Urban Infrastructures of Wellbeing: Lessons from the Interface of Formal and Informal Urban Systems in Dharavi, Mumbai

  • Jeffery, G. (Speaker)
  • Vidya Sagar Pancholi (Speaker)
  • Laxmi Kamble (Speaker)
  • Caroline Knowles (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Abstract: The talk will discuss research that explores how formal and informal infrastructures interact to affect the well-being of people in cities across the Global South. Thus, providing insights to policymakers to enable new approaches to infrastructure development. The research focuses on plastic waste work in Dharavi's 13 Compounds, which examines urban development through the lens of the ‘smart city from below’, at the interface between the user-generated city and centralized urban planning systems. It exposes the tensions and negotiations between the informal yet self-organized recycling industry and the top-down infrastructure development model. The talk will also discuss the innovative methods used to engage with the site and the people to identify, understand, engage and communicate the tacit knowledge embedded in local communities.


Dr Caroline Knowles is a Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. She writes about migration and material culture and is interested in the circulation of objects and their afterlives. She specialises in visual, spatial and biographical methods, often working with photographers and artists. She is the author of Flip-Flop: a journey through globalisation’s backroads, published by Pluto Press in 2014 (https://www.flipfloptrail.com). She is currently the Director of the British Academy’s Cities and Infrastructure Programme focused on projects towards improvements in infrastructure in cities in the global south.

Dr Graham Jeffery is a Professor in Arts and Media Practice in the School of Business & Creative Industries, University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and Director, UWS Protracted Crisis Research Centre. Graham’s work spans participatory and community arts practices, creative pedagogies, cultural policy and urban and community development. He is currently the Principal Investigator on a British Academy/GCRF-funded project: Waste, Water and Wellbeing: lessons from the interface of formal/informal urban systems in Dharavi, Mumbai. Graham has also worked as a teacher, composer and facilitator in a wide range of contexts, including work with the London International Festival of Theatre, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and East London Dance, as well as in policy advice and consultancy with CapeUK, Creative Scotland and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. He has led numerous action research projects with diverse communities in different places around the world.
Period28 Sept 2022
Held atIIT Bombay, India
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • waste management
  • plastics
  • Mumbai
  • urbanism
  • informal economy
  • urban policy
  • urban planning
  • inequalities