Dr. Nausheen H Anwar
Dr. Nausheen H Anwar
I am the Founder and Director of the Karachi Urban Lab (KUL) and Professor City & Regional Planning in the Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts (SSLA), IBA. My research is situated at the intersections of urban planning, critical urban studies, critical geography, anthropology, political ecology. I received my PhD from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), Columbia University. I have held postdoctoral positions at Harvard University and at the Asia Research Institute, National University Singapore.
I have extensive experience collaborating with academic partners in the Global North and Global South; in building cross-continental South-to-South research partnerships; and in managing large-scale, multi-city projects, as well as working with grassroots organizations and local governments. My ongoing research looks at the relationship between the built environment, vulnerability, climate change hazards - e.g., heatwaves, chronic heat, urban flooding - and post-colonial histories/contexts of infrastructural violence, land displacement and anti-poor urban planning in the urban Global South. I am particularly interested in understanding the multi-dimensional risks that arise from such interactions, and the gendered/intersectional implications, as well as how different forms of urban knowledge — spatial practices, everyday practices and mechanical contingencies that define everyday life in cities — can be scaled up to prepare for disasters and emergencies.
I have contributed to the UNDP reports on inequality and climate change; to the UNWOMEN’s report on gender, climate, and security; to the UN Human Settlement Programme report on the role of urban observatories as key mechanisms for data production; and to the Red Cross, Red Crescent Climate Centre (The Hague, Netherlands) report on the impact on poor of extreme heat and Covid-19 in Asia and Africa. I have authored a book: Infrastructure Redux: Crisis, Progress in Industrial Pakistan & Beyond (2015, Palgrave Macmillan), and published widely in academic journals such as Antipode, Urban Studies, South Asian History & Culture, EPW and Political Geography; and written articles for national and international media such as Dawn, Prism, MIT Technology Review Pakistan and Huffington Post. I am a member of the WHO (World Health Organization) and WMO (World Meteorological Organization) Technical Advisory Group for informing decision-making about indoor heat risks to human health. I am also a Member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Urban & Regional Research (IJURR). I am especially committed to public outreach to advance the understanding of global-urban issues to foster the development of humane and politically inclusive cities, and it is in this context, that I am collaborating with colleagues to develop the KUL as a hub for critical urban thinking, sharing knowledge and for deepening our understanding of the challenges of urbanization, climate change, and the associated urban politics of our times.
Dr. Noman Ahmed
Dr. Noman Ahmed
I studied architecture and planning at Dawood College in Karachi, Middle East Technical University in Ankara, United Nations Centre for Regional Development in Nagoya; at Harvard University, USA and received my doctorate in Civil Engineering from Loughborough University, UK. I am Professor & Dean, Faculty of Architecture and Management Sciences at NED University. My research and teaching interests lie in water supply, urban development and housing rights.
I have published widely in both international and national journals and in media. I have worked with a variety of institutions, ranging from MIT, University College London, the Mimar Sinan University in Turkey, and with the Pakistan Planning Commission, as well as the City District Government Karachi (CDGK), the Karachi Water & Sewerage Board (KWSB), and various NGOs and CBOs. I have also published extensively on water related issues, especially as this pertains to Karachi. My recent book is Water Supply in Karachi: Issues and Prospects (2008), Oxford University Press.
Adam Abdullah Associate Director
I received my degree in architecture from the NED University Karachi, and a PhD in City and Regional Planning from the Middle East Technical University, Turkey. My doctoral thesis examined the discursive production of urban temporalities, where I explored the Lyari Expressway in Karachi within a Foucauldian conceptual framework. I analysed how planning discursively produces fundamentally temporal urban subjects and emphasized the need for a temporal ethics underlying planning.
I joined KUL in 2019 and am currently Associate Director. At KUL, I have worked on urban Sindh’s peripheral urbanization patterns, uneven infrastructures, transient legalities of land, as well as low-income and informal settlements. I explore Karachi’s fragmented urban fabric through socio-demographic and spatial analysis, quantitative surveys, statistical methods, and data visualization and mapping, using SPSS, QGIS, and Photoshop. I am also trained in qualitative methods, particularly through MAXQDA. As part of the Cool Infrastructures project at KUL, I am leading a 20, 000-respondent survey on urban heat, thermal perceptions, and the built environment in Karachi’s low-income/off-grid communities and outdoor workers; and overseeing the planning, collection, categorization, and analysis of the field data. In October 2022, I won a SESS-CRG grant to conduct quantitative thermal surveys in two of Sindh’s smaller towns, Hyderabad, and Jacobabad, as an extension to the Karachi surveys.
