Shifting Landscapes, Changing Aspirations: Re-Imagining Land and Urban Change on the Edges of Metropolitan India

Authors: Sophia Abbas*, Yale University
Topics: Urban Geography, Landscape, Asia
Keywords: postcolonial urbanisms, planning bureaucracy, anthropology of aspirations
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8223, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

How does one understand the rapid, intense and ongoing urban transformations of an agrarian landscape that rests outside the domain of big cities or global cities? What would it be like to discuss urbanization and land transformations not only in terms of economic and physical dispossession but also in terms of different social and cultural experiences of these changing landscapes that range from feelings of loss or nostalgia for an agrarian past to ambiguity and hope about an urban future? How do these different aspirations and imaginations of a good ideal urban life find expression amidst such transformations? This paper on urbanization aims to explore these questions from the lens of an area that lies at cusp of metropolitan urbanism and agrarian prosperity. Resting on the hinterlands of India’ capital city of Delhi, Manesar is a peri-urban town where massive conversion of farmlands has been underway for the purpose of urban development since the 1980’s. As farms become factories, roads and highways replace muddy trails and pathways and new high rises emerge to coexist with older residential structures, this project asks how different residents, underlined by their caste, class, age and gender identities re-arrange their livelihoods and lifestyles within such shifting landscapes.Through an inter-disciplinary study of the genealogy of specific land disputes, urban planning regimes and an ethnography of varying subjective experiences of such land changes in this region, my paper attempts to outline a more contingent and region-specific account of post colonial urbanization.

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