Thursday, April 25, 2013

Technical Imagination in ‘City-Making

Urban Workshop Series, the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) and Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH), Delhi are delighted to invite you to a Workshop on The Technical Imagination in ‘City-Making’: The Dark Side of Urban Planning in Ahmedabad by Navdeep Mathur of IIM Ahmedabad.
Date:               Tuesday, 30 April 2013
Time:               3.45 p.m.
Venue:             Conference Hall, Centre for Policy Research, Dharma Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110 021
Recent city-making processes have unfolded in Ahmedabad through regimes and discursive practices that may not be unique to Ahmedabad but those that are certainly uniquely embedded in the specific projects around which neoliberal logic is used to reconfigure urban space. This presentation implicates technologies considered to be instruments of urban planning and governance in facilitating an overarching ‘technical imagination’ through which specific notions of space are valorized where they refer to market values, and demonized where they signify productive uses for working class poor citizens. It outlines the dominant imaginative lenses that represent urban reality in need of transformation, to which ‘scientific principles’ (such as the business accounting practices that commodify and re-categorize all public spac e and activity in terms of ‘revenue and capital management’, and promotion of markets in solving problems arising out of such ideological revision) are then applied to the relationships between local government and privileged experts, society and urban space. Examining Ahmedabad’s ‘Riverfront’ as one of the sites providing the underlying logic to create a neoliberal institutional-governance space, the paper directs attention to the nexus between a hegemonic modernist architectural-planning discursive practice and its representations through an attendant technical imagination in reconfiguring that physical and institutional landscape. This research draws on field studies of eviction processes of habitat and livelihoods of urban communities and their partial resettlement due to the Riverfront development project in Ahmedabad, as well as participation in related public events, including interviews and conversations with a range of actors. These empirical engagements are used to und erstand how particular planning practices are used to interpret and control urban space, and imprint an authoritarian logic of public value in institutions of ‘decentralized’ local governance.
Navdeep Mathur is currently with the Public Systems Group at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. His current research is in the area of globalization, governance, democracy and citizenship. He has published widely in academic and policy journals and is currently the co-editor of Critical Policy Studies (a Routledge journal). He received his Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration, from Rutgers University.
This is the thirty ninth in a series of Urban Workshops planned by the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH), New Delhi and Centre for Policy Research (CPR). These workshops seek to provoke public discussion on issues relating to the development of the city and try to address all its facets including its administration, culture, economy, society, and politics. For further information, please contact: Marie-Hélène Zerah at or Partha Mukhopadhyay at
Look forward to seeing you at the event.
With regards,
Pratap Bhanu Mehta

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