Geetika Anand wins SSAG award for best Master’s course work thesis

26 Jul 2021 - 06:45

The Department of Environmental and Geographical Science is proud to announce that Geetika Anand was selected as winner of the 2021 Society of South African Geographers’ (SSAG) award for the best Masters coursework thesis. Geetika did her degree in our Southern Urbanism Masters programme, and was supervised in her thesis by Professor Sophie Oldfield. Geetika’s thesis, titled ‘A Place to Live: Incremental Building and its Logics in Informal Settlements of Cape Town and Delhi’ explored the multi-dimensional and relational nature of incremental building in the informal settlements of Kosovo in Cape Town and Gayatri Colony in Delhi. Many, if not most, houses in southern cities are self-built. Whether formal or informal, these houses are both built, and often, expanded incrementally. Through an in-depth exploratory method of ‘homestead biographies’, in this research she collected the personal stories of house builders. The juxtaposition of Gayatri Colony and Kosovo shows rich parallel stories of people’s housing struggles and aspirations, on one hand, and highlights the varied ways in which residents have built over the years, on the other. Starting from finding one’s own place, incremental building is a multi-dimensional process, which revolves around securing space, sourcing building materials, building household assets, and linking to infrastructure. 

Geetika Anand

She argues not only incremental building is a story of agency and how ordinary people build their houses, neighbourhoods and cities, it is equally a story of a critical set of relationalities that play out at multiple scales. Places to live, for instance, are built incrementally through social connections; they are built in response to crises; and lastly, they are built in relation to the state. These relationalities drive the practices of incremental building in informal settlements: ‘in the meanwhile’ in Kosovo, Cape Town and ‘as a gamble’ in Gayatri Colony, Delhi.