CPR-CSH Workshop on Remaking the mohalla: Muslims in the politics of urban transformation in Mumbai by Qudsiya Contractor of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
Date: Tuesday, 27 August 2013
Time: 3.45 p.m.
Venue: Conference Hall, Centre for Policy Research, Dharma Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110 021
Recent work has extensively highlighted the agenda of urban planning in the city as being driven by the commercialisation of land use and real estate market. Others have noted that the state’s ethno-nationalist imaginations of the city have impacted its landscape. This workshop will present research based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in a predominantly Muslim basti locality called Shivaji Nagar located in an industrial suburb at the outskirts of the island city of Mumbai. It is situated on the city’s oldest and largest garbage dumping ground subjecting it to the worst living conditions. The city’s poorest reside here and the area lacks even the most basic civic amenities such as water supply, and sanitation. Shivaji Nagar represents a socio-spatial periphery shaped by processes of exclusion, coercion and violence. Its formation and existence exemplifies the multiple inequalities and fault lines of exclusion which expose the paradox and complexity of urban transformation in contemporary Mumbai. Muslim basti dwellers in Mumbai, much like their non-Muslim counterparts have been subject to technologies of the state that have sought to confine them to spaces of relegation in its efforts to realise futuristic visions of making Mumbai a global city. The state’s imaginations of an urbane future have been deeply influenced by elitist notions of what is polluting and undesirable, which include not just the poor in general but also immigrants (more specifically non-Maharashtrians), Dalits and Muslims in particular. This talk describes efforts of Muslim basti-dwellers towards remaking the mohalla into a life-space far from its stereotypical image as an undesirable, dilapidated, poverty ridden, criminalised and denationalised urban space. In order to achieve this transformation, Muslim basti-dwellers, on the one hand, counter the state’s non-violent and violent ethno-nationalist spatial strategies through everyday acts of individual and collective resistance. On the other hand, they actively engage with state actors through the state’s slum redevelopment programmes to counter the de-territorialisation of Muslim localities in the city.
Qudsiya Contractor is a doctoral candidate and a Max Planck Institute Fellow at the School of Development Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Her doctoral research ethnographically explores how everyday processes of exclusion as well as instances of political violence construct Muslim localities and communal identities within urban contexts. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals and in Laurent Gayer and Christophe Jaffrelot (eds) Muslims in Indian Cities: Trajectories of Marginalization, Delhi, HarperCollins.
This is the forty third in a series of Urban Workshops planned by the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH), New Delhi and Centre for Policy Research (CPR). These workshops seek to provoke public discussion on issues relating to the development of the city and try to address all its facets including its administration, culture, economy, society, and politics. For further information, please contact: Marie-Hélène Zerah at firstname.lastname@example.org or Partha Mukhopadhyay at email@example.com