2023 – Biodata of the trainers


Professor Dr S. Akbar Zaidi is the Executive Director of the IBA. He is a renowned political economist with an experience of four decades of teaching and research in Pakistan and abroad. His areas of interest in research include political economy, development, the social sciences, and history. He completed his PhD in History from the University of Cambridge in 2009. Prior to his appointment as the Executive Director, IBA Karachi in 2020, Dr. Zaidi served as Professor at Columbia University, New York and held a joint position at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), and at the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS), from 2010 to 2020, when he became the Executive Director of the IBA. Dr. Zaidi has written numerous books, and over 80 academic articles in international journals and as chapters in books.

Dr Rémy Delage is a geographer working on the role of religious circulations (pilgrimages, ritual and political processions, vernacular tourism) in structuring places and territorial belonging in India and Pakistan. His PhD (2004) centered on an in-depth study of a Hindu mass religious gathering in South India, focusing especially on the circulatory dimension of pilgrimage and the pilgrim’s journey as a strong experience of mobility. Between 2008 and 2013, he participated to the French Study Group on Sindh initiated by Michel Boivin, a multidisciplinary research project looking at processes of social and religious change in a Sufi pilgrimage center, Sehwan Sharif, looking more specifically at the interplay between the manifestations of a cult of saints, the making of local society, of composite modes of religiosity and the ritual politics. Rémy Delage co-edited two books, one with Michel Boivin, Devotional Islam in Contemporary South Asia Shrines, Journeys and Wanderers, Routledge, London, 2016) and another one with Mathieu Claveyrolas, Territoires du religieux dans les mondes indiens. Parcourir, mettre en scène, franchir (Edition EHESS, Collection Purusartha, Paris, 2016). He was the codirector of the CEIAS between 2019 and 2022, and is also the director of the Master’s degree in Asian Studies at EHESS since 2018.

Aqsa Jawed is a Lecturer at the Department of Economics, School of Economics and Social Sciences at IBA, Karachi since 2021. She was the Co-Principal investigator for the Karachi Urban Resilience Project that looked at the migrant population in two informal settlements of Karachi. Prior to this, she was working in the development sector on a randomized control trial in Karachi and has led the design of community-based interventions to promote health care, social cohesion, and women empowerment at the grassroots level. She completed her Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Warwick in 2018 on the commonwealth scholarship and BSc (Hons.) in Economics from Lahore University of Management Sciences in 2016.

Dr Michel Boivin received his initial training in the history of the contemporary Muslim world, before turning to anthropology. He is co-Director of the CEIAS (CNRS-EHESS) and Director of Research at the CNRS. He teaches Historical Anthropology at EHESS and supervised several PhD students. His research mostly focuses on the varied interactions between Islam, especially Sufism and Shiism, Hinduism, and Sikhism. After having worked intensively on the issue of authority and transmission of religious knowledge, he shifted to topics pertaining material culture of religions. Actually, he is completing a research project on the Indus River as represented by riverine populations, and how it is sacralised, with Professor Masooma Shakir from N. E. D. University, Karachi. He is currently starting a new one with Professor Karen Ruffle, from the University of Toronto, on the material culture related to the veneration of the Ahl al-Bayt from the Middle East to South Asia. His latest books are The Hindu Sufis of South Asian. Partition, Shrine Culture and the Sindhis of India, London, I.B. Tauris, 2019, and The Sufi Paradigm and the Makings of a Vernacular Knowledge in Colonial India: the case of Sindh (New York, Palgrave MacMillan, 2020).


Dr Adam Abdullah received my degree in architecture from the NED University Karachi, and a PhD in City and Regional Planning from the Middle East Technical University, Turkey. His doctoral thesis examined the discursive production of urban temporalities, where he explored the Lyari Expressway in Karachi within a Foucauldian conceptual framework. He analysed how planning discursively produces fundamentally temporal urban subjects and emphasized the need for a temporal ethics underlying planning. He joined KUL in 2019 and is currently Associate Director. At KUL, He had worked on urban Sindh’s peripheral urbanization patterns, uneven infrastructures, transient legalities of land, as well as low-income and informal settlements. I explore Karachi’s fragmented urban fabric through socio-demographic and spatial analysis, quantitative surveys, statistical methods, and data visualization and mapping, using SPSS, QGIS, and Photoshop. He is also trained in qualitative methods, particularly through MAXQDA. As part of the Cool Infrastructures project at KUL,He is leading a 20, 000-respondent survey on urban heat, thermal perceptions, and the built environment in Karachi’s low-income/off-grid communities and outdoor workers; and overseeing the planning, collection, categorization, and analysis of the field data. In October 2022, He won a SESS-CRG grant to conduct quantitative thermal surveys in two of Sindh’s smaller towns, Hyderabad, and Jacobabad, as an extension to the Karachi surveys.

