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Dr Ayona Datta is the author of 'The Illegal City: Space, law and gender in a Delhi squatter settlement' (2012) and co-editor of 'Translocal geographies: Spaces, places, connections' (Ashgate, 2011) and ‘Mega-urbanization in the global South: Fast cities and new urban utopias of the postcolonial state’ (Routledge, 2017). She also co-edited book, 'Postcolonial Utopias: Histories of the urban future' with Manchester University Press.

Ayona is a journal editor of Dialogues in Human Geography and Urban Geography and on the editorial boards of Antipode; Gender, Place and Culture; and Society and Space. She is also a publicly engaged scholar with a strong media presence and maintains a personal blog, The city inside out. She is regularly invited to international lectures and keynotes, including several meetings of the UN at their headquarters in Geneva and New York. 

She has a first degree in Architecture (Delhi), an MPhil in Environmental Design (Cantab.) and a PhD in Environmental Design and Planning (Arizona State University).


  • Postcolonial urban futures
  • Gender identity and urban citizenship
  • Translocal geographies of belonging

Ayona's broad research interests include the critical geographies of smart urbanism, gender citizenships and urban futures in the global south. Her research has sought to develop theoretical and empirical work on slums and informal settlements in exploring how marginal social actors live through the violence of law and urban development. This is particularly related to the resultant transformations in gender relations and citizenship struggles that occupy social, political and environmental spaces of action in the global South.

Her current research seeks to advance theoretical and empirical work on postcolonial urbanism through the examination of smart cities as experiments in urban innovation and digital citizenships.




PhD supervision

Ayona is interested in supervising PhD students in the following areas:

  • Postcolonial urbanism and utopian urban visions of the future
  • Gender, law, and violence in urban life
  • Politics of gender, space and power
  • Urban citizenship and belonging
  • Transnational/translocal spaces of home and identity
  • Innovative visual and participatory methodologies in researching urban futures.

Further details

See Ayona's research profile