Carmel Christy Kattithara Joseph's picture
Affiliated Fellow
Carmel Christy Kattithara Joseph

Cities have been studied extensively in various disciplines such as geography, anthropology, literary studies, sociology, development studies, policy studies and so on. There has been much scope for understanding cities through the lens of tradition/ modernity, backwardness/ development, culture/ economy and so on. My initial research interest in the city was guided by these readings coupled with my interest in better understanding Kochi, the Southwestern port city of India. The Arabian sea has brought traders, colonisers and missionaries to the shores of Kochi, all of whom influenced the creation of the city as it is today. Kochi’s peculiar geographical location and transnational borders distinctively mark its development from other similar cities in India.

One of the fastest growing cities and a popular tourism destination in South India, Kochi has historic pockets such as Fort Kochi and Mattancherry, naturally beautiful islands in the backwaters and the industrial nerve centre of Ernakulam with sky-scrapers beaming amidst the wetlands. Like any other city in the developing world, Kochi has its own stories of displacement, marginalisation and economic progress. My further readings and fieldwork opened pathways to understanding cities in relation to people’s emotional connection to spaces, not merely by singularly analyzing the built environment. Spatial arrangement and reorganization of the city holds within itself people’s memories and lived experiences of material and cultural development. My project takes off from this point to capture the affective memories and lived experience of displaced communities in the ever-expanding city of Kochi.

In my previous research, I have extensively worked on gender/ sexuality and caste in the public space with a focus on vernacular sites. After my first monograph, Sexuality and Public Space in India: Reading the Visible (2017), and some articles on caste, gender/ sexuality and media, this is my next major project. This project is, in some ways, in continuum with my interest in space as a significant site of politics and knowledge, yet different in terms of methods and frameworks from my earlier works which I think makes it more exciting for me to grapple with.


  • City
  • Religion
  • Gender & Sexuality
  • Caste
  • Spaces
  • Media Studies

Country of origin


Period of stay at IIAS

01/12/2018 to 30/09/2019

Home institute

Research topic

A City by the Sea: Spatial Segregation, Christianity and Fishermen in Kochi

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