Alexander grew up in Berlin and studied Political Science, Communication Science and Modern History at Greifswald University. His special interests are forms of political and religious extremism and also matters related to globalization and urban development. He first came to India in 2004 for travelling and literally fell in love with the country and its people. This experience let him focus on India during his studies and brought him back to the country in 2008 where he interned for six months with PUKAR in the Mythologies of Mumbai project. Working on the Dharavi part of the project he conducted research on the Impact of Globalization on Political Extremism. In 2010 Alexander came back to Mumbai and used PUKAR as a fruitful base for the research of his Master thesis on the Slum Sanitation Program in Mumbai.
Darshan is a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity where he coordinates the Diversification of the State in the Mega City project. He is also a Senior Researcher at the Forced Migration Studies Programme, WITS University, South Africa where he co-coordinates International Policing, Mobility and Crime in South Africa, an initiative funded by the Open Society Foundation. In 2009 he was appointed Associate Researcher at the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, University of Hull. In 2008 he was a British Academy Fellow at the International Migration Institute, University of Oxford, where he continues to serve as the Reviews Editor on the Working Paper Series. He completed his doctorate, entitled The Contours of Control: A Study of European Territoriality at Monash University in 2006. He is the co-editor of a forthcoming book titled Slavery, Migration and Contemporary Bondage in Africa and has published many book chapters and peer-reviewed articles including for Political Geography, Review of International Studies, Journal of Southern African Studies and Policing & Society. He has provided expert consultation for INTERPOL, the EU, UNHCR, IOM, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. He has provided comment for Reuters, BBC, Al Jazeera, and the New York Times.
Project: The Future of Segregation in Global Cities
Darshan is currently working with the Mythologies of Mumbai team on a project titled ‘The Future of Segregation in Global Cities’. Global trade, migration and communications revolutions are creating an increasingly diverse and complex segregation patterns in cities like Johannesburg and Mumbai. Despite this fact, funding priorities and disciplinary biases still privilege work on supposedly prototypical global cities like New York, London and Tokyo.
This project will reverse this trend through a comparative study of Johannesburg and Mumbai. We assume that some of characteristics of these two cities which are often seen as extreme – rapid developmental transformation; state incapacity and corruption; multi-layered ethnic and religious diversity; high levels of inequality; and widespread violent crime – represent the norm in emerging global cities. We will generate the basis for a comparative study in new empirical findings from the Global South, provide policy-relevant insights to help combat the more disturbing new trends. Amongst other things, this collaboration will answer the following questions:
- Do the acute material inequalities characteristic of emerging global cities generate patterns of segregation which are different from societies in which the lines between rich and poor are more blurred?
- Does the rapid process of development – including the proliferation of slums and temporary shelters alongside globally connected centres of finance and trade – generate more fluid or heterogenous topographical expressions of segregation in Johannesburg and Mumbai?
- When state institutions are often captive to privately driven urban planning processes, what social forces, if any are promoting the desegregation of urban communities?