I am fascinated by the complex relationship between technology and society in our contemporary lives. In our “technological culture” we often take technology for granted as an instrument that makes our lives convenient and enjoyable. But such an instrumental view often neglects the complex social, cultural and political aspects that are intertwined in the construction of the artifact or system. Since 2003, I have been interested in the systemic constitution of urban infrastructures and the politics they express through their enormous footprints in cities. I have been particularly interested in the political expression of urban infrastructures in Indian cities.

An initial research project that I conducted was to grasp the emerging politics of water supply regimes in India in the context of policy reform efforts undertaken nationally and locally. The study was conducted in a comparative fashion across three different cities in India. This research was conducted as part of my doctoral research and was supported by National Science Foundation (USA)'s Dissertation Improvement Grant and later on after coming to Concordia by FQRSC, Quebec's provincial funding agency for research in social sciences and humanities.

JNNURM underpass

An underpass in Bengaluru constructed with JNNURM funds (Source: David Sadoway)

My next research project examined the governance footprint of large-scale national programmes of urban transformation conducted in India such as the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). There are numerous critiques that have been leveled at the JNNURM, especially about its potential for exacerbating inter-city and intra-city differences, promoting increased centralization of decision-making, and promoting greater municipal dependence. Building upon these critiques, I make the point that what makes JNNURM unique is the exceptional intrusivity of the programme that allows national-level programmes to reach down to the municipal level. In this the programmes architecture has embedded numerous 'technologies of governance' that have enhanced the programmes intrusivity. In addition, the research documented the presence of particular socio-spatial signatures that exerted a major influence on programme's operationalization. Specifically, the research demonstrated that three signatures of first, flexible social networks that spanned local, national, international, public and private domains; second, the amalgamation of reform efforts from diverse sources; and finally, private consultants at multiple levels in the operational and planning domains were crucial to the success of the programme. The presence of these signatures we have argued does not bode well for the creation of inclusive and just cities in India. Dr. David Sadoway, as postdoctoral research fellow was closely involved in the conduct of this project. This research was supported by SSHRC, Canada's research funding agency for social science and humanities.

This research has also benefited from close association with research on urban decision-making in India conducted by Dr. Madhav G. Badami in the School of Urban Planning, at McGill University.

My current line of research could best be characterized as Indian Automobilities. More details about this research can be found here

I also conduct some research and writing on Diversifying Engineering Education.I am interested in considering pathways for transforming engineering education in Canada in order to diversify its reach into areas that are not traditionally within the domain of engineering science. I characterize these areas broadly as “public engineering” since they are concerned with a more thoughtful and humane appreciation for society outside the professional realm. I examine engineering education initiatives in areas such as globalization, multiculturalism, public policy, sustainability and environmental ethics.