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Dr. Madhuri Sharma

Specialties: Urban-social/economic issues focusing on racial/ethnic diversity and segregation, housing disparity, informal economy, mixed-method approaches in geographic research
See Also: Curriculum Vitae

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My broad research interests include understanding patterns and processes of racial/ethnic residential intermixing, poverty, inequality and economic opportunities within the urban context of USA and India. Within USA, major topics of interest include understanding influence of contemporary housing market elements on residential choice(s) and how might they impact segregation and/or intermixing at inter-urban and intra-urban spaces. This project was earlier conducted for the 49 largest metropolises (more than 1 million population in 2000) in USA, and a detailed intra-urban study focused on Columbus, Ohio and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Currently I am focusing on similar socio-economic issues within the urban context of Knoxville, Tennessee and the American Southeast. My work focuses on using measures of (un)evenness and inequality such as the Theil Entropy Index (E), a measure of intermixing (or segregation) among multiple groups and at nested scales of geographies. In exploring the patterns and processes of intermixing, diversity and economic opportunities, I use a mix of statistical methods along with qualitative methods such as in-depth open-ended interviews, surveys and participatory urban appraisal tools with households and communities that add nuanced perspectives on the processes contributing to segregation/intermixing. My research moves beyond the simple measures and uses various theoretical frameworks on urban ecology to address interesting research questions from the critical perspectives of households and communities, the people who make the ultimate decisions on where to live and whom to live with. Over last one year, I have also started working with the HMDA (Housing Mortgage Disclosure Act) data to examine uneven geographies of mortgage/lending practices that create spaces of difference along aspects of race/ethnicity, gender, class and sexuality across urban America.

Contact Information

Dr. Madhuri Sharma
Ph.D., Ohio State University
Associate Professor
416 Burchfiel Geography Bldg.
Knoxville, TN 37996-0925

Phone: (865) 974-6077

Within the context of urban America, I am particularly keen on understanding how the Asian Indian immigrants assimilate into the southern culture which has traditionally been averse to diversity-of-sorts. I am particularly interested in understanding how the Asian Indian immigrants, most of whom come as high-tech professionals in the disciplines of engineering, medicine, science and math, adjust and assimilate into the local society and how the subsequent generations perform in terms of educational and occupational achievements in comparison to their parents’ generations. 

At an international scale, my ongoing research focuses on the role of informal economy in shaping the residential (and commercial) spaces in urban areas of India. This includes examining how the labor engaged in informal economy make decisions concerning domestic and cross-border migrations and how those decisions create distinct spaces of poverty, slums and urban villages in intra-urban spaces. In search of engagement in informal (and formal) jobs, these decisions also pose unsafe environments for women and children in particular, and my future research will also examine child labor and gender when examining aspects of social and economic inequality in India and other regions from the developing world.

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