Dr Inayat Ali is a Pakistani medical anthropologist. He received his PhD from the University of Vienna, Austria; and completed various public health modules from the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, and the Berlin School of Public Health, Germany. Currently, he is Incharge/ Assistant Professor of Department of Public Health and Allied Sciences and Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, at Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan. He is also a Research Fellow at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna, Austria; and Visiting Assistant Professor, at the State University of Surabaya, Indonesia. He also has served as Assistant Professor (Visiting)at the National University of Medical Sciences, Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Within medical anthropology and public health, his geographical focus is on South Asia, especially Pakistan. His PhD project studied measles and vaccination in Sindh Province, Pakistan. Using (ill-)health as analytical entry points and significantly informed by critical medical anthropology, he explores, analyzes, and illuminates the interplay between health, disease, structured disparities, geopolitics, and biopolitics. He emphasizes applied research to produce anthropological knowledge that can contribute to current world problems. His most recent work focuses on COVID-19 in Pakistan, as he is working as the Principal Investigator of the project, Exploring and Understanding the Impacts of COVID-19: A Qualitative Inquiry, approved by theNational Bioethics Committee of Pakistan. Also, he has led research on COVID-19 in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nigeria. Much of that work has already been published in journals of anthropology and public health. He has authored around 50 peer and non-peer-reviewed articles on nutrition; maternal health; vaccination; and COVID-19. He is the lead editor of the book Negotiating the Pandemic: Cultural, National,and Individual Constructions of COVID-19. London: Routledge, with Robbie Davis-Floyd as co-editor.

Dr Nausheen H Anwar is the Founder and Director of the Karachi Urban Lab (KUL) and Professor City & Regional Planning in the Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts (SSLA), IBA. Her research is situated at the intersections of urban planning, critical urban studies, critical geography, anthropology, political ecology. She received her PhD from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), Columbia University. She had  held postdoctoral positions at Harvard University and at the Asia Research Institute, National University Singapore. She has  extensive experience collaborating with academic partners in the Global North and Global South; in building cross-continental South-to-South research partnerships; and in managing large-scale, multi-city projects, as well as working with grassroots organizations and local governments. Her ongoing research looks at the relationship between the built environment, vulnerability, climate change hazards – e.g., heatwaves, chronic heat, urban flooding – and post-colonial histories/contexts of infrastructural violence, land displacement and anti-poor urban planning in the urban Global South. I am particularly interested in understanding the multi-dimensional risks that arise from such interactions, and the gendered/intersectional implications, as well as how different forms of urban knowledge — spatial practices, everyday practices and mechanical contingencies that define everyday life in cities — can be scaled up to prepare for disasters and emergencies.

Amer Bazl Khan (Co-founder/Director, MAHI) is a Maritime Archaeologist with over 17 years of experience in Australia and the broader Asia-Pacific region. Prior to moving back to Pakistan, Amer was the Principal Archaeologist for the State of Queensland at the Government Department of Environment and Science, where he led the Department’s maritime and terrestrial archaeology teams responsible for the administration of State and Commonwealth heritage legislation. Amer has worked on numerous maritime archaeological projects in Australia and the Asia Pacific region, including working with UNESCO to develop regional capacity for the management of underwater cultural heritage. Amer has a Masters of Arts Degree in Maritime Archaeology from Flinders University in Australia and a Bachelor of Science Degree from Yale University in the US. He is a member of the International Committee on the Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH), an international scientific committee for the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) as well as a member of the ICOMOS Pakistan National Committee.