I have worked as a Data Analysis Specialist on a UNDP-IBA collaborative project on understanding the trajectories and socioeconomic attributes of urban migrants living in Karachi’s informal settlements, where I was the Team Lead for quantitative fieldwork, and supervised survey design, data collection, quantitative analysis, ground mapping, and spatial analysis. Previously, I have worked at NED University’s Department of Earthquake Engineering for the documentation and analysis of Pakistan’s building typologies, where I designed a methodology for rapid acquisition of building data, including pilot surveys, remote-sensing, image analysis, photographic documentation, and report-writing for the World Housing Encyclopaedia.
I am a lecturer at the School of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts, IBA, and have at the NED University and assisted with the Interior Design diploma course at Indus Valley School of Art & Architecture. As part of my academic collaborations, I am actively engaged with established and early career researchers working on the Global South, through research networks based across Southeast Asia, Africa, and Europe. Since I started full-time research, my passionately bought gaming laptop is now used primarily for data analysis, rendering 3d models, and mapping. In addition to my more academic pursuits, I sometimes review books for Dawn Books & Authors, mostly on Pakistan’s history, culture, and urbanscapes.-->
Soha MacktoomAssociate Director
I am Associate Director of the Karachi Urban Lab and have been part of it since its inception. I am trained as an architect and received my MSc in Urban and Regional Planning from the NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi. My research interests are interdisciplinary and span critical architecture, climate change, development studies, urban history, and urban policy.
I am currently adjunct faculty at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVSAA) and teach in the Department of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts (SSLA) at the IBA. I have also taught theory and studio courses at NED University and Nazeer Hussain University (NHU). My previous work experience includes working as a project architect with the architectural firm Shahab Ghani and Associates (SGA) on various projects, including the TDF Ghar and The MagnifiScience Center, as well as other residential and commercial projects. As an academic, I endeavor to communicate my knowledge and on-ground experiences as a researcher to students so they can develop a critically oriented understanding of the complex dynamics that shape cities, and for informed solutions in their design projects.
I have published in academic journals such as City, and Economic and Political Weekly (EPW), and co-authored reports that are outcomes of grants funded by the International Development & Research Center (IDRC) and the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). I have also written articles for local and international media such as Prism, Express Tribune and for the Urban Violence Research Network. As part of the multi-disciplinary project “Cool Infrastructures: Life with Heat in the Off-Grid City”, my research explores ways in which the materiality of the built environment, its architecture and design, conditions everyday navigations of heat in informal settlements in Karachi. I am particularly interested in the role colonial and post-colonial planning and architectural interventions have played in shaping the contemporary ‘thermal heatscapes’ of cities in the Global South.
Muhammed ToheedAssociate Director & GIS Analyst
I am Associate Director of the Karachi Urban Lab (KUL) IBA, and an Urban Planner and Geographer. My research and teaching interests span urban informality, infrastructural violence, climate change, land/tenure dynamics, and GIS-based mapping. I received my M. Phil in Urban and Regional Planning from the NED University, Karachi, and MSc Geography from University of Karachi with a specialization in Geographical Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS). I am presently adjunct faculty at the Bahria University, Earth and Environmental Sciences Department as well as the NED University, Architecture and Planning Department.
I have worked extensively with marginalized communities living in informal settlements across Karachi; trained youth in mapping and surveying; managed citywide mapping projects, as well as worked with grassroots organizations, NGOs, and local government departments such as the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC). My ongoing research looks at the relationship between infrastructures - water, waste, sewage – and vulnerability and climate risks such as floods, heatwaves, climate change induced migrations, and the relationship with urban planning practices in urban Pakistan. I am interested in exploring and acquiring spatial data to build a geodatabase of different infrastructural domains and analyzing that data to suggest solutions for urban issues — a central data hub can be useful for different departments for city planning.
I have worked with World Bank as consultant on a project regarding Covid-19 impacts on the urban poor in Karachi. I am constantly writing on different urban issues in both Urdu and English for media entities such as NayaDaur media and Prism Dawn. I am also the vice-president of Farozaan Environmental Protection Organization and an advisory member of the Deliver Karachi Forum, FGRF (Faizan Global relief Foundation) and Alkhidmat —these NGOs work on climate change and disaster mitigation. I am also working on education in informal settlements with Idara-e-Taleem o Aagahi that is currently focusing on children out of school and its connection with social and economic frontiers. I am especially committed to training youth as a mapping advisor at the Urban Resource Center (URC) through conducting a community architect training program.
