Recombinant Urbanization: Agrarian-Urban Landed Property and Uneven Develoment in India

Authors: Sai Balakrishnan*,
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Asia
Keywords: Agrarian-urban land/property, land-use, post-liberalization India,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8212, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
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. These economic corridors, branded by policy-makers as the 'fast lane to the future' 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. This paper argues that some of India’s most decisive conflicts over its urban futures will unfold in the regions along the new economic corridors where electorally strong agrarian propertied classes are coming into direct encounters with financially powerful incoming urban firms. It draws its empirical insights from qualitative fieldwork along the country’s first economic corridor, the Mumbai Pune Expressway, and the building of three new cities in this corridor region.

This paper develops the concept of recombinant urbanization to show how agrarian property regimes and land-based caste/class relations shape the production of post-liberalization urban real estate markets in India. By focusing on three interrelated but differentiated agrarian property regimes in western Maharashtra, it argues that uneven real estate development builds on prior uneven agrarian land markets, which were themselves socio-technically produced by colonial and postcolonial development politics. By moving the spotlight of India’s contemporary urbanization out of megacities to these in-between corridor regions, this paper suggests new empirical and methodological frameworks for analyzing agrarian-urban change.

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