Racialized Exclusion, Urban Contact Zones, and South-South Mobilities

Authors: Mabel Denzin Gergan*, Florida State University
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Urban Geography, Migration
Keywords: Race, Ethnicity, South Asia, South-South geopolitics, India-Africa relations
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Maryland B, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the last decade, India’s urban metropolitan centers have witnessed several incidents of racism – including mob violence and hate crimes – directed primarily at African immigrants and people from India’s mountainous borderland states. The latter category of migrants from geopolitically “sensitive” border regions (Van Schendel 2013), are driven to Indian cities due to dismal infrastructure – a result of several decades of neglect and uneven regional development. While the small but steady stream of African migrants, mostly students, has been facilitated by growing India-Africa economic and political ties – part of India’s geopolitical strategy to counter China’s dominance in Africa. Due to perceived racial and cultural differences, and larger processes of gentrification and urban change (Negi and Taraporevala 2018), these groups are routinely denied housing and face gendered and racial harassment – which has pushed activists to demand an Anti-Racism bill from the Indian state. Placing these trajectories of migration and the racialized exclusion faced by these groups, in the larger context of neo-liberal expansions and South-South mobilities, this paper examines how racialized minorities are both central to and disruptive of, India’s vision of a cosmopolitan urban future. As racialized minorities find themselves in the Indian heartland, how does their everyday experience of exclusion and marginalization, thwart the cosmopolitan aspirations of urban India? More broadly, this paper traces the postcolonial legacies of Asia and Africa, including histories of solidarity (Prasad 2008) and colonial racial hierarchies (Stoler 2010), linking it to the present-day, grounded reality of South-South geopolitical relations.

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