Uma Kothari

Uma Kothari

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Personal profile

Teaching

Postgraduate Teaching

 

Development theory and history, social policy and social change, migration and diasporas, representations of development, colonialism and postcolonialism

 

Other research

I am involved in the following research and writing projects:

Touring Britain in the 1950s: the adventures of postcolonial Indian travellers, Leverhulme Major Research Fellow (2022-2025)

Historical descriptions of tourism and popular travel writing almost exclusively focus upon Anglo-European travellers, and their encounters in non-western places. This research provides rare accounts of the adventures and experiences of non-western travellers touring post-war Britain. Specifically, it focuses on Indian tourists who, having recently gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947, felt compelled to see the country about which they had heard so much. Research will analyse travel stories, artefacts and archival material to reveal how colonialism influenced their touristic desires and itineraries, and how new postcolonial affinities forged through travel shaped post-independence relations amongst formerly colonised people and places and, between Britain and India.

Environmental change and everyday life.  ESRC/DfID (2017 - 2020) and Australian Research Council (2020 - 2025). The everyday is central to understanding how environmental change occurs and its daily impacts on people’s lives. This project uses innovative visual methods in small islands in the Maldives to explore people’s changing everyday routines and activities in the context of environmental change. 

A cultural geography of seafarers, Vice-Chancellors fellow, Univeristy of Melbourne (2017 - 2020)This project explores the social geography of maritime life, focusing on changing encounters between ships, seafarers and shores and the changing cultures, experiences and geographies of seafaring. Sea mobilities have always connected people, places and things and the volume of goods conveyed by sea is ever-increasing. However, the maritime transportation of goods is rapidly changing with increasing ship-size, mechanisation and containerisation. Subsequently geographies of seafaring are also transforming and producing new kinds of connectivities.

Popular representations of humanitarianism and solidarity focuses on how visual images and textual representations of refugees are produced, circulated and interpreted. It examines how they are used to disseminate ideas that vilify migrants as well as instil humanitarian ideas of care for distant strangers.

Arts-based Community Education in Fragile Contexts. This project develops a new research network of academics and practitioners from Kenya, India and South Africa focusing on arts-based education. It explores non-formal education in culture and the arts in communities living in fragile situations with a focus on digital arts, performing arts, visual arts, heritage conservation, and cultural sustainability.  

 

Biography

Current positions:

  • Professor, Migration and Postcolonial Studies, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, UK
  • Honorary Professor in Human Geography, University of Melbourne

Previous positions:

  • Professor of Human Geography, School of Geography, University of Melbourne, Australia (2019 - 2022)
  • Vice- Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Melbourne (2017 – 2019)
  • Director, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester (2013 - 2016)

Educational background:

1985 - 1990 PhD Geography/Sociology, University of Edinburgh (ESRC Scholarship)
1982 - 84 MA Geography/History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
1981 - 82 BA (Hons.) Geography, Middlesex University, London
1979 - 81 Dip HE Geography, Westminster College, Oxford

Membership of committees and professional bodies

  • Vice president, European Association of Development Institutes
  • UK Development Studies Association (elected council member)
  • Royal Geographical Society/ Institute of British Geographers (fellow and member)

Research interests

My research interests include colonialism, decoloniality and solidarity; mobilities and borders, postcolonial travelers, environmental change and island geographies, stories and storying as method

 

Activities and esteem

Esteem indicators and advisory work

  • Awarded the Royal Geographical Society Busk Medal for contributions to research in Global Development
  • Conferred Fellow of the UK Academy of Social Sciences
  • REF 2021 Panel memeber for Anthropology/Development Studies
  • Vice President, European Association of Development Institutes
  • International Advisory Board member, Journal of International Development Studies, Japan Society for International Development 
  • Chair of Royal Geographic Society/Institute of British Geographers 2020 Annual Conference, London
  • Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), Panel Member
  • Advisory Board for Norwegian Research Council
  • Advisory Board, In Place of War
  • ESRC peer review college
  • Elected Council Member, Development Studies Association
  • Elected council member of the UK Development Studies Association

Book series editor and editorial board member

  • 2015 - 2020: Co-editor, Frontiers of Development book series, Oxford University Press
  • 2015 - present: Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development, Editorial board
  • 2014 - 2016: Editorial advisory board member, Manchester University Press
  • 2012 - 2017 Third World Quarterly, Editorial board
  • 2007 -present: Journal Fur Entwicklungspolitik (Austrian Journal of Development Research), Editorial board 

Organisation of conferences and research seminars

  • 2023 Storying Geography Collective Workshop, University of Melbourne, Australia

