South Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - The Materiality of Mobility: Urban Futures and Infrastructures in Himachal Pradesh

Saturday, July 7
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Mahogany, First Floor

This paper is interested in the forms of social ecologies that emerge alongside the growth of urban centres in the Himalayas. Development initiatives and expanded reproduction of rural livelihoods have seen increasing number of households in the Western Himalayas — especially in the state of Himachal Pradesh — route available surplus to nearby urban areas in search of speculative footholds. Yet, the region continues to be viewed as essentially rural, owing to its historical-geographical specificities. The paper examines the rapidly shifting spatiality of the region through a comparative investigation of the contours of urban change in the settlements of Banjar and Bharmour. It shows how social mobility is spatialised in the form of diverse built environments that are overlaid on differentiated locations to co-produce a dynamic landscape of opportunities, marginalities and environmental risk. The paper draws on over a year of collaborative ethnographic field in the town.

Rohit Negi

Ambedkar University Delhi, India

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