Dipl.-Ing. (Arq.) M.Sc. Helena Cermeno

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin I Fachgebiet Stadt- und Regionalsoziologie

Gottschalkstraße 22
34127 Kassel
Gottschalk 22, Raum 2105

nach Vereinbarung (Anmeldung bitte per Mail)

seit 10.2016   

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin  | Institut für urbane Entwicklungen der Universität Kassel | Fachgebiet Stadt- und Regionalsoziologie


Wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft  | Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies (BICC)

2013 - 2016

Junior Researcher  | Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung (ZEF) | Center for Development Research | Department of Political and Cultural Change | Universität Bonn


M. Sc. 'Technology and Resources management in the tropics and subtropics' | Thesis: Climate Change Risk Perception and Adaptation Strategies in Central Vietnam: Interlinkages between Climate Change risk Management and Spatial Planning in Danang and Quang Nam Province | Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

2011- 2013

Wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft  | Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung (ZEF) | Universität Bonn


Angestellte  | Architekturbüro Rosauer, Finkenweg 39a; 53773 Hennef-Uckerath


Architektur + Stadtplanung (Licenciatura, Spanien; eq. Dipl.-Ing. Deutschland) | Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid (ETSAM) | Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), Spanien. Thesis: Sustainable and affordable housing and facilities in Vadaj, Ahmedabad, India. Betreuer: Juan Herreros


  • urban governance practices, urbanization and development
  • acess to land, housing and services, conflicts, social in/exclusion
  • sharing practices, urban commons, space-commoning
  • urban heritage

Access to the city: urban governance practices, housing, services and resulting processes of social inclusion and exclusion in Amritsar and Lahore


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 cross-case study analysis and an occasion to research 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) housing and services. Drawing on the conceptualization of access by Ribot and Peluso (2003, 2020), 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 space at large, seeing access as a ‘bundle of powers’ rather than a ‘bundle of rights’. An access approach enables the 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 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.

Cermeño, H., & Mielke, K. (2023). Endangered urban commons: Lahore’s violent heritage management and prospects for reconciliation. Urban Planning, 8(1), 83-98. https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v8i1.6054  

Petrescu, D., Cermeño, H., Keller, C., Moujan, C., Belfield, A., Koch, F., Goff, D., Schalk, M., & Bernhardt, F. (2022). Sharing and Space-Commoning Knowledge Through Urban Living Labs Across Different European Cities. Urban Planning, 7(3), 254–273.  https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v7i3.5402

Cermeño, H., Bretfeld, N., & Bernhardt, F. (2022). Knowledge Practices Within and Beyond Sharing and Commoning Urban Initiatives. Frontiers in Sustainable Cities, 4, Article 767365. https://doi.org/10.3389/frsc.2022.767365

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 (Ed.) Marginalization, Contestation and Change in South Asian Cities. Karachi: Oxford University Press, Pages 56-84

Bernhardt F.; Cermeño, H., Keller C. and Koch F. (2021). Netzwerke des Teilens in Quartieren unter Spannung: Typen und Logiken des Teilens in innerstädtischen Nachbarschaften. In Gesellschaft unter Spannung, 40th Congress of the German Sociological Association (GSA)

Mielke, K., & Cermeño, H. (2021). Mitigating Pro-Poor Housing Failures: Access Theory and the Politics of Urban Governance. Politics and Governance, 9(2), 439–450. https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v9i2.4113

Cermeño, H. (2021). Living and Planning on the Edge: Unravelling Conflict and Claim-Making in Peri-Urban Lahore, Pakistan. Urban Planning, 6(2), 189–201. https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v6i2.3858

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 Volume 210, Issue 1, Pages 66-72

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.), Pages 123-127

Cermeño, H. (2019). Heritage of inclusion or exclusion? Contested claims and access to housing in Amritsar, India. In M. Ristic and Frank, S. (Eds.) Urban Heritage in Divided Cities. Abingdon, Oxon, New York, Routledge, Pages 125–144. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429460388-10

Cermeño, H. and Mielke, K. (2016). Cityscapes of Lahore: Reimagining the Urban. In THAAP Journal, Issue 2016, Pages 110-139

Barrera, A. and Cermeño, H. (2012). OPPTA Intervenciones para la emergencia - Emergency Interventions (OPPTA Context, winner projects). In: AV. Proyectos, Volume 53, Pages 20-21

Cermeño, H.; Jüssen, J.and Reynolds, C. (2012). The Nexus of Conflict and Migration in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan Info, Issue 71, Pages 16-18

Álvarez, E.; Calatrava, B.; Cermeño, H.; García de Blas, M.A.; González, D.; Sastre, M.J. and Sevillano, E. (2010).Asentamientos Precarios en África ¿Existen Alternativas? Informe de la Fundación CEAR Habitáfrica, Pages 49

Fernández, B.; Morán T.; Barrera, A. and Cermeño H.; (2009). Entrevista con Yatin Pandya. In ‘Arquitectos sin recursos’ Revista del Consejo Superior de Colegios de arquitectura de España (CSCAE), Volume 1, Issue 186, Pages 42-45

Garam Masala [Collective of Architects and Planners; Cermeño, H. as co-author and co-editor within the collective] (Eds.) (2009).HABITA-INHABIT INDIA’, Madrid: Mairea, Pg. 355 (ISBN - 52551988)


