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Seminars and Colloquia

Humanities and Social Sciences

In the Shadow of the Mill: Politics and property in Ahmedabad’s working class neighbourhoods 
Mon, Jan 25, 2021,   12:00 PM to 01:00 PM at WEBINAR https://zoom.us/j/97446034257?pwd=cTJBdTdxcGM0bnZzdTgraGxTU0JuUT09 Meeting ID: 974 4603 4257 Passcode: 967522

Dr Rukmini Barua
Max Planck Institute of Human Development, Berlin

Scholarship on urban India has been largely dominated by a focus on either its colonial pasts or its contemporary ‘problems’ as well as an emphasis on prominent figures and institutions. This presentation considers the urban working classes in connecting Ahmedabad’s industrial histories with its current political dynamics. I draw on both archival and ethnographic research to address questions of urban politics, spatial practice and property regimes in the making and re-making of workers’ neighbourhoods in Ahmedabad. In doing so, I trace how the urban working poor attempted to make a life in the city over the course of the twentieth and the early years of the twenty-first century: how claims on the city are made, contested and negotiated; what actors and forms of material and political avenues emerge in this process; and the ways in which intersections of class and community shape historically contingent workers’ subjectivities and produce a hierarchised socio-political landscape. These questions reflect my broader interest in workers’ spaces and lived experiences as a critical lens with which to view the histories, geographies and politics of urban change in India.

Dr. Rukmini Barua works at the Max Planck Institute of Human Development in Berlin. She completed her doctorate in history from the Centre for Modern Indian Studies at the University of Göttingen. Previously, she was trained in sociology at the Delhi School of Economics. Her PhD research focused on workers' neighbourhoods in Ahmedabad. Drawing from both archival and ethnographic material, Barua's PhD thesis traced the histories of the industrial areas of Ahmedabad from the 1920s to the 2000s.