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ASIANET: fokus – Segregation and Stigmatisation: Revisiting Marginality Debates in South Asian Urban Scholarship

januar 31 @ 14:30 16:00

Welcome to this seminar with Ritanjan Das, Senior Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth!

South Asia is a region rife with physical and metaphorical margins, where the project of state-making has yielded myriad social and spatial exclusions of citizens and non-citizens. This necessitates an optic for understanding politics and governance in the region that moves beyond liberal normative notions of rights bearing citizens and instead focuses attention on those outside the bounds of classically conceived civil society, i.e. at the margins. In this seminar, Ritanjan Das draws on his explorative ethnographic research in north India to revisit the idea of ‘marginal spaces’ in South Asian cites, usually described as segregated and stigmatised territories of exception, contradiction, danger and violence. Yet, there is a need to recognise that those living at the city’s margins do not represent negligible minorities of the urban whole, but constitute and even define the city. The talk aims to demonstrate how people at the margins rework boundaries of race, class, religion and ethnicity, contributing to the construction of self and other as well as to the reassessment of urban social boundaries.

While urban marginality debates span across ideas about ‘irrelevance’ of the margins to intersections of spatial and structural perspectives, the predominant conceptualisation of margins are as spaces deviating from the ‘centre’. This implies a unidirectional relationality about place and power that has long been a central aspect of South Asian urban scholarship. Unpacking the concept of marginality thus requires adopting a relational and negotiated view of margins and centres, broad and local histories, and regional politics, a view which embodies – rather than demarcates – a varied terrain of power. Such a lens, perhaps, also provides a way to understand how wider processes of exclusion are constituted similarly in diverse spaces with both shared and divergent histories and to make apparent the ways that spatial and social status overlaps.

Ritanjan Das is Senior Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth and co-author of the forthcoming book The Politics of Community-making in New Urban India: Illiberal Spaces, Illiberal Cities.

P.A. Munchs hus

Niels Henrik Abels vei 36
Oslo, Oslo
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