Humanities Research Fellow
Affiliation: NYU Abu Dhabi
Education: BA, University of Cincinnati; MA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Research Areas: Urban History, Migration, Architecture, State Formation, Development Discourses
Huma Gupta did her doctoral training at MIT in History, Theory & Criticism of Architecture + Art. She was also a fellow in the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA) and the Social Science Research Council. Her dissertation “The Architecture of Dispossession: Migrant Sarifa Settlements and State-Building in Iraq” examines state-building through the architectural production of the dispossessed. Specifically, it historicizes the dialectical relationship between Baghdad’s reed and mud settlements populated by rural migrants and the development of state institutions in the decades following Iraq’s independence in 1932. She argues that the intractable and intertwined problems of the migrant and the slum are productive problems that stimulate capital accumulation through 'solutions’ spanning architectural design, housing programs, urban planning, land grabbing, and large infrastructure projects. Yet, she shows how these ‘problems’ merely function as a foil for the Iraqi state whose very model of economic development and political order was premised on an iterative process of dispossession.
Her broader research interests include the economic, cultural, and political relationships between discourses of architecture, development, and urban planning. Developing methodologies using sonic, visual, and other sensory archives to construct histories of subaltern spaces and subjects is of particular interest to her. Previously, she graduated from MIT’s Department of Urban Studies with a Master’s in City Planning with a concentration in International Development in 2011 and has a B.A. in Middle Eastern History from the University of Cincinnati. From 2011 to 2013, Huma worked in Afghanistan where she worked with communities in seven provinces to monitor small infrastructure projects and hold international donors accountable to their aid objectives.