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Photo of Jayaraman, Nirupama

Nirupama Jayaraman

Graduate Student

Anthropology, Sociocultural


Building & Room:

BSB 2102


1007 W. Harrison St.

CV Download:

NJayaraman_F22 CV (1)


As a social cultural anthropologist, my research interests lie at the intersection of political, urban and economic anthropology. Broadly, I am interested in understanding urban transportation networks in South Asia. I hope to examine the infrastructures and mobilities that produce and are produced by such networks, specifically at the intersections of gender, caste and class. I study the commuter experience of women in Madurai, India on public transportation networks. I’m interested in questions of how the everyday urban space of a provincial city influences embodied gender in public space.

My postgraduate thesis focused on understanding the politics of heritage and urbanization in Chennai, India. Following this, I worked at a policy think-tank, focusing on their Smart Cities project across India. I subsequently co-founded a start-up, where I headed R&D working towards developing a social interaction platform

Selected Grants

Department of Anthropology, UIC, Joel M. Rothschild Memorial Endowment in Geography Award, 2022

American Institute of Indian Studies, Junior Fellowship Alternates List, 2022

UIC, Chancellor’s Student Service and Leadership Award, 2022

Political and Legal Anthropology Review, Digital Editorial Fellow, 2021

Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, UIC, Mary B. Bialas Award, 2021

National Science Foundation, NSF-REG Data Collection Grant, 2020, PI

Graduate College, UIC, University Fellowship, 2019, fellow

Selected Publications

2021                   Jayaraman, Nirupama. “Indian Food Delivery Networks during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Platypus: The CASTAC Blog, February 5, 2021.

2019                   Jayaraman, Nirupama, Arjun Bhargava, Parama Roy, Bhavna Thyagarajan, and Akshaya Ayyangar. 2019. “Healthy and Planned Urbanization.” In Resilient Chennai Strategy, Kaleidoscope: My City through My Eyes, 91-123. Chennai, India: Resiliant Chennai, 100 Resilient Cities Network. Edited by Parama Roy

2017                   Jayaraman, Nirupama and Shamika Ravi. 2017. “Important Lessons for the Smart Cities Mission.” The Mint, 28 Jun. Op-ed, Indian national edition. Smart-Cities-Mission.html.

2017                   Ravi, Shamika and Nirupama Jayaraman. 2017. Gender Issues in India: An Amalgamation of Research. New Delhi, India: Brookings India. Policy Brief.

2017                   Ravi, Shamika and Nirupama Jayaraman. 2017. Women and Representative Governance in India. New Delhi, India: Brookings India. Policy Brief

2016                   Jayaraman, Nirupama, “Beyond Madras Week: Exploring the Politics of Heritage and Urbanization in Chennai”. Master’s Thesis. IIT Madras. 2016


2011-2016, Master of Arts, Development Studies, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India
2019-2021, Master of Arts, Anthropology, University of Illinois at Chicago

Professional Memberships

Current              CASTAC: Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Computing at AAA

Current              National Women’s Studies Association

Current             Association of Asian Studies

Current              Society for Social Studies of Science (4S)

Current             American Association of Geographers

Research Currently in Progress

My dissertation research focuses on urban transportation networks in South Asia. I explore the invisibilized labor of strategic gendered navigation of public transport infrastructures specifically in non-metropolitan cities. My project focuses on the experiences of female commuters who use buses and shared-autorickshaws (called “share autos”) in the ancient temple city of Madurai, India, often supplemented by auto-rickshaws and cabs with last-mile connectivity shaped by walking. My research is especially urgent against the larger landscape of transport policy and gender-inclusive planning, both of increasing importance in the Global South. Shifting the focus from larger metropolitan cities that are often hubs for performing nationalism, I examine the case of post-colonial, provincial transport systems, where there exist different types of planning (state-mediated formal, people-led informal, and the gray area para-statal informal). I analyze ideas of the embodied and engendered commuter negotiating physical and social infrastructure against the backdrop of urban everyday life.