Dr. Aradhana Sharma
Dr. Aradhana Sharma
Dr. Anu (Aradhana) Sharma is an Associate Professor of Anthropology Department at Wesleyan University. She completed a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University and a doctoral degree in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University. Anu has a keen interest in “the political” in its diverse manifestations and at different scales: the everyday politics of survival and life on the margins; the politics of disciplined and activist bodies; the politics of social movements, NGOs, and radical groups; the politics of the state and citizenship; the politics of global governance and aid by international organizations like the World Bank; and finally, the politics of knowledge production. Her geographic focus is South Asia, specifically India. Her first book, Logics of Empowerment: Development, Gender and Governance in Neoliberal India, focused on a rural women’s empowerment program started as a partnership between feminist groups and the Indian government to illuminate the paradoxical dynamics and outcomes of empowerment under neoliberalism. She is currently finishing a project on the politics of “good governance” in India that looks at how the law is being mobilized to reform democratic rule, promote state transparency and anticorruption, and to what effect.
Anu is co-editor of The Anthropology of the State: A Reader. Her work has also appeared in the journals American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Current Anthropology, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, Citizenship Studies, Political and Legal Anthropology Review, and Anthropology Now.
Dr. Sobia Kaker
Dr. Sobia Kaker
Dr. Sobia Kaker is a Lecturer in Urban Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London and an interdisciplinary scholar who works on socio-material processes related to urbanization, and how these relate to socio-political life in Global South cities. Her ongoing research focuses on the ‘lived’ aspects of urban insecurity. Sobia is interested in the ways in which urban residents and governors navigate everyday insecurity, and how various processes of securitization impact urban social, spatial, and political relations. She uses an ethnographic, postcolonial, and contextual approach to her work. Sobia completed her PhD degree from Newcastle University in 2015 and her PhD thesis titled ‘Enclaves as Process: Space, Security and Violence in Karachi’ investigates socio-material processes of securitising urban space, and studies how processes of ‘enclavisation’, in turn, exacerbate conflict and violence in the already divided Pakistani megacity.
Aspects of Sobia’s PhD research are published as articles in academic journals such as Public Culture, Harvard Design Magazine, and South Asian History and Culture. Prior to joining Goldsmiths, Sobia was working as a Researcher on Urban Uncertainty at LSE Cities (LSE, UK) and as a Researcher on Cities and War at the Centre for Civil Society and Human Security also at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences.
Dr. Amiera Sawas
Dr. Amiera Sawas
Dr. Amiera Sawas is with Action Aid as a Senior Research and Policy Specialist. Amiera is a feminist researcher with subject specialisms in climate change, gender and security. At Action Aid she is focusing on embedding feminist approaches to research, covering development and humanitarian issues. Amiera has a PhD in water governance (Human Geography). She is experienced in developing and promoting multi-disciplinary research - through natural science, social science and participatory research. Amiera completed her post-doc at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Imperial College London. At Imperial, Amiera co-led a GCRF funded project with IBA Karachi on the linkages between climate change responses, legalisms and gender in Pakistan. Before that, Amiera was based at King’s College London Department of Geography, working on the Safe and Inclusive Cities research project - focused on Gender and Violence in urban Pakistan and led by IBA.
Dr. Sarwat Viqar
Dr. Sarwat Viqar
Dr. Sarwat Viqar is an Urban Anthropologist and her research focuses on the politics of urban space, gender and public space and informal urban governance in cities in the Global South with a special focus on Pakistan. The main concern that animates her research is how city dwellers in highly contested urban environments deal with the political and economic challenges of rapidly transforming urban centres in the Global South. She teaches in the Humanities, Philosophy and Religion Department of John Abbott College in Montreal. Her courses range from contemporary urban issues, postcolonial theory to the social impacts of technology on society. She has published articles on Karachi's urban history, the dynamics of its low-income neighborhoods, gender and mobility and fieldwork methodology. She has worked as a research consultant on projects focused on affordable housing, urban infrastructure and urban violence in various regions of Pakistan. Trained as an architect, with a Master’s degree in Architecture from McGill University she has documented and researched vernacular architectural forms in various regions of Pakistan, in particular in the Gilgit-Baltistan region where she has researched the social impact of transformations in building technologies on local communities. Currently based in Montreal she also works on a voluntary basis with local community organizations that advocate for better access to affordable housing and other basic services for immigrants and refugees.
