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Tanvi Bhatkal BA, MSc

Tanvi Bhatkal BA, MSc

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.

I completed my BA in Economics the University of Mumbai and my MSc in Economics for Development from the University of Oxford. Following this, I worked in public policy and international development research at think tanks in Mumbai and London. I have over four years of experience undertaking both quantitative and qualitative research, including field experience in India, Kenya and Nepal. Over this time I worked on a range of themes, including gender and women's empowerment, inequality, urban poverty, and inclusive urban policy.


  • 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


  • 2015: Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative Summer School on Multidimensional Poverty Analysis, Georgetown University


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 qualitative fieldwork in Mumbai will investigate 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. In this regard, I conceptualise space, following Lefebvre (1991), as it is conceived, lived and perceived.

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 will pay special attention to intersectionality to understand how multiple identities shape access to urban space and infrastructure and the related processes of identity formation and their political manifestations that impact urban form.

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


Selected presentations

  • Making Cities Work for Women: Gender and Urban Planning in India, Graduate Forum, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, January 2017

External activities

  • Member of Societies, Markets, States Research Group
  • Member of British Association for South Asian Studies
  • Social Secretary of Hughes Hall Boat Club