Document Actions


Learning from Small Cities: Governing Imagined Futures and the Dynamics of Change in India's Smart Urban Age

  • Co-Investigator: Dr Melissa Butcher (with Dr Ayona Datta (PI), Dr Sophie Hadfield Hill (Co-I), Prof. Sanjay Srivastava (Co-I) and Dr Ritajyoti Bandyopadhyay)
  • Funder: ESRC-ICSSR (2018-2020)
  • A major research project examining the challenges of small cities becoming ‘smart cities’ in India. In collaboration with Kings College London, Birmingham University, the Institute of Economic Growth (Delhi) and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, the two-year project will highlight what we can learn from the process of change in small cities in India as they are transformed by smart technologies and infrastructure. A central research question for the team is how residents of small cities live with changes brought about by smart city developments, and what is the difference between how state plans for urban transformation are imagined by local authorities compared to how they are actually lived by residents.
  • The team will take an interdisciplinary approach from urban, social and cultural geography, as well as sociology and geo-informatics to learn from three small cities in India: Shimla, Jalandhar and Nashik. In each of these cities, the project team will undertake analysis of imagined urban futures through longitudinal mapping, crowdsourced digital and community asset mapping and interviews with stakeholders and beneficiaries of smart city projects. While much of the work on smart cities has focused on larger, capital centres, project focuses specifically on 'ordinary cities' with social, cultural, political, and historical contexts of 'smallness' that has kept them 'off the map' of urban studies.
  • The project aims to deliver a variety of outputs to contribute to both academic and policymakers understanding of the dynamics of smart city interventions, including animated info-graphics, policy briefing pamphlets, and an exhibition and catalogue to maximise the impact of the research.

RESOLUTION: Resilient Systems for Land Use Transportation

  • Principal Investigator: Dr Joana Barros
  • Funder: ESRC and the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) (2015-18).
  • In a context of rapid urban growth, cities across the world are increasingly defined by inequality. RESOLUTION: REsilient Systems fOr Land Use TransportatION is a collaborative project between Brazilian and British academics exploring the impacts of unequal access to transport on different social groups in the metropolitan areas of London and São Paulo. The project aims to develop: a) a strong physical-functional measurement of accessibility across many spatial scales with focus on relationships to poverty and inequality as reflected in the segregation and polarisation of different social groups; and, b) a simple model of residential segregation that relate to how changes in transportation exacerbate or reduce spatial segregation, locking in or out different populations from access to transport.
  • The project has a strong comparative focus, using one city to probe the other and, thus, testing methodologies, hypothesis and theories in different urban contexts. The research will identify similarities and differences between the two metropolitan regions to tease out the broader social implications of transport access on mobility, segregation and other trends.
  • The results will be of relevance to a range of stakeholders, including policy makers, academics and planners, working on improving opportunities for marginalised groups through more equitable transport systems. As the focus is comparative and global, the findings will have broader implications not only for London and São Paulo but also other large cities facing the same challenges.
  • Project partners include: Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), UCL; Department of Geography, Birkbeck, University of London; Centre for Metropolitan Studies, University of São Paulo (USP); Polytechnic School, University of São Paulo (USP); Centro de Engenharia, Modelagem e Ciências Sociais Aplicadas, Federal University of ABC (UFABC); Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE).

Creating Hackney as Home: youth and gentrification in London

  • Principal Investigator: Dr Melissa Butcher
  • Funder: ESRC (2013-2015)
  • Using participatory video research, Creating Hackney as Home aimed to understand the changing experience of ‘home’ and belonging among young people in a rapidly changing borough of east London. The research drew on a collaboration between Dr Melissa Butcher’s previous work on youth, identity and belonging, the estate-based youth theatre company, Immediate Theatre, and the film production company Mouth That Roars (MTR). Publications can be found on BIROn.
  • Read more about the project