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Sonali Dhanpal

Fellow, Society of Fellows, SOF/Heyman, Columbia University (2024–Present)

Lecturer, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University

email address [email protected]
Headshot of Sonali Dhanpal

Sonali Dhanpal is an architect, a conservationist, and a historian of modern architecture and urbanism who specializes in histories of colonialism, capitalism, and inequality from the 1800s to the present. Her research on late colonial South Asia and post-colonial Britain examines the relationship between architecture and racial hierarchies to explain race, caste, and class-based unfreedoms within broader struggles for space under racial capitalism. Her first book, tentatively titled "Caste and the City: Spatial Politics in Colonial and Princely Bangalore," analyses the city’s emergence out of a boundary between colonial and princely rule to show how caste power is far from overcome through the transition to colonial modernity, but rather hardened onto new regimes of property, labor, and control. Dhanpal will also begin work on her second project, “Empire Comes Home: Housing Race Relations in Britain,” which intends to bring colonial legacies of the welfare state into conversation with the architect-planner-led postwar construction boom in Britain. She received her PhD in Architectural History and Theory in 2023 from the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape, Newcastle University as the inaugural Forshaw Scholar (2019-2023), following which she was a 2023-2024 Princeton-Mellon Fellow in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities at Princeton University. She is also the 2024-26 Buell Research and Teaching fellow.