Yaminay Chaudhri has a degree in Architecture from Cornell University and an MFA in Combined Media Studio Arts from State University of New York at Albany. Invested in the urban transformations of a rapidly transforming city, Yaminay established the Tentative Collective in Karachi in 2011. Yaminay makes work grounded in the urban, both collaboratively and independently, focusing on digital media and socially engaged practice. These works have been shown in various museums, galleries and festivals internationally including the Maraya Art Centre (Sharjah), Alserkal Avenue (Dubai), MoCA (Los Angeles), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Kunstraum Bethanien (Berlin), Gandhara Artspace (Karachi), Twelve Gates Arts (Philadelphia), University Art Museum (Albany), Syracuse International Film Festival, Digital Marrakech Festival, City Possible Film Festival NUS (Singapore), IAWRT Asian Women's Film Festival (New Delhi), and more. She has presented projects at the Sarai Programme (CSDS, New Delhi), International Institute for Asian Studies and Hong Kong Baptist University (HK), Dhaka Art Summit, and the Karachi Conference.
Her writing has been published in the Herald, Creative Time Reports, ArtNow, Art Asia Pacific and various artist publications. She has enjoyed teaching in several universities including, SUNY Albany, Karachi University, Habib University, Aga Khan University and the Indus Valley School of Art. She has been awarded grants by the Forum Fellowship Art Dubai, Prince Claus foundation, National University of Singapore (NUS), and USIP.
Dr. Gulnaz Anjum
Dr. Gulnaz Anjum KUL Visiting Fellow
I am Associate Professor Social Psychology, University of Oslo. I received my MS in Psychology as a Fulbright scholar from the New School, USA in 2010, and my Ph.D. in 2015 in Social Psychology from International Max Planck Research School & Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena, Germany. My research areas include social, positive, developmental, and environmental psychology, and focus on the role of social and institutional processes and policies in social developments and inequalities cross-culturally (Pakistan, South Korea, UK, Germany, and the USA). I have received several prestigious fellowships and research grants including Max Planck Fellowship, Fulbright scholarship, International Institute of Education research grant, and Higher Education Commission of Pakistan's Start-up Research grant. Currently, I am Co-Principal Investigator at the KUL for the project Governance, Land, Infrastructure: The Politics of Displacement & Compensation in Urban Pakistan. I am exploring various social and psychological themes related to Pakistan's urban environment, wellbeing, stress, and marginalities caused by rapid urbanization and related processes of displacement and evictions.
Aqdas FatimaResearch Assistant
I recently graduated from the University of Kent with a Bachelor’s degree in Social and Biological Anthropology. I have a keen interest in understanding the social and structural dimensions of urban spaces, particularly through visual research. At KUL, I am researching the relationship between heat, cooling, and urban spaces.
Atoofa SamoResearch Associate
I have an M.Phil in Anthropology from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. At KUL, I look at how lower-income groups take measures in informal ways to accommodate and react to extreme heat; what are the available resources, practices and indigenous knowledge through which people satisfy their necessities for cooling.
Ali SamooResearch Associate
I am a senior in the SSLA department at the IBA, and am currently working as an archival researcher at the Karachi Urban Lab on the Cool infrastructures project. I have been looking at how the discourse on heat has shifted across time in the context of Karachi, for which I am mostly looking at 19th and 20th century colonial and post-partition records. My archival work spans across Karachi and Islamabad where I have looked into five different archival repositories: Sindh Archives, Liaquat National Library Records, KPT Archives, KMC Archives and the National Archives.
Palvasha ShahabResearch Associate
I am part of the Visiting Faculty at the Social Sciences Department at IBA, and a Karachi-based social justice lawyer, researcher, and trainer. I have an LLM from Columbia Law School and a BA-LLB (Honors) from the Lahore University of Management Sciences.
My practice has been spread along the lines of socio-economic rights, conditions of labour, gender (particularly, sexual violence), and environmental justice. I have previously served as the joint Executive Director of the Pakistan Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (PCCHR) and the Legal Aid Foundation for Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault (LAFRSA).
My research interests are hermeneutics, citizenship, sovereignty, global supply chains, conditions of labour extraction. I research the nexus between these as mo(ve)ments of meaning-making and narrativity to find possibilities for emancipatory politics. I am interested in the city as the focal site for contestations between the state and the citizen.
