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By Kelly Merchan
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  • Department of Global Development
  • Global Development

Doctoral candidate Aman Banerji, whose research explores the making of ‘global’ cities and land markets, has received the 2022 Social Science Research Council’s (SSRC) International Dissertation Research Fellowship. With the award, Banerji will study the social and economic realities shaping a critical stretch of highway in the Bengaluru region of India.

Banerji’s research will focus on the contestation of industry and real estate in a growing moment of economic and political nationalism in India. Since the 1960s, the Tumakuru highway has been a critical site for small industrial factories and large industrial enclaves. Yet the prominence of small industry along the highway is being challenged today by its emergence as a frontier for real estate.

During his 12-month on-site dissertation research, Banerji will conduct a multi-method study of the networks, mechanisms, and imaginaries through which industry and real estate actors acquire land along the highway and produce financial value. His approach to researching global urbanism seeks to understand how capitalists and state agents manage the competing interests of building land markets and enacting industrialization.

“A tense battle over the highway’s socio-spatial remaking is being waged between developers and small industrialists, who view land along the highway as the last refuge for industrial operations in Bengaluru,” Banerji said. “These contestations are both material — over land and state support — and discursive — over whose imaginary gets to shape the city.”

Originally from New Delhi, Banerji previously worked at the Roosevelt Institute, an economic policy think tank based out of New York City. In that role he managed advocacy programs on the financialization of higher education and the privatization of public goods.

“Growing up in New Delhi, I watched the neighboring suburb of Gurgaon transform from a set of agricultural villages to a global real estate destination almost overnight,” Banerji said. “I’ve been fascinated by the working of land markets and real estate ever since and am tremendously grateful to the SSRC for offering me this opportunity.”

With support from the Mellon Foundation, the fellowship currently funds 60 doctoral students conducting humanities or humanistic social sciences dissertation research on non-U.S. or U.S. Indigenous cultures and societies across the world.

Kelly Merchan is a communications specialist in the Department of Global Development.  

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