Samuel Benkimoun is a Ph.D. student in Geography at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris, France), under Dr. Eric Denis and Dr. Olivier Telle, and is a member of the joint research unit ographies-Cités and the CSH. His research interests focus on urban geography, health issues, and spatial analysis methods. His Ph.D. dissertation investigates the potential linkages between the spread of infectious diseases and urban dynamics with a special focus on people’s mobility, urban sprawl, or neighborhood social disparities. Trained in quantitative methods, his work mainly relies on a GIS-based modeling approach, within the framework of mobility and time geography theories, with the metropolitan area of Delhi as a primary example. Apart from his Ph.D. work, he is currently working as a data analyst on the multidisciplinary research project Challineq (Challenging Inequalities), under the supervision of Prof Nicolas Gravel. He is engaged in constructing a data set out of a heterogeneous sample of 5000 household surveys on the prices (purchase or rent) and the characteristics (size, number of rooms, comfort, location, amenities…) representative of the diverse housing inequalities of Delhi.

Dr Vanessa Caru is a historian and research fellow at the Centre for South Asian Studies (CEIAS, CNRS-EHESS), Paris. She published in 2013 a book entitled “Workers’ Housing and the Social Question in Bombay (1850-1950)”, which resulted from her PhD dissertation. She is currently researching the social history of Indian staff of the Public Works Department in the Bombay presidency, from 1875 to 1950. In particular, she is interested in the—permitted or prohibited—social mobility opened up by the emergence of this new profession. Besides, she carries out research about Sukkur dam in Sindh while mobilizing family archives and private collections of photographies dating from the colonial period.

Dr Eric Denis, current director of Géographie-cités’ Lab (Paris), holds a PhD in urban and economic geography from the University of Caen and a Habilitation from Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne University. He is senior research fellow at the French National Centre for Scientific Research – CNRS. Based in Cairo over a decade (1993-2003), he has worked also in Sudan. From 2009 to 2013, he was heading the social sciences department of the French Institute of Pondicherry, India. His studies concern metropolitan changes, social division of urban territories and the evolution of systems of cities with a particular focus on land transformations and international comparisons. His research contributes to decentre our understanding of urban dynamics by claiming small towns where half of the urban citizen are living. He authored over 60 papers and books (Popular Housing and Urban Land Texture in the Middle East – 2012 ; Subaltern Urbanization in India – 2017, etc.). His current study concerns urban commons for housing and land transformation in the Global South. He is also involved in researches modelling built-up footprint expansion, human mobilities and urban land financialization.

Dr Sylvie Fanchette is a geographer working on the Nile delta process of urbanization, she had set up several research projects on various deltas dynamics of population and environmental vulnerability (Nile, Niger, Red River, Bengal) deltas. She has been managing numerous research projects on the field with my Vietnamese partners for 15 years on issues related to migration, industrialization and urbanization in the highly dense and vulnerable Red River Delta. Since 2014, she has organized various events in Hanoi and HCMC to set up a large network of researchers in Asia addressing the issues of densification, urbanization and migration in the framework of the Observatory of the population densification in Asia. They are collecting statistical data bases and maps on the Mekong, Red River and Bengal deltas dynamics of population from various projects to feed our researches on the densification of the population, the land use changes and the environmental degradation. In 2016, Sha has started a new field of research in India (West Bengal) and Bangladesh thanks to the participation to the Collaborative Research BandAid project– Bangladesh Delta: Assessment of the Causes of Sea-level Rise Hazards and Integrated Development of Predictive Modelilng Towards Mitigation and Adaptation funded by Belmont Forum. She has submitted the Movindeltas project (Migration and Adaptive Strategies to Climate Change in Asian Deltas) in response to the EU H2020 call “Climate Change and dynamic of population” with 20 partners from Europe (Germany, Netherlands and UK) and Asia (Bangladesh, India, Cambodia, Vietnam and Egypt) (2020-2025).

Dr Bérénice Girard  is a sociologist whose research focuses on environmental policies and their actors in contemporary India. She defended her PhD in sociology at EHESS Paris in July 2019. Her thesis, “The Engineers, the River and the State: The Role and Place of Engineers in the Management of the Ganges,” was awarded the 2020 French Academic Network on Asian Studies PhD Award. Her current research focuses on the role of small and medium enterprises in solar rollout. She is particularly interested in the discourses, perspectives, and work practices of solar entrepreneurs, and their role in shaping the transition to low-carbon energies at the local and regional levels. She conducts fieldwork in the state of Rajasthan in India and in the Region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in France. She recently joined the CESSMA (IRD) in Paris.

