What makes a city? Rather than a totality, a city is best understood through focusing upon different but interconnected spaces and processes that make for both dynamism and instability in human lives. Hence, the book ranges across a number of sites in order to explore their connections. How do the pleasures of the gated residential enclave encompass the pain of the demolished slum locality? How do localized rituals of suburban life incorporate the symbolic procedures of the nation-state? What processes link contemporary manifestations of consumerism, the middle-classes, and the urban poor? What kind of a city is produced by the relationship between 'illegal' settlements such as 'slums', the traffic in fake documents that seek to stave of slum-demolitions and representatives of the 'legal' city such as Residents Welfare Associations (RWAs)? What can the increasing visibility of RWAs in the quotidian politics of the city tell us about new notions of citizenship and the emergent relationships between middle-classes, the state and the market? And, what is shared between new forms of urban religiosity, the desire for a 'global' city and new consumer cultures?
Through these key themes, the book examines the city as a series of overlapping meanings rather than as identifiable urban essence.
Sanjay Srivastava is Professor of Sociology, Institute of Economic Growth, University of Delhi, Delhi.
PART I: SPACES OF THE PERIPHERY, SUBJECTS OF THE CENTRE; PART II: POST-NATIONALISM, BHAGIDARS, CONSUMER-CITIZENS, THE MOHULLA, BEDROOMS, AND KITCHENS; PART III: CONSUMING CULTURES AND URBAN SPACES: BETWEEN THE BASTI AND THE MALL