Vandana Desai Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
My research involves an integrated strategy of cross disciplinary research collaboration combining my own background in development with the work of academics from geography, sociology, social policy, gerontology and international NGOs such as Practical Action and WaterAid in seeking to influence international policy making – focussing on theoretical and implementation issues in development policy, urban governance, and North-South donor relations in areas of low-income housing and infrastructural development (water and sanitation), ageing and gender issues.
My work is organised in four particular themes. First, improved infrastructure and services and the threat that it creates for security of tenure for slum dwellers in Ghana and Bangladesh with Dr. Alex Loftus (Geography, Royal Holloway), Dr. Mansoor Ali (Practical Action) and Mr. Nick Bundle (WaterAid UK). Secondly, on ageing strategies among the urban poor in Mumbai. Thirdly, on ageing strategies, transnationalism and global health care with Dr. Deborah Price (Institute of Gerontology, Kings College). Fourthly, on cultural transformation and gender issues in India and Indonesia, in collaboration with the Dr. Shruti Tambe, University of Pune (India), and Dr. Harriot Beazley in Queensland University, Australia.
Funded by DFID (UK) and a grant from the British Academy, I have carried out research on NGOs and development. The research was the first of its kind in focusing on a sample of 67 urban NGOs in one city i.e. Mumbai. This research led theoretical debates on how NGOs are increasingly called upon to fill the gap between the needs of vulnerable urban groups and the partial service delivery of the public sector.
I have been a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the journal Progress in Development Studies for the last eleven years. I was appointed a member of the editorial board “The Urban World” a quarterly journal of the Regional Centre for Urban and Environmental Studies (RCUES), All India Institute of Local Self Government, Mumbai in May 2009. I also hold external positions of responsibilities such as gender adviser to the Diversity Unit of the British Council, elected member of the advisory council of Global Think (Development Education Association - DEA) and research associate with Equality Research and Consulting Ltd
I have co-edited two of the leading development text books. I teach on the undergraduate and Master’s programme and supervise PhD postgraduate and post-doctoral researchers.
I did my Masters at Liverpool University and achieved a Wingate scholarship at Oxford University to do my DPhil supervised by Prof. Ceri Peach (Geography) and Prof. Marcus Banks (Social Anthropology). My thesis on Community participation and slum housing (Sage Publications, 1995) was awarded the Eileen Younghusband Memorial Award from the London School of Economics and Political Science. On completion in 1992, I was appointed as a Research Fellow for three years at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex and in 1996 moved to a Lectureship to the Geography Department at Royal Holloway.