policies. It is motivated by her interest to understand how neoliberalization is reshaping the technologies and rationalities of rule seeking to make all activities of life governed by the market. She also holds a master's degree from Balsillie School of International Affairs and has been a researcher for organizations such as the North-South Institute.
  • Nushrat Jahan – PhD in Planning
    Nushrat is currently studying PhD in Planning program at the University of Toronto. Nushrat has a background in Urban Planning, development, and Geography. Her areas of interest are social justice, urbanization  in the Global South, climate change, and activism in cities. In the past, She has worked with NGOs, local government, and academic research projects in Canada and Bangladesh. Through my work experiences, she gained intimate knowledge of community resilience, climate change adaptation, and community development. Apart from her academic pursuit, Nushrat is actively engaged with the School of Cities, the Innovation Hub, the Centre for International Experience and the Student Family Housing at the University of Toronto.