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Ecologies of Urbanism in India

Metropolitan Civility and Sustainability


Publication Year: 2013

Essays follow rapidly proliferating and resource-intensive Indian urbanism on everyday environments. Case studies on nature conservation in cities, urban housing and slum development, waste management, urban planning, and contestations over the quality of air, water, and sanitation in Delhi and Mumbai illuminate urban ecology per­spectives thoughout the twentieth century. The collection highlights how struggles over the environment and one’s quality of life in urban centers are increasingly framed in terms of their future place in a landscape of global sustainability. The text brings histori­cal particularity and ethnographic nuance to questions of urban ecology and offers novel insight into theoretical and practical debates on urbanism and sustainability.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

As a Chinese anthropologist, I am honored to write a foreword for this remarkable volume on urban ecology issues in contemporary Indian cities. I have known the editors, Anne Rademacher and K. Sivaramakrishnan, since they were doctoral students in the Department of Anthropology at Yale University. We have embarked on parallel intellectual and ethnographic ...

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xvi

This project owes its origins to a small workshop, called “Citizenship, Civility, and Environmental Sustainability across Urban Asia,” convened at Yale in January 2009 in the Department of Anthropology. Many of the contributors in this volume, and a few others, met to discuss the relationship between the making of urban society and the urban environment. How, we ...


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pp. xvii-xviii

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1. Introduction: Ecologies of Urbanism in India

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pp. 1-42

As analysts turn to the urban question in India, estimates of the scale and rapidity of urban change in India multiply. One predicts that by 2030 nearly 600 million Indians will live in cities, and in them 70 percent of all net new employment will be generated (Sankhe et al. 2010). For India’s young and mobile population, cities are undeniable magnets—for resources, and for ...

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2. Is There an ‘Indian’ Urbanism?

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pp. 43-70

An urban “community” in the full meaning of the word, appears as a Why has the law, and planning law in particular, been so pliable an instrument in the governance of cities? Indeed, if the law is understood historically as part of the ideological apparatus of the bourgeoisie in its desire for control of urban spaces, has it run its course in the Indian city or is it yet ...

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3. One Air, Two Interventions: Delhi in the Age of Environment

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pp. 71-92

September 2010. Delhi slowly creeps towards hosting the Commonwealth Games in October, which will announce its arrival as a world city. China did it with the Olympics in 2008 and now it is Delhi’s turn, albeit on a smaller scale. But not all is well. India’s premier newspaper The Times Of India, which had once run the famous campaign “From Walled City to World City,” has ...

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4. The Troubled Passage from ‘Village Communities’ to Planned New Town Developments in Mid-Twentieth-Century South Asia

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pp. 93-118

Th is chapter posits an intellectual genealogy for understanding how comprehensively-planned new towns became a focus of planning attention in twentieth-century India. Though comprehensively-planned new towns were built in small numbers in India beginning in the nineteenth century (and earlier if we consider examples from the pre-British period such as ...

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5. Flexible Planning: The Making of India’s ‘Millennium City,’ Gurgaon

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pp. 119-144

Located roughly 30 kilometers south of the national capital of India, the city of Gurgaon,1 in the district of the same name, is a rapidly changing urban frontier. At once remarkable and revolting, the landscape of Gurgaon is an odd mixture. Alongside countless glossy towers, shopping malls, and posh condominiums, there are equally large numbers of buildings under ...

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6. From the Frying Pan to the Floodplain: Negotiating Land, Water, and Fire in Chennai’s Development

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pp. 145-168

From late 2008 to 2009, the Tamil Nadu Public Works Department launched a spate of large-scale slum evictions targeting about 25,000 slum-dwellers in Chennai and its adjoining municipalities. This drive was aimed at clearing encroachments on nineteen water bodies to restore their water-holding and flood-carrying capacities. Ironically, some of the same water bodies had been ...

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7. Value Struggles: Waste Work and Urban Ecology in Delhi

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pp. 169-200

On the sidewalks, encased in spotless plastic bags, the remains of Leonia await the garbage truck. Not only squeezed tubes of toothpaste, blown-out light bulbs, newspapers, containers, wrappings, but also boilers, encyclopedias, pianos, porcelain dinner services. It is not so much by the things that each day are manufactured, sold, bought that you can ...

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8. Housing in the Urban Age: Inequality and Aspiration in Mumbai

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pp. 201-224

The problem of inadequate housing—often referred to simply as ‘slums’—has long occupied policy attention in Mumbai.1 In the last decade, the city’s housing stresses have attained a particularly global visibility, as special ‘urban’ issues of scholarly journals from Social Text (2004) to Science (2008) supplement a wealth of recent literature on the contemporary global urban ...

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9. Resettlement Ecologies: Environmental Subjectivity and Graduated Citizenship in Mumbai

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pp. 225-248

Mumbai’s overcrowded trains, traffic-jammed roads, and sprawling underserviced slums undergird the paradigmatic Malthusian imaginary of the Indian city living beyond its means. Efforts to redevelop the city’s informal ‘slum’ settlements into world-class infrastructure and residential and commercial real estate promise a remedy for these urban ills. Such ...

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10. Nuisance Talk: Middle-Class Discourses of a Slum-Free Delhi

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pp. 249-276

...“Slums are the culmination of unwanted elements,” the secretary of a resident welfare association (RWA)1 told me in perhaps the most concise statement of the middle-class “theory of the slum” I encountered during my fieldwork in Delhi in 2006–2007. In this chapter, I set out to trace how everyday depictions of slums as dirty, uncivil, and out of place—what I will call ...


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pp. 277-286

E-ISBN-13: 9789882208483
Print-ISBN-13: 9789888139767

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 3 b/w
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1