Background Slum Free City Cultural Studies Essay


At World Social Forum in 2003 Arundhuti Roy mentioned ""we be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing".Her speech can be criticized as an emotional outburst rather than scientific analysis of the present. But the burgeoning tendency of social movements in several parts of the world to some extent supports her view. In 2011, New York City has observed an overwhelming protest 'Occupy Wall Street' as a reaction to the neo-liberal economic policies. The May Day protest in Seattle for 'immigrants and workers right' can be a recent example in United States [5] . In India, the Narmada movement has opposed the displacement of poor and tribal people. In Cancun, Mexico, hundreds of people have protested in front of the venue of the United Nations Climate Change Conference to raise their voice against the commercialization of forestry [6] . In Cochabamba, Bolivia, the commercialization of water has given birth to a protest which translated into a 'Water Riot' there. [7] These movements are creating a space for alternative urbanism which triggers my purpose of carrying this research study.

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Main Focus: The focus of my literature review study is to understand the processes of 'subaltern urbanism'. [i] The 'right to the city' creates a radical new paradigm for 'subaltern urbanism'. There is a profound gap in academic scholarships to address that how right claims of marginalized people in cities of global south can be practiced. The literature review is intended to explore the concept of right to the city by several scholars and provide a context to study the claim of rights by marginalized people of global south.

Overall Argument: The literature review is divided into four thematic areas- a) structural adjustment and neoliberal polices, b) critical urban theory, c) right to the city and d) space-citizenship-democracy relations. The main reason of the thematic divisions is to understand interrelationships between each theme. The review of structural adjustment provides the contextual evidences of current urban forms. This highlights how exclusion in urban areas is getting prominent in urban planning process due to neoliberal policies. Critical urban theory part serves an alternative theoretical discourse through which urbanization can be critically examined. The right to the city explains how the marginalized community can be included in the planning process. It argues about right to access of urban services and political participation in the decision making process. Space-citizenship-democracy provides the analysis of power space nexus and also elucidates how claim of rights can provide a discourse of democratic urban planning process. The conclusion explains how right to urban services and participation would empower citizens collectively to be a part of urban processes and create a new social order. It also highlights the limitations of the existing scholarly works.

Neoliberal Policies, Structural Adjustment and its Consequences on Cities: The term structural adjustment indicates liberalization of economy to market forces without any state intervention. [8] The structural adjustment can be seen as a consequence of neoliberal economic polices and globalized political economy. As a part of structural adjustment the cities of global south are facing challenges from external forces of global capital, free flow of goods and internal forces of transformation of its social fabrics. The transformation of the city fabric is manifested with unemployment, overpopulation and lack of direction in urban development. As a subsequent process, exclusion is getting prominent in urban areas. Neoliberal economic forces are pushing marginalized people to the peripheries of urban space to cater room for capital investments. In planning process it promotes project based development and middle class activism which is widening the gap of inequalities in urban areas. [9] Indian cities give a clear example of that. Post 1991 period Indian economy opened to global economy. After 1991, the economy put emphasis on foreign investments, globalization and free trade. The effects of liberalized economy are also prominent in country's planning process. The planning process has adopted a model of economic growth as a process of development. It focuses more on project based development through N.G.O.s, international donor agencies and private consultants. The major players of the decision making process are lead by these groups where people are missing. As a means of participation, it promotes "structured participation of legalized citizens". [10] Solomon Benjamin mentions this burgeoning process as "politics of developmentalism". Jawaharlal Neheru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) has been launched in 2005 as an urban reform program. It focuses on improvement of infrastructure, provision of housing and large scale investment. This is an attempt to improve the financial health of cities. As a policy measure, it focuses on a model of urban economic growth. [11] This results into more of contestation in urban spaces, rising land values and a skewed urban growth. A perfect example of this is Mumbai. Mumbai is the 10th highest land value ($11,306/ [12] city in the world after New York and simultaneously it caters the second largest slum of Asia, Dharavi [13] . Neoliberal polices are encouraging cities to build a narrative of world class cities through increase in foreign investments and privatized development. The narrative of "world class cities" is represented by lucrative compartmentalized spaces for capital investment. It promotes iconic architectures, high rise apartments, malls, flyovers and expressways. Arif Hasan argues that in world class cities "the global capital determines the physical and social fabric of a city". [14] Neil Smith views this as a process of mobilization of individual property rights through market determined ways of capital accumulation. [15] This capital accumulation process is increasing inequalities in cities and making the difference between formal and informal more prominent. In a research article Ananya Roy (2011)argues, that neoliberal economic forces are consciously making efforts to increase polarization between formal and informal sectors, in terms of housing, economic activities and public space utilization. She also claims that it has two major goals to serve. One goal is to create division among people and the other goal is to separate marginalized people from the planning and decision making processes. [16] Don Mitchell also shows that in this polarized world of formal and informal, urban space is losing its essence of free interaction, free speech, inclusion and participation in the political process. He further explains this notion as "disneyfication of space". [17] The "disneyfication of space" means planned and controlled environment which promotes space utilization by an "appropriate" group of people. This tendency is indulging in creation of a set of ordered space which can be utilized by a group of people and in turn creating a certain kind of public which is easy to manage and plan. This is an attempt to volatile the distinction between public and private, between market and people, to avoid the representations of underprivileged and finally to promote, what Foucault has described as governmentality. Governmentality offers a process of homogenization which creates pseudo- spaces' to "enjoy surveillance more than free interactions; entertainment more than politics" [18] . It only promotes certain democracy in which performance of activities is possible only those are satisfactory to the state. Castells (2010) defines these placelessness phenomena as the emergence of a new form of capitalism where places lost its importance and replaced with space of flows. [19] He describes it as the emergence of network society. The poor, the ethnic minority, the homeless people are always outsiders of this society because their presence is ignored in the network of capital investments. As a part of the homogenization process by the state, cities are sacrificing the diversity of social process and spatial relations.

