• D. Asher Ghertner
  • D. Asher Ghertner (on leave AY 23-24)
  • Office: Lucy Stone Hall Room B-238
  • Phone: (848) 445 4129
  • Research Interests: Urban geography, development and displacement, political ecology, aesthetic politics, ethnography, postcolonialism, India
  • Core Faculty, Graduate Faculty

I am an interdisciplinary geographer interested in the technologies and tactics through which mass displacement is conceived, justified and enacted. My research uses the contemporary politics of urban renewal in India to challenge conventional theories of economic transition, city planning, and political rule. I taught for two years at the London School of Economics before joining Rutgers in 2012. I served as the Director of the South Asian Studies Program at Rutgers from 2013-2020. I am currently an editor of Environment and Planning D: Society and Space and am a 2023–24 Fulbright–Nehru Fellow in India. 

I am the author or editor of three books and have published widely on subaltern urbanism, environmental politics, aesthetic governmentality, property, and the uses and limits of gentrification theory.

More recently, I have worked on the politics of extreme air pollution exposure in Delhi, "the world's most air-polluted city" (WHO 2014), to expose the ethics of the Anthropocene to the challenge of postcolonial justice. This project asks how new patterns in urban planning call for an atmospheric reconsideration of the city. Articles and ongoing collaborations focus, inter alia, on the history of racialized pulmonary medicine, the extension of residential models of segregation into new "premium atmospheres" in gated communities, the city as air conditioner, and new claims to atmospheric citizenship.

I also recently started new research in Central New York on migrant labor camps, carrying out oral history interviews with farmworkers living in the backs of orchards or beside barns on farms. Combined with case law review, the project uses the frameworks of informal housing and improvised infrastructures – drawn from my experience with worker housing in India – to explore immigrant and housing rights in rural America and migrant tactics of everyday placemaking amidst an intensifying surveillance regime on the US's northern border.

I regularly teach graduate seminars in urban theory and have taught the large School of Arts and Sciences Signature course called "Cities" since 2016, an introduction to global urbanism through a multi-media study of cities from the streets up.

My 2023-2024 Fulbright project explores "digital enclosures," or how new digital property registration systems seek to translate and transfer collective and customary land rights into private property.


Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley. 2010.
M.A. University of California, Berkeley. 2004.
B.A. Colby College, 2001.

Recent Courses:

450:250: Cities
450:363: Geography of Development
450:516: Urban Natures
450:516: Urban Geography: Dis/Possession
450:605:03: Critical Ethnographies of Power and Hegemony
450:620: The Urban Revolution
50:516: Subaltern Urbanism

Selected Publications:


Current Students: Thomas Crowley, Stuti Govil, Sadaf Javed, Raymond Jennings, Hudson McFann, Sweta Xess 

Former PhD Students and Post-docs: Sangeeta Banerji, Sam Bowden Akbari, Ben Gerlofs, Alison Horton Schaeffing, Priti Narayan, Devra Waldman