Development and Urbanization
Insitut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD)/French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development, CESSMA research Unit, Paris Diderot University, University Sorbonne Paris Cité., France
This paper examines the case of a settlement in Delhi, categorized as a slum, to contrast different perspectives on this neighbourhood and its interactions with the city.
Kathputli Colony was selected by the Delhi Development Authority to implement its first slum redevelopment project under public-private partnership, which entailed the demolition of the settlement and the transfer of its residents to a transit camp during the construction of the rehousing complex. This state intervention acted as a catalyst for mobilization inside and outside the settlement.
We question the state representation of a slum settlement as associated to a community represented by a single organisation for implementing the redevelopment project. Mobilisation by various residents’ and traders’ associations of nearby localities against the location of the transit camp in their respective neighbourhood evidenced another totalising representation of the slum. That of a stigmatised entity, associated to a problematic, threatening, community to be kept far away.
By contrast with these outsiders’ homogenising visions, a comprehensive analysis of the settlement shows fragmented communities and a pattern of segregated clusters. Furthermore, the ecology of the local action triggered by the redevelopment project revealed new lines of division along diverging interests. Noteworthy, the lack of linkages with other eviction-threatened slums in the city, points to the insularity of the mobilisation. Yet, external actors influenced the course of this several-year-long mobilisation. At times they reinforced the internal cohesion of the residents’ collective, at others they fostered divisions along differing conceptions of interaction with the state –confrontation versus negotiation.