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Diganta Das
Associate Professor
National Institute of Education

Diganta Das is an Associate Professor of Geography at Humanities and Social Studies Education, NIE, Nanyang Technological University. Diganta is a human geographer whose work focuses on issues of urban Asia, especially around smart urbanism, smart city development, urban policy mobility and experience of producing high-tech spaces. He has published in the area of urban policy mobility, smart nation, production of smart/high-tech spaces, and on changing urban waterscapes of South Asia. He was the former chair of Regional Planning and Development Specialty Group (RDPSG) of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) and is active in working on urban and regional planning issues. He is also active regionally around South and Southeast Asia in organizing conferences through the Southeast Asian Geography Association (SEAGA), where he is one of the executive members. He is currently involved in two research projects; the first one examines urban policy trajectories and their mobility, production of high-tech spaces and grounded realities. The second project intends to provide detailed genealogies of smart cities through in-depth empirical contexts of India and South Africa.

Research Statement

My research, which has three main strands, concentrates on understanding urbanism in the Global South, with a particular focus on Asia by examining recent urban developments in India and Singapore. The first strand, “urban policy mobility”, is primarily concerned with understanding how policy transfers, travel and translates across the Global South. The second strand, “smart urbanism”, seeks to understand the impact of digital technology at urban and national scale and its contributions to improving urban quality of life. The third strand, “waterscapes”, looks specifically at contemporary water issues, especially infrastructure and urban form in urbanizing Asia. Together the strands create a cogent research agenda that draws on scholarship that has to date been largely based in the Global North, in order to advance our understandings of global trends in the Global South.

Research One-liner

My research aims to understand in what ways Singapore’s urban practices can influence Asia’s emerging urbanization, help in better policy development, enhance urban quality of life and what, in turn, can Singapore learn from the surrounding region as its model is emulated and reflected back to it.

  1. Bunnell, T., & Das, D. (2010). A Geography of Serial Seduction: Urban policy transfer from Kuala Lumpur to Hyderabad. Urban Geography, 31(3), 277- 284. (This article discusses the urban policy mobility between Southeast Asia and India, and one of the most cited paper in Urban Geography journal in 2012-13).
  2. Das, D. (2019) In pursuit of being smart? A critical analysis of India’s smart cities endeavor, Urban Geography, 1-25.  (This article delves critically in detail about India’s recent smart cities mission).
  3. Das, D. & Skelton, T. (2019). Hydrating Hyderabad: Rapid urbanization, water scarcity, and the difficulties and possibilities of human flourishing. Urban Studies, 56, 1-17. (This article brings out the emerging privatizing urban water landscape in urban India and various challenges).
Latest Projects
  1. Waterscapes in Urbanizing Asia: Geographies of Water Accessibility, Vulnerability, Privatization, and Everyday Practices (PI), 2018 – 2021, Funded by MOE AcRF Tier 1, $65,000
  2.  Smart Cities: Provincializing the Global Urban Age in India and South Africa (Collaborator), 2018 – 2021, Funded by Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), $850,000
  3. Geographies of High-tech Development: Exploring Urban Policy Mobilities and Grounded Realities (PI), 2015 – 2019, Funded by MOE AcRF Tier 1, $74,112
Other affiliation(s)

Expert Areas
Smart Urbanism, Urban Asia

Research Interests
Smart Urbanism, Urban Policy Mobility, Urban Waterscapes

Research Category
Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences
Research Sub-category
Research/Studies on Asia, Security Studies & Policy Issues, Sociology
NISTH Assigned Topic Groupings
Smart cities, smart nation & future living
Affiliated Sustainable Development Goals
GOAL 6: CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION – Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in.
GOAL 10: REDUCED INEQUALITIES – To reduce inequalities, policies should be universal in principle, paying attention to the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized populations.
GOAL 11: SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES – There needs to be a future in which cities provide opportunities for all, with access to basic services, energy, housing, transportation and more.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.
Last Updated
14 Apr 2020
Last Updated
13 Sep 2020