I have worked with KUL on several public interest litigations since late 2018. These litigations have contested the various iterations of the ‘anti-encroachment drive’ that rendered hundreds of thousands of persons homeless; and have sought improvements in environmental standards. I am presently researching, the possibilities of reimagining the (legal) notions of time, space/place and agency from the perspective of establishing causality in cases of environmental damage or climate catastrophe. Significant parts of this will be in collaboration with or guided by Dr. Nausheen Anwar.
Nirmal RiazResearch Assistant
I am currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Anthropology at the University of Heidelberg. I am also a Working Student in the Asia Team at the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and Rule of Law. At KUL, I have been involved in researching the gendered and environmental dynamics of development and mega-projects in Tharparker, Sindh. I am currently writing my thesis on Female Dump-Truck drivers in IslamKot and the reinforcement of cultural asymmetries.
Safina Azeem Research Associate
Safina Azeem is a Research Associate at the Karachi Urban Lab, Institute of Business Administration (IBA) in Karachi, Pakistan. She completed her Bachelors in the Social Sciences and Liberal Arts with a major in History from IBA. Her undergraduate thesis focused on understanding the importance of kinship networks in the lives of female domestic workers residing in Gulshan-e-Sikandarabad, Karachi, an informal settlement. Through ethnographic methods, she explored the exchange of care and obligations in conjugal relations and migration practices. She previously worked in FACT Pakistan, part of a ten-country digital ethnography on the impact of COVID-19 in collaboration with University College London (UCL). She has also assisted in research on the market associations in Karachi, focusing on the anti-encroachment drives and extortion. Her interests lie at the intersection of care, gender, and experiences ofurban spaces.
Vikram Das Senior Research Associate
I am currently pursuing a PhD in Anthropology at the Department of South Asian studies, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. At KUL, I have been investigating the impact of mega-infrastructure projects on land acquisition and the related impacts of migration and urbanization on ‘frontier’ towns such as Mithi and Islamkot, in Tharparkar, Sindh.
Abdul Rehman Research Associate
I received my M.Phil from the National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad. My recent engagement with KUL was via a project on mega-infrastructure projects and the impact on land acquisition processes in Sindh and Punjab. I was looking at how ecological authority is configured in Pakistan and how new ways of imagining ecology challenge the development regime.
Kanza Rizvi Legal Associate
I graduated from IBA from the BBA program and received my Bachelor of Laws Degree from the University of London. At KUL, I assist with the scope and interpretation of the applicable land and related laws to the issues of displacement and compensation.
Arsam SaleemSenior Research Associate
Muhammad Arsam Saleem is a Senior Research Associate at the Karachi Urban Lab (KUL), a multi-disciplinary research institute based in Karachi, Pakistan. He completed his Bachelors in the Social Sciences and Liberal Arts with a focus on Media Sciences from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), and received a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a Masters in City and Regional Planning, with a specialisation in Environment and Health Planning, from The Georgia Institute of Technology, USA.
His research interests include urban environmental planning and design, with an emphasis on climate resilience, conflict assessment, social flows, and interpersonal relationships.
Duaa Sameer Research Associate
Duaa Sameer is a Research Associate at the Karachi Urban Lab housed at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) in Karachi, Pakistan. She graduated with a bachelors in Social Development and Policy from Habib University, Karachi in 2021 with a focus on mixed methods, phenomenological research. Her subject interests lie at the confluence of urban violence(s), political economy, and social justice movements spanning critical issues of urban housing & mobility, climate vulnerability, intimate-partner violence, harassment laws, & emergent political movements.
She has previously worked with renowned architect & urban planner Arif Hasan on studying the street economy and public land of District South in Karachi. She has also worked with Interactive Research & Development (IRD) on the gendered impact of COVID-19 in Pakistan. Her capstone research explored the socio-cultural experience of and legal impediments to online disclosures of harassment in Pakistan. At KUL, she is working on the project, “Building Infrastructures of Climate Repair: Learning from Karachi and Nairobi”, funded by the British Academy’s Knowledge Frontiers Grant.
Abeera Kamran Graphic and Web Designer
Abeera Kamran is a visual designer and a front-end web developer based in Birmingham (U.K) and Karachi (Pakistan).
Her creative practice is research-based and lies at the intersections of design, archiving practices and the constituting of urban life. She designs and co-edits 'Exhausted Geographies', a collaborative publishing project which critically engages with the politics of representation and map-making in Karachi. She is the designer and web developer for the Karachi Urban Lab Website. She built this website to reflect the interdiscplinary work happening at KUL, and to enable richer connections to be developed between and around the research undertaken here. She is also a contributor to 'A Selective Guide to the V&A's South Asia Collection', published by Delfina Foundation.