Agrarian-urban encounters: Land conflicts along new economic corridors in globalizing India

Authors: Sai Balakrishnan*,
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Land conflicts, agrarian and urban studies
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Grand Chenier, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Economic corridors, an ambitious infrastructural development project that newly liberalizing countries in Asia and Africa are embarking on, are dramatically redefining the shape of urbanization. Spanning across multiple cities and villages, these economic corridors reconnect metropolises already connected by road and rail networks via high-speed superhighways in an effort to make certain strategic regions attractive destinations for private investment. Largely financed by new sources of impatient private capital, the economic corridors in India are infringing on the agricultural lands of organized agrarian propertied classes. As policy makers search for new decentralized and market-oriented means for the transfer of land from agrarian constituencies to infrastructural promoters and urban developers, the re-allocation of property control is erupting into volatile land-based social conflicts.
By moving the spotlight of India’s contemporary urbanization out of megacities to these in-between corridor regions, this paper argues that the new economic corridors open up new empirical and methodological frameworks for a new urban politics that is capable of incorporating the agrarian political economy. It explores a few connected themes including the production of new uneven urban development that accretes onto and unsettles older histories of agrarian capitalism, the emergence of agrarian propertied classes as protagonists in the making of urban real estate markets, and the possibilities for a new politics of inclusion as formerly ‘waste’ land in an agrarian economy relegated to disadvantaged caste groups are revalorized into desirable market assets in an urbanizing context.

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