Soha Macktoom is Associate Director of the Karachi Urban Lab and has been part of it since its inception. She has trained as an architect and received her MSc in Urban and Regional Planning from the NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi. Her research interests are interdisciplinary and span critical architecture, climate change, development studies, urban history, and urban policy. She is currently adjunct faculty at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVSAA) and teaches in the Department of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts (SSLA) at the IBA. She has also taught theory and studio courses at NED University and Nazeer Hussain University (NHU). Her previous work experience includes working as a project architect with the architectural firm Shahab Ghani and Associates (SGA) on various projects, including the TDF Ghar and The MagnifiScience Center, as well as other residential and commercial projects. As an academic, She endeavors to communicate her knowledge and on-ground experiences as a researcher to students so they can develop a critically oriented understanding of the complex dynamics that shape cities, and for informed solutions in their design projects.

Marvi Mazhar is an architect and researcher, her practice combines visual culture, spatial advocacy and interventions. Recently completed her Masters (MA RA) at Goldsmiths, University of London (2021) and in 2022 started teaching at Indus Valley School of Architecture (IVSAA) M.Phil Program, Pedagogies of Place. Her present ongoing research focuses upon the representation and production of Karachi’s Urban Coastal Periphery, and its Ecology. Mazhar’s advocacy creates a dialogue between the changing footprint of Karachi’s inner city through personal archives, and visual ethnography of purana shehr (old town), versus naya shehr (new/reclaimed town). It is an attempt to understand the legalities of public heritage properties, amenity plots, urban parks of Karachi, and extends towards understanding the gated community from a socio-analytical perspective. Through her practice, she continues to examine how cities grow in an isolated architectural , versus those in a mohalla /neighbourhood-based design practice.

Dr. Bishawjit Mallick is a geographer at Utrecht University, Utrecht. Dr. Mallick’s research focuses on “people and place”, in particular, his background includes research into the field of intergenerational environmental (non-)migration, refugee and host-communities’ interactions, disaster risk reduction (DRR) as well as climate culture, resilience, and adaptation. He has been awarded more than €1 million in competitive research funding, including Marie Sklodowska-Curie Global Fellowship under EU Horizon 2020 programme. His current research focuses on the historical grounding of non-migration (i.e., why people voluntarily remain in place through generations; how the social, environmental and political regimes contribute to staying put). He employs both socio-spatial approaches and mixed-methods in his researches. Dr. Mallick has been significantly contributing to the field of environmental non-migration and believes in South-North-South collaboration as the key pathway to sustainable development. He has published over 30 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters. His recent research has appeared in Environment Research Letters, Ambio, Applied Geography; Environment, Development and Sustainability; Ecological Economics; Sustainability; and Journal of Computational Social Science.

Afia Salam holds a Masters in Geography from the University of Karachi and is currently freelance journalist and Communications consultant (Dawn, Tribune, Newsline, Aurora, The News on Sunday, Thirdpole and Pique magazine). She is currently Communications Lead for an alternative education initiative called Badal Do, focusing on teachers training, and teaching at IoBM as visiting faculty. Afia Salam is also part of the project implementation team for Indus Earth Trust, Water for Women, programme, and the working group set up by the Govt. and IUCN for the establishment of Marine Protected Areas, of which the success was the declaration of Astola Island in Balochistan. She is also a professional editor of reports and documents, speak regularly at the media and as a panelist and/or host in seminars and panel discussion on the above topics.


Muhammed Toheed is Associate Director of the Karachi Urban Lab (KUL) IBA, and an Urban Planner and Geographer. His research and teaching interests span urban informality, infrastructural violence, climate change, land/tenure dynamics, and GIS-based mapping. He received his M. Phil in Urban and Regional Planning from the NED University, Karachi, and MSc Geography from University of Karachi with a specialization in Geographical Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS). He is presently adjunct faculty at the Bahria University, Earth and Environmental Sciences Department as well as the NED University, Architecture and Planning Department. He has worked extensively with marginalized communities living in informal settlements across Karachi; trained youth in mapping and surveying; managed citywide mapping projects, as well as worked with grassroots organizations, NGOs, and local government departments such as the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC). His ongoing research looks at the relationship between infrastructures – water, waste, sewage – and vulnerability and climate risks such as floods, heatwaves, climate change induced migrations, and the relationship with urban planning practices in urban Pakistan. He is interested in exploring and acquiring spatial data to build a geodatabase of different infrastructural domains and analyzing that data to suggest solutions for urban issues — a central data hub can be useful for different departments for city planning.

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