UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Unmapping the metropolis : urban restructuring, governmental logics, and adivasi rights in liberalizing Ahmedabad Johnston, Caleb Fraser


This thesis examines the struggles and conditions of Baoris and Chharas, two adivasi(indigenous) communities living in Ahmedabad, India. It engages with the histories through which these communities were transformed into criminalized populations under the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871. As mapped Criminal Tribes, Baoris and Chharas were brought into a repressive policy apparatus designed to discipline and regulate, control and reform subaltern adivasi populations. This work documents the effects of this history in the post-colonial present. I assess Baoris and Chharas’ differentiated inclusion and exclusion within the long and troubled trajectory of India’s governmental power. Their struggles are situated within the dramatic recalibration of governmental logics and urban restructuring within the liberalizing metropolis. I consider the negotiation of rights and entitlements in a time and place wherein the Indian state is jettisoning its constitutional responsibilities to provide social welfare and democratic justice. This work argues that liberalization produces the informal to push the poor beyond the pale of legality, and suspend the possibility of accessing the technologies and categories of formal governance. I examine how the un-mapping of responsibilities, rights, and visibilities represents a central mechanism driving an emergent urban developmentalism that is reordering the city’s moral, legal and physical landscapes. Just as Baoris and Chharas’ experiences figure the greater erosion of rights and entitlements, their organizing also demonstrates how the developmental and rights-protecting apparatus of the Indian state remains a critical site of oppositional politics. I document their attempts to access and exercise technologies of governing in order to position themselves as legible populations within the classifications and categories of state power.

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