Bringing together a multi-disciplinary network team in four unique city workshops- Varanasi, Chandigarh, Navi Mumbai and Nashik, this project aims to uncover those alternative histories of the utopian city that have so far been silenced in the top down visions of Indian urban histories. These parallel utopias we argue are a palimpsest of social and urban planning visions that imagine urban citizenship as differentiated rather than universal, contextual rather than ahistorical, and active rather than passive. They are key to the planning of future cities in India as it stands historically poised to shift towards mega-urbanization through national programmes such as 100 Smart Cities, AMRUT and HRIDAY.
Preliminary investigations by the Datta (2012, 2015a, 2015b) and Co-I (Sabhlok 2015, 2001), suggest that alternative and grassroots histories of the city are often silenced as illegal, illegitimate, dissenting and anti-developmental. As existing research (Holston 1989; Kalia 1990, 1997, 2004) has already shown, it is indeed the rationalist utopian solutions that can be seen as ‘urban fantasies’ (Watson 2014) since they are out of sync with everyday life at street level. Those marginalised in the city have different conceptualisations of urban utopias based on notions of justice, rights and democracy and these conceptualisations rely largely upon their historic, social and political engagement with city spaces and urban environments. These alternative utopias are directly translatable into material spaces of mixed land use, flexible zoning and public ownership. The series of four city workshops aims to explore these alternative (and subaltern) histories of the utopian city, which rely not on the rationality of the Cartesian blueprint, rather on visions of the remembered, experienced and imagined city.
Nashik workshop was held on 30-31 May 2016. [Report here]
Please contact us for more information and if you would like to participate – firstname.lastname@example.org
Image credit: Ayona Datta