Post-Pandemic Urbanism in Southern Cities: Intensifying cities, leftover urban spaces, and pandemic pedagogies

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Japanese Room, Level 4, Glyn Davis Building (Melbourne School of Design), Masson Rd, University of Melbourne Parkville, VIC 3010

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Rosanna Verde

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About this event

Drawing on research carried out in three major cities across Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, the session seeks to generate a critical dialogue on the implications of the pandemic for urban research and pedagogy for post-pandemic urban futures. The speakers share insights and learning from critically examining South Asian urban contexts in the time of Covid-19 by posing the following diverse questions: Is Millennial Karachi an “intense city” with compounding precarities of varying scales? What needs are revealed in Colombo’s post-pandemic urban spaces in the new normal? What new opportunities do pandemic pedagogies offer to post-pandemic learning spaces?

The panel includes two eminent scholars Professor Anant Maringati and Professor Nausheen Anwar, based at research institutions in India and Pakistan, respectively, and Dulani Denipitiya, an early career researcher based at the University of Melbourne.

The session will be moderated by Dr Lutfun Nahar Lata, an early career researcher based at the University of Queensland.

Presentation abstracts

Intensifying Urbanities in Karachi: A South Asian City in the Time of COVID-19
Dr Nausheen H. Anwar
Millennial Karachi is an “intense city” with compounding precarities of varying scales. The COVID-19 pandemic has added yet another layer of uncertainty. Through an engagement with the concept of the intense city, the pandemic’s regulation and hopeful prospects in the state’s new welfare policies are considered.

Empirical Research amidst COVID-19: Encounters in Colombo, Sri Lanka
Dulani Denipitiya
The COVID-19 pandemic was unanticipated and resulted in many research and fieldwork plans being impacted on a global scale. Having travelled to Colombo, Sri Lanka mere days before global lockdown, conducting planned fieldwork to study perceptions of urban leftover spaces in neighbourhood communities, proved to be an inadvertent challenge. Due to the nature of the study sites and the research methodology being a significant contribution to the overall study, fieldwork was carried out as intended, post-lockdown, whilst residents were adjusting to new social and environmental conditions. This presentation aims to shed light on the experiences of undertaking research amidst a pandemic, in the South Asian developing city of Colombo, touching upon the COVID influences on the empirical findings. It will also reflect on the need to understand post-pandemic urban space in Colombo, informing possible future research in this new normal.

What the Pandemic Revealed about the Classroom
Dr Anant Maringanti
With students and faculty both confined to their homes, often hundreds of miles away from the campus classroom, the classroom interaction was dramatically transformed during the lockdown. This talk draws on our experience of teaching field-based courses particularly around built environment through the two years of lockdown to argue that the post pandemic pedagogy should take on board the new opportunities revealed by the online instruction and reform current practices.

About the presenters

Dr Nausheen H. Anwar is Director, Karachi Urban Lab & Professor of City & Regional Planning, in the School of Economics & Social Sciences (SESS), Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi. She received her PhD from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP), Columbia University. Nausheen’s work focuses on the politics of urban planning/urban development, climate change and infrastructural development in the urban Global South.

Dulani Denipitiya is a Landscape Architect and a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, the University of Melbourne. She has worked as a Lecturer and Design Tutor at the University of Moratuwa and as a Landscape Architect in a leading architecture firm in Sri Lanka. Dulani’s PhD research is focused on understanding the perceptions of leftover spaces in urban residential neighbourhoods and how best to integrate them into the existing urban fabric. Her research interests include multifunctional landscapes, landscape planning and designing for urban resilience.

Dr Anant Maringanti is a geographer with a PhD from University of Minnesota and has taught graduate courses at the National University of Hyderabad. His research and teaching interests center on questions of urbanization and globalization from the South – Asian vantage point. He is currently the Director of Hyderabad Urban Lab, a multi-disciplinary research centre. He is widely published in National and International academics journals on social movements, politics of development and urbanization.


Dr Lutfun Nahar Lata is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Queensland Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR). As part of her PhD and post PhD research, she has developed an impactful program of research into the key social policy topics of poverty governance, precarious work, migration, urban marginality, housing and place-based disadvantage. She is a mixed-methods researcher with extensive experience in conducting and publishing qualitative, quantitative and digital research, and working with multidisciplinary teams that include stakeholders from academia, industry and local and central governments.