Tobias Kuttler

mobil.LAB Fellow

Funded by the Hans-Böckler Foundation

Phone: +

Email: tobias.kuttler[at]  


Research Focus:

  • Urban and transportation development in the global south
  • Urban theory, postcolonial theory
  • Urban anthropology


PhD Project Description

Negotiating Spaces of Mobility - Rise and Contestation of the Uber Model in Mumbai

The introduction of platform-based mobility services in cities of South Asia (e.g. Uber) not only changed the mobility systems of these cities, but also created a new precarious field of employment. In Mumbai, the taxi sector has already been undergoing profound changes since 2006, when the city authorities started to promote its modernization (Bedi 2016). My dissertation deals with the questions how the new business model and the algorithms of the platforms change practices and the profession of taxi driving, and whether and how drivers accept or resist these changes. To investigate these questions, I explore everyday lives and biographies of Uber drivers as well as drivers of conventional black-and-yellow taxis (Kaali Peelis).

The Uber model is predominantly understood as a global model that is implemented in a top-down manner in cities and is “disruptive” to traditional taxis. However, when taxi driving is understood from the operators’ perspective, it becomes visible that taxi driving is deeply embedded in the urban fabric and history of Mumbai. Both “old“ and “new” forms  of taxi driving are intimately connected with social and political dynamics that characterize the city, and function on similar networks of people and places. Furthermore, taxi operations have been dominated by networks of migrants to the city for decades and continue to do so in times of the digital mobility platforms.

I argue that the investigation of taxi driving allows comprehending Mumbai’s pathway of urban development and its contestations from a different vantage point. Furthermore I argue that in the process of transformation in the taxi sector, existing vulnerabilities and insecurities of drivers of all forms of taxis are reproduced and even reinforced. In this context it is observed that the new generation of app-based cab drivers is bared from securing and stabilising their lives and futures, which is in contrast to many veteran drivers of conventional taxis, who have succeeded in stabilizing their lives and maintain in control of their everyday work life.

My dissertation is based on fieldwork in Mumbai in 2019 and beginning of 2020. Conceptually, my PhD project tries to link relational urban theory with mobilities theory, highlighting that urban space is produced by different overlapping and intertwined mobilities and immobilities.


Since 3/2018

PhD fellow at the mobil.LAB Doctoral Research Group funded by the Hans Böckler Foundation

Since 7/2016

Research Associate at Berlin University of Technology, Department of Work and Technology, Mobilities Research Cluster

7/2016 – 12/2017

 Research Associate at nexus Institute for Cooperation Management and Interdisciplinary Research, Berlin

7/2015 – 3/2016

Freelancer in the project “EcoMobility World Festival 2015” in Johannesburg, South Africa, organized by ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability and the City of Johannesburg.

3/2015 – 7/2015

Research stay at Indo-German Centre for Sustainability, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute or Technology Madras, Chennai, India.

2/2014 – 12/2014

Student assistant at Technical University Berlin, Department of Work and Technology, in the project “Forschungscampus EUREF – Mobility2Grid”

08/2012 – 02/2013

Internship at ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability within the “EcoMobility World Festival 2013” in Suwon, South Korea

08/2012 – 02/2013

Internship and research visit in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India within the Megacities Project “Sustainable Hyderabad“ funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

07/2010 – 06/2012

Student assistant at Centre for Innovation in Mobility and Societal Change (InnoZ), work program Green Mobility, Berlin, Germany

2010 – 2016

Studies of Urban and Regional Planning in Master`s degree program, Technical University Berlin, Germany

02/2008 – 04/2008

Internship at German Aerospace Center, Institute of Transport Research, Department of Commercial Transport, Berlin, Germany

2006 – 2010

Studies of Geography and European Ethnology in Bachelor`s degree program (Bachelor of Arts), Humboldt University Berlin, Germany


Kuttler, T. and M. Moraglio (eds.) (2020; forthcoming): Re-thinking Mobility Poverty. Understanding User´s Geographies, Backgrounds and Aptitudes. Routledge.

