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Kimberly Noronha

Doctoral Candidate in City and Regional Planning

Sobti Family Fellow, 2021-22

CASI is pleased to announce Kimberly Noronha as one of two Sobti Doctoral Fellows at the Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI) for the 2021–22 academic year.

Kimberly joins CASI from Bombay and Delhi, India and is currently entering her fifth year as a doctoral candidate in the City and Regional Planning Department of Penn’s Weitzman’s School of Design. Her research interests include the study of the lived experience of urban informality in the global south, with a focus on the production and use of space to create and perpetuate the intersectional urban identities and inequalities of informality, poverty, and gender in India and Ghana.

Kimberly’s dissertation asks how the state’s relationship with women living, working, saving, and spending informally define the lived experience of urban informality. To answer this question, she uses a mix of participant observation, archival research, visual ethnography (especially photovoice), and participatory mapping to discover how movement through urban spaces produces and perpetuates the ascribed intersectional identity of gender and informality. In particular she is interested in how and when space becomes informal, and in doing so, what can we learn about informality through these spatial negotiations? How can planners challenge their notion of the planned normal to include the informal?

Prior to her arrival at Penn, Kimberly worked extensively in India on a wide variety of urban issues including urbanization policy, poverty, livelihoods, education, and water and sanitation. In more than 15 years in the development sector, she has worked with governments, NGOs, implementing agencies and research institutes to formulate policy, coordinate programs, and conduct research.

She has an MPhil in African Studies from the University of Delhi, an MSc in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and a BA in Anthropology and Sociology from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. Her research has received prior support from CASI, the Mellon Humanities, Urbanism and Design Initiative, the Centre for Experimental Ethnography, and the GAPSA Provost Interdisciplinary Innovation Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.