skip to primary navigation skip to content

Tanvi Bhatkal

Tanvi Bhatkal

PhD Candidate, Department of Geography

Tanvi researches gender, the socio-spatial production of space and urban planning in India.


My research interests centre on gender, urban planning and governance, and cultural politics of cities in the global South, with a focus on India. My doctoral research examines the socio-spatial production of urban space and gendered contestations relating to the right to the city.


  • 2016 - present: PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2014 - 2016: Senior Research Officer, Growth, Poverty and Inequality, Overseas Development Institute (London, UK)
  • 2012 - 2014: Economist, Research and Advocacy, IDFC Foundation (Mumbai, India)

Academic qualifications

  • 2016 - Present: PhD Candidate, Geography. University of Cambridge
  • 2011 - 2012: MSc Economics for Development. University of Oxford
  • 2008 - 2011: BA Economics (First), Honours in Economics and Political Science. St. Xavier's College, University of Mumbai

Other training

  • 2018: IIHS PhD Workshop, Bangalore
  • 2017: RC21-FURS-IJURR Summer School in Comparative Urban Studies, London/Leeds
  • 2015: Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative Summer School on Multidimensional Poverty Analysis, Georgetown University

Research funding

  • IJURR Foundation Studentship (2018)
  • Phillip Lake II (2017, 2018)
  • Smuts Travel Grant (2017)
  • Mary Euphrasia Mosley Travel Fund (2017)
  • University Fieldwork Fund Travel Grant (2017)


Making cities work for women: gendered negotiations of urban planning in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region

My doctoral research will contribute to feminist geography and critical urban theory, in particular that relating to the right to the city, through case study work in the Mumbai metropolitan area in the period since the 1980s.

Although women perceive and negotiate cities differently from men, urban planning often assumes they have the same needs, thereby reflecting and reproducing unequal gender relations. My research aims to examine the political economy of gendered urban planning in the metropolitan region of Mumbai through the period of India's neoliberal transformation. Primary fieldwork investigates how girls and women use urban space and the constraints they face in accessing public spaces; how notions of inclusivity have evolved in urban planning discourse and practice; the causes of divergence between plans and practice; and the drivers of progressive change in gendering the right to the city across the metropolitan region.

Through intra-urban comparison of experiences of space and their underlying politics, drawing on detailed work in selected sites, research findings will contribute to an analysis of the diversity within the term 'city'. In addition, I employ an intersectional approach to understand how multiple identities shape access to urban space and infrastructure and the related processes of identity formation and their political manifestations.

My broad research interests include: political economy; critical urban studies; feminist theory; post-colonial theory; cities of the Global South.


  • Lucci, P., Bhatkal, T., Khan, A. (2018) 'Are we underestimating urban poverty?' World Development

Conference presentations

  • Women and 'public' spaces: Modernity within bounds in Mumbai, European Conference on South Asian Studies, Panel on Women and Public Spaces: Questions of Sexuality, Visibility and Freedom. Paris, July 2018
  • Making cities work for women: negotiating gender-inclusive urban planning in India, RC21 of the International Sociological Association Conference, Panel on Rethinking gender and sexual justice in the new dynamics of the global urban. Leeds, September 2017
  • Expert workshop on Sex-disaggregated data for the SDG indicators in Asia and the Pacific: What and how?, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Bangkok, May 2016


  • Geographical Tripos
    • Part IA, Contemporary Urban Geographies (Supervisor; MT 2018, LT 2019)
    • Part IA, Statistics (Demonstrator; MT 2018)
    • Part II, Geographies of Global Urbanism (Supervisor; MT 2018)
  • Social Sciences Research Methods Centre
    • Foundations in Applied Statistics (Demonstrator; 2018)

External activities

Other responsibilities

  • Co-convener of the Infrastructural Geographies Research Group 2018-19
  • Co-convener of City Seminar 2018-19


  • Millicent Fawcett Workshop, Newnham College (Contributor; 2018)
  • Sutton Trust Summer School (Contributor; 2018)
  • Cambridge Insight (Contributor; 2017)
  • Experience Cambridge (Co-convenor; 2017)