  • 2023 Geograpgies of Place Symposium, University of Melbourne

  • 2020 RGS conference Chair, Border, Borderlands and Bordering, RGS London
  • 2019 Intuiting the Archives workshop, Institute of Postcolonial Studies, University of Melbourne (with Sam Balaton-Chrimes)
  • 2019 Technologies of Bordering Conference, University of Melbourne (with Elise Klein)
  • 2019 Granular Geographies: sensing the materiality of stone, sand and soil, Institute of Australian Geographers annual conference panel, Hobart, Australia (with Vanessa Lamb)
  • 2019 From Ship to Shore: a cultural geography of seafarers, Institute of Australian Geographers annual conference panel, Hobart, Australia (with Maria Borovnik)
  • 2018 Moving Stories: narrative histories of car journeys, IAG conference panel, Auckland, New Zealand (with T. Edensor)
  • 2018 New Geographies of Global Inequalities and Social Justice, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • 2017 From International to Global Development, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester
  • 2017 Time, temporality and environmental change, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • 2016 Critiquing development research, DSA panel, Oxford University
  • 2016 Visual solidarity and popular representations of development, DSA panel, Oxford University
  • 2016 Visual Solidarity conference, University of Manchester
  • 2016 Understanding categorisations of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, University of Manchester
  • 2015 International Development Volunteering, National University of Singapore

Invited conference keynote and plenary (since 2015)

  • 2022 Decolonising Development: repatriation of stolen objects and reparations as redistributive justice, EADI Roundtable: Re-casting development studies in times of multiple crises, Kings College, University of London

  • 2022 Rhythms of development: decoloniality and the circulation of ideas, objects and stories, DevNet, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand 
  • 2021    Decolonising Development: stories of solidarity, IAG/NZG, University of Sydney
  • 2020 Towards Development as Solidarity: stories of hopeful, creative and convivial encounters, Inaugural Conference of DSA Australia, Melbourne
  • 2019 Decolonising Development, Sheffield Institute of International Development, University of Sheffield
  • 2019 Histories and Cultures of Humanitarianism and Foreign Aid, Melbourne
  • 2019 Moving Stories: colonial imaginaries and narrative histories of being on the road, Orienting Ourselves in the World: The Particular and the General, University of Manchester
  • 2018 Understanding Global Inequalities, New Geographies of Global Inequalities and Social Justice, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • 2017 Decolonising Research Ethics, Critical Development Studies Network conference, Melbourne
  • 2017 Global Universities Engagement Summit, University of Melbourne
  • 2017 Global Solidarity, Everyday Humanitarianism and Refugees: Challenging the boundaries of Development, EADI General Conference 2017: Globalisation at the Crossroads, Bergen, Sweden
  • 2016 ‘Is the Water safer than the Land’, DevNet, University of Wellington, New Zealand
  • 2016 The power of a warm welcome: Public representations of refugees and the forging of everyday humanitarianism, Deans lecture, University of Melbourne. Australia
  • 2016 The Aid Effect, NORGLOBAL, Oslo, Norway
  • 2016 Rethinking Migration and Mobility, The Changing Face of Global Mobility: Celebrating 10 years of the International Migration Institute, Oxford University
  • 2015 Time, Temporality and Volunteers, International Development Volunteering conference, National University of Singapore
  • 2015 Contesting colonial rule: mobility, confinement and the politics of exile, Harvard University Weatherhead Initiative on Global History conference A History of Penal Regimes in Global Perspective, 1800-2014, Harvard, US
  •  

Invited seminar/conference presentations (since 2015)

  • 2021 Towards decolonising development: stories of solidarity, International Development Seminar Series, University of Reading
  • 2021 ‘Development after Decolonising’, COST (European Co-operation in Science and Technology) Action Networks Decolonising Development: Research, Teaching and Practice (webinar online)
  • 2020 Shifting sands: the rhythms and temporalities of island sandscapes, Human geography Landscape Surgery seminar series on sandscapes, Royal Holloway (Webinar online)
  • 2019 Visual representations of humanitarianism: from colonialism to development, Histories and Cultures of Humanitarianism and Foreign Aid, Monash University, Melbourne
  • 2018 Postcolonial Travelers, Development Studies Seminar, University of Helsinki
  • 2018 Decolonising Development Studies, Roundtable, DSA annual conference, Manchester 
  • 2018 Human Geography Seminar Series, Monash University, Melbourne
  • 2018 Geography Seminar Series, Kings College, London
  • 2017 From International to Global Development conference, University of Manchester
  • 2017 Encountering Europe Otherwise, Migration and Mobilities Research network, RMIT, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2017 Colonial Imaginaries and postcolonial development: representations of travel and tourism, Massey University, New Zealand
  • 2017 Visualising Solidarity: Forging everyday humanitarianism through public representations of development, Department of Anthropology and Development Studies, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • 2017 Popular representations of development, Postcolonial Studies Institute, Melbourne
  • 2017 Encountering Europe Otherwise: on the road with postcolonial travellers, School of Geography seminar series, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • 2017 Visualising Solidarity: Forging everyday humanitarianism through public representations of development, School of Environmental and Life Sciences seminar series, University of Newcastle, Australia
  • 2016 ‘Is the Water safer than the Land’, Devnet conference, University of Wellington, New Zealand
  • 2016 Visual Solidarity and Refugees, Humanitarian and Development Studies seminar series, University of Western Sydney, Australia
  • 2016 Representing Development, Centre for Human Rights Research, University of Wollongong. Australia
  • 2016 Is the water safer than the land?: representations of Syrian refugees and the politics of a warm welcome, University of Manchester Insights lecture
  • 2016 Representations of Development, Development Studies Seminar Series, SOAS, University of London
  • 2015 Popular representations of development, Birkbeck annual lecture, University of London
  • 2015 Contesting colonial rule: mobility, confinement and the politics of exile, A History of Penal Regimes in Global Perspective: 1800-2014 conference, Harvard University, USA

