Displacement, Revolution, and the New Urban Condition provides a window into the global urban contradiction through the lens of a Third World city. It is not a book on urban India, or a book on Ahmedabad city, or even a book on the Sabarmati River Front Development (SRFD) project, but it is a book that uses all these lenses to conceptualize urban exploitation.
The author develops a dialectical praxis of theory transfer that takes us from the First World to the Third World and back again. In the process, the arrow of theory transfer is not reversed, because theory cannot be transferred by simply changing the direction of the arrow; instead, an attempt is made to (re)produce and (re)inform different conceptual worlds by juxtaposing it with the SRFD project in Ahmedabad city.
This book is, therefore, as much about the poor people of Ahmedabad as it is about global urban displacement and the politics of resettlement and resistance—theory and practice are always inflected, and the chapters demonstrate this inflection deeply and clearly. The point is to change the world, and to do so we must relentlessly struggle to better the concepts that we use to understand it with. This book is such a struggle.
Chapter 1: Introduction
As I looked down from Nehru Bridge that runs across the now almost-dry Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad, the city opened up to me. A sea of plastic, wood, mud, and bamboo shelters meticulously stitched together with flimsy ropes, patched with mud and sometimes bricks and concrete, rose from the parched mudflats of the riverbank and disappeared into the dusk of the horizon. They were teeming with life, activity, and hope—children chasing goats, women washing utensils, a baby defecating near the water, a washerman running an informal laundry and hanging clothes on a line along the river, groups of men playing cards, curls of smoke rising from huts. Closer to the bridge, the shelters, homes, and huts abruptly end and disappear as concrete steps, the ...