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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) honours geographer, Dr Ayona Datta

Dr Ayona Datta from the Department of Geography has been awarded the Busk Medal 2019 for her contribution to 'our understanding of smart cities through fieldwork'.

Ayona Datta conducting fieldwork in India
Dr Ayona Datta conducting fieldwork in India, Credit: Rohit Madan

Dr Ayona Datta from the Department of Geography has been awarded the Busk Medal 2019 for her contribution to 'our understanding of smart cities through fieldwork'. The prestigious Royal Geographical Society (with IGB) medal recognises excellence in conservation research, fieldwork abroad in geography or in a geographical aspect of an allied science.

Dr Datta researches the politics of urban transformations in the Global South, particularly with relation to gender and citizenship. Her research delves into the relationship between marginal social actors, such as those living in slums and informal settlements, and their experiences with the violence of law and urban development. She is currently working on four research projects (funded by AHRC, ESRC, British Academy and Swiss National Foundation) that examine the different aspects of the smart city in India and South Africa, particularly with relation to violence against women, urban governance, urban futures and digital capacity building amongst socially disadvantaged groups.

Her recent project in India set out to investigate the use of technology by young, female millennials, mapping how they use, experience and navigate their city. As well as giving important insight into the lives of these women, who live in slum resettlement colonies, border towns and urban villages, the project aimed to produce knowledge and information to improve urban infrastructure and gender-specific safety in the city.

As a scholar from the Global South, the Busk Medal is not only a recognition of my work on smart cities – it is a recognition of lives in the margins. It’s a recognition of the co-production of knowledge with those living in slums, squatter settlements and resettlement colonies, where I have worked over the last twenty years.– Dr Ayona Datta
I am delighted and honoured to receive this medal. Yet it’s also testament to the work of my team of local research assistants and post-doctoral researchers, who have supported me in conducting fieldwork, increasing the impact of the research and empowering participants.– Dr Ayona Datta

Since 1832, the Royal Geographical Society’s (with IBG) prestigious medals and awards have recognised excellence in geographical research and fieldwork, teaching and public engagement. They are presented annually in recognition of those who have made outstanding contributions within the sphere of geography. Previous recipients of the Busk medal include Professor Uma Kothari (University of Manchester), Professor Jo Sharp (Deputy Head of School of Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow) and Professor Bhaskar Vira (University of Cambridge).


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