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Lund: Ursula Rao holds SASNET lecture on Urban Spaces in India

November 13, 2014 - 13:15-15:00

Professor Ursula Rao, Director of the Institute of Anthropology at University of Leipzig, Germany, will give a SASNET lecture entitled ”Local Bodies/Global Cities” on Thursday 13 November. 
The lecture is the second in a new international seminar series introduced by SASNET. The series is entitled Structural Transformation, Urbanisation and the Challenge of Sustainability. The seminar series focuses broadly on issues relating to contemporary transformations in South Asia with specific reference to urbanization. The seminar series also links to the coming SASNET conference in May 2015 titled South Asia in transformation: World of Slums, Global Power houses of Utopias? Migration, labour and family changes in a dynamic region.
Professor Rao is an urban anthropologist doing research on India. The central focus of her work is changing power relations in rapidly globalising cities, with regards to three  different topics: (1) the interaction between urban poor and state agencies in a landscape of  shifting ideologies of urbanity and social security; (2) the changing role of news media for shaping urban  politics; (3) The role of religious institutions and ritual performances for  renegotiating social relations. Her current work focusses on e-goverance and biometric technology.
In her SASNET presentation she uses data from case studies carried out in Indian metropolis of Delhi to discuss acute negotiations about the meaning and experience of urban citizenship in a post-2010 environment, when investment friendly politics meets a growing concern for social welfare and inclusive growth. She will focus specifically on the position of bodies in reconfigured urban spaces, and examine the ways in which “poor bodies” provoke and reshape the urban dream through their very material presence in the cities.”

Abstract: “Recent years has seen a surge of writing about processes of gentrification and urban upgrading. They spell out the consequences of acute “class wars” in rapidly growing cities. These new spaces of privileged sociality tend to push poor people to the margins of the city. In contrast to this dominant narrative, this paper engages with the aspirations and actions of poor people and discusses the way they inscribe their presence into the urban landscape. It takes up the notion that the middle class is both exclusive and expansive. Anti-poor drives are coupled with pedagogical interventions that invest in the education of poor people, discipline them to develop a more suitable urban habitus and allow them to generate and realize new aspirations. How do poor people position themselves in the emerging urban landscapes saturated with dreams about the good life? How do they navigate the city that is largely built by their own hands, but to which they have limited access? How do they relate to benevolent and patronizing interventions for their improvement?

Venue: Department of Sociology, Lund University, Paradisgatan 5 G, lecture hall 1. All are most welcome.


Lund: Ursula Rao holds SASNET lecture on Urban Spaces in India


November 13, 2014