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The Chimeric City: Urban Renewal in Central Mumbai as Ideological Assemblage


· Pablo Holwitt University of Heidelberg (Heidelberg, Germany)


07/28 | 11:40-12:00 UTC+2/CEST


Since the introduction of liberal market reforms during the early 1990s, processes of urban development in India have been subsumed under the label of neoliberal urban renewal. This concept has been used to explain numerous aspects of contemporary urban transformation, including the formation of a new class of consumer citizens, the construction of gated residential complexes and malls, gentrification processes and displacement of the poor or urban beautification projects. However, neoliberalism as a master narrative has also attracted its fair share of criticism. It has been viewed as a rather vaguely defined concept derived from cities of the Global North that favors a top-down perspective and ignores many of the more contradictory elements of Southern urbanisms. These criticisms feed into more general debates about the limits of neoliberalism as an analytical concept and demands for more nuanced approaches towards the study of global capitalism and its impact on regions and localities. In response to these discussions, this paper develops a notion of urban renewal in India as an assemblage of various ideological currents that can merge, compete and clash in multiple ways. It is argued that conceiving of ideologies as tendencies rather than encompassing frameworks allows to account for the complex articulations of urban renewal on the ground. Taking contemporary redevelopment processes in the city center of Mumbai as a point of departure, the paper traces the ways in which ideological assemblages become manifest in space through processes of urban renewal.