Thesis Title: Agri-tourism in the global south: Sustainable development and rural-urban linkages in the Mumbai-Pune city-regions
Primary Supervisor: Dr Roberta Sonnino
Secondary Supervisor: Professor Paul Milbourne
Reviewer: Professor Kevin Morgan
Starting Date: October 2011
Completion Date: September 2014
Funding Source: The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Rohit's PhD deals with sustainable development in southern city regions and how they are being transformed by urbanization at the rural-urban intersect. The agrarian environment is a node where land-use, mobility and connectivity have been rapidly transformed, but it is also an arena for livelihood conflicts and environmental justice struggles. Agri-tourism here is seen (and encouraged) by policy-makers as a "sustainable" rural development alternative; it has consequently gained popularity with the newly mobile middle-class urban tourists. Agri-tourism is a microcosm for critiquing "sustainability" within policy and academic circles. Centred around the everyday life of agri-tourism, the analysis bridges the gap between attitudes, values, aspirations, and the wider issues of agrarian change, rural-urban linkages and globalization.
The fieldwork was carried out in agri-tourism sites in Maharashtra, India, around the rapidly urbanizing cities of Mumbai and Pune. Using over 80 qualitative interviews and observations across three agri-tourism farms, the research focused on three main research themes: Firstly, how agri-tourism's knowledge and practice was being shaped by the governance regimes in the Mumbai-Pune city regions. Secondly, how rural-urban inter-relationships were shaping agri-tourism as a discourse. Thirdly, how sustainability was subjectively interpreted by local stakeholders within everyday practices and negotiations of agri-tourism.
Areas of Research Interest
- Sustainable Development
- Agrarian Environments
- Global South
- Rural Urban Linkages
- City Regions
- Rural entrepreneurship
"Role of rural-urban linkages in the ecological landscapes of Mumbai-Pune region", paper presentation at the AESOP Conference, Cardiff, October 2011.
"Agri-tourism and sustainable development in the Mumbai-Pune region", paper presentation at the RGS-IBG Annual Meeting, Edinburgh, July 2012.
"Transforming rural-urban relationships in the face of urbanization: Agri-tourism and sustainable development in the Mumbai-Pune region", paper and poster presentation at the Nordic Geographers Conference, Reykjavik, June 2013.
"Altered representations of rurality and sustainability in the Global South: Agri-tourism in the Mumbai Pune city-regions", presented at the RGS-IBG Annual Meeting, Edinburgh, August 2013.
"New frontiers of environmentalism in a contested landscape: social constructions of nature in agri-tourism in peri-urban Maharashtra, India", paper presentation in the AAG Conference, Tampa, Florida, April 2014.
Book review: "City in Sight: Dutch Dealings with Urban Change" by Jan Willen Duyvendak, Frank Hendriks & Mies van Niekerk (Eds), International Planning Review, 18(2) 2013 available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13563475.2013.774209#.UsQdQPRdWuI.
Book review: "Red Tape" by Akhil Gupta, Gender, Place & Culture, 20(6) 2013, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0966369X.2013.826845#.UsQaHvRdWuI.
Journal article: "Redefining Sustainable Development: Environmental Perspectives From the North and South (Re)Examined Through Agri-tourism", ACME, (Forthcoming – under review).
Conference Session Organization
"Entrepreneurship in Peri-Urban Villages: Understanding Empowerment and Marginalization in the Urbanizing Global South", Session Convenor. Session sponsored by DARG, RGRG and PERG research groups at RGS2014 Annual Meeting, London, August 2014. Further details: http://conference.rgs.org/Conference/CallForPapers/View.aspx?heading=Y&session=7bc6cfda-e0b1-4914-9ba1-4167a2abdcf5