Urban Aspirations: A Field View from the Margins of the City


Indian cities are transforming rapidly. Though there is a huge variation between the transformation of various cities but metropolises like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai are witnessing major changes as they are making their ways into the global economic networks. These transformations are not apolitical in nature rather represent the imaginations of the people occupying dominant city spaces, largely middle class. Urban transformations, therefore, are manifestations of city visions of the dominant class. Post-economic liberalisation period has seen major shifts in the way Indian cities are planned and structured. There has been a gradual increase of exclusionary city spaces and gated enclaves. Development plans justify these transformations as fulfilling people’s aspirations and reflect homogenous and uncontested imagery of city. But are these visions really homogenous? Do alternate city visions exist? Do transformations silence these alternate visions and result into the divided city? What is the nature of this divisiveness? Is this restricted to physical segregation or present at subtle levels of urban social fabric. The present paper aims to address these questions and challenges the homogenous idea of the city as projected in development plans by exploring the alternate visions, visions from below, of the urban poor. It is a synthesis of the ethnographic study done in a rapidly transforming metropolis of India, Delhi. The analysis of these visions is done in the backdrop of changing planning discourse of Delhi from colonial to contemporary times as well as the change in the way idea of 'city' is conceptualised over the period.

Author Information
Yogita Naruka, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India

Paper Information
Conference: CITY2016
Stream: Geography and Landscape/Urban Planning, Architecture and Design

This paper is part of the CITY2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon