Urban Villages and Class Transformation in Gurgaon, India

Authors: Shoshana Goldstein*, Cornell University
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Human-Environment Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: Urban Village, India, Class, Urbanization
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: 8212, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper presents research on the urban village, as a kind of alternative and inherently paradoxical urban typology. Typically a kind of metaphor for dense and diverse urban spaces, this paper looks at the urban village as a technocratic planning category in India. Recent work on Gurgaon’s urban villages casts them as spaces of exception, or illustrative of a differentiated logic of land acquisition and accumulation that disrupts the typical dispossession or exclusion/enclosure narratives. This paper asks how this logic or differentiated process of land acquisition has affected social class and cultural transformations. Furthermore, what are the long term strategies or aspirations for these spaces? What does it mean to be a second generation urban villager? Based on fieldwork carried out in 2015 and 2016 with landowning villagers, their children, and their tenants, as well as a site analysis of urban village abadis, decoupled from former agrarian landscapes, the paper engages the lens of place and placemaking, identifying the ways in which the villages of Gurgaon have adapted as built environments, while maintaining political control over the city. The paper also considers ambivalence about these spaces, their value as enclaves, and intergenerational strategies for integrating them into Gurgaon as opposed to leaving them altogether.

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