Governing Land: Politics of (Un) Plannability in Muslim Neighbourhoods of Delhi
MetadataShow full item record
Delhi is one of the most extensively studied urban areas globally. Yet, academic literature on the question of “informality, as a mode of governance” (Roy 2005) has seldom paid attention to the production of Muslim spaces in the city. Jamil (2017), in her scholarship on Muslim localities in Delhi, introduces a rare perspective on how the urban Muslim is spatially organized within the dominant ideology of urbanization in Delhi. This paper examines the history and politics of (un)plannability to understand the production of Muslim colonies (focusing on Jamia Nagar) in the context of neoliberalization in Delhi and the rise of Hindu nationalism in India. The paper follows the changing body of the state to explain the political rationality of “exclusion” (Agamben 2005, Ong 2006), which does not always follow the logic of neoliberal governmentality. This paper argues that the formation of Muslim neighbourhoods as the ‘enemy within’ is taking place under state powers that pursue anti-Muslim policies on one hand and neoliberal urban expansion on the other. I highlight the conditions of use and exchange of land that facilitate the blurring of boundaries between state and society in Muslim colonies. Here, I pay particular attention to the various ‘democratic’ processes that create informality through large-scale urban land acquisition and regularization of the ‘unauthorized’. This research contributes to Jamil’s (2017) work by highlighting how the racialized Muslim space is re-produced through its exclusion. It does so by integrating spatial analysis with traditional archival materials and oral histories. The territorialized control of Muslims and the criminalization of their spatial politics have led to the solidification of a new racial order within Indian cities, where financialization of land is taking place within a niche market, determined by the ‘Muslim value’. The spatial analysis undertaken in this study highlights the practices of slow violence within urban planning and questions the ways in which the tentacles of the criminal justice system and prison industrial complex have converged on the lives of territorialized urban Muslims in India.