Helena Cermeño

Research themes
  • Governance
  • Social and Cultural Change and Adaptation
  • Growth, inequality and poverty
  • Methods
  • Development Politics
  • Urbanisation
Research countries
  • Germany
  • India
  • Pakistan
Research projects

ZEF- GCU (08/2011 – 12/2013): German-Pakistani Research Collaboration and Academic Capacity Building Programme

Additional information

Since 10.2016 working as 'Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin' at the University of Kassel (Germany). Faculty: FB06 ASL Architektur - Stadtplanung - Landschaftsplanung Institut für urbane Entwicklungen FG Stadt- und Regionalsoziologie. Phone: +49 561 804-72


Architect & Urban Planner [Exp. Development Cooperation] (2010, Spain; eq. Dipl.-Ing.) M.Sc. Water Management (2013, Germany)

Thesis title

(in progress) Access to the city: urban assemblages and resulting processes of social inclusion and exclusion in Amritsar and Lahore

Thesis abstract

The research is focused in the Punjab area, at both sides of the India-Pakistan border, in the cities of Amritsar and Lahore. For their vicinity and common past, Amritsar and Lahore, provide a sort of ‘laboratory’ conditions for empirical comparative research and an occasion to compare data on urban and social change from both sides of the almost sealed border. Within the frame of urban governance this research looks specifically at housing and services. Housing has long been researched under a ‘rights’ perspective, and in so doing has often enough failed to provide a comprehensible approach to the practices that determine the ability of city inhabitants to ‘access’ (get, control, maintain and distribute) housing and services. Drawing on the conceptualization of ‘access’ by Ribot and Peluso (2003), which refers to it as: the ‘ability’ to derive benefits from things, including material objects, persons, institutions, and symbols, this research focus on ‘access’ to housing and services and the city at large, seeing ‘access’ as a ‘bundle of powers’ rather than a ‘bundle of rights’. The ‘access’ approach enables conceptualization of inequalities in terms of access to resources and guides the researcher into looking at practices by which actors gain, control and maintain these resources and the power relations underlying these practices. ‘Assemblage-thinking’, as an empirical and methodological orientation, facilitates the investigation of so far neglected dimensions of urban processes while posing questions regarding human/non-human interfaces, networked interdependencies and the production of socio-material infrastructures. Against this backdrop the research investigates through which practices and mechanisms of urban governance between different actors do residents ‘access’ housing and services in contemporary cities of Amritsar and Lahore, and what are the resulting processes of social inclusion /exclusion in Amritsar and Lahore.

Thesis download
Download [GIF | 15.18KB]
Doctoral research funded by

AA via German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) La Caixa Foundation, (Spain)

Cooperation partners

Government College University (GCU), Lahore, Pakistan Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar, India

Supervisors of
doctoral work

First supervisor: Prof. Dr. Carsten Keller (Universität Kassel)

Second supervisor: Prof. Dr. Conrad Schetter


Advisor at ZEF

Dr. Katja Mielke (BICC)


Cermeño, H..  2021.  Living and Planning on the Edge: Unravelling Conflict and Claim-Making in Peri-Urban Lahore, Pakistan.  In Urban Planning, 6 (2)   : 189-201   . (Open Access)   Further Information
Cermeño, H..  2021.  Looking at the city from below: How ‘access’ approach and ‘city-scapes’ contribute to the understanding of marginalization in Amritsar, India.  In: N. Kirmani (eds.): Marginalization, Contestation and Change in South Asian Cities. Karachi: Oxford University Press.   56-84. 
Cermeño, H. and Baldewein T..  2021.  Digitale-Konferenzen in der Stadtplanung: Fachtagungen im digitalen Raum als Chance für die Entwicklung inklusiver, kreativer und resilienter Lernformate.  In RaumPlanung, 210 (1)   : 66-72   .
Mielke, K. and Cermeño, H.  2021.  Mitigating Pro-poor Housing Failures: Access Theory and the Politics of Urban Governance.  Politics and Governance, 9 (2)   : 439–450   . (Open Access)   Further Information


Bernhardt F.; Cermeño, H., Keller C., and Koch F.  2020.  Stadtmachen durch StadtTeilen: Typen und Logiken des Teilens in innerstädtischen Nachbarschaften. In Forum Wohnen und Stadtentwicklung (Zeitschrift des vhw – Bundesverband für Wohnen und Stadtentwicklung e. V.), 2020 : 123-127.  Forum Wohnen und Stadtentwicklung (Zeitschrift des vhw – Bundesverband für Wohnen und Stadtentwicklung e. V.), 2020 Download [PDF]


Cermeño, H..  2019.  Heritage of inclusion or exclusion? Contested claims and access to housing in Amritsar, India.  In: Ristic M. and Frank, S. (eds.): Urban Heritage in Divided Cities. Routledge.   125–144. 


Cermeño, H., & Mielke, K.  2016.  Cityscapes of Lahore: Reimagining the Urban.  In Thaap Journal 2016: People’s history of Pakistan, Lahore: Pakistan, : 110-139   .


Barrera, A. & Cermeño, H.  2012.  OPPTA Intervenciones para la emergencia - Emergency Interventions. In: AV. Proyectos, Vol 53: 51-52. 

Additionals, Curriculum Vitae
and Downloads

Helena Cermeño

Junior Researcher

Department :
ZEF A: Department of Political and Cultural Change

helena.cermeno(at)gmail.com; hcermeno(at)asl.uni-kassel.de