My research and teaching interests lie in urban processes and politics, particularly in South Asia. My work is motivated by the aim of exploring pathways to continued citizenship for the urban poor in the contemporary city landscape marked by large-scale, violent dispossession. In my primary research project, I examine how contemporary urban development interacts with historical structures of patronage-based state society relations in Chennai, India. I use ethnographic and archival methods to investigate how residents negotiate with local politicians, bureaucrats, and activists to preserve citizenship in urban landscapes marked by violent, large-scale slum evictions.
I have also been part of collective struggles for tenure security for the urban poor in Chennai for about nine years now. A new project aims to narrate the history of the city through the personal and professional histories of my colleagues in Pennurimai Iyakkam (“Women’s Rights Movement”), a 40-year old slumdweller rights organization. In exploring the methodological possibilities of collaborative activist scholarship, this work will attempt to highlight the scholarly value in the lived experiences of working class activists and residents as narrated and theorized by them, as well as the potential for scholarly work on and by social movements to influence public discourse.
Before joining UBC, I was a postdoctoral fellow in the Princeton Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.
NARAYAN, P. 2020 ‘A Privilege for All Times’ Gastronomica: The Journal for Food Studies 3(20), 60-61
NARAYAN, P. 2018. The informal local: A multi-scalar approach to examining participation in urban renewal. In Urban Renewal, Community and Participation: Theory, Policy and Practice, edited by J. Clark and N. Wise, 199-217. Springer (The Urban Book Series).
NARAYAN, P. 2017. Displacement as disaster relief: Environmental gentrification and state informality in developing Chennai. In Just Green Enough: Urban Development and Environmental Gentrification, edited by W. Curran and T. Hamilton, 139-150. London: Routledge.