Dr Hita Unnikrishnan

Newton International Fellow

About Hita

Hita has joined the Urban Institute as a post-doctoral researcher on a Newton International Fellowship. At the Institute, her work will focus on histories of urban water commons within the south Indian city of Bengaluru. Prior to joining the Urban Institute, she has worked as an Assistant Professor at the TransDisciplinary University, and as a post-doctoral research associate at Azim Premji University, both based in Bengaluru, India. She has obtained her Ph.D from Manipal University, India; ATREE, Bengaluru.  Hita has been a recipient of the Prof. Elinor Ostrom Fellowship on Practice and Policy on the Commons in 2013. She has completed her M.Sc in Life Sciences from Mount Carmel College (Autonomous), and Bangalore University, India; where she graduated obtaining the 1st Rank.

Research interests

Hita’s research interests lie in the interface of urban ecology, systems thinking, resilience, urban environmental history and urban political ecology as it relates to the evolution, governance, and management of common pool resources in cities of the global south. Her doctoral research has focused on the changing ecological and social vulnerabilities of the social ecological system represented by lakes within Bengaluru. Her work has been published in reputed peer reviewed journals such as Urban Ecosystems, Society and Natural Resources, and the International Journal of the Commons. Her work combines several methods including analysis of archival literature, oral histories, GIS, ecological field studies, and ethnography, while at the same time spanning different temporal and spatial scales.


H.Unnikrishnan, B. Manjunatha, and H. Nagendra (2017). The disruption of an urban social-ecological system: An environmental history of the Dharmambudhi lake in Bengaluru, India. In review

H. Unnikrishnan, B. Manjunatha, and H. Nagendra (2017). Changing availability of ecosystem services from urban commons in a fast growing Indian city. In review

S. Mundoli, H. Unnikrishnan, and H. Nagendra (2017). Urban commons of the global south: using multiple frames to illuminate complexity. In review.

H.Unnikrishnan, B. Manjunatha, and H. Nagendra (2017). Lost glory: bringing the past to life around the Sri Kanteerava Stadium. In review.

H.Unnikrishnan, B. Manjunatha, and H. Nagendra (2017). Bonds that divide: urbanization and the erosion of the commons. In Reframing the environment: resources, risk, and resistance in neoliberal India. Routledge Taylor and Francis. In press.

H.Unnikrishnan, S. Mundoli, and H. Nagendra (2017). Making water flow in Bengaluru: planning for the resilience of water supply in a semi-arid city. Journal of Sustainable Urbanization, Planning and Progress 2(1).

N. Rust, A. Abrams, D.W.S. Challander, G. Chapron, A. Ghoddousi, J.A. Glikman, C. H. Gowan, C. Hughes, A. Rastogi, A. Said, A. Sutton, N. Taylor, S. Thomas, H. Unnikrishnan, A.D. Webber, J. Wordingham, and C.M. Hill (2017). Quantity does not always mean quality: the importance of qualitative social science in conservation research. Society and Natural Resources. DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2017.1333661.

H.Unnikrishnan, S. Sen, and H. Nagendra (2017). Traditional water bodies and urban resilience: a historical perspective from Bengaluru, India. Water History. DOI: 10.1007/s12685-017-0199-9.

S. Mundoli, H. Unnikrishnan and H. Nagendra (2017). The “Sustainable” in Smart Cities: Ignoring the Importance of Urban Ecosystems. Decision: DOI: 10.1007/s40622-017-0152-x.

H. Unnikrishnan, B. Manjunatha, and H. Nagendra (2017). Urban commons in a globalizing city: from past to present. SEMINAR: Nature’s present, 690: 63-67

H.Unnikrishnan, S. Mundoli, B. Manjunatha, and H. Nagendra (2016). Down the drain: the tragedy of the disappearing urban commons of Bengaluru. South Asian Water Studies 5(3): 7-11

H. Unnikrishnan, B. Manjunatha and H. Nagendra (2016). Contested urban commons: Mapping the transition of a lake to a sports stadium in Bangalore. International Journal of the Commons 10(1): 265-293

H. Unnikrishnan, and H. Nagendra, (2015). Privatizing the commons: impact on ecosystem services in Bangalore’s lakes. Urban Ecosystems 18(2): 613-632

H. Unnikrishnan and H. Nagendra, (2014). Unruly Commons: Contestations around Sampangi Lake in Bangalore. NMML Occasional Paper, Perspectives in Indian Development New Series No.39, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, India


H. Nagendra, H. Unnikrishnan and S. Sen, (2013). Villages in the City: Spatial and Temporal Heterogeneity in Rurality and Urbanity in Bangalore, India. Land, 3(1), 1-18

“Memories, myth, landscapes, and conflict: The changing urban commons of Bengaluru” – proposal accepted by Orient Blackswan Publishers, India.