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Critical Urban Theory: Critical urban theory is an academic discourse initiated by David Harvey. It is a multidisciplinary discourse with broad traditions in urban planning, geography, political economy and international development. Critical urban theory emerges from Marxian and Hegelian principles and has its roots in a radical approach towards urban problems. Critical urban theory evokes that urban problems can be analyzed through Hegelian dialectics of thesis, anti thesis and synthesis. Neil Brenner says critical urban theory rejects the hierarchy in society. It focuses on urban spaces which are politically and socially contested and the outcome depends on the social power. [20] Peter Marcuse postulates five indispensible conditions: a) urban problems are not separate and it has its roots in economic, political and social structures and the society; b) radical action is required; c) it is related with the underlying super structure of the society and demands a structural change d) collective demand is necessary to achieve a common goal e) collective effort is supported by individual effort of participation. [21] Critical urban theory as an alternative approach looks beyond the economic growth of cities and is a critique of hegemonic power relations, cultural dominations, social injustice and inequality. This promotes a tradition of people's movement towards structural change. Critical urban theory supports the radical approach of urban change through people's right in the city. This is a discourse which acts as a niche for radical social demands and their implementation in urban areas.

Right to the City: Lefebvre has mentioned "right to the city is like a cry and demand". For Lefebvre, the "cry comes out from a necessity and demand for something more". [22] Right to the city creates that necessary demand for inclusion of marginalized in the urban spaces. It rejects pervasive attempt of neoliberalism and hegemonic social and political relations. David Harvey (2012), Mark Purcell (2008) and Don Mitchell (2003) argue that right to the city creates a counterargument against the homogenization and exclusionary process of neoliberal polices. Rights offer deep structural changes in the process of production and consumption of urban resources. [23] For Lefebvre, right to the city relates with three interrelated concepts: a) the city is public-free social interaction and exchange; b) heterogeneity- where space encourages differences; c) difference -creates struggle to access the resources, citizenship and democracy. [24] Lefebvre claimed that everyday living in the city claims the rights for the urban dwellers. It means urban dwellers those who perform their daily activities and relations create urban space through the living and qualify for legitimate rights. Harvey, Purcell and Mitchell formulate their ideas on the basis of Lefebvre's idea. For Harvey, rights include control over the production system and urban resources. [25] For him this enables people to initiate a process of collective bargaining for urban spaces. Purcell idealizes rights in two domains- a) right to utilization of urban space and b) right to participate politically in shaping the urban space. [26] Mitchell proposes a radical solution for right to live: "Either a city possesses sufficient safe, sanitary shelter to house its homeless population or it does not. If it does not, then homeless people simply must occupy public space". [27] He argues right to the city is not a right what legislative system provides rather than it is right to social justice for the marginalized group. Fro him, the right can be practiced through the representation of underprivileged groups in the decision making process. In his book "The New Urban Frontier-Gentrification and the Revanchist City" (1996), Neil Smith focuses on urban regeneration projects through gentrification mechanisms. His research shows that gentrification for the sake of urban development creates a city of inequality. He coins a term "revanchist city" to define the state sponsored process of exclusion of minorities, homeless people, the working class, the environmental activists and the immigrants. [28] He finds that this inequality and exclusion is persistent across the globe. As a corrective measure to this inequality, Smith focuses on Lefebvre's idea of right to the city. In a nutshell, these scholarships highlights that right based approach enable to distribute the outcomes of development and also it ensures a participatory democracy. [29] In this context, it is also important to identify the parameters to practice the claim of rights in the cities. UNESCO UN Habitat proposes five fundamental axes of their right to the city project (2005). The five axes are: a) access to liberty and freedom b) transparency, equity and efficiency in local government c) participation in local decision