Dr Harsh Mittal

Topological spaces of policy mobility: Spatializing power, politics and policy process in the Indian smart city assemblage

Funding period: 1 June 2024 – 31 December 2024
Type of funding: International Fellowship

Harsh Mittal is an Assistant Professor at the Humanities and Social Science department (Hyderabad Campus) of BITS Pilani, where he also received an undergraduate engineering degree. Since then, his diverse academic encounters have shaped his interest in conducting interdisciplinary research on urban matters. His doctoral dissertation at IIM Ahmedabad employed ethnography to study the translation of smart cities discourse in Indian policymaking and decision-making spaces. This inspired an exposition of the discursive politics shaping decision-making on urban transport matters in India. He is a member of the FF Collective, which is growing around an interest in engaging with urbanisms across city-walks, social science discourse, film, photography, news media and art. In the classroom, Harsh mobilizes these sensibilities through pedagogical exercises around screenwriting urban ethnographies.

As a USF international fellow, he will be working with Professor Jennifer Robinson at the Geography department of University College London (UCL).

Harsh’s research agenda at UCL is to pursue a nuanced theorization of the spatial dynamics involved in translation of mobile urban policies, with an empirical focus on smart cities action in India. In particular the plan is to conceptually revise the understanding of power working through Indian smart cities assemblages. He will employ tactics of comparative urbanism through situated research in various conferences, workshops, summits, and administrative meetings. This work follows on published co-authored arguments for moving beyond the discursive binaries on smart cities such as the technology-centric and the citizen-centric approach, through close attention to the multiplicity of collaborations among more-and-other-than-humans translating smart cities.

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