Kuttler, T. (2020; forthcoming): Disruptions and continuities in taxi driving - the case of Mumbai. In: Follmann, A.; Falk, G. (2020): Aktuelle Forschungsbeiträge zu Südasien. Geographien Südasien 12. 10. Jahrestagung des AK Südasien, 24./25. Januar 2020, Freiburg im Breisgau.

Villeneuve, D., D. Durán-Rodas, A. Ferri, T. Kuttler, J. Magelund, M. Mögele, L. Nitschke, E. Servou, and C. Silva. (2019) What is Interdisciplinarity in Practice? Critical Reflections on Doing Mobility Research in an Intended Interdisciplinary Doctoral Research Group. Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 197.

Kuttler, T., M. Moraglio, S. Bosetti, C. Chiffi, P. van Egmond, and D. Grandsart. (2019): Mobility in prioritised areas: inputs from the final users. Project Deliverable 2.2. H2020 HiReach - High reach innovative mobility solutions to cope with transport poverty.

Kuttler, T., M. Moraglio, V. Reis, A. Freitas, D. Carvalho, S. Castelo, P. Santos, S. Bosetti, C. Chiffi, S. Maffi, P. Malgieri, A. Selan, and D. Grandsart (2018): Mobility in prioritised areas: mapping the field. Project Deliverable 2.1. H2020 HiReach - High reach innovative mobility solutions to cope with transport poverty.

Döge, N., C. Hegel, A. Jain, and T. Kuttler (2018): Das Dörpsmobil – Ein Modell fürs E-Carsharing im ländlichen Raum. In: PLANERIN 3/2018, 41-43

Contributions to: Otto-Zimmermann, K., C. Liao, B. Chiu (2018): Going Green. Experiencing the Ecomobile Lifestyle. Berlin: Jovis Verlag. More:

Kuttler, T., Otto-Zimmermann, K., and T. Zimmermann (2016): Change the way you move. A central business district goes ecomobile. Jovis Verlag Berlin. More:

Kuttler, T. and A. Jain (2015): Defending space in a changing urban landscape – A study on urban commons in Hyderabad, India. In: Dellenbaugh, M., et al. (ed.): Urban Commons: Moving Beyond State and Market. Vol. 154. Birkhäuser, 2015. More:$002f430778

Contributions to: Otto-Zimmermann, K. and Y. Park (ed., 2015): Neighborhood in Motion - One neighborhood, one month, no cars. Berlin: Jovis Verlag. More:

Jain, A. and T. Kuttler (2014): Local Action in and on Urban Open Spaces of Hyderabad. In: Schinkel, U., Schröder, S., Jain, A., (ed.): Local Action and Participation. Lessons Learned from Participatory Projects and Action Research in Future Megacities. Buchreihe Future Megacities Volume 4, Berlin. More:

Kramer, S., C. Hoffmann, T. Kuttler, and M. Hendzlik (2013): Electric Car Sharing as an Integrated Part of Public Transport: Customers’ Needs and Experience. In: Hülsmann, M., Fornahl, D. (Hrsg.): Evolutionary Paths Towards the Mobility Patterns of the Future. Berlin Heidelberg, Springer Verlag: More:

Hoffmann, C., A. Graff, S. Kramer, T. Kuttler, M. Hendzlik, C. Scherf, and F. Wolter (2012): Bewertung integrierter Mobilitätsdienste mit Elektrofahrzeugen aus Nutzerperspektive. Results of the project BeMobility–Berlin elektroMobil. InnoZ Baustein, 11. Download here:

Weiß, J., A. Neumann, S. Kramer, M. Bost, and T. Kuttler (2011): Erneuerbare Energien im Verkehr in Berlin-Brandenburg. Institut für ökologische Wirtschaftsforschung (IÖW), Berlin, 2011. Download here:

Dijks, S., F.-J. Grafe, M. Hampel, J. Jarass, T. Kuttler, M. Thylmann and T. Zimmermann (2011): Generation Nachhaltigkeit: Wann, wenn nicht wir? Conference proceedings 2011, Berlin, Geography Department of Humboldt University Berlin. Download here:

Voluntary Activities