2022“Potentials for peacebuilding through heritage management in Lahore (Pakistan)” | Presentation held together with K. Mielke at the “Mapping ‘Post-Conflict’” Cities” conference at the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS), Erkner (hybrid), 20–21 October 2022 | Convener: L. Demeter.
2022“Scrutinizing the trend towards sharing in European cities: between (re)production and combating of socio-spatial inequalities” | Panel organised together with C. Keller, A. Hamedinger and E. Holmqvist | RN37 (ESA) midterm conference “Seeing Like a City /Seeing the City Through, in Berlin, Germany, 5-7 October 2022.
2022“Ordinarily Massive Urbanisation in Peri-Urban Lahore: Reassembling Access to Land amidst the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project”  | Presentation held at the RC21 Conference in Athens, Greece, 24-26 August 2022 | Panel No.24, Ordinarily Massive: Revitalizing Approaches to Large Scale Urbanization  | Convener: Abdoumaliq Simone.
2022Governing Sharing Practices: The Role of Planning in the Co-production and Collaborative Use of Urban Resources”  | Co-authored abstract  | AESOP Annual Congress (hybrid),  25-29 July 2022 in Tartu, Estonia: “Space for Species: Redefining Spatial Justice”. Track: Governance | Co-authors: A. Hamedinger [presenter], E. Holmqvist [presenter]; M. Schalk, H. Cermeño, C. Keller, and D. Petrescu.



“Silenced Urban Common Heritage: How Lahore’s Heritage Management hinders Peacebuilding"  |  Presentation held together with K. Mielke at the 17 Biennial Conference of the  European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA): “Transformation, Hope and the Commons” (hybrid), 26-29 July 2022,  Belfast, United Kingdom.


“Living and Planning on the Edge: Unravelling Conflict and Claim-making in Peri-urban Lahore”, GAA ‘Best article'  |  GERD ALBERS AWARDS 2021  |  Presentation of the awarded paper at the 57th World Planning Congress of the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP): "Planning Unlocked: New Times, Better Places, Stronger Communities", Doha, Qatar (hybrid),  28-29 October and 8-11 November, 2021.


"The role of the Amritsar Improvement Trust in Affordable Housing: Social Mix and Practices of Inclusion and Exclusion" | Presentation held at the IV ISA Forum of Sociology | Vista Alegre, Brazil (online) 23-27 February 2021 | RC43 Housing and Built Environment Session: The Role of Real Estate Developers in Affordable Housing - Boon or Bane.


“Figurations of Social Innovation and Knowledge Sharing: An exploration of Urban Initiative Networks in Kassel, Stuttgart, and Berlin” |  Presentation held together with N. Bretfeld at the RC21 Conference: “Sensing the City / Place, People, Power” in Antwerp, Belgium (online), 14-16 July 2021  | Session: PS122 “BOTTOM-UP URBANISM: Growing Social Policy from the Grassroots Upward and Across Scales”.


Tracing cognitive maps of everyday urbanism: City-scapes as imaginaries and enacted everyday practices” |  Presentation held at the III Midterm Conference: “Inequality and uncertainty: current challenges for cities” Research Network 37 (Urban Sociology) of the European Sociological Association (ESA) at the UNED & Universidad Carlos III, 27-29 June 2018, Madrid, Spain.


“Living on the Edge: Conflict and claims-making over resources in the peri-urban fringe of Lahore” |  Presentation held at the Young South Asia Scholars Meet (Y-SASM) Conference “Claims Making”, 15-17 June 2018, University of Zurich, Switzerland.


“Processes of inclusion and exclusion within the urban development and improvement of the Lahore’s Androon Shehr” | Presentation held at 10th Annual Seminar of the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS) “Inclusion and Exclusion - New Perspectives in History and Sociology”, 5-7 July 2018, Bielefeld, Germany.


"The Politics of Urban Heritage: Access to urban resources, distributive conflict and allocative (in)justice in Old Lahore" | Presentation held atthe Annual RC21 Conference: “Rethinking Urban Global Justice: An international academic conference for critical urban studies”, 11-13 September 2017,  Leeds University, UK | Panel 70: Disputes in the Urban Territory, Groups of Interests, Distributive Conflict and Injustice in Cities Budgeting.


"Access assemblages: a comparative research of two mohallas under the Walled City of Lahore Improvement Project" | Presentation held atthe 5th International Crossroads Asia Conference: "Area Studies' Futures", 22-23 September 2016, Centre for Development research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Germany.


"Looking at the city from below: City-scapes of Amritsar, India" | Presentation held at the10th Annual LUMS HSS conference: "Urbanism, exclusion and change in South Asia", 04-06 March 2016, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Lahore, Pakistan.


"Lahore Cityscapes: Reimagining the urban" | Presentation held at the THAAP 6th International Conference 2015: "People’s history of Pakistan", 06-08 November 2015, THAAP (Trust for History Art & Architecture, Pakistan), Lahore, Pakistan.


"Emergencia y desarrollo urbano en la región del Canal del Dique, San Cristóbal, Colombia" | Presentation held at the ADLAF Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutsche Lateinamerika-forschung, Nachwuchstagung, 17 May 2013, Cologne University, Germany.


"Urban Development in Borderlands" | Presentation held at  the “Asian Ecologies” International Conference, 06 April 2013, at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Pakistan | Panel Session VIII: Urban Ecologies.


2021 2022

ProSHARE -  Enhancing Diversity, Inclusion and Social Cohesion through Practices of Sharing in Housing and Public Space I JPI Urban Europe (Urban Migration)

2018 2022

StadtTeilen - Öffentlicher Raum und Wohnen als neue Gemeingüter in sozial gemischten Nachbarschaften I Robert Bosch Stiftung


  • International Society of City and Regional Planners
  • International / European Sociological Association/s 
    • RC21(ISA) - Urban and Regional Development Research Committee

    • RC43 (ISA) - Housing and Built Environment Research Committee

    • RN37(ESA) - Urban Sociology Research Network

  • Assotiation of Critical Heritage Studies
  • Chamber of Architects (and Urban Planners), Madrid, Spain