making process d) inclusion and reduction in the rate of urban violence and e) celebration of differences in economic, cultural and social life. [30] Aberdeen Agenda or Commonwealth Principles of 2005 identifies a set of parameters for local democracy. This has an in depth connection with the right to the city approach. The parameters for local democracy are: a) recognition of local democracy b) ability to elect government c) partnership with governments d) defined structured framework of governance e) participation in local decision making f) accountability and transparency of local government g) inclusiveness h) equitable distribution of resources i) good governance. [31] Whereas The Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities (2002) explores rights in seven dimensions: [32] a) Democracy b) Economic and social life c) Cultural life d) Recreation, e) f) Security g) Municipal Services. This approach has a different narrative of rights. The approach to different forms of rights has a connotation of hegemonic identity. In terms of cultural rights, it mentions preservation of heritage. Heritage is not an inclusive concept. It promotes orderly arrangements of space. The Montreal Charter also highlights recreational rights by promoting parks and recreational area. This beautification approach relates to the idea of "sanitized democracy". It seeks to control people's behavior. According to this idea, a park hinders the notion of 'public space' by restricting certain behaviors like political protests, shelter for homeless people. By the term security, the Charter focuses on surveillance which relates to the notion what Foucault called as "biopolitic"- a politics of fear. This idea of right to the city is distinctively different from the idea of spatial rights what Lefebvre mentioned. The overall argument of the scholarly works highlights that right to the city is necessary to claim the demands for the marginalized. The rights are both collective and individual [33] . These two rights are not disjointed rather they supports each other. Collective rights focus on claims from bottom and individual rights help to institutionalize the claim through participation. Participation would lead to reorientation of institutional mechanisms through which a change in social order is possible.

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Space, Citizenship and Democracy: Right to the city focuses mainly on urban spatiality. The role of urban space is pivotal in this context. Holston and Appadurai (1999) argue that place serves as a fundamental medium for membership and negotiations. Lefebvre defined space in three dimensional way- perceived space, conceived space, & lived space. [34] Perceived space is the mappable, physical space. Conceived space is the imaginary space of human cognition. Lefebvre put foremost importance on lived space which is the space of everyday living with social relations, networks and spatial practices. For him everyday life represents interaction of social relations and lived space. Spatial practice in lived space involves control over the social and spatial environment of urban areas. Right to the city gives urban dwellers the rights on lived space and hence provides political power in decision making process. In most of the cases citizenship is defined as a legal instrument to alienate the marginalized or the unwanted groups in the city. Judicial system defines citizenship on the basis of property rights. The poor, the immigrants, the homeless people, the colored people are always the "constitutive outsiders" of the defined citizenship [35] . Cities of the global south are constantly enforcing this citizenship through slum eviction to create a capital attractive property market. Most of the American cities criminalize homelessness what Don Mitchell calls as "annihilation of space by law". [36] The "annihilation of space by law" destroys the right of homeless people. The squatting and informal housing in the cities of global south are always an attempt to qualify for citizenship. Claims for citizenship are always a result of dichotomy between "propertied citizenship" and exclusion from this [37] . An antithesis against the "propertied citizenship" can be developed through revisiting the idea of right to the city. It involves a political membership of the marginalized in urban areas. Political membership gives citizen the power to resist state power. For the restructuring of citizenship, change in the political economy is necessary which will reduce the hegemonic relations of nation-state. The subaltern form of citizenship evokes to the concept of right to city and thus throws challenges to the hegemonic neoliberal political economy. It generates a radical reorientation of political economy. Lefebvre rejects the hypothesis of formal citizenship. According to him, inhabitance in the city claims citizenship in right to the city.

