Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Student Spotlight: Tenzin Lama '17

Name: Tenzin Lama '17

Concentration: Urban Studies and Engineering

Hometown: Queens, New York and Kathmandu, Nepal

What are your plans for the summer?

This summer I’m returning to India to work on two projects. The first is with the Right to the City (RTTC) India Campaign, and the second is my thesis research on the housing crisis in contemporary Mumbai. I became interested in this issue last fall during my semester off in India. During that time I was interning for an urban research and active collective and met an incredible group of local urban activists and academics. This time I hope to closely collaborate with them.

For the RTTC India Campaign, I will be working with Simpreet Singh on fieldwork for his dissertation. Simpreet is a PhD candidate at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). His research is on developing a “people’s history of the city from a working class perspective through the collection of oral history narratives.” I will be helping with the following: 1) Looking into the archives of the state government around issues of housing, urban planning, public order, the urban poor and the state, 2) Doing secondary research on the above topics, 3) Assisting with ongoing research questions around the emergence of property regimes in the early and post-colonial Mumbai and their influence on present-day housing and 4) Conducting oral history interviews of slum residents.

For my own research, I will be studying the role of state coercion in the creation (and restructuring) of housing in the neo-liberal market economy. I am focusing on coercion in the form of small, local, everyday evictions of the working class and urban poor within the context of the Slum Rehabilitation Schemes (SRS) and its seventy percent consent clause. I want to closely examine the state mechanisms and logic behind the evictions and facilitation of land and property relations. I intend on carrying out a city-wide study with three or so case studies from three different wards in the city through a Ethnographic and Qualitative research methodology.