From Multi-locality to Urban Contestation: A study of housing and work practices of labor migrants in the extended urban region of Delhi

Authors: Nitin Bathla*, ETH Zurich
Topics: Regional Geography, Urban Geography, Asia
Keywords: Multi-local housing, Planetary Urbanization, Extended Urbanization, Indian Urbanization, Labor migration
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: 8217, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The rise in the practice of multi-locality among labor migrants in India finds a strong correlation with ‘planetary’ urban restructuration. The global liberalization of industrial policies and value chains beginning in the mid-90’s not only decoupled industrial activity with the regulation of labor contracts, but also with the provision of housing. Consequently, today almost 80% of the industrial labor in India comes through short-term hiring practices, and affordable housing through an intensification of existing villages. Multi-locality thus not only becomes the agency of migrants in the face of an inability to find stable employment and shelter in the places of destination, but often also becomes a flash-point for urban contestations. This has therefore not only entangled local urban transformations in the intense multi-local practices of migrants, but also extended urban contestations to the territorial scale. The migrants collectivize to claim rights to permanent and equal citizenship through contesting and negotiating employment tenureship, social security, housing, and access to urban spaces. Urban social movements such as NGOs, civil society groups, and labor collectives often mediate such contestations. This paper attempts to explore the territorial multi-local contestations through utilizing the epistemic framework of ‘extended urbanization’ (Schmid, forthcoming). The data from a study on housing and work practices of labor migrants in four settlements located in the southern sector of the extended urban region of Delhi is analyzed for this paper.

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