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 2: New Urban Politics
New Urban Politics
I have been a security guard at the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation for years now and let me tell you something: in the past, this place would be filled with poor people wanting their government officials to respond to their various problems, now it is only filled with builders and CEOs of construction companies. (Akhilbhai, security guard at the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation [AMC])
As I waited to get an interview with the commissioner of AMC, Akhilbhai's statement (above) continued to disturb me as he chatted on happily. Akhilbhai was drawing my attention to an ontological shift in urban governance that has been termed “new urban politics” (NUP) in Anglo-American literature (Cox 1993; Hall and Hubbard 1996; MacLeod 2002, 2011). Drawing upon Harvey's ...