Anthropology and Environment Society
Oral Presentation Session
Recent UN figures on migration show that Pakistan is experiencing the highest rates of rural to urban migration in South Asia (UN 2014). Rural migration is so pervasive that it is rendered unremarkable in the national discourse. However, the living condition of rural migrants in megacities like Karachi is worsened by an assertive middle-class movement to demolish informal markets and housing throughout the city. These demolitions are fueled by a desire for “world class” living, dinning and Dubai style shopping which dominates the vision of progress in cities like Karachi. In this paper, I will look at the aesthetic politics that is driving large urban renewal and real estate projects in Karachi. These aspirational projects are producing new forms of physical and imaginative evictions of the poor, especially recently arrived immigrants in the peri-urban settlements. I will examine the politics of visibility in Karachi by examining new municipal regulations regarding building codes, billboards, graffiti, flags, boundary walls and public art in enforcing spatial segregation of the city. I will analyze how urban planners, architects, artists and graphic designers are responding to the growing spatial segregation of the city? How are new infrastructure projects of road construction, Bus Rapid Transport enabling inequitable land use in the city? How is Karachi’s vast informal economy that caters to migrant laborers and the urban poor responding to these displacements?