Sophia Abbas

Sophia Abbas's picture

Sophia Abbas is a third year Phd Student at the department of Anthropology whose research lies at the intersection between postcolonial urbanization, land disputes and an anthropology of aspirations. Her research intends to explore the rapid and ongoing urban transformation of an agrarian landscape that rests outside the domain of world class and global cities. She is interested in exploring these themes through an ethnographic focus on Manesar, a peri urban town resting on the hinterlands of the capital city of Delhi in India, where massive conversion of farmlands has been underway for the purpose of urban development since the 1980’s. As farms become factories, roads and highways replace muddy trails and pathways and new high rises emerge to coexist with older residential structures, her project asks how different residents, underlined by their caste, class, age and gender identities re-arrange their livelihoods and lifestyles within such shifting landscapes. Similarly, moving beyond a discussion of urbanization through territorial and economic dispossession of existing populations, her project is interested in foregrounding the role of different subjective experiences of loss, denial, hope and desire around an imagined urban future shaping urban change. Through a study of the genealogy of specific land disputes, urban planning regimes and an ethnography of varying subjective experiences of such land changes in this region, her research attempts to capture the diverse and non-unilinear procedures and aspirations that constitute urbanization in postcolonial India. Prior to joining Yale, Sophia received her BA and MA in Sociology from the University of Delhi. Her more recent MPhil thesis from the Department of Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics was a sociological study of the making of land acquisition laws in India.

Department: Anthropology