Unauthorized City: Entanglements of Water, Property, and Rule in Bangalore
Why does a city known for its technology-led modernism and market-oriented reforms continue to be rife with illicit land governance and informal and risky practices of settlement and water access? Drawing on over a decade of ethnographic and archival research, this talk argues that the logic of unauthorized urbanism is core, and not anomalous, to Bangalore's postcolonial, liberal, and modernist trajectory. Through this logic, various state forms alternatingly produce and penalize "unauthorized" urban development in the interest of capitalist accumulation. Crucially, in a city known both for its wetlands and wetland reclamation, the material and political entanglements between land and water are especially consequential for this logic. In turn, unauthorized development translates into unsustainable water extraction, unequal water access, and risky flood zones. In other words, multiple relationalities between land and water undergird the political logic of unauthorized urbanism. Today, this logic is increasingly catering to the elite at the expense of the lower classes and castes, generating new forms of activism which entangle anti-corruption, anti-land grabbing, social justice, and environmental concerns.
*Lunch will be served.