The American foreign policy defines 'democracy' with reinventing new spatial markets for neoliberal policies. This pervasive and dogmatic notion of democracy can be perceived through the experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan. It enables intense penetration of market forces. Two different aspect of democracy is relevant in this regard. One is liberal democracy and the other is deliberate democracy. Liberal democracy is designed to protect individuals from intrusion by the democratic state. [38] As a protection mechanism, individuals practice personal rights. Liberal democracy often makes a clear distinction between private and public spheres. Deliberate democracy has its foundation on Habermas' notion of communicative rationality. Communicative rationality can be achieved through a politics where outcomes are determined by "forceless force of the better argument". [39] This indulges the notion of rational planning. An alternative approach of radical democracy is important in the context of right to the city. Radical democracy rejects the hypothesis of liberal democracy because of its distinction of private from the public. Radical democracy argues collective rights against individual rights. A critical thinking on deliberate democracy is also important. Deliberate democracy argues about achievement of common goods. Radical democracy theory argues that within the embedded hegemonic political economic system achieving common goods always excludes a certain portion of the society. Existing hegemonic system restricts marginalized population from participation in the process of communicative rationality. Radical democracy focuses on urban and spatial democracy. This is an attempt to abandon the neoliberal hegemonic system. It flourishes through political participation and spatial practices.

Conclusion: These studies are asserting towards a distinctly different form of urbanism through struggle and collective bargain what Lefebvre has called as 'urban revolution' [40] . Peter Marcuse (2009) mentions about a three stage process to achieve the rights in the cities. According to him critical urban theory relies on three interconnected stages namely expose, propose and politicize. [41] Expose relates to the analysis of the contextual problem. Propose includes working with the affected population and formulation of strategies and targets to achieve a common goal. Politicize translates into actual political actions. Jordi Borja explains his theoretical framework in three reflection areas. Reflection area one addresses the reorientation of the idea of "propertied citizenship". It can be achieved through integration of urban services with people's accessibility. Reflection area two denotes rethinking of societal plan. The societal plan can be formulated with the aspirations from the bottom, value of individuals, freedom and equity. Reflection area three includes connection between political theory and practice. The practice of political theory can be possible with participation of the marginalized in the political process and through their representations. [42] 

One of the drawback of major scholarly works of the right to the city approach is it relies heavily on building up of a theoretical framework. Often the central theme of the approach is spatial. But the spatial problems are not isolated islands but they emerge from economic, social and political domains. Only a spatial approach can leads to a partial solution by ignoring the broader picture. This can be dangerous. Another limitation of these scholarly works is they lack an illustrative sequence of activities through which the rights can be claimed. Sometimes the studies overromanticize the idea of right which can be resulted into a social anarchy. Left liberalist Marcelo Lopes de Souza (2010) heavily criticizes the idea of right to the city as a N.G.O. centric development. He views this "leads to a future which is more or less extension of the present". [43] He theorizes it as a "consultant for development with minimum horror" (Castoriadis, 1996). According to him, this leads to an uncertain horizon for the global south heavily based on western epistemological discourse. This is very prominent in theoretical aspect of right to the city which tries to link local, micro level demands in broader political and economic context. This has an acute tendency of generalization biases. De Souza points towards the limitations of right to city in addressing radical social movements of the global south like Zapatista movement. He views right to the city misinterprets many of the exiting social movements by peasants and laborers of the global south. For him, there needs to be a complete refusal of hierarchy whether vertical or horizontal. This approach promotes state not as a partner rather than an enemy as important as neoliberal policies and capitalistic economy. This approach is also very lucid in terms of applicability. This is based heavily on Peter Kropotkin's anarchistic communism [ii] . But the presence of an institution is important. At present economic and social condition, an extensive urban revolution is utopian. The concept of participatory planning and collective bargaining can lead towards a process of legitimizing marginalized in the decision making process. This will also institutionalize the demands for the marginalized. My study will try to evaluate the possibilities to construct the rights in an applicable manner. I'll try to focus on two things-one -to construct civic rights (access to urban services, proper land tenure, access to public distribution system) for marginalized group and to the creation of a political space for collective bargaining and participation.