Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, University of California / Berkeley

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2015
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Urban Planning, University of California / Berkeley
Variance and Deviation: Planning, Science and the Making of Modern India

In 2014, Narendra Modi, newly elected Prime Minister of India, and leader of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, announced proposals to abolish India's Planning Commission. Modi's unprecedented proposals represent an opportunity for scholars in urban and planning theory to reevaluate the history of planning in modern India. Although scholars have begun historical research in this area, they often write too narrowly and nostalgically about Nehruvian socialist planning. My project begins with a dissatisfaction with such accounts, and instead asks: What are the key epistemic and material shifts in the discipline and practice of planning in India from 1905-1965? How did colonial scientific discourses shape the instruments and idioms of planning? How did planning emerge as a terrain of contest among scientists, the British Raj and anti-colonial nationalists? My dissertation provides a social and intellectual history of planning c. 1905-1965, a period of intense and variegated experiments in modern planning. I argue that planning must be understood in relation to emergent colonial scientific discourses in evolutionary biology, economics and statistics. Analyzing archival materials, and drawing upon scholarly literature in modern Indian history, urban and planning theory, and science and technology studies, my project will examine the ways in which planning techniques produce variance and deviation, including colonial hierarchies and racial orders of difference. As a historical study of modern planning within the context of the imperialism, anti-colonial nationalism, urbanization and postcolonial visions of science, my project also offers a valuable comparative case study.