Accumulation by Dispossession: Transformative Cities in the New Global Order


Edited by: Swapna Banerjee-Guha

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    To the best of times: 1978–2004


    Several cities located in different parts of the world are undergoing huge transformations as a part of the worldwide regime of neoliberalism that is drastically shaping the urban form, space and even the modalities of governance. In the Global South, cities are getting re-modelled as ‘world-class’ centres in order to function as nodes of circulation of global capital. The disturbing reality is that these cities are also the key sites of concentration and devalorisation of a disproportionately large number of poor and marginalised that takes the issue of urban restructuring to a level of universal criticality. Looking at the realities in different settings, some of us (including a few with longstanding experience in the field) researching and writing on cities, started contemplating to come together and discuss issues at cross-country level to have a clearer idea about the tensions and contradictions that arise out of the process. It culminated into an international conference on ‘Accumulation and Dispossession, Claims and Counter-Claims: Transformative Cities in the New Global Order’, held in Mumbai University on 12–13 October 2006, which helped in making this volume possible.

    I thank the University of Mumbai for its generous support to the Conference that was a part of its sesquicentennial celebrations. I thank authors and participants for taking part in discussions particularly on South Asian cities that proved to be very useful; colleagues and friends for their support, particularly Smita Gandhi, Prasad Gogate, Aparna Phadke and, of course, Abhay Pethe for the financial support from his Unit of Urban Economics.

    My association with Mumbai University dates back to early 1981. It almost became my second home where I experimented with utmost freedom the interdisciplinary approach in the practice of Human Geography and developed the Marxian perspective in my teaching, writings and research. This conference was the final academic event that I organised in this institution following which I joined the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in November 2006. It will be hard to forget the appreciation and support I had received all through from friends and associates in the University, both academic and administrative, most particularly during a deep personal crisis in 2004.

    For the book, I want to thank Sugata Ghosh, Vice President, Commissioning, SAGE Publications for showing a keen interest in the project since we started interacting on the topic. My very special thanks to Elina Majumdar, Commissioning Editor, SAGE, for her personal involvement in making the book, a rarity by itself, but more for making me feel at ease even during the difficult times of deadlines.

    Finally, all my affection and love go to Sambuddha with whom sharing feelings and thoughts have been great experiences in life that I could never have achieved alone.

  • About the Editor and Contributors

    The Editor

    Swapna Banerjee-Guha is Professor of Development Studies, School of Social Sciences, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, India. Formerly, she was Professor of Human Geography at the University of Mumbai. She had completed her doctoral research from University of Calcutta in 1977 and Post Doctoral Research from Johns Hopkins University, USA in 1985. She was a Visiting Professor at the University of Vienna, Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Developing Economies, Japan and Visiting Fellow at the Maison des Sciences de L'Homme, Paris. She is a Steering Committee Member of the International Critical Geography Group; Director of South Asia Node, Spaces for Democracy Network, University of Newcastle, UK; Member of the Editorial Board and South Asia Editor of Journal of Human Geography, Massachusetts; a recipient of Quality of Life Award, Association of Commonwealth Universities, UK, 2001 for contribution in Development Research in South Asia.

    Her publications include five books and over 100 research articles in journals at national and international levels including chapters in books published in India and abroad. Her book Spatial Dynamics of International Capital (1997) was acclaimed as a groundbreaking work on space relations of global capital in India.

    The Contributors

    Solomon Benjamin is Associate Professor and co-chair of the Urban Research and Policy Program at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. Till 2009, he was a faculty member at the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto, Canada. He has been researching issues of urban poverty, economy and politics operating mainly from Bangalore and has authored a book and several articles on theoretical and empirical aspects of contemporary urban issues.

    Sharit K. Bhowmik is Professor and Dean at the School of Management and Labour Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. He specialises in industrial and urban sociology and is associated with several trade unions and NGOs (like SEWA) as an expert. He has authored a number of articles on labour and related issues.

    Darryl D'Monte is a freelance journalist and a syndicated columnist. He is Chairperson of Forum of Environmental Journalists of India and president of the International Federation of Environmental Journalists. Formerly, he was Resident Editor at The Times of India, Mumbai.

    David Harvey is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the City University of New York (CUNY), Graduate Centre and Director of the Center for Place, Culture and Politics. Previously, he was Professor of Geography at the Johns Hopkins University, USA and Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at Oxford University, UK. He has received several awards for outstanding work in geography. He specialises in political economy of urbanisation, globalisation issues and neoliberalism. His books have been translated into several languages like Spanish, Italian and Japanese.

    Nazrul Islam is the Chairperson of the University Grants Commission, Bangladesh and Adviser, Centre for Urban Studies (CUS), Dhaka. Previously, he was Professor of Geography and Environment at University of Dhaka. He is an avid researcher of urban studies and has authored several books and innumerable articles on urban and related issues.

    Heinz Nissel is Professor of Geography at the University of Vienna, Austria. His area of specialisation is urban geography and geopolitics. Nissel has written several articles on urban issues with special reference to spatial patterns of city growth in different economic environments.

    Umesh Varma Pakalapati is an urban activist from Hyderabad. He has worked on environmental issues, river ecology and organic farming. During the last three years he is focusing on land rights of urban poor, urban planning and governance.

    Saskia Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and Member, The Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University ( Her publications include Territory, Authority, Rights:From Medieval to Global Assemblages (2008) and A Sociology of Globalization (2007). She has now completed for UNESCO a five-year project on sustainable human settlement based on a network of researchers and activists in over 30 countries that it is published as one of the volumes of the Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS) ( Her books have been translated into 21 languages. She has written for The Guardian, The New York Times,, Le Monde, the International Herald Tribune, Newsweek International, the Financial Times,, among others.

    Salma A. Shafi is an architect and urban planner from Dhaka. She is the Honorary Treasurer of the Centre for Urban studies (CUS), Dhaka and a well known urban activist. She has written a number of critical articles on urban issues of Bangladesh.

    Marie-Hélène Zérah is the Coordinator of Urban Dynamics in the CSH, Delhi. Previously, she was with the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai. She specialises in urban infrastructural issues and has authored a book and a number of articles on urban infrastructure and related issues.

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