 

Other conference and seminar papers presented (since 2015)

  • 2022 Entangled mobilities on a decaying island, 12th Mobilities Aotearoa Symposium, Massey University, Aotearoa/New Zealand
  • 2022 Historical Geography: Sensory lives on a decaying island, RGS/IBG, Newcastle, UK
  • 2020 Colonial legacies and the forging of postcolonial alliances: the experiences of Indian tourists in the 1950s, Critical Tourism Studies conference, Wakayama University Japan
  • 2019 Stories from the archives, Intuiting the Archives workshop, Institute of Postcolonial Studies, University of Melbourne
  • 2019 The material culture of seafarers and the circulation of intimate things, IAG Conference, University of Tasmania, Hobart
  • 2019 Shifting sands: the rhythms and temporalities of island sandscapes,  IAG Conference, University of Tasmania, Hobart
  • 2018 Reading the archives otherwise: exile and resistance in the colonial records, IAG Conference, Auckland, New Zealand
  • 2018 Colonial imaginaries of English landscapes: travels with tiffin boxes and cricket bats, IAG Conference, Auckland, New Zealand
  • 2017 Colonial Imaginaries and Tourism Development, Critcal Tourism Conference, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
  • 2017 On the Road with Non-Western travellers, AusMob Conference, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • 2017 Encountering Europe, Intimacies at a Distance, La Trobe University, Australia
  • 2017 Solidarity, everyday humanitarianism and refugees: the shifting borders of global development, Institute of Australian Geographers Conference, Brisbane, Australia
  • 2017 Visualizing Inequalities. Engaging with (critical) visual methods in Geography, Nordic Geographers Meeting, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2017 Global production networks and informal spaces of consumption: Barcelona street traders, Mauritian stallholders and ‘before time’ clothing production, Nordic Geographers Meeting, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2016 Solidarity through Culture Jamming, Imagining Solidarity Conference, University of Manchester
  • 2016 Beyond Internationalism: More-than-national thinking at the twilight of Empire, Annual Association of American Geographers Conference, San Francisco, USA
  • 2016 Transnational networks of resistance: contesting colonial rule and the politics of exile, Resistance and Empire Conference, University of Lisbon
  • 2016 Public representations of Syrian refugees and the forging of everyday humanitarianism, RGS/IBG Conference, London
  • 2016 Visual Solidarity, DSA Annual Conference, University of Oxford
  • 2016 Challenging Development Research, DSA Annual Conference, University of Oxford
  • 2016 The power of a warm welcome: Public representations of Syrian refugees, Everyday Humanitarianism Conference, LSE, University of London
  • 2015 Culture jamming and the politics of representation, NORDEV, University of Gothenburg

 

 

Other research

Research Grants (since 2015)

  • 2021 - 2023 Touring Britain in the 1950s: the adventures of postcolonial Indian travellers, Leverhulme  Major Research Fellowship £100k
  • 2020 - 2024 Decolonising Development: Research, Teaching and Practice, COST (European  Co-operation in Science and Technology) Action Networks, Euros 450,000
  • 2020-2021  Against Erasure: Digital witnessing of the Manus Island Detention Centre, University  of Melbourne Arts Collaborative Research Funding, AUS $20,000
  • 2020 – 2021 Visualising and representing environmental change in island communities, ESRC – DfID  £100k
  • 2019 – 2022  Sea-level rise and everyday lives in small island states, Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant, AUD$ 445,000 
  • 2019  Arts-based Community Education in Fragile Contexts, University of  Manchester GCRF Research Partner Development funds £35k 
  • 2017-2019  Environmental Violence, Economic Development and the Everyday livelihoods of Islanders, ESRC/DfID Development Frontiers (£260K) 
  • 2015  Imagining Solidarity, Journal of Development Studies conference grant (£4500) 
  • 2012-15 Cosmopolitan Development, Australian Research Council Linkage grant, AUS$500K (£350k) (partner investigator)
  • 2012 - 15  Perceptions and Understandings of Climate Change and Migration, NORGLOBAL, The Research Council of Norway, NOK4,000,000 (£440k)

Supervision information

Current PhD supervision

2021 - Anaa Maryam Hasan

2020 - Andriena Carillo

24 successfully completed:

Read unembargoed PhD theses

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

Visiting Fellow, Massey University

Nov 2022Jan 2023

Professor of Human Geography, University of Melbourne

20192022

Vice- Chancellor’s Fellow, School of Geography, University of Melbourne

20172019

Areas of expertise

  • G Geography (General)

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global inequalities
  • Global Development Institute

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