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Personal profile

Research interests

My primary research work focusses on how members of civil society create spaces of power and expression in their everyday lives. I have looked at Judicial Activism and Public Interest Litigations as mechanisms of empowerment for citizens lacking a formal agency to represent them, Citizens’ Report Cards (CRCs), which service users used to grade government services and assert their rights. The CRC was done on the Road Division of Public Works Division in Goa, India. My doctoral thesis, through an ethnographic study, offers an analysis of the care processes and practices in care homes and how far they are attuned to the needs, identities and wellbeing of older people. The study retrospectively examined residents’ experiences during various stages – pre-entry, entry, post-entry and exit – of their residential career, the drivers and constraints during these stages, and the role of different stakeholders in contributing to these experiences. In all my research experience, I attempt to move away from the prevailing victimhood narrative. I argue that the individuals in spite of and within their position of disadvantage continue to be agents. Not all these acts of agency can be understood as emancipatory, rather they need to be studied in the context of vulnerability, dependency and domination prevalent in the research settings. My related research interests include gender, aging, activism, demography and development.


I completed my PhD in 2014 from the School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh. The main focus of my PhD thesis was to explore institutional spaces and how far they are attuned to the needs, identities and wellbeing of older adults. I achieved this through an ethnographic methodology in three care homes in Goa, India. More recently, as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate  within the School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, I worked on a multi-country ERC funded project titled 'Roads and the politics of thought: Ethnographic approaches to infrastructure development in South Asia'. I focused on post-war Sri Lanka's infrastructure projects.  Through this research, I explored vast scale road building that took place as a means of nation building, where ethnic relations and environmental change also needed to be negotiated. I did this by unpacking how each of these registers are negotiated in the everyday cultures of road builders, policy planners and those affected by such mega projects; and what outcome emerge when these vectors are inter-laced in possibly multi-farious complexities. Finally, my participatory research has provided a compelling link between infrastructure development (including urban planning, namely the mushrooming of the megapolis landscape in South Asia) and identity in understanding the relationship between individuals and the spaces that they live in.

I currently work within The Urban Institute (TUI) at Heriot-Watt University. I am part of a team which is funded by the ESRC to explore Age Friendly Cities and Communities by undertaking collaborative case study research in cities in UK, Brazil and India. The research will develop resources and tools to support older adults to age-in-place.

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Research Output

Building UK Age Friendly Cities and Communities from the Ground up: Older People on Intergenerational Perspectives

Sixsmith, J., Woolrych, R., Fisher, J., Murray, M., Makita, M., Lawthom, R. & Menezes, D., 24 May 2019.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Developing Age-Friendly Cities and Communities: Experiences from the UK , Brazil and India

Woolrych, R., Sixsmith, J., Menezes, D., Fisher, J., Murray, M., Lawthom, R., Smith, H. & Garcia-Ferrari, S., 28 Aug 2019.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

  • Place (in)securities: Older adults' perceptions across urban environments in the United Kingdom

    Makita, M., Woolrych, R., Sixsmith, J., Murray, M., Menezes, D., Fisher, J. & Lawthom, R., 22 Nov 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : PsyEcology.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Place-Making with Older Adults (PLACE-AGE). Towards Age-Friendly Cities and Communities: Policy and Practice Guidelines and Recommendations

    Woolrych, R., Portella, A., Sixsmith, J., Smith, H., Soledad Garcia Ferrari, M., Makita, M., Menezes, D., Fisher, J., Lawthom, R., Murray, M., Crane de Narvaez, S. & Goodman, N., 2019

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

    Open Access

    "You Really Do Become Invisible": Examining Older Adults' Rights to Urban Environments in the UK

    Woolrych, R., Menezes, D., Sixsmith, J., Murray, M., Fisher, J., Lawthom, R., Garcia Ferrari, M. S., Makita, M. & Smith, H., Nov 2019, Proceedings of the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) 50th Conference: Sustainable Urban Environments. Beth, A., Wener, R., Yoon, B., Rae, R. A. & Morris, J. (eds.). Brooklyn, N.Y.: Environmental Design Research Association

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


    Best paper presentation award and gold medal

    Deborah Menezes (Recipient), 6 May 2017

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

  • The Best Article Award

    Deborah Menezes (Recipient), 12 Sep 2018

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

  • Activities

    • 1 Invited talk

    Institutional Care and the elderly: ethical glimpses from India

    Deborah Menezes (Speaker)
    21 Jan 2012

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

    Press / Media

    Conference on ‘age-friendly cities’ ends

    Deborah Menezes


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Research

    Discussing Roads in the Northern Province, Sri Lanka

    Deborah Menezes & Ahilan Kadirgamar


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Research