UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Engaging the state : urban citizenship practices at the frontier of urban renewal and Nagar Raj in suburban Mumbai Menezes, Benita Maria


What are the political practices of engaging the state at the intersection of urban renewal and decentralization of governance (Nagar Raj) in millennial Mumbai? At stake in this question is the need to intervene in existing scholarship, which, until now, has been framed predominantly through macro-narratives of the structural dimensions of urban change. With regard to urban renewal, it has framed debates through the tropes of gentrification and dispossession and, with regard to urban governmentality, through binary constructs of civil and political society, or the overarching notion of civic governmentality. Although these conceptualizations have been useful, what is missing is a grounded reading of the micro-politics of everyday citizen practices that point to a dynamic and contentious public sphere. This thesis explores the micro-politics of spatial and institutional restructuring in a suburban neighborhood in Mumbai. Drawing on research across the themes of urban decentralization, renewal and citizenship, the research renders more complex the binary constructs of civil/political society as well as the homogeneous categories of urban poor and community by focusing on a case study of neighborhood-led micro-urban renewal. The research locates the evolving political consciousness and agency of neighborhood actors through their actual practices that overlap with and transgress siloed conceptualizations. In developing this argument on the new politics of neighborhoods, four ways of engaging the state in suburban Mumbai are identified: a politics of (1) difference, (2) silence, (3) civility, and (4) compensation.

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